Continued from “The Abode of Yama”
Garuda Puran Part – 3
In an answer to Garuda’s question as to what torments are suffered by the jeevas in the abode of Yama, Sri Hari tells him that He would surely give him an account, the mere listening to which strikes him with terror. In this chapter the torments to which the sinners are put are described in graphic detail. The paramount purpose of this purana is to warn living men as to what they must suffer if they do not obey elders and follow the path of rectitude with care and minute attention. Any word, an unthoughtful, unconsidered action would lead man to sin. The slightest deviation from the moral code would prove deadly in the end. Devotion to God, charity, compassion and righteouness should be the guidelines for all human deeds. Those who believe in God and those who restrain their senses and stick to the right path would be saved from undergoing the torments described in this chapter by Sri Hari Himself.
Garuda asks Sri Hari, his lord another question:
“O Keshava; kindly tell me about the kinds of anguished torments the various types of sinners suffer an Yama’s way.
Replies Sri Hari: O son of Vinata! I will let you know all and the very descriptions would send you shivering and continues:
Forty-four yojanas away from the city of Bhahubheeti is situated Yama’s abode. The sinner listens to the cries of pain and howls for mercy from a long way. At the gate Dharmadwaja would be standing all the time. He sees the sinner and reports to Chitragupta very quickly all the deeds of the sinner. Then Chitragupta goes to the dispenser of punishments, the King of Justice. He is called Yamadharmaraja too.
The king knows all the sins the sinner is guilty of, but still asks Chitragupta for details. Though Chitragupta knows, as his custom, he asks Sravanas who are the sons of Brahmins, pious and righteous people, also called twice- born. Their wives are Sravanis and they report the sins of women who come there. They report all both openly and in confidence. These reporters know the three sins committed by sinners, in thought, word and action. The Sravanas and their wives have authority vested in them all, whether mortal or immortal. These speak only truth. If a sinner should please them by sincere, honest and humble account of their own sins, they tend to became charitable. By reporting the misdeeds of sinners, these indirectly become dispensers of pain, anguish and humiliation. The activities (of man or woman)^re constantly under watch by the elements, by the sun and the moon, day and night, dawn and dusk. The whole retinue of Yama knows all. Then the sinner is produced before Yama and has an audience of the frightful Lord, his buffalo mount, his huge body and hand holding a rod. He roars like a cloud which is dark like lamp-black, with weapons that gleam like lightning having two and thirty arms. His body exends to three yojanas. His eyes look like deep wells. His mouth agape shows frightful fangs. His eyes are frightening red and his nose is long and appears sharp. The sinner trembles in fear. Having no charity in the account of his deeds, he knows what his lot would be and shakes miserably. Chitragupta, at his Lord, Yama’s command, speaks to the paapis, who keep weeping bitterly for the bygones and their karma.
Chitragupta upbraids all paapis and asks them as to why they committed such grave sins. He harangues to them saying that because of their egosense, pride and lust they committed extremely grave sins. They enjoyed committing sins and now they must suffer torments of many kinds. Merely turning their face away now would not help them in any way. The consequence of sins must be suffered with no exception. Yama’s justice is equitable: he makes no distinction between the weak and strong or the rich and the poor.
Listening to the words of Chitragupta the paapis grieve remembering their deeds. They are struck silent and motionless. Yamadharmaraja pronounces the decrees of punishments. The servitors taunt the paapis to proceed to the places allotted for their torments. They beat them severely. Prachanda, Chandaka and other servitors in the abode of Yama bind them and take them all in one noose towards hell. They arrive at a point where there is a huge tree covering the whole of five yojanas. It blazes with fire. The paapis are bound to the frightful tree head downwards and roughed up. The paapis wail burning in the heat and suffering severe pain. The sinners are hanged by huge sik-cotton trees. Beaten, they get exhausted, helplessly in hunger and thirst. The paapis cringe seeking forgiveness and implore compassion without avail. No mercy is shown to them. They are beaten with sharp spear-heads and beaten with maces, pestles and other such weapons. The paapis just swoon but even then the servitors do not stop railing at them. They ask the wretched as to why they could not give even water to the thirsty. They committed shameless acts of unkindness. They never fed anyone hungry, not even a dog or an animal or a crow. They did not make offering of water as tarpan for their parents and forefathers. They never contemplate on Yama or Chitragupta and repeat the mantra, incantation addressing the God of wealth. They never undertook pilgrimages to mitigate their evil deeds. They never worshipped deities and never showed kindness to anyone: man, bird or beast. They did nothing by way of offering service. Now they have to eat the fruit of their sins and suffer all kinds of punishment. “We have no way of being kind to you! O Sinners,” they say.
