Essence Of
Varaha Purana


45    Nachiketa’s visit to Hell and return
Nachiketa was the virtuous son of Sage Uddalak who in a fit of anger once told the son to go to hell and despite the father’s apology later on, Nachiketa was bent on visiting Yamapuri and also returning back in his mortal body! When Nachiketa did come back, his father knew no bounds of joy as this was indeed a miracle that anybody could return from hell. The news spread out fast and innumerable Munis and Yogis left their daily routines and thronged Nachiketa with questions that remained complex through out their lives such as the description of hell, about Yama Dharmaraja and followers, the status of sinners and the treatment meted out to them, the dispensations provided to different kinds of sins by Chitragupta and so on. Having respectfully greeted the mighty Yamadharma Raja, Nachiketa narrated the following: All those who are liars; killers of men, women and children; killers of Brahmanas, the ungrateful, greedy, womanisers, rapists, non- believers of Vedas, who curse Vedas or obstructors of Vedic paths or Brahmanas who get Sudras to execute Yagnas are all sinners. Those who are drinkers of wine; abandon or harass parents, loyal wife, children or Guru; who wilfully and wrongly secures property; destroys public utilities, hampers Vratas, Yagnas, or moral causes; and such sinners of small, medium or large sins have graded classification for the purpose of retribution of justice! Yamalok is thousand yojanas wide and of lengh twice over; made of gold and glittering buildings; of rivers and waterbodies of clear and tasty water; beautiful gardens full of flowers and fruits; well fortified walls impossible to scale or escape. There are two huge rivers ‘Pushpodaka’ and ‘Vaisvathi’ with divine waters. Two massive gates, one reserved for Sages, the Virtuous and devotees who might not stay there but visualise the fate of the Sinners and another one to let pass very huge crowd of sinners in continuous streams are the landmarks of Hell. Nachiketa also visualised ditches of massive magnitude, named ‘Adoombar’, ‘Avirchiman’ and ‘Uchchavatch’ meant for sinners to pass through. Sinners are also forced through flames to the west of Yamapuri. Nachiketa also witnessed the Great Assemby of Sages like Manu, Vyas, Atri, Gautam, Angira, and Bhrigu. He visioned the Goddess of Justice, worshipped by Yamaraja and controlling all the actions of the Sinners and found the fiery and powerful Goddess ‘Kala’ too known for retribution and revenge. Thousands of Yamaduts were on errands to fetch, classify, arrange and direct sinners and as there was no concept of time, rest, sleep or wake up; there was no respite but follow a continuous and rigorous work-schedule. While lesser content of sins were being dealt with by the Yama ‘dootas’by actions like beating, throwing into flames, treating them with icy winds and so on, the larger intensity of sins are to be directly dealt with byYama Raja himself. Also, there is a classification of hells like, Tapta, Maha Taptha, Maha Rourav, Rourav, Saptataal Naraka, Kaalasutrak Naraka, Andhakar Narak, Andhatamisra Naraka and so on. In the language of hell, there are gradations of sins and corresponding punishments of varying descriptions and potencies upto eight levels. After death, when the ‘Mritak Prani’or the Dead Being is brought to hell, the surroundings are peculiarly different; the Earth is molten like metal, sky looks like a fire ball; the experience would be of extreme hunger and thirst; food is too hot to eat and water is too cold to drink; the Prani is thrown into stenchy water ponds to be a target of huge fishes, crocodiles and waterborn snakes; by the time the Prani is able to escape to the banks, huge birds hit the target or so do the big flies! In ‘Kareeshgarth’ or Kumbhipak Naraks, there are Demons with big teeth making horrible sounds of biting and tearing the limbs of the Prani and after chewing, the limbs leap back again for another bite or tear! In ‘Asipatra’ or ‘Shringatak’ forests full of sharp edged thick leaves, the Prani is cut, pierced, twisted, or broken apart and ‘sported’ by dogs or worse still by giant scorpions. Then come the Kumbapalika Vana of Agni ‘Jwalas’ or flames; ‘Vyalakirna’ or serpent infested tanks, ‘Vaitarani’ Maha Nadi of fifty yojanas wide and fifty yojanas deep which is stated to let pass through by the grace of good deeds done only! One Yojana height of ‘Kalgarah’ mount, ‘Shingatakavan’named forest and so on are such experiences that nothing else but the process of punishment would be wecomed by the Soul tormented fully by now; in other words, ‘Karma paripak’ or the fruition of karmas performed by the Prani would be welcome by now as would be proposed by Chitragupta on the basis of ‘pluses and minuses’ account and finally endorsed By Lord Yama Himself! If the Soul has an account of Virtue, he is sent to heaven; if the content of the sin is large then the dispensations vary for the Prani to become a tree, or an animal, or another human being of a lesser value.

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