Buddhist Hell (and Heaven)

There is a temple near Bangsaen Beach which has a garden full of statues depicting what is supposed to be a Buddhist hell. The place is called Wang Saen Suk and is only 90 minutes away from Bangkok on the way to Pattaya. Some of the scenes depicted are pretty gruesome although there were plenty of families there. Actually, there was one poor boy who was a little scared because his mother had just shown him what happens to children that don’t listen to their parents (see picture above).

According to the book “Traibhumi Phra Ruang”, as soon as you die, you go to pay respects to Phya Yom (the Death king). Four celestial beings will check your records of good and bad deeds. All the good deeds you have done are recorded on a gold plate and the bad deeds you have done are recorded on a piece of dog skin. After a careful investigation, if you have done good, the Death King will send you to heaven to enjoy the fruit of your good deeds there. If you have committed sins, you will be punished.

Punishment in hell varies in ways and degrees of harshness according to the sins committed. Every form of punishment is a torture. Hell has a large number of pits; eight large ones with 16 attachments each. That makes 136 pits altogether. The one that is most commonly known is “avici”. This pit is at the bottom. However, even those who are sent here still have a chance to be reborn some day. Apart from these 136 pits, there is a special one called Loganta. It is pitch dark and extremely cold (unlike all the other pits which are extremely hot). Those who have hurt their parents or monks physically will go to this pit and will remain there until the end of the Buddhist era (until a new Buddha is born on earth).

The sign on the left says “Welcome to Hell!”. Once you pass this sign, you will see scenes showing sinners being boiled in copper cauldrons and others being torn to pieces by hell’s dogs. If you are curious to know what will happen to you in the afterlife if you perform certain bad deeds then come back tomorrow for the grisly details!

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Main Sources: “A Survey of Thai Arts and Architectural Attractions” published by Chulalongkorn University and information signs found at the temple.

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