Sinners are sent to various Narakas (Hells) by Yamaraja according to the nature and seriousness of their sins. According to the Garuda Purana there are a total of 28 Narakas. They are as follows.
(1) Tamisram (Heavy flogging) -Those who rob others of their wealth are bound with ropes by Yama’s Servants and cast into the Naraka known as Tamisram. There, they are given a thrashing until they bleed and faint. When they recover their senses, the beating is repeated. This is done until their time is up.
(2) Andhatamtrsam (Flogging) -This Hell is reserved for the Husband or the Wife who only treat their spouses well when they are to profit or pleasure to them. Those who forsake their wives and husbands for no apparent reasons are also sent here. The punishment is almost the same as Tamisram, but the excruciating pain, suffered by the victims on being tied fast, makes them fall down senseless.
(3) Rauravam (torment of snakes) – This is the hell for sinners who seize and enjoy another man’s property or resources. When these people are thrown into this hell, those whom they have cheated, assume the the shape of “Ruru”, a dreadful serpent. The serpent(s) will torment them severely until their time is up.
(4) Mahararuravam (death by snakes) – Here there is also Ruru serpents but more fiercer. Those who deny the legitimate heirs, their inheritance and possess and enjoy others property will be squeezed and bitten non stop by this terrible serpents coiling around them. Those who steal another man’s wife or lover will also be thrown here.
(5) Kumbhipakam (cooked by oil) – This is the hell for those who kill animals for pleasure. Here oil is kept boiled in huge vessels and sinners are plunged in this vessels.
(6) Kalasutram (Hot as hell) – This hell is terribly hot. Those who don’t respect their elders esp. when their elders have done their duties are sent here. Here they are made to run around in this unbearable heat and drop down exhausted from time to time.
(7) Asitapatram (sharp flogging) – This is the hell in which sinners abandon one’s own duty. They are flogged by Yama’s Servants with whips made of asipatra (sharp-edged sword-shaped leaves). If they run about under the flogging, they will trip over the stones and thorns, to fall on their faces. Then they are stabbed with knives until they drop unconscious, When they recover, the same process is repeated until their time is up in this Naraka.
(8)Sukaramukham (Crushed and tormented) – Rulers who neglect their duties and oppress their subjects by misrule, are punished in this hell. They are crushed to a pulp by heavy beating.When they recover, it is repeated until their time is up.
(9) Andhakupam (Attack of the animals) – This is hell for those who oppress the good people and not helping them if requested despite having the resources. They will be pushed into a well, where beasts like Lions, tigers, eagles and venomous creatures like snakes and scorpions. The sinners have to endure the constant attacks of this creatures until the expiry of the period of their punishment.
(10) Taptamurti (Burnt Alive) – Those who plunder or steal Gold and jewels are cast into the furnaces of this Naraka which always remains hot in blazing fire.
(11) Krimibhojanam (Food for worms) – Those who do not honour their Guests and make use of men or women only for their own gain, are thrown into this Naraka. Worms, insects and serpents eat them alive. Once their bodies are completely eaten up, the sinners are provided with new bodies, which are also eaten up in the above manner. This continues, till the end of their term of punishment.
(12) Salmali (Embracing hot images) -This Naraka is intended for men and women who have committed adultery. A figure made of iron, heated red-hot is placed there. The sinner is forced to embrace it, while Yama’s servants flog the victim behind.
(13) Vajrakantakasali (Embracing sharp images) – This Naraka is the punishment for Sinners who have unnatural intercourse with animals. Here, they are made to embrace iron images full of sharp diamond needles that pierce through their bodies.
(14) Vaitarani (River of Filth) – Rulers who abuse their power and adulterers are thrown here. It is the most terrible place of punishment. It is a river which is filled with human excreta, blood, hair, bones, nails, flesh and all kinds of dirty substances. There are various kinds of terrible beasts as well. Those who are cast into it are attacked and mauled by these creatures from all sides. The sinners have to spend the term of their punishment, feeding upon the contents of this river.
