The Agni Purana

by N. Gangadharan | 1954 | 360,691 words | ISBN-10: 8120803590 | ISBN-13: 9788120803596

This page describes The nature of Hell (naraka-svarupa) which is chapter 203 of the English translation of the Agni Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas dealing with all topics concerning ancient Indian culture, tradition and sciences. Containing roughly 15,000 Sanskrit metrical verses, subjects contained in the Agni-Purana include cosmology, philosophy, architecture, iconography, economics, diplomacy, pilgrimage guides, ancient geography, gemology, ayurveda, etc.

Chapter 203 - The nature of Hell (naraka-svarūpa)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Fire-god said:

1-5. I shall describe hells [i.e., naraka]. One does not go to them if he worships lord Viṣṇu with flowers and other things. A man gets released from his life forces at the end of his life even though he does not wish for it. A man gets released from his life on account of some case such as water, fire, poison, weapon, hunger, illness and fall from a mountain. One takes another body to be experienced as a result of one’s own acts. One who has committed a sin would experience grief and one who does good (deeds) would experience happiness. One is led to the God of Death by the dreadful messengers of God of Death through the southern gate if one has taken evil path. Pious men (would be taken) by the western and other (doors). (They are) cast into hells by the servants being ordered by the God of Death. On account of piety one is led to heaven according to the words of Vasiṣṭha.

6-9. The killer of a cow is tormented for a lakh of years in the mahāvīcī (one of the hells). The killer of a brahmin (would be tormented) in a well-heated copper pot (for the same period). One who steals the land would be slowly tormented in the raurava (hell) till the great deluge. One who kills a woman, child or the old (is tormented) in the dreadful mahāraurava (hell) till (the period of) fourteen Indras. One who sets fire to the house, ground etc. is burnt for a kalpa (432 million years of mortals). Thieves would fall into the tāmisraka hell. They would be pierced by the attendants of the God of Death with spears etc. for many kalpa periods. Then they would be tormented in the mahatāmisraka hell by serpents, leeches etc.

10-11. One who kills his mother would be struck by swords in the asipatravana (forest where the trees have leaves as sharp as swords) for many kalpa periods as long as the earth (remains). One who has burnt men would be burnt in muddy region with gravel etc. One who has eaten sweet food alone will suffer in kākola (hell) eating the excreta of insects.

12. One who has discontinued (doing) five sacrifices[1] (would suffer) in kuṭṭala hell eating urine and blood. One who has eaten the forbidden food would take blood in the filthy hell.

13. One who afflicts others would be tormented in the hell tailapāka like sesamum. One who kills a person who has. sought refuge would be cooked in the tailapāka.

14. One who withholds gifts at the sacrifice and who sells. wine would be thrown into the hell nirucchvāsa. Similarly, one who lies (would be thrown) into the great hell vajrakavāṭa.

15. Evil-minded persons (would suffer) in (the hell) mahājvāla; one who has cohabited the forbidden woman (would suffer) in (the hell) krakaca, the doer of mixed sins in (the hell); one who strikes at other’s weakness would suffer in hells guḍapāka and pratoda.

16. The killer of an animal (would be thrown) into an alkaline lake. One who steals the land (would be placed) under a current as sharp as a razor. One who steals a cow or gold (would be thrown) into (the hell) ambarīṣa. One who cuts a tree (would be put) in (the hell) vajraśastraka.

17. One who steals wine would be put into parītāpa (hell) and one who steals other’s wealth into kālasūtra (hell). One who eats flesh in excess (would be thrown) into kaśmala (hell). One who does not offer the rice-balls (for the manes) (would be put) into ugragandha hell.

18. One who receives a bribe (would be tormented) in (the hell) durdhara. One who cohabits women taken captive (would suffer) in the hell (called) mañjūṣa. One who censures scriptures (would be thrown) in the unstable hell loha.

19-20. One who bears false witness (would be put) in (the hell) pūtivaktra. One who steals wealth and one who kills a child, woman or the old and one who afflicts a brahmin would suffer in (the hell) karāla. A brahmin who drinks wine (would suffer) in (the hell) vilepa. Those who have caused breach (of friendship) (would be put) into (the hell) mahātāmra.

21. One who cohabits others’ wives (would enter) (the hell) śālmala (and embrace) glowing iron or stone. Similarly, a woman cohabiting many men would do.

22-23. Those who cohabit their mothers and daughters, those who have cut the tongue (of others), those who have looked (at others’ wives) with lustful eyes and those who have plucked the eyes would be thrown into a heap of charcoal. Thieves would be pierced with razors. One who eats flesh (would be made) to eat his own flesh. One who practises fasting for (the stipulated) months would not go to hell. So also one who practises the vow on the eleventh day and the bhīṣmapañcakavrata—(would not go to hell).

Footnotes and references:


To be performed by a householder—brahmayajña, pitṛyajña, daivapitṛyajña, bhūtayajña and nṛyajña respectively denoting teaching, libation, to manes, oblation to gods, offering made to spirits and feeding guests.

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