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What is Hell Like?


The City of Yamaraja – God of Death

The Painting above: Hades and Persephone by Luca Giordano. The Greeks received Puranic information with gross distortions from centuries of myth-making entertainers, instead of from authorized scriptures.

The Path to Yamaloka (Hades or Hell)

from the Mahabharata

The path was inauspicious and difficult and trodden by men of sinful deeds. It was enveloped in thick darkness, and covered with hair and moss forming its grassy vesture.

Polluted with the stench of sinners, and miry with flesh and blood, it abounded with gadflies and stinging bees and gnats and was endangered by the inroads of grisly bears. Rotting corpses lay here and there. Overspread with bones and hair, it was noisome with worms and insects. It was skirted all along with a blazing fire. It was infested by crows and other birds and vultures, all having beaks of iron, as also by evil spirits with long mouths pointed like needles. And it abounded with inaccessible cliffs like the Vindhya mountains. Human corpses were scattered over it, smeared with fat and blood, with arms and thighs cut off, or with entrails torn out and legs severed. Along that path so disagreeable with the stench of corpses and awful with other incidents, the righteous-souled king proceeded, filled with diverse thoughts. He beheld a river full of boiling water and, therefore, difficult to cross, as also a forest of trees whose leaves were sharp swords and razors. There were plains full of fine white sand exceedingly hot, and rocks and stones made of iron.

There were many jars of iron all around, with boiling oil in them. Many a Kuta-salmalika was there, with sharp thorns and, therefore, exceedingly painful to the touch. The son of Kunti beheld also the tortures inflicted upon sinful men. Beholding that inauspicious region abounding with every sort of foulness, Yudhishthira asked the celestial messenger, saying, How far shall we proceed along a path like this?

King Yudhishthira sees the path to Hell – Mahabharata, Swargarohana Parva, Section 2.

Description of Yamapuri

The City of Yamarāja, the King of the Dead

from the Varāha Purāna

Yamapuri is the capital city of Pitṛloka, the abode of the forefathers or pitās, which is positioned below the lowest region of the Bhu-mandala Earth-plane, Pātālaloka, and above the Naraka Hells, which lie just above the Garbhodaka Ocean. Here Rules the Demigod Yamarāja or Dharmarāja who judges humans who are bound for rebirth on Earth. The pious wait in a heavenly region there, while the impious are sent downward to the Naraka hells before reincarnating as animals on Earth.

“The King of the pitās is Yamarāja, the very powerful son of the sun-god. He resides in Pitṛloka with his personal assistants and, while abiding by the rules and regulations set down by the Supreme Lord, has his agents, the Yamadūtas, bring all the sinful men to him immediately upon their death. After bringing them within his jurisdiction, he properly judges them according to their specific sinful activities and sends them to one of the many hellish regions for suitable punishments.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.26.6)