(15) Puyodakam (Well of hell) – This is a well filled with excreta, urine, blood, phlegm. Men who have intercourse and cheat women with no intention of marrying them are considered like animals. Those who wander about irresponsibly like animals are thrown in this well to get polluted by it’s contents. They are to remain here till their time is up.
(16) Pranarodham (Piece by Piece) – This Naraka is for those who keep dogs and other mean animals and constantly hunt and kill animals for food. Here the servants of Yama, gather around the sinners and cut them limb to limb while subjecting them to constant insult.
(17) Visasanam (Bashing from Clubs) – This Naraka is for the torture of those rich people who look down at the poor and spend excessively just to display their wealth and splendour. They have to remain here at the whole term of their punishment where they will be bashed non stop from heavy clubs from Yama’s Servants.
(18) Lalabhaksam (River of semen) – This is the Naraka for lustful men. The lascivious fellow who makes his wife swallow his semen, is cast into this hell. Lalabhaksam is a sea of semen. The sinner lies in it, feeding upon semen alone until his period of punishment.
(19) Sarameyasanam (Torment from dogs) – Those guilty of unsocial acts like poisoning food, mass slaughter, ruining the country are cast into this hell. There is nothing but the flesh of dogs for food. There are thousands of dogs in this Naraka and they attack the sinners and tear their flesh from their bodies with their teeth.
(20) Avici (turned into dust) – This Naraka is for those who are guilty for false witness and false swearing. There are hurled from a great height and they are utterly smashed into dust when they reached the ground. They are again restored to life and the punishment is repeated till the end of their time.
(21) Ayahpanam (Drinking of burning substances)- Those who consume alcohol and other intoxicating drinks are sent here. The women are forced to drink melted iron in liquid form, whereas the men will be forced to drink hot liquid molten lava for every time they consume a alcoholic drink in their earthly lives.
(22) Raksobjaksam (Revenge attacks)- Those who do animal and human sacrifices and eat the flesh after the sacrifice will be thrown in this hell. All the living beings they killed before would be there and they will join together to attacking, biting, and mauling the sinners. Their cries and complaints would be no avail here.
(23) Sulaprotam (Trident Torture)- People who take the lives of others who have done no harm to them and those who deceives others by treachery are sent to this “Sulaportam” hell. Here they are impaled on a trident and they are forced to spend their whole term of their punishment in that position, suffering intense hunger and thirst, as well as enduring all the tortures inflicted on them.
(24) Ksharakardamam (hanged upside down) -Braggarts and those who insult good people are cast into this hell. Yama’s servants keep the sinners upside down and torture them in many ways.
(25) Dandasukam (eaten alive)- Sinners who persecute others like animals will be sent here. There are many beasts here. They will be eaten alive by this beasts.
(26) Vatarodham (weapon torture)- This hell is for those who persecute animals which live in forrests, mountain peaks and trees. After throwing them in this hell, sinners are tortured with fire, poison and various weapons during their time here in this Naraka.
(27) Paryavartanakam (torture from birds)- One who denies food to a hungry person and abuses him is thrown here. The moment the sinner arrives here ,his eyes are put by being pierced the beaks of birds like the crows and eagles. They will be pierced later on by this birds till the end of their punishment.
(28) Sucimukham (Tortured by needles)- Proud and Miserly people who refuse to spend money even for the basic necessities of life, like better food or buying food for their relations or friends will find their place in this hell. Those who do not repay the money they have borrowed will also be cast into this hell. Here, their bodies will be constantly be pricked and pierced by needles.
Births on Account of the Signs of Sins.
The conversation between Bhagwan Vishnu and Garuda gives information about acts that lead to sins and later torturous treatment in hell or next birth. It should be noted here that Brahmin is not the caste but the person who has Vedic knowledge, is most learned man among his people. The person who is responsible to lead by example so that the society follow his pious teachings else such person is punished most for his misdeeds. Common people follow the learned men and if they commit blunders and sins then entire society is ruined.
1. Garuḍa said: Tell me, O Keśava, by what sins particular signs are produced, and to what sorts of birth such sins lead?
