Naraka, aka: Nāraka; 15 Definition(s)


Naraka means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism


1) Naraka (नरक).—(NARAKĀSURA). A valiant Asura. Birth. Once the Asura Hiraṇyākṣa was amusing himself by wading through the ocean and beating at the waves with his club. Varuṇa, the god of water, was alarmed at this and ran to Mahāviṣṇu and told him every thing. Hearing this Mahāviṣṇu got up to kill Hiraṇyākṣa. Hiraṇyākṣa who had assumed the form of a Boar carried the earth on his tusks and ran to Pātāla. As the goddess earth had come into contact with the tusks of Hiraṇyākṣa she became pregnant and gave birth to an asura infant of immense might and power. That infant was Narakāsura. (See full article at Story of Naraka from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Naraka (नरक).—Mention is made about another Narakāsura who was born to Prajāpati Kaśyapa by his wife Danu, in Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 65, Stanza 28. Once Indra defeated this Narakāsura. It is seen in Mahābhārata, Sabhā Parva, Chapter 9 that this asura after his death, stayed in the palace of Varuṇa worshipping him.

3) Naraka (नरक).—Bhagadatta the son of Narakāsura ruled over the part of Pātāla called Naraka, and being the ruler of Naraka, Bhagadatta seems to have been known by the name of Naraka also.

4) Naraka (नरक).—See under Kāla I.

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia

Naraka (नरक) refers to the hells which are situated beneath the earth and beneath the waters, and into which sinners are finally sent.

The names of the different narakas are as follows:

  1. Raurava,
  2. Śūkara,
  3. Rodha,
  4. Tāla,
  5. Viśasana,
  6. Mahājvāla,
  7. Taptakumbha,
  8. Lavaṇa,
  9. Vimohana,
  10. Rudhirāndha,
  11. Vaitaranī,
  12. Krimīśa,
  13. Krimibhojana,
  14. Asipatravana,
  15. Kṛṣṇa,
  16. Lālābhakṣa,
  17. Dāruṇa,
  18. Pūyavāha,
  19. Pāpa,
  20. Vahnijvāla,
  21. Adhośiras,
  22. Sandansa,
  23. Kālasūtra,
  24. Tamas,
  25. Avīchi,
  26. Śvabhojana,
  27. Apratiṣṭha,
  28. Avīchi.

These and many other fearful hells are the awful provinces of the kingdom of Yama, terrible with instruments of torture and with fire; into which are hurled all those who are addicted when alive to sinful practices

(Source): Sacred Texts: The Vishnu Purana

1a) Naraka (नरक).—A son of Anṛta; another name of Raurava.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 9. 64; Vāyu-purāṇa 10. 39.

1b) A nephew of Hiraṇyakaśipu and son of the Earth and Vipracitti; lived in Prāgjyotiṣa;1 took away a number of women belonging to sages and kings to his palace, robbed Mandara of its crest jewel, Aditi of her earrings and Varuṇa of his umbrella; demanded the Airāvata from Indra; at Indra's request was cut in twain by Kṛṣṇa in his own city Prāgjyotiṣa;2 spoils distributed among his followers while all women were appropriated to Kṛṣṇa's harem.3 Friend of Vānara Dvivida who was killed by Baladeva.4

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 6. 27; 161. 78; 163. 81-2; 245. 12. Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 21. 128; V. 1. 24; 12. 21.
  • 2) Ib. V. 29. 8-21.
  • 3) Ib. V. 31. 14-15.
  • 4) Ib. V. 36. 2-21.

1c) A Dānava with manuṣya dharma;1 a Saimhikeya;2 killed by Kṛṣṇa.3

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 68. 15.
  • 2) Ib. 68. 19.
  • 3) Ib. 98. 102.

1d) Is bhaumam (earth).*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 39. 4, 7-8; 41. 6.