The city of Yama
Vaiśampāyana said:
1. Hearing these words of the great sages, he began to tell them everything in detail.
Naciketas said :
2. O great sages, listen to me. The city of the god of death is one thousand yojanas in breadth, double that in length and double that in perimeter.
3. It is full of mansions, golden spires and beautiful rows of buildings.
4. It has got a golden fort also of great height.
5. The houses there shine like the Kailāsa mountain. Rivers flow there full of spotless water.
6. There are beautiful lakes, lotus-ponds and pools; also tanks and wells.
7. It is full of men and women and elephants and horses of different kinds and from different places.
8. We find there every kind of living being. Here and there battles and single combats are also seen.
9-10. Hundreds of thousands of people are there, some singing, some laughing, some sorrowing, some playing, some eating, some sleeping, some dancing, some standing and some remaining bound.
11. In accordance with their actions, some are found big and some small.
12. My limbs become languid and the mind becomes disturbed when I think further. Still, a divine feeling comes upon me. So I shall tell you what I have seen and heard.
13. There is an important river named Puspodakā (flowery water) full of all sorts of trees on the bank, but it is (alternately) seen and not seen.
14. There are golden flights of steps in it and it is full of golden sand.
15. Its water is placid, cool and sweet-smelling. On its banks are groves of flowering and fruit-bearing trees with numerous birds on them.
16. That great river flows there removing all sins. I saw thousands of trees on its sides.
17. The gods play in its water. The Gandharvas seem to be singing Sāman there with their wives.
18. The Nāga and Kinnara women sing and play there.
19. Thousands of divine damsels play in this manner in the water and in the mansions.
20. There are many trees whose branches bear fruits and flowers at all times, and birds flock there to get what they need.
21. Beautiful women with lovely girdles provide delight to men there to their heart’s content.
22. They splash the water with their lovers and sweetly sing with inebriation.
23. With the splashing of water and jingling of jewels, the river appears to be decked with divine gems.
24. The great and auspicious river named Vaivasvatī beautifully flows in the middle of the city, protecting it like a mother her son.
25. Swans, white like the jasmine and the moon, gracefully move about in its sands in the midst of the charming water.
26. With fine Cakravākas and lotuses with golden carpets and with attractive golden flights of steps, it is very resplendent.
27. Its water is clear, pure, sweet-smelling and very tasty like ambrosia. The trees in the forests on the banks are full of flowers and fruits.
28. Inebriated beautiful women play in it as much as they like but they never get weary.
29. It is worshipped by gods and sages. With its plentiful water, it is like the weighty words of poets pregnant with meaning.
30. There is an image of the river erected there, on which numerous people pour water (in reverence). The lofty rows of buildings on the bank inspire wonder.
31. In the fine groves there women gather in large numbers and sing playing instruments and beating tāla.
32. They provide great pleasure to the gods in heaven with their fine voice mixed with the sound of the drum, the lute and the flute.
33. They never get satisfied with playing in the balconies from where the wind wafts the scent of Agaru and sandal.
34. In some places the scent spreads in such an intense manner as to block entry there, in some other places people engage themselves with playthings, and in yet other places the music of women fills the air.
35. Some play with their beloveds in golden pedestals. Some play in the water with great delight.
36. The different items of beauty there cannot be recounted even if we take a number of days for it.

The pleasure gardens of Yamapuri resemble a subterranean heaven

Yama and his associates The sage’s son (Naciketas) said:
1-2. There is a hundred-tiered gateway in the north, ten yojanas in breadth and double that in length, with a fort on the sides, shining prominently and so tall as to appear as a scraping the sky.
3. It is highly lustrous and provided with several contrivances. This is the entrance for gods, sages and others (of their category) who do good and virtuous deeds.
4. There is another gateway (on the east), white like a heap of autumn clouds. It is the entrance for (ordinary) human beings who have acquired merit.
5-6. Built of iron and highly hot is the gateway in the south, terrific in appearance.
7. The son of the Sun (Yama) has assigned this entrance for all sinners and killers.
8. Made of Udumbara and very much uneven is the gateway in the west.
9. It always glows with fire and is difficult to look at. It is meant for those that do bad and prohibited deeds.
10-11. In that beautiful city, there is a jewelled assembly hall constructed by Yama.
12. Therein is the seat of justice occupied by saints who are truthful and virtuous and free from anger, desire and attachment.

The Palace of Yama, Lord of Death, has four gates, one for the Gods and Sages, one for pious humans, and two firey gates for all types of sinners, murderers and the lowest of mankind.

13. That is the assembly where justice is dispensed for the righteous as well as sinful, for good as well as bad, according to the store of result of the actions performed.
14. These judges decide the merit of actions according to Śāstra, taking their stand on dharma and without doubt, fear or favour.
15. They consider matters from a universal point of view according to Śāstra and their observation.
16. All of them think well on the matter with full restraint and in all seriousness.
17. (The judges are) Manu, Prajāpati, Pārāśarya (Vyāsa), Atri, Auddālaki, Apastamba, Bṛhaspati, Śukra, Gautama,
18. Śañkha, Likhita, Angiras, Bhṛgu, Pulastya, Pulaha and other law-givers.
19. Along with Yama they think of the justice to be dispensed. The divine as well as human among them are dispassionate.

