Nirayavagga: Hell
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Alternate translation: Buddharakkhita
Alternate format: [PDF icon]

The updated version is freely available at

This version of the text might be out of date. Please click here for more information

He goes to hell, the one who asserts what didn't take place, as does the one who, having done, says, 'I didn't.' Both — low-acting people — there become equal: after death, in the world beyond.
An ochre robe tied 'round their necks, many with evil qualities — unrestrained, evil — rearise, because of their evil acts, in hell. Better to eat an iron ball — glowing, aflame — than that, unprincipled & unrestrained, you should eat the alms of the country.
Four things befall the heedless man who lies down with the wife of another: a wealth of demerit; a lack of good sleep; third, censure; fourth, hell. A wealth of demerit, an evil destination, & the brief delight of a fearful man with a fearful woman, & the king inflicts a harsh punishment. So no man should lie down with the wife of another.
Just as sharp-bladed grass, if wrongly held, wounds the very hand that holds it — the contemplative life, if wrongly grasped, drags you down to hell. Any slack act, or defiled observance, or fraudulent life of chastity bears no great fruit. If something's to be done, then work at it firmly, for a slack going-forth kicks up all the more dust. It's better to leave a misdeed undone. A misdeed burns you afterward. Better that a good deed be done that, after you've done it, won't make you burn.
Like a frontier fortress, guarded inside & out, guard yourself. Don't let the moment pass by. Those for whom the moment is past grieve, consigned to hell.
Ashamed of what's not shameful, not ashamed of what is, beings adopting wrong views go to a bad destination. Seeing danger where there is none, & no danger where there is, beings adopting wrong views go to a bad destination. Imagining error where there is none, and seeing no error where there is, beings adopting wrong views go to a bad destination. But knowing error as error, and non-error as non-, beings adopting right views go to a good destination.