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Re: Hell

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Sat Mar 09 1996 - 20:03:50 PST

On Sat, 9 Mar 1996 12:51:23 -0800 Mani said:
>I wrote:
>I do not believe in any
>kind of hell. Rebirth itself is hellish enough,
>to which Dileepan responded:
>>Many a Azhvaar and Acharyaas have expressed contentment
>>with worship of Archaa moorthees.  While the bliss of
>>paramapadam is infinitetly superior, I wouldn't downplay
>>the bliss that can be experienced in this earth itself.
>Then cannot this bliss be experienced in hell as well?
>If so, what makes it hell? Simply the concept of rebirth,
>in a more awful place than this?

   These are difficult questions for me to answer
   properly due to my limited theoretical knowledge.
   As usual I won't let that come in the way of
   braving an answer :-)

   First, my original comment was simply to point out
   that our poorvaachaaryaas have accepted and supported
   concepts such as "hell" and "heaven", as separate places.
   The description of the travel prapannas undertake itself
   contains some lessons. It seems prapannas and those
   destined to svargaa rendezvous in chandra mandala.  The one
   on his way to svarga has only his karma protecting him, and
   yet he demands to be shown the way to svarga.  But, the one
   destined to Vaikundam who has the protection of the supreme
   Lord Himself, shows humility; he earnestly requests the
   guard to show him the way to Vaikundam.  I guess I can draw
   the proper lessons from this episode without accepting the
   words of our poorvaachaaryaas verbatim.  But, remember, the
   original point simply was whether hell/heaven are concepts
   supported by our sampradaya, not whether these concepts sound
   logical to us.

   Now as for what happens in hell, heaven and the assorted
   14(?) lOkaas, whether or not our Lord's grace flows into
   these places, I really don't know.  I am willing to suspend
   logic and simply accept poorvaacharyaa's words for several
   reasons, including, (1) hopefully I don't have to go to
   any of these places ;-), (2) as it is I am happy to suspend
   logic and accept the vEdhaas as unchanging truths that simply
   came into existance; one more illogical concept won't hurt me
   too much, and most importantly, (3) these are secondary
   concepts only, primary being bhagavath/bhaagavatha kaingaryam,
   and the mental state that prapatti ushers in.  I am sure you
   agree with at least no. 3.

>If this is all, I suppose I can accept it, but there are
>extremely awful places to be born on earth itself that
>would be just as bad as any hell.

    This is perhaps why paramapadam is infinitely superior
    to this earth.  The flip side of your statement is that
    there are extremely lovely places on earth that come close
    to paramapadam.  Thirumangai aazhvaar says "muyalai vittu
    kaakkai pin pOvadhE!"  (Muyal = bliss that you are already
    deriving from archaa moorthies like Sri Rangam, kaakkai =
    future bliss in vaikundam)  (Crudely put, a bird in hand
    is worth two in the bush; again this is very crude analogy.)
    Note the allusion that earthly bliss seems even better
    than paramapadam.

 What is the therapeutic
>value of a hell that just torments people, without a
>chance for beginning anew, without a chance for atonement?
>At least on earth there are good things that can induce
>someone away from bad activities.

    Mani, I think you are a little hasty here.  The hell
    we are talking about is not the Christian kind, eternal.
    It is just a place to compensate your bad karma; and a
    little pain can be very therapeutic!  One does get a chance
    for atonement, in the next birth.

    Let me repeat for good measure what I mentioned at the
    beginning, I am simply accepting these notions as
    described by poorvaachaaryaas; I don't see any benefit
    in trying to apply logic with these.

>Desika himself uses logic to understand the nature of God
>based on certain principles.

   Precisely!  Let us apply logic where it matters.  In
   these instances you don't have to suspend logic to
   accept our poorvaacharyaa's words.

I do not believe in ``blind
>faith'' without the mind in operation.  I am not implying
>that you are not using your mind -- just that there is
>very often room for logical discussion of such topics
>as hell, in spite of literal declarations that declare the
>existence of such worlds.

   Okay, how is this for logic, there are a lot of people
   who are motivated into good actions/avoid ones out of
   anxiety to avoid hell.

   But personally, this is not the area where I want to
   expend my energies to be logical.  The discussions we
   have had on nature of our Lord's grace and the need for
   prapatti, etc. are much more fulfilling and exhilarating,
   and I am sure you will readily agree with this.

-- dhaasan Parthasarati Dileepan