Yamaraja and Nachiketa

20. One among them stands out with kundala (on the ears), añgada (on the wrists) and mukuta (on the head) and he is the effulgent Brahmadatta.
21. He is so brilliant in his appearance and speech that he appears like the single embodiment of all the rest.
22. By his side stand the great divine sages steeped in Veda and Vedāñga.
23. They discuss the meaning of Veda, truth and dharma, and also about Śiksā, Chandas and other Śāstras.
24. They also discuss Nirukta, the Sāman music, alchemy and everything else pertaining to Veda.
25. I saw there in the palace of Dharmarāja sages and manes reciting auspicious stories.
26. Near there, I saw one black in colour, with projecting cheek, erect hair and uncouth form,
27. With face ugly, canines protruding, full of anger and generating fear, holding a big cane in the left hand.
28. He is the eternal Kāla who listens to Dharmarāja whenever ordered to execute punishment. There are others also there to carry out such orders.
29. I saw there a resplendent female form worshipped by Yama with celestial sandal and other unguents.
30. She is the destroyer of the worlds and there is nothing beyond her.
31. None has ever suggested any means to go beyond her. The Asuras and even the sages are afraid of her.
32. She is worshipped by gods and demons and also by yogins.
33. It is from her body that the oppressing ailments arise, as also the dreadful diseases brought about by time.
34. I then saw the god of death who is fuil of valour, but cruel and angry.
35. He is full of strength and lustre. Age and death do not affect him,
36. Along with the god of death are many that sing and laugh and excite life.
37. Some there glow with divine ornaments, cbowries and umbrellas.
38. Some I saw there installed in seats and worshipped.
39. In many places there I saw serious fevers and severe pains in the form of men and women.

The punishments sentenced by Yamaraja, Lord of Death

40. There were fierce women, the embodiments of desire and anger, consuming life.
41. The sound of their conversation near Dharmarāja seemed to break the earth.
42. (I saw there) Rāksasas big and. small who eat flesh, some having both feet, but some single-footed, some with three feet, some with many feet;
43. Some with both hands, but some with a single hand, some with three hands and some with many hands; so too some with small ears, and some with ears as big as elephants.
44. Some people were wearing many kinds of ornaments like keyūra and mukuta.
45. Some had garlands and some anklets. Some were holding axe, some mace, some disc, some trident.
46. Some had spear, some javelin, some bow, some sword and some club.
47. Some were holding curd in hand, some sandal, some varieties of food and some clothes.
48. Some were holding incense and some different kinds of garments.
49. There were palanquins and various vehicles to which were yoked horses, elephants and swans.
50. There were śarabhas, bulls, elephants, peacocks, cranes, cakravākas and horses. I saw all this. But there were fearful things also.
51. While some were well dressed, some were shabbily dressed. Some wore fresh silk and while some wore torn cloth. Some spoke well while others were dumb. Some were out to kill others.
52. Some were tawny and some black. Some were for dharma and some for fame. These were in attendance on Yama.
53. So if the Brahmin performs the sacrifices, he will not have any disappointment.
54. Those who deserve honour should be duly honoured. When they get pleased, all good results.

Anubis (Egyptian Yama-Cerberus) weighing the karma of the heart.