2. The Blessed Lord said: The sins on account of which the sinful returning from hell come to particular births, and the signs produced by particular sins,–these hear from me.
3. The murderer of a Brāhmaṇ becomes consumptive, the killer of a cow becomes hump-backed and imbecile, the murderer of a virgin becomes leprous,–all three born as outcastes.
4. The slayer of a woman and the destroyer of embryos becomes a savage full of diseases; who commits illicit intercourse, a eunuch; who goes with his teacher’s wife, diseased-skinned.
5. The eater of flesh becomes very red; the drinker of intoxicants, one with discoloured teeth; the Brāhmaṇ who, on account of greed, eats what should not be eaten, becomes big-bellied.
6. He who eats sweet foods, without giving to others, becomes swollen-necked; who gives impure food at a Śrāddha ceremony is born a spotted leper.
7. The man who, through pride, insults his teacher, becomes anepileptic; who despises the Vedas and the Śāstras certainly becomes jaundiced.
8. Who bears false witness becomes dumb; who breaks the meal-row 1 becomes one-eyed; who interferes with marriage becomes lipless; who steals a book-is born blind.
9. Who strikes a cow or a Brāhmaṇ with his foot is born lame and deformed; who speaks lies becomes a stammerer, and who listens to them becomes deaf.
10. A poisoner becomes insane; an incendiary becomes bald; who sells flesh becomes unlucky; who eats fled of other beings becomes diseased.
11. Who steals jewels is born in a low caste; who steals gold gets diseased nails; who steals any metal becomes poverty-stricken.
12. Who steals food becomes a rat; who steals grain becomes a locust; who steals water becomes a Chātaka-bird 2; and who steals poison, a scorpion.
13. Who steals vegetables and leaves becomes a peacock; perfumes, a musk-rat; honey, a gad-fly; flesh, a vulture; and salt, an ant.
14. Who steals betel, fruits and flowers becomes a forest-monkey; who steal shoes, grass and cotton are born from sheeps’ wombs.
15. Who lives by violence, who robs caravans on the road, and who is fond of hunting, certainly becomes a goat in a butcher’s house.
16. Who dies by drinking poison becomes a black serpent on a mountain; whose feature is unrestrained becomes an elephant in a desolate forest.
17. Those twice-born who do not make offering to the World-deities, and who eat all foods without consideration, become tigers in a desolate forest.
18. The Brāhmiṇ who does not recite the Gāyatrī 1, who does not meditate at twilight, who is inwardly wicked while outwardly pious, becomes a crane.
19. The Brāhmiṇ who officiates for one unfit to perform sacrifice becomes a village hog, and by too many sacrifices he becomes an ass; by eating without grace, a crow.
20. The twice-born who does not impart learning to the deserving becomes a bull; the pupil who does not serve his teacher becomes an animal,–an ass or a cow.
21. Who threatens and spits at his teacher, or browbeats a Brāhmaṇ, is born as a Brāhmiṇ-fiend in a waterless wilderness.
22. Who does not give to a twice-born according to his promise becomes a jackal; who is not hospitable to the goody becomes a howling Fire-face.
23. Who deceives a friend becomes a mountain-vulture; who cheats in selling, an owl; who speaks ill of caste and order is born a pigeon in a wood.
24. Who destroys hopes and who destroys affection, who through dislike abandons his wife, becomes a ruddy goose for a long time.
25. Who hates mother, father and teacher, who quarrels with sister and brother, is destroyed when an embryo in the womb, even for a thousand births.
26. The woman who abuses her mother-in-law and father-in-law, and causes constant quarrels; becomes a leech; and she who scolds her husband becomes a louse.
27. Who, abandoning her own husband, runs after another man, becomes a flying-fox, a house-lizard, or a kind of female serpent.
28. He who cuts off his lineage, by embracing a woman of his own family, having become a hyena and a porcupine, is born from the womb of a bear.
29. The lustful man who goes with a female ascetic becomes a desert fiend; who consorts with an immature girl becomes a huge snake in a wood.
