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Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) :: Conto 5

The Hellish Worlds or the Karmic Rebound

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Srimad Bhagavatam » Conto 5   

 The Hellish Worlds or the Karmic Rebound

(1) The king said: 'O great saint, how came this variegatedness of life in the different worlds about?'

(2) The sage said: 'Because of the different convictions with which the acting person relates to the three modes of nature, there is the variegatedness of all the destinations that more or less can be attained by everyone. (3) Because of the godlessness of what we know as forbidden actions there will, depending the particular conviction of the one who was engaged that way, be a different consequence in the form of a karmic rebound. Let me now in detail explain what kinds of thousands of hellish conditions there are since time immemorial, typical for those souls of lusty desire who out of their ignorance in so many ways wished their advantage.'

(4) The king said: 'What one calls hell out here my lord, is that a particular place on earth, is it found outside of the worlds we know or somewhere in between them?'

(5) The rishi said: 'Hell is found within the three worlds, towards the south below the earth and a little above the causal waters [below Pâtâlaloka], in the region where the forefathers who desire the blessings for their families, headed by Agnishvâttâ live fully absorbed in the truth. (6) The son of the sun god [Yamarâja] has his kingdom there together with his followers. The deceased brought there by his people are according to the gravity of their karmic faults subjected to punishments that are executed with care not to be in offense with the Supreme Lord.  (7) Some [scholars] mention a number of  twenty-one hells o King and some count twenty-eight. Their names, forms and characteristics I will one after the other relate to you. The [28] names of the hells or different places of requital are: Tâmisra, Andhatâmisra, Raurava, Mahâraurava, Kumbhîpâka, Kâlasûtra, Asipatravana, Sûkaramukha, Andhakûpa, Krimibhojana, Sandams'a, Taptasûrmi, Vajrakanthaka-s'âlmalî, Vaitaranî, Pûyoda, Prânarodha, Vis'asana, Lâlâbhaksha, Sârameyâdana, Avîci, Ayahpâna, and also Kshârakardama, Rakshogana-bhojana, S'ûlaprota, Dandas'ûka, Avatha-nirodhana, Paryâvartana and Sûcîmukha.