Torments in Hell
Naciketas said:
1. Yama, the god of the dead, gave me audience in his assembly.
2. He duly honoured me with seat, pādya and arghya according to Vedic rites.
3. He then asked me to sit in a golden seat on which were strewn darbha grass and flowers.
4. His face which is always terrific, became calm as I was looking at it.
5. Due to his kindness liar me, his reddish eyes soon became gentle like lotus petals.
6. His attitude created confidence in me and I became glad.
7. Then issued from my mouth a hymn in his praise which removes all sins, brings about all desires, confers fame and is commended even by gods.
8. Yama, the great upholder of dharma, was pleased at this. The sage’s son (Naciketas) said:
9. O four-footed lord, the god of the departed, you are the ordainer and sustainer of Srāddha. I bow to you.
10. O Dharmarāja, the great god of the dead, you are the knower of time, the knower of whatever that is done, and one wedded to truth. I bow to you.
11. You are action and the actuator of action. You are the lord of past, present and future. You are the purifier as well as the stupefier. You are the essence as well as elaboration. O uneven-eyed holder of rod and noose, I bow to you.
12. O you resplendent like the sun, the observer of the life of all, black in complexion, indomitable, having the form of sesamum oil, I bow to you.
13. You are lustrous like the sun, you are the carrier of offerings to gods as well as to the manes. You are a mighty lord. I bow to you.
14. You are destroyer of sins, you stand in austerity, you are ever the guardian of Śrāddha, you are a great ascetic. With one eye transformed into many you are Kāla and Death. I bow to you.
15. Sometimes you appear with a rod, sometimes with a fully shaven head, sometimes as the fearful Kāla, sometimes as a boy, sometimes as an old man, sometimes in a form that strikes terror, I bow to you.
16. The world is controlled by you through dharma. You see to this directly and, without you, dharma cannot be accomplished.
17. You are the god of gods, the penance among penances and the japa among japas. In this I don’t find anyone other than you.
18-19. You never attempt to push down from here sages without any relations or friends and chaste women in distress engaged in penance.
20. So, among all gods, you are the greatest upholder of dharma.
Vaiśampāyana said:
21. Listening to this hymn uttered by the son of sage Uddā- laka, Yama was extremely pleased.
Yama said:
22. I am delighted at your sweet hymn. May good befall you. Tell me frankly what I may do for you.
23. O Brahmin, ask of me any boon you like, whether it be prosperity or health or longevity.
Tke sage’s son (Naciketas) said:
24. “O great lord, I desire neither death nor life. If you, who look after the welfare of all, are pleased with me and wish to grant me a boon, then let me see this entire region of yours as it is.
25. If you are inclined to give me a boon, then show me the whole thing so as to know what befalls the good people and what befalls the sinners.
26-27. Show me also, O lord, Citragupta who considers on your behalf what is to be meted out to whom according to the particular action done by each.”
28. When I said thus, he called the man at the door and said “Take this Brahmin safely to Citragupta.
29. Tell him that he should treat him in a fitting manner and do what he desires.”
30. I was then quickly led by that attendant to the presence of Citragupta.
31. He rose up and, thinking for a while, welcomed me saying ‘O great sage, make yourself quite at ease here’.
32. Telling me thus, he gave instructions to his fierce-looking servants who were remaining there with folded hands.
Citragupta said:
33. “Listen to me, O my devoted and dutiful servants,
34. With my permission, this Brahmin is going to the place where the dead reside. He should be well concealed and carefully guarded.
35. He should not have anything to feel unhappy. He should not have fatigue either from heat or from cold; nor should he suffer for food or drink. I command you so.
36. This Brahmin who is full of compassion for all beings and is following the wish of his father, has been granted such a boon by me.
37. Let him see this city of Dharmarāja as much as he likes.” So saying he asked me to go and see it.

38. The attendants were asked to lead me there. (Going there I saw) mighty beings running and chasing people and beating, binding and burning them.
39. They break their bones by beating them again and again with bamboo sticks and often with more heavy objects.
40. With broken bones and bruised heads, the people piteously cry aloud, but find none to help them.
41. In deep and dark abysses, many are scorched in fire and also used as fuel for the fire.
42. Some fall in boiling oil, some in molten lime as the result of their own evil deeds.
43. They are severely tortured again and again.
44. Some are put into machines and crushed like sesamum and blood flows out profusely from them.
45. There is the horrible river Vaitaranī with eddy and foam, difficult to cross for sinful persons.
46. Hundreds of people are held by the feet, thrown over the trident and then thrown into Vaitaranī.
47. Hundreds of people in their curdled blood are bitten by numerous snakes.
48. When they sink in the river unable to cross it, whirlpools and ripples arise there in abundance.
49. The sinful people get parched there, sinking and vomitting, but find none to save them.
50. Many are thrown over the deceptive Sālmalī tree, full of metallic nails and severely beaten again and again with swords and spears.
51. I saw in its branches, a large number of goblins and demons furiously hanging down.
52. Those thrown over the tree move to the branches, being unable to bear the pain of piercing nails.
53-54. The demons in the branches then pounce upon them swiftly like monkeys in big trees and eat them up.
55. I could hear the crushing sound like that of a mleccha eating fowl.
56-57. They eat them in their fierce mouths as if these were ripe mango fruits and after sipping the marrow also, throw down on the ground their skeletal form.
58. Those in the forests also are similarly handled.
59-60. The sinners standing below in large numbers implore the servants of Yama to leave them in mercy, but they are only further tortured.
61. Hit by showers of stones and choked by clouds of dust, many rush to the shade of the tree, only to find there scorching- fire.
62. They are then beaten up and thrown in blazing fire.
63. Many request these attendants to be pleased to give them a pot of cold water.
64. But what is given to them is boiling water by drinking which they get scalded and cry aloud.

