The Markandeya Purana

by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237

This page relates “conversation between the father and son (continued)” which forms the 12th chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 12 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XII - Conversation between the father and son (continued)

Jaḍa describes the Hells Mahāraurava, Tamas, Nikṛntana, Apratiṣṭha, Asipatravana, and Taptakumbha to his father.

The father spoke:

“Good, my son! thou hast declared the deepest obscurity of mundane existence, relying on the great fruit that grows from the bestowal of knowledge. Therein thou hast verily described the Rauravas as well as all the Narakas; tell me of them at length, O mighty in intellect!”

The son spoke:

“I have described to thee first the hell Raurava, now listen to the description of the hell named Mahāraurava,[1] O father! There for seven times five thousand yojanas all around the earth is made of copper; beneath it[2] is fire. Heated by the heat thereof the whole region shines with a light equal to that of the rising moon, most intensely severe to sight touch and the other sensations. There the evil-doer is deposited, bound hand and foot, by Tama’s servants; he moves rolling about in the midst. Preyed upon by crows, herons, wolves, and owls, scorpions, and mosquitoes, and vultures he is speedily dragged out into the road. Burnt and confounded, he exclaims repeatedly, “Father! Mother! Brother! Dear one!” Full of fear he can get no repose. In this manner therefore emancipation from existence is attained to by violent men, who evil-minded have committed sin, in ten thousand times ten thousand years.

“Moreover there is another hell named Tamas;[3] it is bitterly cold naturally; it is as long as Mahāraurava, and is enveloped in darkness. There the men, afflicted with the cold, running about in the awful darkness, encounter one another and seek refuge clasping one another. And their teeth adhere together, chattering with pain through the cold; there are also other plagues the strongest of which are hunger and thirst. A cutting wind, laden with particles of snow, pierces their bones; pressed with hunger, they feed on the marrow and blood that trickle down therefrom. Constantly licking, they whirl about in mutual contact. So there in Tamas very great affliction is indeed endured by human beings, until, O most worthy brāhman! their sins are completely consumed.

“Next there is another notable hell, known as Nikṛntana.[4] In it potter’s wheels revolve incessantly, O father! Human beings are mounted thereon and are cut by the string of Fate which is borne on the fingers of Yama’s servant, from the sole of the foot to the head; and these men do not lose their life thereby, most virtuous brāhman! and their portions severed in hundreds reunite. In this way sinners are cut in sunder during thousands of years, until indeed the whole of their sins are consumed.

“Listen also while I speak of the hell Apratiṣṭha, the occupants of which hell undergo intolerable pain. Those wheels are there indeed, and jar and well-ropes on the other side, which have been constituted causes of pain to men who engage in sin. Some human beings mounted on the wheels whirl around there; for thousands of years no other condition is theirs; and then another man is bound to the jar and well-rope, as the jar in the water. Human beings whirl around, continually spitting out blood, with blood pouring from their faces, and with eyes streaming with tears. They are visited with pains that are beyond endurance by living creatures.

“Hear also of another hell called Asipatravana;[5] which has the ground covered with blazing fire for a thousand yojanas, where they are grievously scorched by the very fierce vehement beams of the sun. The living beings that inhabit the hell are ever falling down there. In the midst thereof appears a charming forest with moist leaves. The leaves there are sword-blades, O most virtuous brāhman! Myriads[6] of powerful black dogs also bark there, with long muzzles, with large teeth, formidable as tigers. Then gazing at that forest before them, with its cool shades, the living beings hasten thither, oppressed with raging thirst, crying ‘Ah mother! ah dear one!’ in deepest woe; their feet burnt by the fire lambent on the ground. When they wend there, a wind blows, that hurls down the sword-leaves, and so casts the swords down upon them. Thereat they fall to the earth into a mass of blazing fire, which has pervaded the entire surface of the ground, and is constantly licking in other directions. Thereupon the terrific dogs quickly rend many limbs from the bodies of those wailing ones. I have described this Asipatravana to thee, dear father!

“Next learn of me about the very dreadful Taptakumbha.[7] On all sides heated pitchers are surrounded with the flames of fire, and are filled with oil iron and powder which boil over on to the heaps of blazing fire. Into them the workers of iniquity are cast head-long by Yama’s servants.[8] They are boiled, and foul the water with the marrow that oozes from their bursting limbs. Terrible vultures pulling them out fracture the eye-bones of their bursting skulls; again they are dropped into the same pitchers by the impetuous birds; again they become united with the liquefied heads, limbs, sinews, flesh, skin and bones, by means of the oil in the seething vessel. Then being quickly and vigorously stirred up by Yama’s servants with a spoon, the sinners are churned up in the whirling pool of copious oil. Such is the Taptakumbha that I have fully described to thee, O father!”

Footnotes and references:


Very terrible.


For tasya read tasyā?




Cutting off.


Sword-leaf- forest.


For ayuta-śobhitāḥ read ayutāśo’sitāḥ?




For yāmyaḥ read yāmyaiḥ.

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