The Mahavastu (great story)

by J. J. Jones | 1949 | 502,133 words | ISBN-10: 086013041X

This page describes hell named maha-raurava which is Chapter II-f of the English translation of the Mahavastu (“great story”), dating to the 2nd-century BC. This work belongs to the Mahasanghika school of early Buddhism and contains narrative stories of the Buddha’s former lives, such as Apadanas, Jatakas and more..

Chapter II-f - The hell named Mahā-Raurava

This hell is a mass of burning, blazing and flaming iron, and is many a hundred yojanas in extent. The warders of this hell, with hammers in their hands, point the way to the doomed. In terror some of these start running, others try to escape, others do not try to escape. Some retreat wheresoever they can, others do not retreat. Others again go along obediently as well as they can. Then the warders of hell ask them, “why, now, do you go along just because we bade you?” And they assail them so that they are broken and shattered like curd-pots. Those who run, as well as those who do not, in this state suffer racking and acute pains.

As a maturing of what karma are beings reborn there? Those who in this world (24) have prisons made from which the light of moon and sun is shut out, and put men in them, leaving them there with the words, “Here you shall not see the moon and sun,” have rebirth there as a maturing of such karma.

As a maturing of what karma are the heads of these beings crushed? Those who in this world have crushed the heads of living creatures such as snakes, centipedes, and scorpions, have their own heads crushed as the maturing of such karma.

Why is this hell called Raurava? In this hell the inmates cry “Mother, father!” but they cannot find their parents. Hence it is named Raurava[1].

Footnotes and references:


I.e., this word is connected with the root ru or rud, “to cry.”