Nirayavagga - The Buddhist Hells

Buddhist Hell

by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Selected passages from Buddhist scriptures describing the nature of activities that lead to evil and hell, nirayavagga.

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

306

He goes to hell,
the one who asserts
what didn't take place,
as does the one
who, having done,
says, 'I didn't.'
Both — low-acting people —
there become equal:
after death, in the world beyond.

307-308

An ochre robe tied 'round their necks, many with evil qualities
— unrestrained, evil —
rearise, because of their evil acts,
in hell.
Better to eat an iron ball
— glowing, aflame —
than that, unprincipled &
unrestrained,
you should eat the alms of the country.

309-310

Four things befall the heedless man
who lies down with the wife of another:
a wealth of demerit;
a lack of good sleep;
third, censure;
fourth, hell.
A wealth of demerit, an evil destination,
& the brief delight of a
fearful man with a
fearful woman,
& the king inflicts a harsh punishment.
So
no man should lie down
with the wife of another.

311-314

Just as sharp-bladed grass, if wrongly held,
wounds the very hand that holds it — the contemplative life, if wrongly grasped,
drags you down to hell.
Any slack act,
or defiled observance,
or fraudulent life of chastity
bears no great fruit.
If something's to be done,
then work at it firmly,
for a slack going-forth
kicks up all the more dust.
It's better to leave a misdeed
undone.
A misdeed burns you afterward.
Better that a good deed be done
that, after you've done it,
won't make you burn.

315

Buddhist Hell Buddhist Hell

Like a frontier fortress,
guarded inside & out,
guard yourself.
Don't let the moment pass by.
Those for whom the moment is past
grieve, consigned to hell.

316-319

Ashamed of what's not shameful,
not ashamed of what is,
beings adopting wrong views
go to a bad destination.
Seeing danger where there is none,
& no danger where there is,
beings adopting wrong views
go to a bad destination.
Imagining error where there is none,
and seeing no error where there is,
beings adopting wrong views
go to a bad destination.
But knowing error as error,
and non-error as non-,
beings adopting right views
go to a good
destination.

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Source: Copyright © 1997 Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Reproduced and reformatted from Access to Insight edition © 1997 For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted, and redistributed in any medium. It is the author's wish, however, that any such republication and redistribution be made available to the public on a free and unrestricted basis and that translations and other derivative works be clearly marked as such.

The images used in this article are in public domain.

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