Our scriptures describe about 28 types of Narakas, what are they and what are there levels?

Here with levels I want clarification on which Naraka is considered bad to worst in punishments?

2 Answers 2


Types of hell differ in each purana/smriti.

From omshivgoraksh.blogspot:

  • Manu Smriti                     - 21 hells
  • Yajnavalkya Smriti           - 21 hells
  • Bhagavata Purana          - 28 hells
  • Vishnu Purana                - 28 hells
  • Devi Bhagavata Purana  - 28 hells

However, Vishnu Purana, Bhagvata purana and Devi Bhagvata purana ends up stating that there are hundreds and thousands of hells.

Speaking tree explains the 28 hells from Garuda purana as follows:

(1) Tamisram (Heavy flogging)

Those who rob others of their wealth are bound with ropes by Yama’s Servants and cast into the Naraka known as Tamisram. There, they are given a thrashing until they bleed and faint. When they recover their senses, the beating is repeated. This is done until their time is up.

(2) Andhatamtrsam (Flogging)

This Hell is reserved for the Husband or the Wife who only treat their spouses well when they are to profit or pleasure to them. Those who forsake their wives and husbands for no apparent reasons are also sent here. The punishment is almost the same as Tamisram, but the excruciating pain, suffered by the victims on being tied fast, makes them fall down senseless.

(3) Rauravam (torment of snakes)

This is the hell for sinners who seize and enjoy another man’s property or resources. When these people are thrown into this hell, those whom they have cheated, assume the the shape of “Ruru”, a dreadful serpent. The serpent(s) will torment them severely until their time is up.

(4) Mahararuravam (death by snakes)

Here there is also Ruru serpents but more fiercer. Thosewho deny the legitimate heirs, their inheritance and possess and enjoy others property will be squeezed and bitten non stop by this terrible serpents coiling around them. Those who steal another man’s wife or lover will also be thrown here.

(5) Kumbhipakam (cooked by oil)

This is the hell for those who kill animals for pleasure. Here oil is kept boiled in huge vessels and sinners are plunged in this vessels.

(6) Kalasutram (Hot as hell)

This hell is terribly hot. Those who don’t respect their elders esp. when their elders have done their duties are sent here. Here they are made to run around in this unbearable heat and drop down exhausted from time to time.

(7) Asitapatram (sharp flogging)

This is the hell in which sinners abandon one’s own duty. They are flogged by Yama’s Servants with whips made of asipatra (sharp-edged sword-shaped leaves). If they run about under the flogging, they will trip over the stones and thorns, to fall on their faces. Then they are stabbed with knives until they drop unconscious, When they recover, the same process is repeated until their time is up in this Naraka.

(8)Sukaramukham (Crushed and tormented)

Rulers who neglect their duties and oppress their subjects by misrule, are punished in this hell. They are crushed to a pulp by heavy beating.When they recover, it is repeated until their time is up.

(9) Andhakupam (Attack of the animals)

This is hell for those who oppress the good people and not helping them if requested despite having the resources. They will be pushed into a well, where beasts like Lions, tigers, eagles and venomous creatures like snakes and scorpions. The sinners have to endure the constant attacks of this creatures until the expiry of the period of their punishment.

(10) Taptamurti (Burnt Alive)

Those who plunder or steal Gold and jewels are cast into the furnaces of this Naraka which always remains hot in blazing fire.

(11) Krimibhojanam (Food for worms)

Those who do not honour their Guests and make use of men or women only for their own gain, are thrown into this Naraka. Worms, insects and serpents eat them alive. Once their bodies are completely eaten up, the sinners are provided with new bodies, which are also eaten up in the above manner. This continues, till the end of their term of punishment.

(12) Salmali (Embracing hot images)

This Naraka is intended for men and women who have committed adultery. A figure made of iron, heated red-hot is placed there. The sinner is forced to embrace it, while Yama’s servants flog the victim behind.

(13) Vajrakantakasali (Embracing sharp images)

This Naraka is the punishment for Sinners who have unnatural intercourse with animals. Here, they are made to embrace iron images full of sharp diamond needles that pierce through their bodies.

(14) Vaitarani (River of Filth)

Rulers who abuse their power and adulterers are thrown here. It is the most terrible place of punishment. It is a river which is filled with human excreta, blood, hair, bones, nails, flesh and all kinds of dirty substances. There are various kinds of terrible beasts as well. Those who are cast into it are attacked and mauled by these creatures from all sides. The sinners have to spend the term of their punishment, feeding upon the contents of this river.

(15) Puyodakam (Well of hell)

This is a well filled with excreta, urine, blood, phlegm. Men who have intercourse and cheat women with no intention of marrying them are considered like animals. Those who wander about irresponsibly like animals are thrown in this well to get polluted by it’s contents. They are to remain here till their time is up.

(16) Pranarodham (Piece by Piece)

This Naraka is for those who keep dogs and other mean animals and constantly hunt and kill animals for food. Here the servants of Yama, gather around the sinners and cut them limb to limb while subjecting them to constant insult.

(17) Visasanam(Bashing from Clubs)

This Naraka is for the torture of those rich people who look down at the poor and spend excessively just to display their wealth and splendour. They have to remain here at the whole term of their punishment where they will be bashed non stop from heavy clubs from Yama’s Servants.

(18) Lalabhaksam (River of semen)

This is the Naraka for lustful men. The lascivious fellow who makes his wife swallow his semen, is cast into this hell. Lalabhaksam is a sea of semen. The sinner lies in it, feeding upon semen alone until his period of punishment.

(19) Sarameyasanam (Torment from dogs)

Those guilty of unsocial acts like poisoning food, mass slaughter, ruining the country are cast into this hell. There is nothing but the flesh of dogs for food. There are thousands of dogs in this Naraka and they attack the sinners and tear their flesh from their bodies with their teeth.

