Today I obliged myself to speaking form the book “Bhagavatham” , in a section of Canto 5 describing the praises of a God manifestation called Ananta. Our morning study group discussed this particular chapter leading up to the subsequent one entitled, “Descriptions of Hell”. That will be interesting.
Dwija Gauranga our local monk drove me to the airport to receive our guests Partha and Uttama who will be conducting a seminar on family life. Dwija joked that we will ask them to give us a class on the subject of Hell. “No correlation intended”, he said.
In the chapter you read about 28 different hellish planets in some detail. There are many renditions or perceptions of what is hell. Common belief has it that it is a place where its hot, an inferno of burning flames. Comic strips have portrayed hell as that hot place with horned creatures sporting tails and carrying tridents and where no pizzas are served or where the coffee is cold. The Bhagavatham presents Hell as being an actual place of torture or punishment and having a geographical cosmic location. To some degree the descriptions are deliberately meant to instill some fear with a view to invoke caution within our behaviours. You might call it a reality check. After all not all acts of love stirs people to the right thing. We take things so much for granted. A dose of, “shock culture” may correct some while not all others.
One way to define hell is a place devoid of loving service to the Divine. Hell could be right where you are.