Naraka Buddhism


In Buddhism, Naraka (Sanskrit: नरक) or Narakaloka means underworld or hell. The term is found in all four Indian religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism).

Naraka is a place of suffering and physical torment. In Buddhism, in many respects, the conceptions of Naraka coincide with those of Hinduism. The number and names of the hells vary from text to text, as does the type of sinner who is sent to a particular hell.


A type of hell realm or underworld called Narak or Naraka is also found in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. Yama, the Tibetan Buddhist lord of the hell realm, also first appeared in the Vedas.

However, the early texts only vaguely describe Naraka as a dark and oppressive place. During the 1st millennium BC, the concept of multiple hells gained acceptance.

These hells contained different types of torment, and reincarnation depended on what kind of misdeeds one had committed. In time, the bad karma of the misdeeds was used up and one could leave.

Early Buddhism had similar teachings about multiple hells. The biggest difference is that the early Buddhist sutras emphasized that there was no God or other supernatural intelligence making judgments or assignations. Karma, understood as a kind of natural law, would lead to appropriate rebirth.

Cold Ice Hells

The Cold Ice Hells lie above the Hot Hells. The Ice Hells are described as frozen, desolate plains or mountains where people must live unclothed. The ice hells are:

Arbuda (hell of freezing when skin blisters).

Nirarbuda (hell of freezing while blisters burst)

Atata (hell of shivering)

Hahava (hell of trembling and groaning)

Huhuva (hell of chattering teeth, plus moaning)

Utpala (hell where the skin turns as blue as a blue lotus)

Padma (the lotus hell, where the skin cracks)

Mahapadma (the great lotus hell where you freeze so that your body falls apart)

Hot hells

Hot hells include the place where you are cooked in cauldrons or ovens and trapped in white-hot metal houses where demons pierce you with hot metal stakes. People are cut apart with flaming saws and crushed by huge hammers of hot metal.

And as soon as someone is sufficiently boiled, burned, dismembered or crushed, he or she comes back to life and starts it all over again. Common names for the eight hot hells are:

Samjiva (hell of reviving or repetitive attacks).

Kalasutra (hell of black lines or wires; used as a guide for the saws)

Samghata (the hell of being crushed by big hot things)

Raurava (hellish screaming while running around on burning ground)

Maharaurava (hellish screaming while being eaten by animals)

Tapana (hell of scorching heat while being pierced by spears)

Pratapana (hell of scorching heat while being pierced by tridents)

Avici (hell without interruption while roasting in ovens) 

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