The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Samsara and Sufferings in Hell which is chapter 30 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the thirtieth chapter of the Third Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 30 - Saṃsāra and Sufferings in Hell

Kapila said:

1. Just as a row of clouds does not know the force of the mighty wind even though they are dispersed by it, similarly the people, though at the mercy of Time—Kāla—certainly do not know the great prowess of the mighty Time.

2. Whatever object (of pleasure) a man acquires with great efforts for the enjoyment of pleasures, the omnipotent Lord destroys it (lit. shakes it off) and the man grieves over it.

3. For it is out of delusion that an ignorant person regards as permanent that which belongs to this perishable body and its relatives such as the house, lands, money (and other property) which are transitory.

4. In whatever kind of existence (birth) a being is born in this saṃsāra, he feels happy in that (particular) birth. He is never disgusted (and unattached) with it.

5. The Jīva is so deluded with the Māyā of God that even in hell, while he has to subsist on and find pleasure in the products of hell, he verily does not desire to give up his (hellish) body.

6. With his heart deeply rooted in his body, wife, children, house, cattle, wealth and relatives, he regards himself as great and happy.

7. All his body is as if burning with anxiety of supporting these; (and) this ignorant person of evil intentions continuously goes on committing sins.

8. His mind and senses are attracted by the spell of the seductive charms of unchaste women in privacy, and by the sweet indistinct warbling of children.

9. He is prompt and watchful in the householder’s life which is characterised by unfair moneydealings leading to a lot of misery. In such houses the householder regards it a pleasure to counteract the miseries.

10. He maintains them with money (and other objects) acquired here and there (in various ways and from any place) with great injury (and trouble to all). He can enjoy (but little of) what is left after their consumption. By (thus) maintaining them, he goes down (to hell).

11. When, despite his fresh attempts to start again and again, his means of livelihood become a failure, he becomes overpowered with greed. Growing weak, he begins to covet after another’s property.

12. Being unable to maintain his family, the unfortunate fellow, whose all attempts have ended in failure, becomes destitute of wealth and miserable. Being at a loss to know what to do; the wretch goes on brooding and sighing.

13. Just as miserly farmers neglect old (and hence useless) bulls, his wife and others do not treat him with respect as before, as he has become incapable of maintaining them.

14. 15. Even in that stage he does not feel disgust. He is deformed with old age and is approaching death. He is overcome with disease. He eats but little due to loss of appetite. His movements slow down and he is now nourished by those whom he had brought up. He stays in the house like a dog eating what is contemptuously thrown to him.

16. By the (vital) breath which is passing out, he has his eye-balls shot out. Phlegm chokes up the tubular passage (in his lungs). He suffers from extreme difficulty in breathing due to cough and asthema [asthma?] and a gurgling sound is heard in his throat.

17. He lies surrounded by his weeping relatives. He who is bound down with the noose of Death, does not reply, even though addressed (by his relatives).

18. In this way, a man who has devoted himself completely for the maintenance of his family and has not controlled his sense-organs, loses his consciousness (lit. intelligence, mind) through extreme pain and dies while his relatives are crying.

19. Then he sees two terrible-looking messengers of death with eyes full of anger. At their sight, with terrified heart, he passes on urine and excrement.

20. They perforce shut him (the jīva) in a body specially designed to torture him. Fastening a noose round his neck, they drag him along the rout (to the region of death) like the policemen (King’s men) do to convicts (persons to be punished).

21-22. His heart is breaking with their threats. He is trembling (with fear). On the way, hellish dogs bite him. Remembering his sins, he feels distressed. He suffers from hunger and thirst. On the road covered with hot sand, he is scorched by the heat of the Sun, forest-conflagration and (hot) blasts of wind. He is severely whipped on the back. Though weak and exhausted, he drags (on the road) where there is neither shelter nor water.

23. Now and then he faints exhausted. He rises again led by the most accursed dark path to the house of Yama (hell).

24. He is dragged within three or two muhūrtas[1] on this road of ninety-nine thousand Yojanas and undergoes the sufferings.

25. His body is burnt by surrounding it with firebrands. Sometimes he is made to eat his own flesh cut by himself or by others.

26. While he is alive, his entrails are dragged out by the hounds or vultures in the hell. He is subjected to torments by the biting and stinging of serpents, scorpions, mosquitoes and others.

27. His limbs are chopped off one by one. He is crushed by being trampled by the elephants and such other animals. He is thrown down from the tops of mountains. He is confined and suffocated in caves or under water.

28. Whether a man or a woman, he or she undergoes extreme tortures of the hells called Tāmisra, Andhatāmisra, Raurava and others as a result of mutual illicit relations.

29. Oh mother, some say that the heaven or the hell is here (in this world) only, because whatever tortures or afflictions are meted out in the hell are seen in this very world.

30. In this way, he who maintains his family or earns his livelihood only, gives up his family and his body, and experiences such kind of fruit for it after death (in the other world).

31. He who has collected only sins as the provision for a journey (in saṃsāra) has to give up his physical body which he has maintained by doing wrong to other beings and goes alone to the hell of darkness (andhatāmisra hell).

32. A man who commits sins for feeding his family, experiences in hell their evil consequences brought to him by Destiny. He becomes afflicted like a man who has been robbed of his wealth.

33. The being (jīva) who is eager to maintain his family by irreligious behaviour only, goes to the Andha-Tāmisra hell, the lowest region of darkness.

34. He regularly undergoes suffering and miserable types of births (of sub-human beings below, which he has passed through before his rebirth as a human being). He goes through them by degrees and becomes pure and is born as a human being.

Footnotes and references:


muhūrta—A period of 48 minutes.

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