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Re: Hell
Date: Mon Mar 11 1996 - 18:43:54 PST

                      Sri Gurubhyo Namah:

Mani was correct in saying that this earth can itself be Vaikuntham
for one surrendered to Sriman Narayana and also hell for one steeped
in materialism.  However for His own purposes, Sriman Narayana has
created other hells and heavens, just as there are other lokas and
Sri Vaikuntham.  The only difference between leading a hellish life
on earth and suffering in hell, is that in the former case, one
continues to accrue Karma while this is not so in the latter case.
(This based on one of Ramanujacharya's works either Geetabhasya or
Vedartha Sangraha, I do not remember which one.)

Even in hell one can get relief by resorting to the Lord just as one
can on earth.

Yudhishthira was an example of a Prapanna.  When he was shown Swarga,
he found that to be hell because of the presence of Duryodhana, who
was an enemy of Krishna and His closest Bhaktas.  However when
Yudhishthira was taken to hell, he chose to stay there because he
found his Bhagavata brothers in hell.  Also other residents of that
hell found relief from their suffering because of the saintly
presence of Yudhishthira.

Residents of Swarga sent all kinds of impediments in the way of
Dhruva's meditation, because they were afraid that if Dhruva earned
enough "punya" he would dethrone them.  So even though they were in
Swarga they were not able to enjoy peacefully.

This is why Lord Krishna says in the Geeta "Antavatu phalam tesam..."
describes these pleasures as trivial and extremely temporary.  Since
they do not help one get true happiness.  The latter is possible only
by surrendering to the will of Sriman Narayana.

There are thus two descriptions of heaven and hell.  For one in a
state of forgetfulness of Sriman Narayana heaven is what is
pleasurable to the senses and hell is what is painful.  For a
prapanna heaven is rememberence or contact with Sriman Narayana in
any of the nine forms of sravana, kirtana etc and hell is
forgetfulness of Sriman Narayana.

For the former category there is a big difference between going to
heaven and hell or going through pleasure and pain on this earth.
The latter (the Prapanna) is not concerned with either since Sriman
Narayana protects him under all circumstances.