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Avici, 3 Definition(s)

'Avici' belongs in these categories: Buddhism

3 DEFINITION(S):

One of the eight great purgatories (mahaniraya) (J.v.266). It is ten thousand leagues in extent and forms part of a cakkavala (SnA.ii.443).

The Milindapanha (p.5), however, places it outside the sphere of the earth. Spence Hardy (Manual of Buddhism, p.26) mentions a tradition which says that Avici is seven hundred miles directly under the Bodhi Tree at Gaya. In later books, e.g. the Dhammapada Commentary, it is represented as being under the earth, for we are told that the earth opened wide to allow the flames of Avici to escape and to drag down sinners into its bowels (E.g., DhA.i.127, 147; iii.181). It seems to have been specially designed for those who had committed very grievous crimes, among whom are

Devadatta;

Cunda, the pork butcher;

Ananda, who raped his cousin the Theri Uppalavanna;

the ascetic Jambuka, who in a previous birth had insulted an arahant;

the murderer of the Pacceka Buddha Sunetta;

Sivali, who in a former birth had blockaded a city for seven years;

Suppabuddha, who insulted the Buddha;

Mallikka, because of her misbehaviour with a dog (she was only there seven days);

Cinca Manavika, because she falsely accused the Buddha;

and Kapila, brother of Sodhana, for reviling pious monks.

For details and references see under these names; see also Mil.357.

According to Buddhaghosa, Avici is often called Maha Niraya (AA.i.376). Descriptions of it are to be found in several places in the four Nikayas (E.g., M.iii.183; A.i.141-2). It is a quadrangular space, one hundred leagues each way, four doored, walled all round and above with steel and with floor of incandescent molten steel.

The Dhammapadatthakatha gives a description of the tortures that await the entrant to Avici. When, for instance, Devadatta entered there, his body became one hundred leagues in height, his head, as far as the outer ear, entered into an iron skull; his feet sank up to the ankles in iron, an iron stake as thick as the trunk of a palmyra tree came from the west wall, pierced the small of his back and, penetrating his breast, entered the east wall. Other similar stakes came from the south and from the north and transfixed him (DhA.i.148).

The fire of Avici is so powerful that it destroys the eyes of anyone looking at it from a distance of one hundred leagues (A.i.142). It would destroy in a moment a rock as large as a gabled house, yet beings born there remain undestroyed, as though reposing in their mothers womb (DhA.i.127; Mil.67).

Beings born in Avici suffer for periods of varying lengths; thus, Mallika, Pasenadis queen, remained only for seven days (DhA.iii.121), while Devadatta is destined to pass there 100,000 kappas (DhA.i.148).

The Sutta Nipata (p.

Added: 11.Apr.2009 | Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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M (That which is totally devoid of pleasure). avici is the name given to the most painful hell.

Added: 26.Apr.2009 | Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary
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is the name of one of the most frightful hells (niraya).

Added: 06.Jun.2010 | Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines
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