1e) 27 hells under Yama; to them go the unrighteous according to their respective sins; after a certain period they are born as low beings according to their karma.1 Seven under the earth below the Śeṣaloka— Raurava, Śītastapa, Kālasūtu, Apratiṣṭha, Avīcī, Lohapṛṣṭha, and Avidhya.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 2. 146-150.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 101. 144-92; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 6. 1. (whole).
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
context information

The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Naraka (नरक) refers to the “hells” mentioned in the Devī-bhāgavata-purāṇa 8.21 (on the narrative of hells). The hells are destinations where dead beings brought by messengers of Yama (the God of the Pitṛs), and get punished by him according to their karmas and faults.

There are variously twenty-one or twenty-eight hells described. The following is a list of thirty:

  1. Tāmisra,
  2. Andha-tāmisra,
  3. Raurava,
  4. Mahāraurava,
  5. Kumbhīpāka,
  6. Kālasūtra,
  7. Asipatrakānana,
  8. Śūkaramukha,
  9. Andhakūpa,
  10. Krimibhojana,
  11. Taptamūrti,
  12. Saṃdaṃśa,
  13. Vajrakaṇṭaka,
  14. Śālmalī,
  15. Vaitaraṇī,
  16. Pūyoda,
  17. Prāṇarodha,
  18. Viśasana,
  19. Lālābhakṣa,
  20. Sārameyādana,
  21. Avīci,
  22. Apahpāna,
  23. Kṣārakardama,
  24. Rakṣogaṇa,
  25. Saṃbhoja,
  26. Śūlaprota,
  27. Dandaśūka,
  28. Avaṭārodha,
  29. Paryāvartanaka,
  30. Sūcimukha.

The Devī-bhāgavata-purāṇa, or Śrīmad-devī-bhāgavatam, is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, a type of Sanskrit literature containing cultural information on ancient India, religious/spiritual prescriptions and a range of topics concerning the various arts and sciences. The whole text is composed of 18,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 6th century.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam
Shaktism book cover
context information

Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

Dhanurveda (science of warfare)

Nāraka refers to a kind of weapon employed in warfare by the soldiers, according to Śrīnātha’s 15th century Palanāṭivīra-caritra. Nāraka refers to the instrument used for wounding the infernal regions. The Vardhmānapuram inscription states that the king should be proficient in dealing several varieties of weapons.

(Source): Shodhganga: Kakati Ganapatideva and his times (weapons)
Dhanurveda book cover
context information

Dhanurveda (धनुर्वेद) refers to the “knowledge of warfare” and, as an upaveda, is associated with the Ṛgveda. It contains instructions on warfare, archery and ancient Indian martial arts, dating back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BCE.

Itihasa (narrative history)

Naraka (नरक) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.59.28, I.65, II.9.12, II.13.13) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Naraka) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
context information

Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

In Buddhism

General definition (in Buddhism)

1) Naraka (नरक, “hell”) refers to one of the “six destinations” (gata) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 57). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., naraka). The work is attributed to Nagarguna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

2) Naraka also refers to one of the “seven lower regions” (pātāla ) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 123).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

Naraka or Niraya (Tib: is the name given to one of the worlds of greatest suffering, usually translated into English as "hell" or "purgatory". As with the other realms, a being is born into one of these worlds as a result of his karma, and resides there for a finite length of time until his karma has achieved its full result, after which he will be reborn in one of the higher worlds as the result of an earlier karma that had not yet ripened. The mentality of a being in the hells corresponds to states of extreme fear and helpless anguish in humans.

Physically, Naraka is thought of as a series of layers extending below Jambudvipa into the earth. There are several schemes for counting these Narakas and enumerating their torments. One of the more common is that of the Eight Cold Narakas and Eight Hot Narakas.

Cold Narakas

  • Arbuda and – the "blister" Naraka
  • Nirarbuda and – the "burst blister" Naraka
  • Atata and – the Naraka of shivering
  • Hahava and – the Naraka of lamentation
  • Huhuva and – the Naraka of chattering teeth
  • Utpala and – the "blue lotus" Naraka
  • Padma and – the "lotus" Naraka
  • Mahapadma and – the "great lotus" Naraka

Each lifetime in these Narakas is twenty times the length of the one before it.

