Contemplating the Karmic Conditions of Beings
At that time the Buddha's mother. Lady Maya,
placed her palms together respectfully and asked Earth Store Bodhisattva,
"Great Sage, could you tell us about the different kinds of karma
that beings of Jambudvipa create and the resulting retributions
that they undergo?"
Earth Store replied, "There are millions of
worlds and lands that may or may not have hells, may or may not
have women, may or may not have Buddhadharma, and so forth to
having or not having Sound-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas. Since
the worlds differ, the retributions in the hells also differ."
Lady Maya spoke again to the Bodhisattva,
"Could you please tell us about the offenses done by those in
Jambudvipa that result in retributions in the evil destinies?"
Earth Store replied, "Worthy Mother, please
listen as I speak briefly about that."
The Buddha's mother answered, "Great Sage,
please tell us about it."
Then Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Worthy
Mother, "Retributions that result from offenses done in Jambudvipa
are described like this.
"Beings who are not filial to their parents,
even to the extent of harming or killing them, will fall into
the Relentless Hell where for billions of eons they will seek
escape in vain.
"Beings who shed the Buddha's blood, slander
the Triple Jewel, and do not venerate Sutras will fall into the
Relentless Hell where for billions of eons they will seek escape
"Beings who usurp or damage the property of
the Eternally Dwelling, who defile Bhikshus or Bhikshunis, who
commit sexual-acts within the Sangharama, or who kill or harm
beings there will fall into the Relentless Hell where for billions
of eons they will seek escape in vain.
"Beings who seem to be Shramanas but in their
minds are not Shramanas, who destroy the things of the Eternally
Dwelling, who deceive lay people, who go against the precepts,
and who do many other evil deeds will fall into the Relentless
Hell where for billions of eons they will seek escape in vain.
"Beings who steal the wealth and property
of the Eternally Dwelling including its grains, its food and drink,
its clothing, or take anything at all that was not given to them
will fall into the Relentless Hell where for billions of eons
they will seek escape in vain."
Earth Store continued, "Worthy Mother, beings
who commit such offenses will fall into the Fivefold Relentless
Hell where they will constantly seek for temporary relief from
their suffering but will never receive even a moment's respite."
Lady Maya further asked Earth Store Bodhisattva,
"Why is that hell called Relentless?"
Earth Store replied, "Worthy Mother, the hells
are all within the Great Iron Ring Mountain.
The eighteen great hells and the five hundred
subsequent ones each have their own names. There are hundreds
of thousands more that also have their own names.
The Relentless Hell is found within a city
of hells that encompasses more than eighty thousand square miles.
That city is made entirely of iron. Ten thousand miles above the
city is an unbroken mass of fire.
Within the city are many interconnected hells,
each with a different name.
"There is just one hell called Relentless.
Its circumference is eighteen thousand miles.
The wall of that hell is a thousand miles
high, totally made iron, and covered with a fire burning downward
that is joined by a fire burning upward.
Iron snakes and dogs spewing fire race back
and forth atop that wall.
"In that hell is a bed that extends for ten
thousand miles. One person undergoing punishment sees his or her
own body filling the entire bed. When millions of people undergo
punishment simultaneously, each still sees his or her own body
filling the bed. That is how retributions are undergone by those
with the same karma.
"What is more, these offenders undergo extreme
suffering. Thousands of Yakshas and other evil ghosts display
fangs like swords and eyes like lightning as they pull and drag
the offenders using their brass-clawed hands.
Other Yakshas wield huge iron halberds
that they use to pierce the offenders' mouths and noses or stab
their bellies and backs. They toss the offenders into the air
and then catch them by skewering them with the halberds or they
let them drop onto the bed.
Iron eagles peck at the offenders' eyes and
iron serpents wrap around their necks. Long nails are driven into
all their limbs. Their tongues are pulled out, stretched, and
then plowed through. Their internal organs are gouged out, sliced,
and minced. Molten copper is poured into their mouths, and their
bodies are bound with hot iron.
Responses to their karma go on like that throughout
thousands of deaths and rebirths. They pass through millions of
eons seeking escape in vain.
"When this world is destroyed, they find themselves
in another world. When that world is destroyed, they pass to another
one. When that world, too, is destroyed, they move on to another.
When this world comes into being again, they return here.
The situation involving Relentless retribution
for offenses is like that.
"Moreover, five karmic responses account for
the name Relentless. What are the five?
First, it is said to be Relentless since punishment
is undergone day and night throughout many eons without ceasing
for a moment.
Second, it is said to be Relentless since
one person fills it in the same way that many people fill it.
Third, it is said to be Relentless since repeated
punishments continue without cease throughout years that stretch
into nayutas of eons. Those punishments are inflicted by
instruments of torture such as forks and clubs; or by eagles,
serpents, wolves, and dogs; or by pounding, grinding, sawing,
drilling, chiseling, cutting and chopping; or by boiling liquids,
iron nets, iron ropes, iron asses, and iron horses; or by raw
hide bound around one's head and hot iron poured over one's body;
or by meals of iron pellets and drinks of iron fluids.
Fourth, it is said to be Relentless since
everyone undergoes karmic responses based on the offenses they
committed, whether they be men, women, savages, old, young, honorable,
or lowly; whether they be dragons, spirits, gods or ghosts.
Fifth, it is said to be Relentless since offenders
continually undergo ten thousand deaths and as many rebirths each
day and night from the moment they first enter this hell and on
through thousands of eons. During that time they seek even a moment's
relief but it never happens. Only when their karma is finished
can they attain rebirth."
Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Worthy
Mother, "That is a brief description of the Relentless Hell. If
I were to speak extensively about the names of all the implements
of punishment in the hells and all the sufferings there, I could
not finish speaking in an entire eon."
After hearing that, Lady Maya placed her palms
together sorrowfully, made obeisance, and withdrew.