Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “sixteen utsadas annexed to the eight great hells” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

The sixteen utsadas annexed to the eight great hells

Outside the boundary of these eight great hells there are also sixteen hells that form annexes (utsada): eight hells of cold water and eight hells of fire and flame. The punishments there are of rare unprecedented (adṛṣṭāśruta) severity.

The eight hells of fire and flame:

The eight hells of fire and flame are: the blazing coals (kukūla); excrement (kuṇapa); the blazing forest (ādīptavanat); the forest of swords (asipattravana); the path of knives (kṣuramārga or kṣuradhāramārga), the forest of iron spines (ayaḥśalmalivana); the salt river (Khārodaka nādi or Vaitaraṇi); the copper stake (tāmrastambha).

[The eight hot hells].

The eight hells of cold water:

The eight hells of cold water are: Ngo feou t’o (Arbuda) ‘having many holes’; Ni lo feou t’o (Nirarbuda), ‘not having holes’; A lo lo (Aṭaṭa), groan [177a] [uttered by the damned] under the biting cold; A p’o p’o (Hahava), another groan caused by the cold; Heou heou (Huhuva), another groan caused by the cold; Ngeou po lo (Utpala), because the outer walls of this hell are like blue lotus (nīlotpala); Po t’eou mo (Padma), punishment that makes the damned look like red lotuses; Mo ho po t’eou mo (Mahāpadma).

[The eight cold hells].