Hot Narakas

  • Sanjiva and – the "reviving" Naraka.
  • Kalasutra and – the "black thread" Naraka.
  • Samghata and – the "crushing" Naraka.
  • Raurava and – the "screaming" Naraka.
  • Maharaurava and – the "great screaming" Naraka.
  • Tapana and – the "heating" Naraka.
  • Pratapana and – the "great heating" Naraka.
  • Avici and – the "uninterrupted" Naraka.
(Source): WikiPedia: Buddhism

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Nāraka (नारक) refers to “infernal beings”: those living beings that cannot be happy in any state or moment (i.e. naraka), according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 3.3. The infernal beings have incessantly more and more inauspicious / impure thought-colouration (leśyā), environment (pariṇāma), body (śarīra), suffering (vedanā), and shape of body or deeds (vikriyā) in successive lands (bhumī). The infernal beings think of undertaking auspicious activities but always end up performing inauspicious activities i.e. they transform their bodies as deformed. Similarly they think of happiness but only end up being unhappy.

Infernal beings (nāraka) cause misery and suffering to each other. Extreme environment (heat and cold) are some of the other examples of causes of their sufferings. How do the infernal beings cause misery and sufferings to each others? As they are able to foresee the causes of sufferings by their wrong clairvoyant knowledge (ku-avadhi) by birth, they change their body in the form of lethal weapons, sharp objects, frightening animals, etc to cause misery to others. The infernal beings suffer miserys also inflicted by the wicked demons (malevolent / mean demons / (asurakumaras). Infernal beings have to live full life determined by their life-span-karma and suffer miserys all through (i.e. miserys and sufferings cannot cause death to infernal beings).

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 3: The Lower and middle worlds

1) Nāraka (नारक) or Nārakāyu refers to “infernal /hellish realms or states of existence” and represents one of the four divisions of Āyu, or “life determining (karmas)”, which represents one of the eight types of Prakṛti-bandha (species bondage): one of the four kinds of bondage (bandha) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra chapter 8. What is meant by life in hell or hellish life (naraka-āyu)? The karmas rise of which causes the body of the living beings stay in the infernal realm to suffer intense miserys due to heat, cold, hunger, thurst etc is life in hell.

2) Nāraka (नारक) refers to “infernal state of existence body-making karma” and represents one of the four types of Gati (state of existence), which represents one of the various kinds of Nāma, or “physique-making (karmas)”, which in turn represents one of the eight types of Prakṛti-bandha (species bondage): one of the four kinds of bondage (bandha) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra chapter 8. What is meant by infernal (nāraka) state of existence (gati) body-making (nāma) karmas? The karmas, rise of which causes birth in the hellish realm are called infernal state of existence body-making karma.

3) Nāraka (नारक, “infernal”) or Nārakānupūrvī refers to the “infernal migratory form” and represents one of the four types of Ānupūrvī (migratory form), representing one of the various kinds of Nāma, or “physique-making (karmas)”, which represents one of the eight types of Prakṛti-bandha (species bondage): one of the four kinds of bondage (bandha) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra chapter 8. What is the migratory form (ānupūrvī) body-making (nāma) karma for movement to infernal existence (nāraka)? When a human or sub human dies and heads towards infernal existence in his next birth, the soul retains its old form during the transitory period (i.e. from previous existence to infernal existence). This is due to the rise of infernal migratory form body-making karma. 

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 8: Bondage of karmas
General definition book cover
context information

Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

naraka : purgatory; the hell.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Naraka, (Sk. naraka; etym. doubtful, problematic whether to Gr. nέrteros (=inferus), Ags. nord=north as region of the underworld) 1. a pit D. I, 234; Th. 1, 869; J. IV, 268 (°āvāṭa PvA. 225).—2. a name for Niraya, i.e. purgatory; a place of torment for the deceased (see niraya & cp. list of narakas at Divy 67) S. I, 209; Sn. 706; PvA. 52; Sdhp. 492 (saṃsāraghora°), 612.