(20) Avici (turned into dust)

This Naraka is for those who are guilty for false witness and false swearing. There are hurled from a great height and they are utterly smashed into dust when they reached the ground. They are again restored to life and the punishment is repeated till the end of their time.

(21) Ayahpanam (Drinking of burning substances)

Those who consume alcohol and other intoxicating drinks are sent here. The women are forced to drink melted iron in liquid form, whereas the men will be forced to drink hot liquid molten lava for every time they consume a alcoholic drink in their earthly lives.

(22) Raksobjaksam (Revenge attacks)

Those who do animal and human sacrifices and eat the flesh after the sacrifice will be thrown in this hell. All the living beings they killed before would be there and they will join together to attacking, biting, and mauling the sinners. Their cries and complaints would be no avail here.

(23) Sulaprotam (Trident Torture)

People who take the lives of others who have done no harm to them and those who deceives others by treachery are sent to this “Sulaportam” hell. Here they are impaled on a trident and they are forced to spend their whole term of their punishment in that position, suffering intense hunger and thirst, as well as enduring all the tortures inflicted on them.

(24) Ksharakardamam (hanged upside down)

Braggarts and those who insult good people are cast into this hell. Yama’s servants keep the sinners upside down and torture them in many ways.

(25) Dandasukam (eaten alive)

Sinners who persecute others like animals will be sent here. There are many beasts here. They will be eaten alive by this beasts.

(26) Vatarodham (weapon torture)

This hell is for those who persecute animals which live in forrests, mountain peaks and trees. After throwing them in this hell, sinners are tortured with fire, poison and various weapons during their time here in this Naraka.

(27) Paryavartanakam (torture from birds)

One who denies food to a hungry person and abuses him is thrown here. The moment the sinner arrives here ,his eyes are put by being pierced the beaks of birds like the crows and eagles. They will be pierced later on by this birds till the end of their punishment.

(28) Sucimukham (Tortured by needles)

Proud and Miserly people who refuse to spend money even for the basic necessities of life, like better food or buying food for their relations or friends will find their place in this hell. Those who do not repay the money they have borrowed will also be cast into this hell. Here, their bodies will be constantly be pricked and pierced by needles.

Other references:

  • 1
    [may look weird].Do using pirated software results in Rauravam (torment of snakes)?
    – The Destroyer
    Sep 22, 2015 at 15:11
  • @AnilKumar I don't think so. you are not seizing their property or resources. :)
    – Mr_Green
    Sep 23, 2015 at 4:25
  • then what kind of hell they may encounter if they use pirated software?
    – The Destroyer
    Sep 23, 2015 at 4:52
  • Thats vivid!... May 19, 2016 at 14:40

Mr_Green's answer describes it all. So I would just like to add few more words and give the scripture references.

Some authorities say that there is a total of twenty-one hellish planets, and some say twenty-eight. My dear King, I shall outline all of them according to their names, forms and symptoms. The names of the different hells are as follows:

Tāmisra, Andhatāmisra, Raurava, Mahāraurava, Kumbhīpāka, Kālasūtra, Asipatravana, Sūkaramukha, Andhakūpa, Kṛmibhojana, Sandaṁśa, Taptasūrmi, Vajrakaṇṭaka-śālmalī, Vaitaraṇī, Pūyoda, Prāṇarodha, Viśasana, Lālābhakṣa, Sārameyādana, Avīci, Ayaḥpāna, Kṣārakardama, Rakṣogaṇa-bhojana, Śūlaprota, Dandaśūka, Avaṭa-nirodhana, Paryāvartana and Sūcīmukha.

All these planets are meant for punishing the living entities. [SB - 5.26.7]

Manu Smruti describes the twenty one hells that a Brahmin goes for different kinds of activities. But a successive order of the hells is given on the context of an acitvity where a Brahman accepts objects or gifts from a king who acts opposite to scriptural injunctions. There names are as below:

Tamisra, Andhatamisra, Maharaurava, Raurava, Kalasutra, Mahanaraka, Samgivana, Mahaviki, Tapana, Sampratapana, Samghata, Sakakola, Kudmala, Putimrittika, Lohasanku, Rigisha, Pathin, the (flaming) river, Salmala, Asipatravana, and Lohadaraka. [Manu - 4.87-90]

Apart from these, the mention of the twenty eight kinds of hell can be found in the Garuda Purana (1.57), Vishnu Purana (2.6), the Bhagavatam (5.26) and many other puranas. But another sequential list of the 28 kinds of hell in the order of their position is given in Agni Purana which goes something as below:

Ghora, Sughora, Atighora, Mahaghora, Ghorarupa, Taralatara, Bhayanaka, Bhayotkata, Kalratri, Mahachanda, Chanda, Kolahala, Prachanda, Padma, Narakanayika, Padmabati, Bhishana, Bhima, Karalika, Vikarala, Mahabajra, Trikona, Panchakonika, Sudirgha, Vartula, Saptabhuma, Subhumika, Diptamaya. [Agni Pu. - 371.14-18]

The names in this purana are different from the others and it says each of these hells have 5 rulers totaling 140 and five more that rule over these 140. And it states the names like Raurava, Maharaurava, Kalasutra, Mahanaraka, Samgivana should be understood as the names of those rulers.

Now regarding the level as per their punishments, no such explicit mentions are there. They just say for this sin, this punishment is given in this hell. To classify which is the bad or worst punishment, would probably depend upon the person classifying it. Because for one person one kind of punishment may feel easier compared to one, but for someone other that punishment may be the worse. But any way, a good description of the sins and the hells to read would be the 5.26th chapter of the Bhagavata and to read the same descriptions from that chapter with images would be this link I found on the Net.

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