Buddhist teachings have retained the same Puranic knowledge of Naraka or Hell

65. In their agony they fall down clasping one another. So do many others becoming unconscious due to hunger.
66. But there is also sumptuous sweet-smelling food in heaps.
67. There is curd and milk, sesamum cakes and milky soup, also honey and liquor.
68. There is fruit juice of various kinds and cool and fragrant drinks.
69. There are also drinks mixed with milk, ghee or curd. All these await the good souls going there.
70. We find there for them incense and fine sandal paste. Everything is inviting and abundant.
71. For serving food for these souls there are handsome women well ornamented.
72. They hold basketful of fruits in their hands and keep flowers and water for pādya. They are graceful with jingling anklets.
73. They serve food for thousands of them.
74. While these women honour the virtuous in this way, the servants of Yama beat the sinners under their control, laugh at them and say:
75. “O you ungrateful, avaricious, adulterous wretches,
76. Evil in mind, bad in action, reluctant to gifts, active to speak ill of others, conversing only with sinners,
77. Shamelessly ready to ask from others. When you were affluent on earth, you never gave anything, food, drink or fuel.
78. Therefore it is that all these torments are imposed on you.
79. When the effects of your misdeeds are over, you will be released from here to be born again on earth in misery.
80. The sinners are born in poor families in human world with the sins adhering in them.
81. But those that have lived an irreproachable life, particularly those belonging to the four castes, being truthful, peaceful compassionate and virtuous,
82. Rest here for sometime with their followers, and then go to the supreme abode or are born on earth again in a high family,
83. Affluent, well ordered, full of beautiful women and then attain supreme bliss.”

The truthful, peaceful compassionate and virtuous souls rest here for sometime before reincarnation

Torments in Hell (Contd.)
The Sage’s son Naciketas said:
1. The entire ground there is strewn with iron nails and is rugged and dark.
2. The sinners with their hands, feet and head bruised, are not able to leave that place for long.
3. But only the sinners are thrown there. Those who are devoted to dharma and have control of self, remain there as in their homes.
4. Beautiful women wait upon them with sumptuous food and cool drinks.
5. The sinners are thrown on hard and burning rocks.
6. They are shown places with trees and as they run to go there with feet and waist scorched,
7. The servants of Yama rush there and harass them. There is none to save them from the torment.
8. Then there are others who are bitten by ferocious dogs from head to foot and they cry aloud again and again.
9-10. In another place fierce beings with projecting canines, pierce the sinful souls with needles and leave them without food and water, when they are hungry and thirsty, for the sin incurred by them in refusing these essentials to those in need.
11. A cruel woman of a body of brandished steel embraces a man and chases him when he runs away.
12. She tells him: “I am (the combined form of) your sister, daughter-in-law,
13. Maternal aunt, paternal aunt, uncle’s wife, preceptor’s wife, friend’s wife, brother’s wife, king’s wife,
14. The wives of Vaidikas and Brahmins, all of whom you have molested. You cannot escape from me even if you go to the nether world.
15. For the wrong you have done, I am going to thrash you. O shameless man, why do you try to run away?”
16. She chases him again and tells him repeatedly:
17. “Even if born among thousands of learned men, a sinner is tormented in this manner,
18. I, therefore, a low woman, embrace you. Why do you cry ?
19. When I lead you like this, don’t you feel ashamed to entreat me with folded hands ?
20. Why do you try to get away ? wherever you go in this abode of Yama, I will pursue you, as you have outraged the modesty of another’s wife.”