30. Who covets his teacher’s wife, becomes a chameleon; who goes with the king’s wife becomes corrupt; and with his friend’s wife, a donkey.
31. Who commits unnatural vice becomes a village pig; who consorts with a Śūdra woman becomes bull; who is passionate becomes a lustful horse.
32-33. Who feeds upon the eleventh-day offerings to the dead is born a dog. The devalaka is born from the womb of a hen.
The wretch among twice-born who worships the deities for the sake of wealth is called a devalaka and is unfit to offer oblations to ale deities and forefathers.
34. Those who are very sinful, having passed through dreadful hells produced by their great sins, are born here upon the exhaustion of their karma.
35. The murderer of a Brāhmaṇ goes into the womb of an ass, a camel and a she-buffalo; a drinker of intoxicants enters the wombs of a wolf, a dog and a jackal.
36. The stealer of gold attains the condition of a worm, an insect and a bird. Who goes with his teacher’s wife, goes to the condition of grass, bushes and plants.
37. Who steals another’s wife, who misappropriates deposits, who robs a Brāhmiṇ, is born as a Brāhmiṇ-fiend.
38-40. The Brāhmiṇ’s possessions acquired by deception, enjoyed even in friendship, afflict the family even for seven generations,–and by forcible robbery even as long as the moon and stars exist:
A man may digest even iron filings, powdered stone, and poison; but where is the person in the three worlds who can digest a Brāhmiṇ’s wealth!
Chariots and troops supported by the wealth of a Brāhmiṇ crumble away in battle like artificial river-banks of sand.
41-43. By appropriating temple property, by taking a Brāhmiṇ’s possessions, and by neglecting Brāhmiṇs, families become broken up.
He is called a neglector who, instead of making a gift to one who is well-read in the Vedas and Śāstras and has resorted to him, gives it to some other,
But it is no neglect if the Brāhmiṇ is without Veda-knowledge; it would be like offering to ashes instead of to the blazing fire near by.
44. Having neglected, O Tārkṣya, and having experienced the results in the successive hells, he is born blind and in poverty, becoming not a giver but a beggar.
45. Who takes away a plot of land, which was given by himself for another, is born for sixty thousand years as a worm in excrement.
46. The sinner who takes back by force what has been given by himself, goes into hell until the coming of the deluge.
47. Having given the means of subsistence and a piece of land, he should then protect it firmly. Who does not protect, but robs, is born as a lame dog.
48. Who gives the means of support to Brāhmiṇs obtains fruit equal to that of a lakh of cows; who robs Brāhmiṇs of their means of sup port becomes an ape, a dog and a monkey.
49. These and other signs and births, O Lord of Birds, are seen to be the karma of the embodied, made by themselves in this world.
50. Thus the makers of bad karma, having experienced the tortures mf hell, are born with the residues of their sins, in these stated forms.
51. Then, obtaining for thousands of lives the bodies of animals, they suffer from carrying burdens and other miseries.
52. Having experienced as a bird the misery of cold, rain and heat, he afterwards reaches the human state, when the good and evil are balanced.
53. Man and woman having come together, he becomes an embryo in due course. Having suffered the miseries from conception onwards to death, he again dies.
54. Birth and death are the lot of all embodied beings; thus turns the wheel in the four kingdoms of beings.
55. As the wheel of time turns, so mortals revolve by my magic. They revolve at one time of earth, at another in hell, held fast by the noose of karma.
56. He who does not mike gifts becomes poverty–stricken and through poverty he commits sin; by the force of sin he goes to hell, and is again born in poverty and again becomes sinful.
57. Karma which has been made, whether good or evil, must inevitably be suffered. Karma not suffered does not fade away even in tens of millions of ages.
Our Santana Dharma also gives guidelines for salvation to people, to get rid of the effects of sins and to get into righteous way of conscious living. For this, one should approach a competent Guru, who is well versed with Vedic scriptures and Self knowledge, to find appropriate remedies for their sins. One can recognise, regret and rectify through acts of atonement and restitution. The ultimate goal of human life is to attain the supreme Self within everyone.