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Where does the story appear about a monk who was born in a lower realm for breaking a leaf of a tree?

Also there are some related stories (use generally alongside the above) where small transgressions leading to disproportionately large karmic results. What are they and where can I find references?

  • Sankha told that story in this answer but without a reference. – ChrisW Jan 15 '17 at 16:43
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    This is a popular story in many Dhamma talks. I am trying to trace the source either in the Tipitaka or Commentaries. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Jan 15 '17 at 16:49
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It's in the commentary to verse 182 of the Dhammapada:

On seeing the Buddha, Erakapatta related to the Buddha how he had been a bhikkhu during the time of Kassapa Buddha, how he had accidentally caused a grass blade to be broken off while travelling in a boat, and how he had worried over that little offence for having failed to do the act of exoneration as prescribed, and finally how he was reborn as a naga.

  • What does it mean by "Having failed to do the act of exoneration as prescribed"? – NuWin Jan 16 '17 at 4:51
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    Monks have (many) monastic rules: page 272 of this document says, "The damaging of a living plant is to be confessed". So if a monk damages a living plant, they should "confess" that, i.e. tell another monk or tell the whole community of monks that they did that, described on page 161: "This confession is what clears him of the offense". So this act of the confession is what's meant by the "prescribed act of exoneration". – ChrisW Jan 17 '17 at 16:46
  • ah I see now. Thanks for taking the time to explain this. – NuWin Jan 17 '17 at 20:09

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