hell officers

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Dhammanucara
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hell officers

Postby Dhammanucara » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:21 am

In the 31 planes of existence, I heard that most of the hell officers are yakkhas,one of a subcategory of god of Catumaharajika, the lowest deva realm. They are the ones who punished those who are reborn in hell due to their bad kamma that they have committed. They whip, beat, push those beings into hot pot of oil, etc. Are they creating bad kamma by doing so? How about the Lord of the Underworld, Yama, who gives sentences to those beings? Is he committing bad kamma as well? What gives him the authority to sentence those beings?
Thanks in advance for your clarification.

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Re: hell officers

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:25 am

Greetings,

To give a bit of context to the discussion, here is a sutta in which the activities of the wardens of hell are detailed.

Devadūta Sutta
http://www.yellowrobe.com/pali-canon/su ... ngers.html

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Retro. :)
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Re: hell officers

Postby Dhammanucara » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:44 am

Hi retro,

Thanks for the link to the sutta. But, do those 'divine messengers' give authority to King Yama and the hell wardens to punish and torture those evil beings?

With metta,
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Re: hell officers

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:49 am

Greetings Dhammanucara,

I don't know - the text doesn't seem to say.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Tree
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Re: hell officers

Postby Tree » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:00 am

Perhaps it's not 100% pleasurable for those guys to inflict pain.

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Re: hell officers

Postby salmon » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:23 am

Same as how a soldier has the "right" to protect his country? I would take the liberty to think that not all denizens of the other realms are exposed to the Dhamma, just as not all humans are.
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Re: hell officers

Postby cooran » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:30 am

Dhammanucara wrote:In the 31 planes of existence, I heard that most of the hell officers are yakkhas,one of a subcategory of god of Catumaharajika, the lowest deva realm. They are the ones who punished those who are reborn in hell due to their bad kamma that they have committed. They whip, beat, push those beings into hot pot of oil, etc. Are they creating bad kamma by doing so? How about the Lord of the Underworld, Yama, who gives sentences to those beings? Is he committing bad kamma as well? What gives him the authority to sentence those beings?
Thanks in advance for your clarification.

With metta,
Dhammanucara :namaste:

Hello Dhammanucara,

A little on Yama:

Yama

The god of death. (See, e.g., DhA.iii.337; Yamassa santikam = Maranasantikam).
When beings die they are led before him to be judged according to their deeds. Birth, old age, illness, punishment for crime and death, are regarded as his messengers, sent among men as a warning to abstain from ill and do good. Yama questions beings brought before him as to whether they have seen these messengers and profited by them. If the answer is in the negative, the nirayapālas take them away to the different hells (M.iii.179ff).
In the Mahāsamaya Sutta (D.ii.259) mention is made of two Yamas (duve Yamā), which the Commentary explains (DA.ii.690) by "dve Yamakadevatā" (the twins, whom Rhys Davids calls the Castor and Pollux of Indian Mythology, in Dial.ii.290, n.1).
Elsewhere (AA.i.374; MA.ii.953) Buddhaghosa speaks of four Yamas (im c' esa eko va hoti, catusu pana dvāresu cattāro janā honti) at the four gates (of the Nirayas?). He says that Yama is a Vemānikapetarājā, who sometimes enjoys all the pleasures of heaven, in a celestial mansion, surrounded by kapparukkhas, and at other times experiences the fruits of his kamma. He is a good king.
In the Jātakas* the Nirayas are particularly mentioned as Yama's abode (Yamakkhaya, Yamanivesana, Yamasādana, etc.); but, more generally, all Samsāra is considered as subject to Yama's rule, and escape from samsāra means escape from Yama's influence, Yama being the god of Death. It is evidently in this sense that Yama is called Vesāyi (q.v.) (J.ii.317, 318).
Yama is sometimes mentioned** with Indra, Varuna, Soma, Pajāpati, etc., as a god to whom sacrifices are offered. There is a tradition (A.i.142) that once Yama longed to be born as a human being and to sit at the feet of a Tathāgata.
Yama's Nayanāyudha is mentioned (SNA.i.225) among the most destructive of weapons.
http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/y/yama.htm


Yāma
1. Yāmā. A class of Devas, mentioned in lists of devas between those of Tāvatimsa and those of Tusita
(E.g., Vin.i.12, A.i.228; iii.287; M.ii.194; iii.100, etc.).
Two hundred years of human life are but one day to the Yāma devā, and two thousand Years, composed of such days, form their life period (A.i.213; iv.253). Sirimā, sister of Jīvaka, was born after death in the Yāma world and became the wife of Suyāma, king of Yāmabhavana. From there she visited the Buddha with five hundred others. SNA i.244f.; see also VvA.246 for an upāsaka born in the Yāma-world.
In the Hatthipāla Jātaka (J.iv.475) mention is made of four Yāma-devas who were reborn as men.
The meaning of Yāmā is explained in the Commentaries (E.g., VibhA.519; PSA.441) as "those that have attained divine bliss" (dibbam sukham yātā payātā sampattā ti Yāmā). Other explanations are “misery freed" or "governing gods”. Compendium, p.138, n.2.

