Most of the people think Naraka as a loka. Although it is true, it is not a complete truth.

The word Naraka can have different meanings. Loka in which sinners dwell and experience punishments is a Naraka. It is one of the meaning.

What are the other definitions for Naraka according to the scriptures?

Can I say that animals (may include humans) on earth are in Naraka or experiencing Naraka? (according to any of the other definitions)

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    When Yayati was falling from Svarga after Indra pushed him down, he speaks to Rishis and uses the term "I am falling into Bhauma-Naraka'" i.e. Earth itself is a hell when compared to Moksha. Also in Ramayana, during discussion about going to forest, they say 'svarga and naraka are relative to the person experiencing it"
    – ram
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 4:07
  • @ram Yeah true. Sometimes it mean sad, impure etc., based on the context.
    – hanugm
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


Naraka or Svarga are lokas, AND also relative to the person experiencing them i.e. you can experience misery in heaven or bliss in hell, or either one on earth itself, depending on your karma and viewpoint.

In Mahabharata, Yayati, after being pushed down by Indra from Svarga, talks to Rishis:

Yayati answered, 'O pious one, they that speak of their own merits are doomed to suffer the hell called Bhauma. Though really emaciated and lean, they appear to grow on Earth (in the shape of their sons and grandsons) only to become food for vultures, dogs, and jackals.'

Ashtaka said, 'When life is destroyed with age, vultures, peacocks, insects, and worms eat up the human body. Where doth man then reside? How doth he also come back to life? I have never heard of any hell called Bhauma on Earth!'

Yayati answered, 'After the dissolution of the body, man, according to his acts, re-entereth the womb of his mother and stayeth there in an indistinct form, and soon after assuming a distinct and visible shape reappeareth in the world and walketh on its surface. This is that Earth-hell (Bhauma) where he falleth, for he beholdeth not the termination of his existence and acteth not towards his emancipation.'

Note - the English/Abrahamic terms hell and heaven are similar to narak and svarg in Hinduism. The main difference is that narak and svarg and bhumi are all permanently temporary (they get created & destroyed cyclically, and also people travel between these 3 lokas cyclically), whereas Christian/Islamic hell and heaven are said to be permanent.

In Hinduism, only Moksha is said to be permanent.

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