Friday, October 30, 2009

Hungry Ghosts Outside the Walls

Wisdom Quarterly translation (Tirokudda Kanda, Petavatthu 1.5)

Beyond the walls they wait and at crossroads
They stand at doorposts returning to their old homes
Long forgotten when fine meals are laid out
The fruits of their karma being borne out

But who sympathizes with departed relatives
Timely offering of wholesome food gives:
"For our ancestors may this be!
May they be well and happy!"

Those ghosts who gather round,
Assembled from the village and town,
With gratitude exclaim "Well done!"
Bless and bring blessings on:

"May our kith and kin live long,
Who provide the gain we've won!
We have been remembered, honored
And donors also gain a great reward!"

From whence they hail there is no harvesting
No cattle, no commerce, no trading
They subsist on what is offered here,
These hungry ghosts who now live in fear

Rainwater rushing down sloping hills
Flows below until the valley fills,
Just so what is donated to the dead
Goes when offered to their benefit instead

As rivers full of water fill the ocean full,
Even so these donations pool
And benefit departed recipients
With great alacrity and expedience

"She gave to me! He acted on my behalf!
My kith, my kin, companions, friends!" --
Offerings should be given for those who've passed
When grateful one reflects on the past

For neither weeping, wailing, nor lament
Benefits those who came and went
Yet well-placed is an offering to the saffron-wreathed,
Which long serves to benefit the deceased

Our dharma, our duty, to them is shown
Greatly honored they we call our own
And the Order has been given strength
No small merit for what is spent