Consequences of Wrong Speech

Venue: TIMS

Kamma is created through the acts of our thought, speech and body action. We create bad kamma whenever we act with greed or hatred or delusion. It is important to learn what is good from the teaching of the wise ones like our Lord Buddha or his enlightened disciples rather than from those with no virtue, are muddle-headed and unwise who are sure to lead us astray if we were to accept their wrong teaching.

The Culakammavibanga Sutta ( Majhima Nikaya 135) tells us in detail about the effect of kamma. Stated in the following are the results that a person will experience for what he has done if he takes rebirth in the human form again:

  • He who does not kill or take the lives of others, wherever he is reborn, is long-lived.
  • He who does not ill-treat others is born healthy.
  • He who offers dana generously is born wealthy.
  • He who does not envy another’s gain (mudita) is born influential.
  • He who listens to the Dhamma and meditates is born wise and intelligent.
  • He who is sweet natured and is not quick to anger is born comely in appearance.
  • He who shows respect to those worthy of respect is born in high places.

Today’s talk is a continuance of last week’s talk on Right Speech by Ven Kumara. The commentary tells us the consequences or effects of Wrong Speech.


A person who tell lies –

  • will be reprimanded/scolded
  • is not trusted by others
  • will be born with a deformed mouth
  • will be blamed by others.


He who slanders will lose treasured friendship for no apparent reason.

Harsh Speech

A person who uses harsh speech is:

  • disliked by others although blameless
  • born with a rough voice which irritates people.

Idle Talk

He is born ugly and with an unacceptable speech.

Apart from the commentaries, several suttas also teach us to avoid wrong speech.

1. Kokālika Sutta (SN 6:10)

A monk by the name of Kokālika approached the Buddha and insisted that both Ven Sariputta and Ven Moggallana (both of them are already arahants ) are controlled by evil intentions. The Buddha advised him not to speak in such a manner as the two monks are good people. For the second time, Kokālika repeated his accusations. Again, the Buddha advised him to refrain. When Kokālika repeated it for the third time, after the Buddha had advised him to refrain from such an accusation, Kokālika walked away. Soon after this, pustules that emit a foul stench appeared and burst all over Kokālika’s body and he died. That night, Brahma appeared to inform the Buddha that Kokālika had been reborn in Paduma Hell where he will remain for a long, long time.

2. Lakkhanasamyutta (SN19)

Once when the Buddha was residing in Rajagaha, Ven Moggallana and Ven Lakkhana went for alms round together. Ven Lakkhana saw Ven Moggallana smile and asked why. After the alms round, Ven Moggallana told Ven Lakkhana that as they were walking down from the mountain, he saw with his divine eyes many beings flying about in the air. Among them he could see a corrupt judge who used to administer false judgement in court. He was reborn as a being with overhung testicles who suffered severe pain each time he tried to sit. There was also a fortune- teller who was reborn as a smelly, rotting creature chased after and pecked by eagles and crows. While she was alive, she often lied to her clients. These are some examples of the karmic effect of wrong speech.

Although the sutta mentioned above talks about the consequences of bad speech, the karmic result of a same action does not always bring the same result. The Mahakammavibangha Sutta (MN 136) tells about four kinds of rebirth as seen by those with ordinary and imperfect divine eye:

  1. Beings who were seen to do evil with their body, speech and mind, after death, take rebirth in a bad destination
  2. Beings who were seen to do evil with their body, speech and mind, after death, take rebirth in a good destination
  3. Beings who were seen abstaining from evil with their body, speech and mind, after death, take rebirth in a good destination
  4. Beings who were seen abstaining from evil with their body, speech and mind, after death, take rebirth in a bad destination

The results of kamma in 2 and 4, on the surface, look rather odd and unfair. However, we must understand that not all acts of karma ripen at the same time. Some will ripen in this lifetime, some will ripen in the next lifetime and some will even ripen in any of the further future lifetimes. There is past, present and future kamma to consider. A person who seems to have done a lot of bad deeds in this lifetime but nonetheless receives a good rebirth may be due to either the ripening of good kamma done earlier (before the bad deeds), or later (after the bad deeds) when he did good actions to be felt as pleasant, or at the time of death he acquired and undertook right view. Likewise a person who seems to have abstained from evil receives a bad rebirth which could be due to either the ripening of bad kamma done earlier, or later he did evil actions to be felt as painful, or at the time of death he acquired and undertook wrong view.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top