Thai temple brings Buddhist hell to life

Bangkok: Less than two hours' drive from the Thai capital, a monastery has brought visions of 'Naraka', a term used in Buddhism to describe a realm similar to hell or purgatory, into the land of the living.

Like other monasteries, Wang Saen Suk in Thailand's Chonburi province is presided over by resident monks, but its garden is also home to statues depicting numerous tortured souls, Xinhua news agency reported.

Upon entering the temple's main courtyard, visitors are greeted by two towering sculptures in the form of a man and a woman, both with grotesque tongues hanging from their gaping mouths, scraggly hair and demonic eyes.

Beneath them, four emaciated sinners are thrown into a pot to be boiled alive while guards stab them with spears.

An array of 21 tortured souls, each a naked human body with the head of a different animal depending on the sin they have committed, circle the giant figures.

The intricately-made statues illustrate in graphic detail the tortured souls of sinners, from those with protruding ribs boiling in copper cauldrons, to a woman being crushed in a vice for committing abortion or a man being disemboweled for committing rape or sexual misconduct.

While 'Naraka' refers to hell, it is not eternal, with the length and type of punishment varying in accordance to the way the person lived.

A being is born into Naraka, not as a result of a divine judgement or punishment, but because of accumulated karma, and is forced to stay there until that karma is used up.

Once this happens, the being will be born again into one of the higher worlds.

At the end of the courtyard, the grim tour, which is reportedly frequently taken by children learning about morality, ends with the figure of a Buddhist monk facing a number of tortured souls begging for redemption.

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