The Vows Ksitigarbha Sutra
Translated by Pitt Chin Hui
The Names of Different Kinds of Hells
At that time, Samantabhadra Maha Bodhisattva requested Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and said, "My meritorious One, please be kind enough to relate to devas, the dragons and all beings of the Samsara world, in the present and the future, the names of different Hells and the kinds of punishment for committing sins, so that beings in the future generation will realise the result of evil deeds and therefore will avoid evil."
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva replied, "My compassionate One, under the supernatural powers of the Buddha and your kind support, I now give you the names of Hells and the kinds of punishment for sinners in brief—
1. The Great Avici Hell
At the East of the Mahachakravala mountain which is extremely cold, for there is neither light of the sun nor the moon, there is a great Hell by the name of Great Avici. Punishments in this Hell comprise of pain, form, birth and death. Such punishments continue without intermission.
2. Hell of Interminable Punishment
Where the wailing and screaming of sinners are heard because of pain.
3. Hell of Four Corners
Where hot and burning iron-walls surround this Hell and with flames of fire falling on the sinners, like heavy rain-drops. After the sinners are burnt to death, they are reborn for further sufferings.
A. Hell of Flying Knives
This Hell is surrounded by mountains made of Knives. In the air, there are millions and millions of sharp walls with curved Knives which will fall on the sinners. When the Knives fall on the sinners' bodies, the bodies will be slashed to pieces.
5. Hell of Burning Arrows
Where millions of Burning Arrows pierce through the sinners' hearts and bodies.
6. Hell of Crushing Mountains
Where sinners will be crushed to pieces between two Mountains.
7. Hell of Knife-like Spears
Where sinners' bodies will be pierced through by these Spears.
8. Hell of Iron-Trains
Where sinners' bodies are turned and run over by the burning iron-wheels of these Trains.
9. Hell of Burning Iron-Beds
Where sinners bodies are placed on these Beds to be burnt to death.
10. Hell of Iron-Cows or Oxen
Where sinners are pierced or stepped over by the horns or hoofs of these Cows or Oxen.
11. Hell of Burning Iron-Clothing
Where sinners are wrapped up by these burning Iron-Clothing.
12. Hell of Thousands of Burning Iron-swords
Where sinners are forced to lie on them which pierce through their bodies. Knives are also seen flying from the air, hitting the sinners' bodies and cutting them to pieces.
13. Hell of Burning Iron-Asses
Where sinners are forced to ride on them.
14. Hell of Molten Brass
Where sinners have Molten Brass poured into their mouths.
15. Hell of Brass Pillars
Where sinners are forced to embrace the burning Brass Pillars.
16 Hell of Burning Flames
Where sinners bodies are burnt by the Flames falling on them like rain-drops
without any chance for them to escape.
17. Hell of Tongue-Plough
Where sinners' tongues are used as Ploughs to plough the land.
18. Hell of Iron-Saws Where the heads of sinners are sawed.
19. Hell of Burning Iron Ground
Where sinners are forced to walk on it with bare feet.
20. Hell of Iron Eagles
Where sinners' eyes are pecked by Iron-Eagles.
21. Hell of Burning Iron-Balls
Where sinners are forced to swallow the Balls.
22. Hell of Quarrels
Where sinners are burnt with iron-claws, and are always seen in a fight with one another.
23. Hell of Iron-Hammers
Where sinners are smashed by the Iron-Hammers.
24. Hell of Great Anger
Where sinners are made to fight against one another angrily.
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva said again, "My compassionate One, inside the Mahachakravala, there are innumerable such Hells of Punishment. Again, there are—
25. Hell of Wailing
Where sinners are thrown into the burning tanks with molten iron and they wail on account of severe pain.
26. Hell of Plucking Tongues
Where sinners' tongues are plucked by Iron-Hooks.
27. Hell of Urine and Manure
Where sinners are driven into the pit of Urine and Manure.
28. Hell of Brass Locks
Where sinners are locked against the Iron-Mountain and made to run.
29. Hell of Fire Elephants
Where sinners are chased by burning Elephants.
30. Hell of Fire Dogs
Where sinners are bitten by them.
31.Hell of Fire Horses and Fire Cows
Where sinners are chased or stepped on by the burning animals.
