"The stories of petas" are graphic accounts of the miserable states of beings who have been reborn in unhappy existences as a consequence of their evil deeds. There are fifty-one stories, divided into four vaggas, describing the life of misery of the evil doers, in direct contrast to the magnificent life of the devas.
Emphasis is again laid on the beneficial effects of giving, whereas envy, jealousy, miserliness, greed and wrong views are shown to be the causes for appearance in the unhappy state of petas. The chief suffering in this state is dire lack of food, clothing and dwelling for the condemned being. A certain and immediate release from such miseries can be given to the unfortunate being if his former relatives perform meritorious deeds and share the merit with him In Tirokuttapeta Vatthu, a detailed account is given on how King Bimbisara brings relief to his former relatives who are unfortunately suffering as petas, by making generous offer of food, clothing and dwelling places to the Buddha and his company of bhikkhus and sharing the merit, thus accrued, to the petas who have been his kith and kin in previous lives.