2. Yāmā. In some contexts, Yāmā seems to have been derived from Yama, king of the underworld - e.g in such expressions as "Yāmato yāva Akanittham" (From the underworld to the highest heaven). KhA.166.
http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_n ... yaamaa.htm

metta
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Re: hell officers

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:35 am

Maybe begs the question of whether hell is a "place", such that all beings in that "place" are hell beings, and hence subject to "hellish pains", etc. Though I'm also certainly NOT implying that "hell" and other rebirth states are simply "mental states", eg. "being in prison is hell", etc. Just asking whether or not the "hell officers" are rightly speaking "hell beings" in the sense of those who suffer the incredible pain of the lowest of the three lower realms. Similarly, although they are "inside a prison", we usually don't consider jailers or prison wardens to be "prisoners", do we?
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Re: hell officers

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:59 am

Greetings venerable Paññāsikhara,

You present some interesting thought provoking ideas there.

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: hell officers

Postby poto » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:05 am

Just my thoughts on the matter.

Personally, I think those that dole out punishment in the hell realms are probably more like largest predatory animals in the animal realm. The largest wolf or the biggest lion, etc. That is if the hell realms work in a similar sort of way to the animal realm that we can observe. If this speculation is correct, then their existences would still be filled with much suffering, much as the animals we can observe suffer.

I don't think they would be creating bad kamma, as they would just be acting in the nature of that realm. At least not any worse than an animal in the wild that is just following it's instincts.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

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Re: hell officers

Postby Dhammanucara » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:54 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Maybe begs the question of whether hell is a "place", such that all beings in that "place" are hell beings, and hence subject to "hellish pains", etc. Though I'm also certainly NOT implying that "hell" and other rebirth states are simply "mental states", eg. "being in prison is hell", etc. Just asking whether or not the "hell officers" are rightly speaking "hell beings" in the sense of those who suffer the incredible pain of the lowest of the three lower realms. Similarly, although they are "inside a prison", we usually don't consider jailers or prison wardens to be "prisoners", do we?


Good point, Venerable!
Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I understand from what you said, it would also imply Yama as one of the hell being as well, but this seems to me to contradict with cooran's posting about Yama as god of death. Wow, I didnt know that my one single thought could provoke such further complicated thoughts... :rolleye:

If those hell wardens are also those who are reborn in hell, wouldnt they be creating more bad kamma by inflicting pain to the others? And, another thought that just occurred to me is that, I thought those who are reborn in hell are supposed to sufer ceaseless bodily (and mental as well) pain, but these hell wardens seem pretty fine and thats why they could inflict bodily torture to the "prisoners".

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Re: hell officers

Postby SDC » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:43 am

Great thread. Interesting topic.

Verse 100 of the Dhammapada is the story of the executioner, Tambadathika. Sorry I do not have a direct link. The overall message of the story is not related to your question however part of the story may be applicable.

Throughout his life, Tambadathika had performed hundreds of executions. After his retirement, Sariputta visits him and tries to teach him the Dhamma but Tambadathika has trouble listening, as he is very disturbed by the life he has led. When the Venerable asks if he had wished to kill all of those criminals, he replies that it was not his wish. Sariputta helps him realize that he is not guilty as their was no desire to kill all of those criminals but that he was following the orders of his king. He would still have to face the results of those evil acts, but not to the severe extent that it would have been had he wanted to kill. He is then able to listen to the Dhamma. Later that day he is killed rather gruesomely (probably the ripening of his kamma here and now, although the commentary does not specify). But due to his brief encounter with the Dhamma he is reborn in the Tusita deva realm. This just a brief description. Definitely give it a read.

Perhaps this can be applied to the beings in the hell worlds, even Yama. They may be preforming evil acts but the desire to kill is not necessarily present. It is just the nature of that particular being they were reborn as. Such specific beings in other realms are often described as not being capable of the wide range of thought and temperament as humans, and in turn are not capable of such a wide range of actions. Once again, interesting question.

EDIT - I reworded the second to last sentence in the last paragraph.
Last edited by SDC on Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: hell officers

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:58 am

Greetings,

Several posts not specifically related to the subject of hell officers have been moved to...

Killer cows of the Pali Canon
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3496

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)


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