—aṅgāra the ashes of purgatory Sdhp. 32. (Page 347)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

Marathi-English dictionary

naraka (नरक).—m (S) Hell; a hell or a division of the infernal regions; of which there are eighty-four. 2 fig. A mass or heap of ordure and filth. na0 aṅgāvara ghēṇēṃ To take up any bad business of another. na0 upasaṇēṃ To stir any disgusting question or foul affair. na0 tōṇḍānta sāṇṭhaviṇēṃ To be very scurrilous or obscene. narakācī vāṭa dākhaviṇēṃ To exhibit (the road to hell) a bad example. narakānta dhōṇḍā ṭākūna śintōḍā ghēṇēṃ-uḍaviṇēṃ To delight one's self in dirty doings. narakānta jībha ghālaṇēṃ To tell lies: also to promise something disgusting in the performance. narakānta pacaṇēṃ To lie soaking or lingering in any bad place, case, or condition. narakānēṃ aṅga bharaṇēṃ To be deeply in debt. narakāsārakhā ghāṇērā or ghāṇaṇēṃ Used of a spirit-drinker or other stinkard, of a dun, taskmaster, disagreeable business &c. narakīṃ dhajā lāvaṇēṃ To achieve exploits leading to eminence in hell. lōkācyā narakānta buḍaṇēṃ To be extensively involved in debt.

--- OR ---

nāraka (नारक).—, or nārakīya a S Relating to naraka the infernal regions.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

naraka (नरक).—m Hell. A mass or heap of ordure and filth. naraka aṅgāvara ghēṇēṃ To take up any bad business of another. naraka upasaṇēṃ To stir any disgusting question or foul affair. naraka tōṇḍānta sāṇṭhaviṇēṃ To be very scur- rilous or obscene. narakācī vāṭa dākhaviṇēṃ To exhibit (the road to hell) a bad ex- ample. narakānta dhōṇḍā ṭākūna śintōḍā ghēṇēṃ-uḍaviṇēṃ. To delight one's self in dirty doings. narakānta jībha ghālaṇēṃ To tell lies: also to pro- mise something disgusting in the performance. narakānta pacaṇēṃ To lie soak- ing or lingering in any bad place, case or condition. narakānēṃ aṅga bharaṇēṃ To be deeply in debt. narakīṃ dhvajā lāvaṇēṃ To

--- OR ---

nāraka (नारक).—a Relating to naraka the infernal regions.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Naraka (नरक).—

1) Hell, infernal regions (corresponding to the realm of Pluto; there are said to be 21 different parts of these regions where different kinds of tortures are inflicted upon sinners tāmisra, andhatāmisra, mahāraurava, raurava, naraka, kālasūtra, mahānaraka, saṃjīvana, māhavīci, tapana, saṃpratāpana, saṃhāta, kākola, kuḍmala, pratimūrtika, lohaśaṅku, ṛjīṣa, panthā, śālmalī, asitapatravana, lohadāraka are the 21 Narakas; cf. Ms.4. 88-9).

2) A liquor-vessel; नरकं मद्यभाजने (narakaṃ madyabhājane) Nm.

-kaḥ Name of a demon, king of Prāgjyotiṣa. [According to one account he carried off Aditi's ear-rings and Kṛṣna at the request of the gods killed him in a single combat and recovered the jewels. According to another account, Naraka assumed the form of an elephant and carried off the daughter of Viśvakarman and outraged her. He also seized the daughters of Gandharvas, gods, men and the nymphs themselves, and collected more than 16 damsels in his harem. These, it is related, were transferred by Kṛṣṇa to his own harem after he had slain Naraka. The demon was born of earth, and hence called 'Bhauma']

Derivable forms: narakaḥ (नरकः), narakam (नरकम्).

--- OR ---

Nāraka (नारक).—a. (- f.) [नरक एव प्रज्ञा° अण् नरकस्येदम् अण् वा (naraka eva prajñā° aṇ narakasyedam aṇ vā)] Hellish, relating to hell, infernal.

-kaḥ 1 The infernal regions, hell; कुभ्मीपाकं गुरुमपि हरे नारकं नापनेतुम् (kubhmīpākaṃ gurumapi hare nārakaṃ nāpanetum) Mukundamālā 6.

2) An inhabitant of hell.

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

Relevant definitions

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Uṣṇanaraka (उष्णनरक) refers to the “eight hot hells” as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section...
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Nārakānupūrvī (नारकानुपूर्वी) or simply Nāraka refers to the “infernal migratory form” and repr...
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