32.Hell of Fire Mountains
Where sinners are forced to walk between them and be crushed into ashes.
33.Hell of Fire Rocks
Where sinners are forced to lie on the Iron Burning-Rocks and with such Rocks pressed against them.
34. Hell of Fire Beds
Where sinners are forced to lie on them.
35. Hell of Fire beams
Where sinners are hanged on them.
36. Hell of Fire Eagles
Where sinners are attacked by them.
37. Hell of Fire Saws
Where sinners' bodies and teeth are sawed.
There is a Hell where sinners' skins are stripped.
There is a Hell where the blood of sinners is sucked.
There is a Hell where the feet and hands of sinners are burnt.
There is a Hell of iron-trees with sharp thorns where sinners are dragged against the burning thorns.
There are Hells of burning iron-houses, as here sinners are to be locked within them and then burnt to ashes.
There is a Hell of iron-wolves, which either run after or stamp on sinners' bodies, and even bite them to pieces.
Inside such Hells there are various kinds of small ones, either one, two, three, four or even up to hundreds and thousands of smaller Hells with different names."
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva then told Samantabhadra Maha Bodhisattva and said' "My meritorious One' the above Hells are formed purposely to punish all beings who are of the bad habits to commit sins either through their actions, words and thoughts. The power of Cause and Effect is so great and inevitable, it can be compared to being as big as the Mount Sumeru and as deep as the great ocean. Evil sins are obstacles preventing us from practising meritorious deeds to aim for Buddhahood. That is why all beings should be cautious not to commit even the smallest sin. Never think that a small sin will not get any punishment in return. After one is dead, he or she will be cast into the Hell to be punished even for the smallest evil deed done. Close relatives, as that of a father and his children, may find themselves cast into different Hells. When they meet at the same Hell, however, they are not permitted, as well as reluctant, to suffer on behalf of their beloved ones. By the supernatural power of our Honoured One, the
Shakyamuni Buddha, I am now only relating to you the punishment of different Hells in brief. I hope you will be kind enough to listen to me.
Then Samantabhadra Maha Bodhisattva replied, ""I have come to know about the punishment of evil deeds through actions, words and thoughts long ago. I earnestly hope that my compassionate One will kindly speak about the law of Cause and Effect so that every being of the future generation will learn the lesson from you to abstain from doing bad deeds, but to practise meritorious ones by aiming to attain Buddhahood.''
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva said again, "My compassionate One, the punishments in Hells are as real as such. There are Hells where the tongues of sinners are used as ploughs. In some of the Hells, the hearts of sinners are pulled out and eaten by Yaksas. In some Hells, the sinners have to be put into boiling tanks and be boiled to death. In some of the Hells, sinners are forced to embrace burning brass pillars. In some of the Hells, sinners are circulated by burning flame."
Inside some of the Hells, it is extremely cold, where sinners are frozen to death. In some of the Hells, sinners have to float among the dirt of urine and manure. In some of the Hells, there are flying iron weapons, which crush the sinners’ bodies. In some of the Hells, there are burning spears, which pierce through the suffering sinners. In some of the Hells, the hands and feet of sinners are made to hold or walk on burning irons. In some of the Hells, the bodies of sinners are curled around by iron snakes. In some of the Hells, sinners are chased by iron dogs. In some of the Hells, sinners are forced to ride on iron asses.
People who have committed sins by killing, theft, adultery, lying, slandering, abusing, gossiping, craving and anger have to be cast into the above Hells for punishment without any chance of escape.
My compassionate One. The weapons of punishment in the various Hells are innumerable in kinds, either made of brass, iron, stone, or fire. The stubbornness of all beings is as strong as brass, iron and stone, which are difficult to break. The power of Cause and Effect on sinners is as dangerous as fire, which will spread rapidly and burn things to ashes. If I am to speak about the sufferings of Hells in detail, there are hundreds and thousands of various kinds of suffering in each Hell. Evidently, there will be more sufferings in more Hells. Under the supernatural power of our Honoured One, the Shakyamuni Buddha, and at your kind request, I am now only relating the sufferings in Hells very briefly. If I am to speak about the sufferings and punishments in Hells in detail, I cannot fully express them, even through kalpas and kalpas.