One of the five suttas included in the Khuddakapāṭha. Departed spirits haunt their old dwelling places and their compassionate kinsmen should bestow on them in due time, food, drink, etc. and also give gifts to the monks in their name. Thus will they be happy (Khp., p.6).
The Sutta was taught on the third day of the Buddha’s visit to Rājagaha. On the previous night, hungry ghosts (peta) had made a great uproar in Bimbisāra’s palace. In the time of Phussa Buddha, they had been workmen entrusted with the task of distributing alms to the Buddha and his monks, but they had been negligent in their duties and had appropriated some of the gifts for themselves. As a result, they suffered for a long period in purgatory and became hungry ghosts in the time of Kassapa Buddha. Kassapa told them that in the future, Bimbisāra, who had once been their kinsman, would entertain Gotama Buddha and make over the merit to them. They had long waited for this occasion and when Bimbisāra failed to fulfil their expectations, they made great outcry.
The Buddha explained this to Bimbisāra, who thereupon gave alms in the name of the hungry ghosts, thus making them happy. It was on this occasion that the Sutta was taught. KhpA.202 ﬀ; cp. PvA.19 ﬀ.