Only Lord Hari or Iswara has the competence to forgive. As for themselves they can only punish them. Thus explaining there was more beating. The paapis collapse to the ground cutting their limbs on the sharp leaves around and under them and are bitten by ferocious dogs. The mouths of the paapis left open are filled with dust by the tormentors. They beat the wicked sinners with hammers. Some of the paapis are sawn with saws just as wood is sawn. Some are chopped into two after being placed on the ground with sharp axes. Some are half-buried in pits. They would not be able to move. Then they are pierced in the head with sharp arrows. Some are squeezed in a machine like sugar-cane in a crusher. Some are just smelted like metallic ore when they are made to take punishment with blazing fires all around. Some are dipped into sizzling butter and some are thrown into boiling oil. Some are thrown in the way of rogue elephants with their feet and hands tied up. The punishments meted out are of frightful variety: some are thrown into wells, some are thrown down from mountain tops and some are cast away into deep pits infested with worms and insects which feed on them mercilessly. The paapis are pecked at by birds of prey with beaks formidable and frightful to look at. Vultures eat their eyes and scratch their faces. Sometimes the paapis have to listen to the angry demands of people who lent them money saying that he deserved the punishments in hell. The servitors of Yama tear off pieces of flesh from the sinner with horrid pincers. The paapis quarrel among themselves and are taken to more frightful hells like Tamisra. Hells are situated in different regions where different kinds of punishments are given according to the depth of the invidual sins. These are indescribably painful.
Sri Hari tells his bird mount Garuda that the number of hells stand at eighty-four lakhs. Out of these twenty-one are the most dreadful and fear-inspiring. The twenty-one narakas have different names for each one them. They are:
1. Tamisra (full of darkness)
2. Lohanshanku (with iron spears all around)
3. Maharauravashalmali (horrid silk cotton tree)
4. Raurava (terrible)
5. Kudmala (blossoming like a flower)
6. Kalasutraka (the thread of death)
7. Puti mrittika (foul-smelling mud or clay)
8. Sanghata (accumulated one)
9. Lohitoda (weights of heavy metal)
10. Savisha (with poison, poisonous)
11. Sampratapana (Burning)
12. Mahaniraya (the great exit-way ant)
13. Kaka (crow)
14. Uluka (owl)
15. Sanjivana (Living together)
16. Mahapatha (The great way)
17. Aveechi (un-remitting)
18. Andha Tamisra (thick blinding darkness)
19. Kumbhipaka (baked clay pot)
20. Sampratapana (burning, scorching heat)
21. Tapana (very hot).
The sinners in these hells are also afflicted with various dreadful diseases.
The paapis here have no redeeming qualities in them at all and they have to suffer the torments till the end of the eon, (Yuga). Men and women who are guilty of adultery suffer different kinds of torments in terrible hells like Tamisra, Andhatamisra and Raurava. The one who cares only for himself and does not take care of his family suffers the most after his death. When he is out of his mortal body, which is fattened at the expense of other creatures or men and women goes alone into hell with no company at all there. Like one physically handicapped robbed of his wealth, the sinner suffers intense hell according to his deeds. The paapi who supports his family by foul and evil ways is thrown into Andhatamisra, the quarter of thick darkness. After undergoing torments he comes back to earth, purified as another being.
Continued to “Torments for Different Sins”