Christianity has similar descriptions of punishment in Hell

21. (In another place) people are beaten with iron rods like cowherds beating the kine with sticks.
22. Some are bitten by tigers, lions, jackals, donkeys and dogs and some pecked by crows.
23. There is a grove of palms of swords enveloped by flames and fumes, resembling a conflagration and glowing all around.
24. The sinners are thrown there by Yama’s men and scorched.
25. When they run from there to the trees in the grove of palms of swords, they are cut again and again.
26. Thus dragged and burnt and mutilated, they cry aloud.
27. The noble souls that stand at the entrance to the grove of palms of swords, chastise the sinners.
28. “O you sinners who have destroyed +he bridge of dharma for that very reason you have to undergo torments in thousands.
29. After all this, if at all you are born as human beings, it will be in extremely poor families and you will always be in misery.”
30. (In another place) there are birds resembling tongues of fire and raising loud cries. Their beaks are of iron.
31. These as well as carnivorous animals like tigers and wild dogs angrily bite the sinners.
32-33. I saw the mighty servants of Yama throwing many persons in this grove of palms of swords which is full of tigers and bears and innumerable worms and ants.
34. Some were bruised by swords and others pierced by tridents.
35. There were thousands of wells, pools, ponds, lakes and rivers, all of blood.
36. O great sages, I saw also places full of marrow, flesh and faeces.
37. In them were put numerous sinners who have not only to put up with their foul smell, but also to dip themselves in them again and again.
38. Cranes from above make showers of blood, bones and stones upon them.
39. I could hear the pitiable cries of those who were floating in them or running out of them and they were bound and beaten again.
40. Their wailings filled the entire place.
41. Bound in some places, blocked in others, struck in yet others and thrown up in still others, their pitiable cries could be heard everywhere.
42. I saw certain other things in certain other places, the very thought of which will make one shudder.

Torments in Hell (Contd.)
The Sage’s son (Naciketas) said:
1-2. There are eight hells where the sinners are tormented, namely, Tapta, Mahātapta, Raurava, Mahāraurava, Saptatāla, Kālasūtra, Andhakāra and Andhakāravara.
3-4. They are first taken to the first, then to the second where the duration is twice, from there to the third where the duration is thrice, from there to the fourth where the duration is four times, then to the fifth where the duration is five times, then to the sixth where the duration is six times, then to the seventh where the duration is seven times and then to the eighth where the duration, is eight times.
5. The dead go there in the course of a single day and night and for those of them afflicted by sin, there is only misery and more misery.
6. There is only misery there and no pleasure. The misery goes on increasing. There is no means at all there to get even a little happiness.
7. Man, after death, is left there. There are no killers there, but he never gets pleasure through any of the senses—sound, touch, colour, taste or smell.
8. He never gets pleasure, physical or mental. All that is there is sorrow lone.
9. The earth there is full of hot and sharp iron nails and the sky is covered with flocks of birds with fiery tongues.
10. Hunger is there much, so too thirst. But what is hot is too hot and what is cold is too cold (to eat or drink).
11. When one wishes to drink water, one is taken by the Rāksasas to a pond having lotus and lilies and swans and cranes.
12. But on reaching there in all eagerness, one finds the water boiling hot.
13. The Rāksasas then bring cooked meat, but throw it in a pond of brackish water.
14. (When one enters the pond for taking it) one is bitten by the numerous fish there.
15. At the end of the assigned period, when one tries to run away, one gets the body fleshy for being tormented again.
16. Whether sitting at the top or leaving or running, serious torment is absolutely certain.
17. There is the abominable Kumbhīpāka which is a deep pit of dung shaped like a lotus leaf.
18. The Rāksasas thrash the sinners there biting their lips in anger and exclaiming aloud.
19. There is a forest of swords and another of red lead. The latter is strewn with red hot sand.
20. There the sinners are burnt, cut, struck, hit, thrashed, dragged and dismembered.
21. Black and spotted dogs bite them, so too do serpents and scorpions.

22. There is the deceptive Śālmalī tree with its numerous projecting thorns. They are dragged there till the body is left with bones alone.
23. All the torment and adversity for the sinner arise soon.
24. When he wants coolness, he gets heat and when he wants warmth he gets coldness. When he desires pleasure, what he gets is sorrow. Pleasure he never can have.
25. He always receives injuries in thousands all over his body and at all times.
26. A furious river full of ferocious animals, has to be crossed.
27. This is named Karambhavālukā. It is a hundred yojanas in length and is like blazing fire.
28. Then there is the big river Vaitaranī of bitter water, fifty yojanas long and five yojanas deep.
29. It is deep in mud and is full of skin, flesh and bones. There are in it big scorpions with sharp teeth.
30. There are owls as big as bows and ferocious and poisonous with tongues sharp enough to break bones.
31. Somehow crossing this river of deep mud, some manage to reach the empty and supportless abodes there,
32. Where, however, they are devoured by numerous rats leaving but the skeleton.

