Religion and culture are uplifting, something to be proud of and relish in most cases, markers of us all as we are now and our history. The aforementioned can also be frighteningly portrayed and flooded with every single thing you would never want to be apart of. Side note: I know a lot of you will just skim over this, but at least check out the Naraka section.
1. Baron Samedi
Baron Samedi is a prominent loa (spirit) within Hatian Vodou (Voodoo) who is the spirit of sex and resurrection, as well as the gatekeeper to the realm of the dead. Often characterized as wearing a black top-hat and suit and being very gaunt, sometime even being a skeleton. You have probably seen reference to this spirit in a lot of places, the typical Voodoo villain in any movie (The Princess and the Frog for example), show, game, etc. are usually incarnations of Samedi. So who is Baron Samedi? Essentially he is the badass of Vodou spirits; he either is always smoking a cigar or drinking rum (or both), he digs your grave when you die and greets you between the world of living and dead, he can cure any disease or remove any hex, swears and makes filthy jokes with both mortals and spirits, lusts after mortal women, and has a hardy craving for peanuts, black coffee, and bread. He is so cool that lesser spirits in the Invisible Realm (Spirit world) copy his style. You may think you are throwing a party, but it is just not so until Samedi shows up by driving a stretched Cadillac through your house and drinks all your booze while shooting your TV with a .357 Magnum. Ok, so I do not know if he likes shooting guns, but he is too cool not to.
|Remember me? No? Well, I run a chain of strip joints now. Honest.|
Chhinnamasta ("She whose head is severed") is a goddess from Hinduism, but is very well known in Tibetan Buddhism as Vajrayogini. A pretty striking goddess to say the least. Symbolizing both self-control, sexual desire, and self-sacrifice. Hinduism being highly paradoxical, places the symbolism behind Chhinnamasta both as a life giver and taker. As stated, she is remarked mostly for her self-sacrifice, but as equally well known for her sexual-dominance, self-destruction, and fury.
It is only when you read the tales of Chhinnamasta that you get a grasp of how incredibly hardcore and gruesome she was. I will not recite the exact stories but just list some short details.
I. Chhinnamasta is almost always accompanied by her two attendants as the picture shows, Dakini and Varnini. One day the two complained to Chhinnamasta how they were hungry, so she promised them that should would feed them later. When the time came to feed them she used her own nails to decapitate herself and fed her blood to them.
II. In the great god and demon war she aided the gods. After killing every demon she cut off her head and drank her own blood.
III. There was a time when the gods and demons churned the milk ocean for the potion of immortality, when all was gathered Chhinnamasta drank all the demons share and then cut off her own head so that the demons could never attain a drop.
As I said, Chhinnamasta is hardcore. I would like to say that you should all expect an entry on Kali at some point, equally as dualistic and terrifying in nature as Chhinnamasta, but I bet some of the stories will surprise you.
|Business as usual in The Hot Naraka.|
Naraka is Buddhist Hell. Just to give you an opening impression of how fucked up and horrifying Naraka is, if I was forced to choose between going to Naraka or Catholic/Christian Hell, I would select to go Catholic/Christian Hell in a second. I am not saying C/C Hell is for pussies or a cake walk, just that if you go by Dante`s Hell (Pandemonium) or what is in the Bible everything seems set in stone. You do this, this happens and you go here, and it sucks. Naraka on the other hand makes a sport of killing and torturing you in some of the most spectacular of ways. Not only are you in constant pain and fear for EONS but you progress through levels of hell, each longer (Each life-time is 20x longer than the previous in the Cold Naraka) and worse (somehow) than the preceding level. Also bare in mind that there are various Hells, the most well known are The Hot and Cold Narakas.
The Cold Naraka is possibly the most desolate, isolated, and foreboding hell. Its absolute pain comes not only from its isolation and cold, but the limbo it presents. You do nothing, you just lay, and as time slowly moves along you are punished further. Here are the contents of the Cold Naraka:
Arbuda. A blister realm. An extremely cold and dark world filled with plains and icy mountains that are constantly swept by blizzards. You are found here alone and naked the entire time and the cold is so severe your skin blisters. The length of time you spend here is said to last as long as it would take to empty a barrel full of seeds at the rate of taking one seed out every 100 years, keep in mind each level lasts 20x longer as the former level you came from.
