The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Great Efficacy of Anaraka Tirtha which is chapter 29 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the twenty-ninth chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 29 - The Great Efficacy of Anaraka Tīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sanatkumāra said:

1. Now listen to the greatness of the Tīrtha called Anaraka. If one takes one’s holy bath in the Anaraka Tīrtha and visits Maheśvara, he never sees Naraka (hell) even if he happens to be slayer of a Brāhmaṇa.

Vyāsa said:

2. O dear one, how many are the Narakas (hells)? Where are they situated? Where do miserable sinners fall and for what sin?

3. How do living beings, the perpetrators of sinful deeds, go there? Narrate all this, O holy Lord, if you are pleased with me.

Sanatkumāra said:

4. Listen, O Vyāsa, to the Narakas (hells), how many they are and where they are stationed. I shall truthfully state to you how these are averted.

5. (Obscure!) All these are proclaimed as situated in Pātāla. They are always the causes of misery. When merit overflows, they go over to the births of non-human beings, thanks to their Karmas.

6-9. The various Narakas are:[1] Raurava, Sūkara, Raudra, Tāla, Vinaśaka, Taptakuṃbha, Taptāyas, Mahājāla, Kuṃbhīpāka, Krakacana, Devātidāruṇa, Kṛmibhukti, Raktākhya, Lālābhakṣa, Gaṇḍaka, Adhomukha, Asthibhaṅga, Yantrapīḍanaka, Sandaṃśa, Rudhirāṅga, Śvabhojya and Kubhojana. All these Narakas are excessively terrible. They are in the jurisdiction of Yama. They are said to be givers of fear.

10. Persons engaged in sinful actions fall therein. The men who fall there are boiled and scorched in accordance with their Karmas.

11. They are subjected to diverse kinds of tortures till their terrifying activities become reduced. They are tightly fettered round their hands with red-hot chains.

12. They are hanged from the tops of great trees by the servants of Yama. They bewail their own Karmas remaining quiet and motionless.

13. The perpetrators of sinful activities are struck all over the body by the terrible servants by means of pikes blazing like fire and iron rods fitted with thorny projections.

14. They are thrown all-round. They are cut and shattered. They are burnt with fire kindled on different occasions.

15. A false witness; one who makes incorrect statements due to partiality; others who utter falsehood: all these go to Raurava.

16-17. All these go to Raudranaraka: an imbiber of liquor, slayer of a Brāhmaṇa, one who steals gold, a tale-bearer and traducer. Those who associate with them also fall into the hell. One who kills a foetus, a slayer of preceptor, one who kills a cow and those who commit breach of trust: all these go to Raudranaraka.

18. Those who waste foodstuffs are cooked in Taptaloṣṭhas. One who cohabits with (his) daughter or daughter-in-law is cast into Mahājvāla.

19. He who commits a sinful act everyday and he who denies a word (uttered) (or the gift of a cow?) falls into Kuṃbhīpāka with face down and feet kept above.

20-21. One who harasses his master, one who terrifies others is cast into Taptakuṃbha. One who speaks ill of Devas, one who sells the Vedas and those who carnally approach other men’s wives, fall into Krakacana. A thief and one who violates the boundary fall into Atidāruṇa.

22-23. One who hates gods, Brāhmaṇas and Pitṛs, one who defiles gems goes to the hell Kṛmibhakṣa. Those who do not attend and serve fathers, gods and preceptors fall into the worm-eating hell called Rakta. One who engages in deceitful activities falls into the fierce Lālābhakṣa.

24-26. One who accepts gifts from the low-born goes to the Adhomukha hell. A man who solely eats sweet puddings, goes to the hell Asthibhaṅga.

An ungrateful person, a slanderer, a ruthless one, one who has false prestige, a deceitful one and one who reveals other people’s secrets: all these fall into Yantrapīḍanaka.

A Brāhmaṇa who sells red lac, flesh, gravy, gingelly seeds and juices goes to the hell Śvadaṃśa. There is no doubt about it.

27-33. A destroyer of beehives, destroyer of a village, goes to Vaitaraṇī. Those who do acts contrary to the injunctions pertaining to different castes and stages of life, mentally, verbally or physically, go to the great river (Vaitaraṇī). One who dishonours preceptors and hates the scriptures and transgresses holy Parvans goes to Asipatra.

Those men who, being elated with wealth, and prime of youth, violate the bounds of decency go to the terrible Naraka named Kṛṣṇasūtra which is terrible.

An uncivilized Brāhmaṇa who carnally serves a Śūdra woman and one who marries a Śūdra woman, both of them fall into the hell.

Those who are Ucchiṣṭa (unwashed after partaking of food) and touch cows, fire, mother or Brāhmaṇas and particularly a hater of friends: all these are cooked in Kubhujya hell.

When the prescribed row (for sitting) is transgressed by one, when one sleeps during day time, and those who violate rules of celibacy and those fathers who are taught by the sons: all these fall into Śvabhojana. These and other Narakas are hundreds and thousands in number.

34-37. Perpetrators of crimes are cooked there and subjected to torture. There are as many hells as there are heavens. Those who commit much sin but are averse to expiatory rites (suffer all the more), If after committing a sin, anyone regrets it, his sole expiation is the recollection of Śiva. Hence an excellent man who remembers Śaṃbhu day and night, does not fall into a hell. He becomes pure with all his sins quelled. During the fourteenth lunar day in the dark half of the month of Kārttika, lamps should be lighted in front of the Lord of Devas.

Footnotes and references:


Hells are deterrents against immorality. The list of hells differs in different Purāṇas. As their names indicate, different kinds of tortures as could be imagined by the ancient writers, are listed here.

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