(8) Someone who takes away the money, the wife or children of someone else is sure to be bound with the fetters of time by the most terrible men of Yamarâja and by force to be thrown into the hell of Tâmisra ['the darkness']. Having landed in that darkest of all conditions being deprived of food and water, beaten with sticks and scolded, he sometimes, in his desperation, loses his consciousness because of the severe punishments received. (9) The same way he who by cheating enjoys the wife, possessions etc. of someone else, is by force thrown into the hell that is called Andhatâmisra ['blind darkness'] because the embodied soul as a consequence of the constant agony there, next to his mind also loses his sight and thus becomes as blind as a tree cut by the roots. (10) He who in his life on earth, taking his body for his self and property, harmed other living beings while day after day laboring to support only his own family, will, upon leaving this world, because of that sin end up in Raurava. (11) With Yamarâja presenting the consequences for this offense, the living beings that were hurt by him in this life will in his afterlife turn into savage creatures [called rurus] who then hurt him to the same extent. Because of these wild beasts that are more vicious than snakes the scholars speak of Raurava ['the hell of the monsters']. (12) Similarly there is Mahâraurava [the 'great monster'] wherein someone is killed and eaten by the ruru beasts named kravyâda when he [himself] solely for the maintenance of his body [kills and eats what he kills]. (13) But a person who in this life was very cruel towards [land and sea] animals or birds and cooked them alive, is condemned by even the most cruel-hearted man eaters. After his death the servants of Yamarâja will  throw him in Kumbhîpâka ['the hell of the cooking pot'] to be cooked in boiling oil himself. (14) And everyone who in this life kills a brahmin, [will be forced] into a hell named Kâlasûtra ['the long course of time'] which has a surface of copper with a circumference of ten thousand yojanas that is heated by the sun from above and by a fire from below. With his body internally plagued by hunger and thirst and externally being scorched, he at times lays down and then rolls about, then he jumps to his feet again and next runs hither and thither - and that for the duration of as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of an animal. (15) He who in this life unnecessarily deviated from his path of self-realization and yielded to hypocrisy [or heresy] is forced into a hell known as Asipatravana ['the razor-sharp forest'] where he is beaten with a whip so that he, fleeing away left and right, cuts his body on the two-edged razor sharp palm leaves. He in denial of his own nature [or neglect of his civil duty] will thus have to face the result of following the wrong track and with a lot of pain, stumbling at every step, then stupefied think: 'Oh, what have I done to myself?' (16) But that head of state or state official who in this life punishes someone innocent or inflicted corporeal punishment on a brahmin will in his next life land in the hell of Sûkaramukha ['hog's mouth']. There the different parts of his body will be crushed by the strong assistants [of Yamarâja] as if it concerned sugarcane. Just like someone who innocently was arrested to be punished, he will then, pitiably crying out loud, be overwhelmed by desperation and faint. (17) Some creatures are by the Creator designed to live as parasites unaware of the harm they do to others, but he who in his will to survive himself causes pain very well knowing what he is doing to other creatures of God, lands in his afterlife in Andhakûpa ['the overgrown well']. With the harm he did to the beings in question, he will experience that evil himself. Just like the creatures with an inferior body - the game, the birds, snakes, mosquitos, lice, worms, flies and whatever - he on his turn everywhere in the darkness will be persecuted, hurt and disturbed by them and then wander around without being able to find a place to rest. (18) He who in his life eats whatever he obtained by the grace of God but does not share it with others and thus neglects the five forms of sacrifice [to the gods, the wise, the ancestors, the needy and the animals], is just like a crow. Such a person will in his afterlife fall in the most abominable hell of Krimibhojana ['to feed on worms'] where, having landed in a hundred thousand yojanas wide lake full of worms, he as a worm himself may feed on and on his turn be eaten by the other worms, for as many years as that lake measures in yojanas. Such is the pain that he causes himself who - without atoning for his sins - eats food that he didn't share and sacrifice. (19) When one for no apparent reason in this life is of theft or violence, stealing gold, gems and so on from a brahmin or from others o King, one will in his afterlife by the men of Yamarâja be forced to hold red-hot iron balls with the fingers he used for stealing. [Because of which that hell is called Sandams'a, 'mitts hell']. (20) Any person, man or woman, who in this life approaches a partner unsuitable for sexual intercourse, will in his afterlife be beaten by whips and forced to embrace a very hot iron image in the form of a man when one is a woman or in the form of a woman when one is a man [: Taptasûrmi, the hell of 'the red hot iron statue']. (21) Anyone who in this life indiscriminately has sexual intercourse [with both man and animals e.g.], will in his afterlife land in the hell of Vajrakanthaka-s'âlmalî ['the thunderbolt-thorn cotton tree'] where being hung [on the thorns] he will be pulled down. (22) They who in this life belonging to the royalty or the government despite of their high birth transgressed the boundaries of dharma, will after their death land in Vaitaranî ['the river of impetuous passion']. Having broken with the code of conduct for the ruling class they suffer in the moat around that hell being eaten by ferocious animals in the stream here and there. Unable to relinquish the body and carried by the vitality of their sin, they are then reminded of their bad deeds as they are pained in the river of stool, urine, pus, blood, hair, nails, bones, marrow, flesh and fat. (23) Those men who in this life as husbands of lower class women lost their cleanliness, good behavior and regulated life, and shamelessly behaved themselves like animals, will, when they have died, land in an ocean full of pus, excrement, urine, mucus and saliva, and only be able to subsist on all of that which is so extremely revolting [: the Pûyoda hell of 'fetid waters']. (24) The leaders belonging to the higher classes - including the brahmins -  who in this life keeping dogs or asses take pleasure in hunting with them will killing animals other than prescribed, after their death themselves become the target of Yamarâja's men who will pierce them with arrows [: the hell of Prânarodha, 'smothering the breath']. (25) People who in this life being so very proud of their wealth and position for their prestige in sacrificing kill animals, will in the next world fall into the hell of Vis'asana ['the sleeplessness'], where the helpers of Yamarâja making them suffer will cut them to pieces. (26) But he who in this life as someone of a higher class, bewildered by his lusts causes his wife of the same caste to drink his semen, will because of that sin in his next life be thrown into a river of semen and be forced to drink it himself [this is the hell of Lâlâbhaksha, 'to have semen for food']. (27) Or those kings and their soldiers who in this world as thieves, arsonists and poisoners ransack villages and plunder caravans, will after they died be devoured by the voracious seven hundred twenty dogs with mighty teeth of the Yamadûtas [: the hell of Sârameyâdana 'the dogs' meal']. (28) He also who in this life speaks a lie or bears false witness in exchanging goods, with giving gifts in charity or with other matters, will after his death head first free fall be thrown from the top of a hundred yojanas high mountain in the hell of Avîcimat ['having no water']. There the arid land consisting of stones waves like a sea where he, with his body broken everywhere, doesn't die, but instead is dragged to the top to be thrown down again. (29) When a brahmin or his wife, or anyone who took a vow [not to], in a state of illusion drinks liquor, or when someone of learning, a ruler or a trader drinks soma-rasa [a sacred intoxicating beverage], they will all, being brought to hell, with the foot on their chest have red-hot molten iron poured into their mouths [: the hell of Ayahpâna, 'drinking iron'].