Nirarbuda. The burst blister realm. Here it is even colder than Arbuda, and those blisters you had explode as you lay around chilling (PUNS!) with frozen pus and blood. Fun times.
Atata. In this realm you begin to shiver and the entire time you make the sound "atatatatata".
Hahava. Lamenting Hell. Here the shivering chants become painful cries of "ha, ho".
HuHuva. The realm of chattering teeth. You shiver more furiously and your teeth chatter and gnash making the sound "hu, hu".
Utpala. Your skin turns blue from the intense cold.
Padma. That blue skin that is covered with blisters now becomes raw and cracks, causing you to bleed out.
Mahapadma. The final realm in the Cold Naraka. You are shivering in pain and your teeth are chattering. You are covered in blisters with blue skin that has cracked and now bleeds. The cold at its worst now, completely cracks your skin open exposing your internal organs and they too freeze, crack, and bleed.
Holy shit, that is awful... BUT WAIT IT GETS BETTER! If you think the Cold Naraka is bad, which it is, the Hot Naraka is the Disney World of sadism. As mentioned, in the introduction, the demons here make a sport of doing the worst things possible to you. Seriously, they take time to just sit and think of what they are going to do to you because there is nothing but time for them to punish you. Here are the highlights of what a wonderful trip the Hot Naraka could bring to you and your loved ones:
Sanjiva. The reviving realm. As soon as you are here you enter into a state of misery and fear. The ground is solid but as hot as iron heated by immense flames. If I read this correctly, you are actually with other people, the thing is that as soon as you begin to fear being hurt (which is automatic) others will attack and kill you, and if you or others do not engage in combat, demons attack you with weapons that are on fire. As soon as you "die" you revive in full health and the cycle repeats. Other fun activities include; having molten iron poured on you or into your mouth and being chopped into many small pieces. It is fun in its own sick way to think about the name of this Hell. The Reviving Hell, it is as if to say; hey are you in for it now but this is just a taste. You spend 620,000,000,000 years here and each following realm lasts much longer than the previous one.
Kalasutra. The Black Thread. Not only do the merriments of the Sanjiva take place here, but the addition of demons drawing black lines upon your body comes into play. The demons cut you apart with saws that are on fire using the black lines they drew on you as a guide for the cuts.
Samghata. The Crushing Hell. The ground is not "hot like heated iron", no, it really is hot iron this time. You run around as giant rocks smash together with you in between them until you become an ooze and jelly of blood and flesh. Then the rocks part, you are reborn, and it all repeats.
Raurava. The Screaming Hell. The ground is still absurdly hot and you run around screaming looking for shelter. When you eventually find shelter Raurava completely shits on you by locking you inside and lighting it on fire as you scream more. Evil.
Maharaurava. The piercing Hell. This is an interesting one due to its focus in terms of participants and reflection of the Karma that led them here. This place is specially reserved for those who had a life of bettering or maintaining their bodies by hurting others. Here you run wild as all forms of animal-like demons nip, bite, and devour your flesh and body.
Tapana. The Heating Hell. Here demons impale your body upon spears that are once again on fire until flames pour out of your every orifice.
Pratapana. The Great Heating Hell. Very similar to Tapana in regards to style of punishment... except it is all amplified. No more spears, instead tridents or other multi-pronged stakes become used to impale you.
Avici. Final level, The Uninterrupted Hell. Once again, if I understand correctly, those spears that were on fire they used to impale you with are now used as spits to roast you alive over a terrible flame as you experience unexplainable pain.
Now these are only 2 Nakara`s, there are claims of over 500 to 700 various Hells, each as unsettling.
I hope you all enjoyed the entry, I tried to balance it out as best as possible with the content and its severity. For my future entry on religion and culture I will try to remember to present Dante`s Hell and Kali. I have to give a huge thanks to my girlfriend who presented these ideas to me. This is for you honeybee. An additional thanks goes to the Monster Brains Blog for the Naraka pictures. Check out Monster Brains if you really enjoy this blog.