33. But in the morning the body gets flesh again as soon as the wind wafts over it.
34. Then there is a mango-grove where ferocious birds feed on the man eating up all his skin and flesh and veins, eyes and years.
35. On the south, at a distance of three yojanas, is a banyan tree which glows always like an evening cloud.
36. There is a big fire-place ca’led Yamacullī, ten yojanas deep.
37. It always burns and is ever blinding with its smoke.
38. Thousands of dead are thrown into it incessantly by the Rāksasas, servants of Yama. In this fire-place they are to remain for a month.
39. Then there is the river called Śakunikā which is full of fat and morrow.
40. This proceeds from the interior of the Yamacullī. On crossing this, there are seven kinds of torments to be undergone.
41. Every one of these is extremely painful, but the sinner has to go through them in their order.
42. There are ten Śūlas and thirteen Kumbhīpākas where one whole day and night should be spent.
43. The merciless and fearful Rāksasas hold the sinners in tridents and bake them over glowing cinders.
44. They are then held head down-wards over clouds of choking smoke and then fried in hot oil in big vessels.

45. They are then held over the fire of burning marrow in a pit of dried cowdung. This is done for ten days in each.
46. When these seven kinds of torments are over, they are taken to the river ‘Yama’ at a distance of three yojanas wherein flows molten lead.
47. Crossing it with burnt body and completely unconscious, they get rest there for a while.
48. They see a beautiful pond with cool water and shady trees around. They get there whatever they want, because this is the sister of Yama.
49. All the sinners get food and drink there, but all this is forgotten after spending three days there.
50. Then there is the mountain called Śūlagraha which extends over a hundred yojanas. It is constituted of a single rock and no being lives in it.
51. The clouds shower hot water on it and people traverse it with difficulty in the course of a day.
52. There is the Śrñgātaka forest which is full of biting black flies.
53. The bite of these flies transforms one into a worm. One has to face there showers of flesh and blood.
54-55. Traversing this, the sinner goes to another place of torment where he sees his sons, mother, father, wife and other -dear ones. But he is bound and can only helplessly cry.
56. “O son, save me, save me,” he cries, but what he gets then is beatings with clubs, rods and bamboo sticks, knocks with the fist, blows with whips and bitings by snakes.
57. Unable to bear all this pain, he swoons.

The jiva is reminded of his sin and punished accordingly

58. The sinners get here this sort of treatment again and again.
59. Those who commit the five heinous sins, necessarily reach this place.
60. When the punishments for these sins are undergone, one becomes a stationary being.
61. After a period in that form, the dead man is born as an animal.
62. But this is after his life in hell for sixty thousand and sixty hundred years.
63. When the effects of his actions are over, he becomes a being born of sweat and undergoes all its life-process.
64. He then takes birth as a bird, then as a cow and afterwards as a man.
65. Among men he is first born as a Śūdra and after a proper life as a Śūdra, takes birth as a Vaiśya endowed with the result of all actions.
66. After his life as a Vaiśya, he is born as a Kṣatriya and after that as a Brāhmana.
67. If, after taking birth as a Brāhmana, he commits sins again and debases himself with evil mind and self-ruinous actions, he gets afflictions physical and mental.
68. As a result of his actions, he develops a tendency to Brāhminicide, becomes a leper, squint-eyed and crow-voiced.
69. He gets protruding teeth, develops foul odour in his body and gets a bent of mind to drink liquor, kill the parents and murder the king.
70. He also becomes a stealer of gold, and, in short, one similar to a killer of Brahmin.
71. In another place in hell, I could see sinners badly mutilated as a result of their own actions, and blood flowing everywhere.
72. The whole place is full of such people who groan again and again.
73. There frequently arise cries of those who are bound in various ways and beaten.
74. They are tormented by beatings with iron rods and pricking weapons.
75. This is done till those engaged in this get tired.
76. When they are thus tired, they make a report to Citragupta.


Copyright © 2018 Steve M. Doyle (Soolaba)

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