130: Devadūta Sutta: The Divine Messengers

The Buddha declares that he has seen being passing away and reappearing according to their actions. Well conducted end up in heavenly or human realm. Ill conducted end up in the ghost, animal, or in hells.

He tells of the fate of one who ends up in hell.  Yama asks: did you not see the five divine messengers, (and have a thought):

  • an infant in its own excrement and urine (I am subject to birth)
  • a man or woman 80 or 100 years, bent over and worn with age (I am subject to aging)
  • a man or woman gravely ill (I am subject to sickness)
  • robber or the like caught, tortured and executed (Those who do evil have tortures inflicted on them)
  • a man or woman dead for one or more days, bloated etc. (I am subject to death)
After each, the person reports that he did see, but did nothing.
So, this person is then tortured, but with each torture does not die until the evil action has exhausted its result)
  • hot iron stakes run through hands, feet and belly
  • cut him with axes
  • cut with adzes
  • drag him behind chariot over burning ground
  • force him to climb a mound of coals
  • dunked into a hot cauldron
  • throw him into the great hell, a great iron hall with fires blasting from every wall, floor and ceiling. Doors are opened as if to tempt, but closed when he runs up to them.
  • let him fall from the great hell to the hell of excrement, in which small creatures bore through him
  • falls from that into the hell of hot embers
  • from that, a forest of trees with foot-long thorns, and he is forced to climb the trees
  • from that, another forest with leaves that, like swords, cut his flesh
  • from there, a caustic river that he plunges into and is born away by
  • then, he is placed on a hook and when he asks for food, a hot iron ball is dropped into his pried-open mouth
  • and then, when he says he is thirsty, molten copper is poured into is pried-open mouth
  • and then thrown back into the great hell
The Buddha then says that king Yama wishes that he reach a human state and be able to study with a Tathagata.
The Buddha concludes with a poem that speaks of not clinging (for it produces birth and death). Destroying clinging, they reach nibbana here and now and are beyond fear and hate.



  • Buddha at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Park


Published in: on September 1, 2008 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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