Aruna Prashna mantras list four forms of hell

Concept of Hell in religions around the world today is graphic. It is interesting to contract this fact with the definition of hell as described during ancient times, in the Vedas. There are four hells according to the Vedas (in the Aruna Prasna Mantras). They are assigned each to Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and Northwest directions. They relate to the mental turmoil one goes through in life. Southeast is the direction of Visarpi Naraka, or the hell of agitated movement. Sometimes a pain or a strong sensation makes one to move aimlessly, looking for some relief. A state involving such sensations is the Visarpi Naraka. At other times one may feel completely frozen, being overwhelmed with the intensity of these sensations. This second state of turmoil is considered to be the Avisarpi Naraka which is attributed to the Southwest direction.

Self loath creates intense mental turmoil in anyone. This is called the Vishadi Naraka, or the hell of anguish. The gravity of one’s injustice to others does not always strike one immediately. According to the Karmic theory, it remains as a seed to eventually sprout, creating a quake within one’s mind then. Vishadi Naraka is attributed to the Northeast direction. Suffering which crosses a threshold creates the Avishadi Naraka which is the hellish experience attributed to the Northwest direction. The suffering in this hell is so intense that one has no energy even for self loath.

The founders of the Vedic tradition concluded that psychological challenges were more daunting to a human being than material challenges. Rituals were designed by them as a mechanism to enable a person to let off steam from psychological suffering. Everyone, according to the belief system of the Vedas, is in a state of natural state of perfection and are only momentarily pulled away by psychological influences. A belief that one can return to the state of equilibrium easily is a strength in itself. The belief was that Devas who create psychological influences are playful and that they can be pleased easily with small and big offerings allows one to take responsibility for gaining back one’s own strength. Hell in this system of belief is in different directions, inches away from one self!!

Directional Devas

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