[This is one of just a few suttas that goes into great detail about the suffering experienced in hell. Kokālika was a close associate of Devadatta.]
So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then the mendicant Kokālika went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him, “Sir, Sāriputta and Moggallāna have corrupt wishes. They’ve fallen under the sway of corrupt wishes.”
When this was said, the Buddha said to Kokālika, “Don’t say that, Kokālika! Don’t say that, Kokālika! Have confidence in Sāriputta and Moggallāna, they’re good monks.”
For a second time … For a third time Kokālika said to the Buddha, “Despite my faith and trust in the Buddha, Sāriputta and Moggallāna have corrupt wishs. They’ve fallen under the sway of corrupt wishes.” For a third time, the Buddha said to Kokālika, “Don’t say that, Kokālika! Don’t say that, Kokālika! Have confidence in Sāriputta and Moggallāna, they’re good monks.”
Then Kokālika got up from his seat, bowed, and respectfully circled the Buddha, keeping him on his right, before leaving. Not long after he left his body erupted with boils the size of mustard seeds. The boils grew to the size of mung beans, then chickpeas, then jujube seeds, then jujubes, then myrobalans, then unripe wood apples, then ripe wood apples. Finally they burst open, and pus and blood oozed out. Then the mendicant Kokālika died of that illness. He was reborn in the Pink Lotus hell because of his resentment for Sāriputta and Moggallāna.
Then, late at night, the beautiful Brahmā Sahampati, lighting up the entire Jeta’s Grove, went up to the Buddha, bowed, stood to one side, and said to him, “Sir, the mendicant Kokālika has passed away. He was reborn in the Pink Lotus hell because of his resentment for Sāriputta and Moggallāna.” That’s what Brahmā Sahampati said. Then he bowed and respectfully circled the Buddha, keeping him on his right side, before vanishing right there.
Then, when the night had passed, the Buddha told the mendicants all that had happened.
When he said this, one of the mendicants said to the Buddha, “Sir, how long is the life span in the Pink Lotus hell?” “It’s long, mendicant. It’s not easy to calculate how many years, how many hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of years it lasts.” “But sir, is it possible to give a simile?” “It’s possible,” said the Buddha.
“Suppose there was a Kosalan cartload of twenty bushels of sesame seed. And at the end of every hundred years someone would remove a single seed from it. By this means the Kosalan cartload of twenty bushels of sesame seed would run out faster than a single lifetime in the Abbuda hell. Now, twenty lifetimes in the Abbuda hell equal one lifetime in the Nirabbuda hell. Twenty lifetimes in the Nirabbuda hell equal one lifetime in the Ababa hell. Twenty lifetimes in the Ababa hell equal one lifetime in the Aṭaṭa hell. Twenty lifetimes in the Aṭaṭa hell equal one lifetime in the Ahaha hell. Twenty lifetimes in the Ahaha hell equal one lifetime in the Yellow Lotus hell. Twenty lifetimes in the Yellow Lotus hell equal one lifetime in the Sweet-Smelling hell. Twenty lifetimes in the Sweet-Smelling hell equal one lifetime in the Blue Water Lily hell. Twenty lifetimes in the Blue Water Lily hell equal one lifetime in the White Lotus hell. Twenty lifetimes in the White Lotus hell equal one lifetime in the Pink Lotus hell. The mendicant Kokālika has been reborn in the Pink Lotus hell because of his resentment for Sāriputta and Moggallāna.” That is what the Buddha said. Then the Holy One, the Teacher, went on to say:
“A person is born
with an axe in their mouth.
A fool cuts themselves with it
when they say bad words.
When you praise someone worthy of criticism,
or criticize someone worthy of praise,
you choose bad luck with your own mouth:
you’ll never find happiness that way.
Bad luck at dice is a trivial thing,
if all you lose is your money
and all you own, even yourself.
What’s really terrible luck
is to hate the holy ones.
For more than two quinquadecillion years,
and another five quattuordecillion years,
a slanderer of noble ones goes to hell,
having aimed bad words and thoughts at them.
A liar goes to hell,
as does one who denies what they did.
Both are equal in the hereafter,
those men of base deeds.
Whoever wrongs a man who has done no wrong,
a pure man who has not a blemish,
the evil backfires on the fool,
like fine dust thrown upwind.
One addicted to the way of greed,
abuses others with their speech,
faithless, miserly, uncharitable,
stingy, addicted to backbiting.
Foul-mouthed, divisive, ignoble,
a life-destroyer, wicked, wrongdoer,
worst of men, cursed, base-born—
quiet now, for you are bound for hell.
You stir up dust, causing harm,
when you, evildoer, malign the good.
Having done many bad deeds,
you’ll go to the pit for a long time.
For no-one’s deeds are ever lost,
they return to their owner.
In the next life that stupid evildoer
sees suffering in themselves.
They approach the place of impalement,
with its iron spikes, sharp blades, and iron stakes.
Then there is the food, which appropriately,
is like a red-hot iron ball.
For the speakers speak not sweetly,
they don’t hurry there, or find shelter.
They lie upon a spread of coals,
they enter a blazing mass of fire.
Wrapping them in a net,
they strike them there with iron hammers.
They come to blinding darkness,
which spreads about them like a fog.
Next they enter a copper pot,
a blazing mass of fire.
There they roast for a long time,
writhing in the masses of fire.
Then the evildoer roasts there
in a mixture of pus and blood.
No matter where they settle,
everything they touch there hurts them.
The evildoer roasts in
There’s not even a shore to go to,
for all around are the same kind of pots.
They enter the Wood of Sword-Leaves,
so sharp they cut their body to pieces.
Having grabbed the tongue with a hook,
they stab it, slashing back and forth.
Then they approach the impassable Vetaraṇi River,
with its sharp blades, its razor blades.
Idiots fall into it,
the wicked who have done wicked deeds.
There dogs all brown and spotted,
and raven flocks, and greedy jackals
devour them as they wail,
while hawks and crows attack them.
Hard, alas, is the life here
that evildoers endure.
That’s why for the rest of this life
a person ought do their duty without fail.
Experts have counted the loads of sesame
as compared to the Pink Lotus Hell.
They amount to 50,000,000 times 10,000,
plus another 12,000,000,000.
As painful as life is said to be in hell,
that’s how long one must dwell there.
That’s why, for those who are pure, well-behaved,full of good qualities,
one should always guard one’s speech and mind.”
Read this translation of Snp 3.10 Kokālikasutta: With Kokālika by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.
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