(30) Next to that one must consider anyone a dead man alive who in this life falsely proud and with little respect proved himself degraded before a more honorable person of a higher birth, austerity, knowledge, good behavior and faithfulness to the principles. He after dying will head first be thrown in the hell of Kshârakardama [the 'pool of acrid mud'] to suffer there the severest agony. (31) Men who in this life sacrificed other people in worship [of Kâlî] and women who ate men, those kind of murderers will be slain like animals in the abode of Yamarâja by groups of punishing Râkshasas who, just like those man-eaters did themselves, will cut them with swords to pieces, drink their blood and dance and sing thereto in delight [: the hell called Rakshogana-bhojana, 'to be the food of the devil']. (32) But persons who in this world lured innocent creatures, seeking shelter in the forest or the village, by making them feel safe, but instead caused them pain by playing games with them, piercing their bodies or putting them on a leash, those people after their death can count on it that their own bodies will be fixed likewise and that they, starved and thirsty and such, will be tortured from all sides by sharp beaked birds like herons and vultures so that they may remember the sins they committed [the hell of S'ûlaprota, 'pierced by the pike']. (33) Also those men who like snakes with an angry nature in this life caused pain to others without any necessity, will after their death fall down in a hell called Dandas'ûka ['the cudgel in return'] where o King, five- and seven-hooded serpents raise before them in order to eat them just like mice. (34) Or people who in this life confine living beings either in a blind well, in granaries or in caves, will likewise in their next life be forced to enter the same places, to be locked up there with poisonous fumes, fire and smoke [: the hell called Avatha-nirodhana, 'to be thrown in the dark']. (35) Someone who in this life as a householder every time he received guests or visitors gave them a sinful look of anger as if he wanted to burn them with his eyes, for sure will land in the hell meant for those with a sinful vision, where his eyes will be plucked out by the powerful beaks of herons, vultures and crows [the hell of Paryâvartana, 'the eyes plucked']. (36) Also those egoists who with a look of disapproval regard all with suspicion, whose heart and face dry up by the thought of expenditure and loss, and who like evil spirits protecting their wealth are never happy, will after their death because of their sinful deeds to protect those riches and increase their incomes, fall down in a hell called Sûcîmukha ['the pin first'], where the commanders of Yamarâja like expert weavers with thread and needle will stitch the limbs of the bodies of those money grabbing ghosts and sinners.

(37) For all those who act against the dharma as I mentioned and also for those I didn't mention, there are, according to the degree of sinfulness, all these sorts of hells to fall into. There are many hundreds and thousands of them in the realm of Yamarâja o King. Similarly there are elsewhere in this world [or in this universe] new lives to enter for the ones of principle and piety who reached the end of their vitue or vice [compare B.G. 4: 9 and 3.30: 29]. (38) In the beginning I described to you the path of liberation [in cantos two and three]. There I showed you how the Supreme Lord Nârâyana in the stories of the Purâna could be as much as the universe that is like an egg divided in fourteen parts. I described His gross form consisting of His energy and qualities, as being directly the Gigantic Person [the virâth-rûpa]. He who with veneration hears, reads or explains that song of the Supreme Personality of the Supersoul will, however difficult it is to understand, because of his faith and devotion find his intelligence purified and arrive at comprehension. (39) Hearing about the gross as well as the subtle form of the Supreme Lord, the devotee should lead the mind which is captivated by the gross form, step by step in contemplation to the subtle, spiritual form. (40) Of this planet earth I have described to you the different realms and regions, the rivers, the mountains, the sky, the oceans and the direction and positions of the lower worlds, the hellish worlds and the higher worlds above them o King. How wonderful is this gross body of the Supreme Controller wherein the aggregate of all living beings has its place!'

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SOURCE: Translation: Anand Aadhar Prabhu, http://bhagavata.org/

Production: the Filognostic Association of The Order of Time, with special thanks to Sakhya Devi Dasi for proofreading and correcting the manuscript. http://theorderoftime.com/info/guests-friends.html

The sourcetexts, illustrations and music to this translation one can find following the links from: http://bhagavata.org/