Book XXII. Hell, Niraya Vagga

XXII. 2. The Skeleton-Ghost This story is a brief outline of Saṁyutta, xix: ii. 254-256. Text: N iii. 479-480.
Duccaritaphalānubhāvasattavatthu (307)

307. Many who wear the yellow robe...

This religious instruction was given by the Teacher while he was in residence at Veḷuvana with reference to persons oppressed by the power of the fruit of the evil deeds committed by them. {3.479}

For as Venerable Moggallāna the Great was descending Mount Vulture Peak with Elder Lakkhaṇa, he saw, among others, forms of [30.192] ghosts consisting of skeletons, and smiled at the sight of them. When Elder Lakkhaṇa asked him why he smiled, he said, “Brother, this is not the proper time for you to ask me such a question. Wait until we are in the presence of the Tathāgata and then ask me. So when they were in the presence of the Tathāgata, Elder Lakkhaṇa repeated his question. In reply, Elder Moggallāna the Great told him that he had seen ghosts consisting of skeletons.

“Brother,” said he, “just now, as I was descending Mount Vulture Peak, I saw a monk soaring through the air, and his body was all aflame.” Continuing in the same strain, he mentioned five of their associates whom he had seen on fire, bowls, robes, girdles, and all. Thereupon the Teacher told the monks of the wickedness of certain monks who retired from the world in the dispensation of the Buddha Kassapa and failed to act according to their profession. And pointing out the fruit of evil deeds to the monks who at that moment sat there before him, he pronounced the following Stanza,

307. Many about whose neck hangs the yellow robe, are evildoers and uncontrolled;
Evildoers by reason of their evil deeds, they are reborn in Hell.