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I understand that hell is being used for keeping the order of our society. Does hell really exist in Buddhism? As it creates fears instead of freeing one's mind from suffering. It also creates a mechanism of punishment for not believing in the religion as well.

If it is written in Tipitaka, how do we know that it wasn't added later by someone that wanted to use it as a rule for making people behave themselves?

  • Once a person has attained at least Stream Entry one is said to be completely free from being reborn in hell. – Kaveenga Wijayasekara Mar 24 '16 at 9:51
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Does hell exist in Buddism?

Yes it does. It is a destination in which you mental state is painful and also painful mental states are sometimes called hell. Hell is mentioned in Bala Pandita Sutta. Painful mental states are compared to hell in Patala Sutta

It also creats a machanism of punishment for not believing in the religion as well.

Buddhism is universal hence there is no notion of punishment. If a Hindu, Muslim, Christian does good then good results follow.

But having said that holding into wrong views does have consequences regardless if you consider yourself a Buddhist or not.

For one with wrong view, Lohicca, there is either of two destinies, I say, that is, hell or the animal womb.

Source: (Sāla,vatikā) Lohicca Sutta

It also creats a machanism of punishment for not believing in the religion as well.

If you look at the Abhidhamma associated the right view is belief in Karmic repercussions. Even Hindus can have it. Also to a certain extent people of other faiths if you believe an action has repercussions. This is not aimed at keeping you believing. Also right view does have shades and purity. The ultimate would be the experiential understanding but at a conceptual level the best understanding you can get is by reading Samma,ditthi Sutta.

Also Buddhism is not about any belief but experiencing the realities pertaining to our existance hence understanding the arising of stress and sorrow through whereby you can find a way out of it. You have to have some faith in the techniques as you would have to have in a doctor and his treatment to follow through with it.

If it is written in Tipitaka, how do we know that it wasn't added later by someone that wanted to use it as a rule for making people behave themselves?

Vimanavatthu and Petavatthu was preached to make people understand reciprocation of Karma hence behave themselves. This also is not to keep someone tied to believe in the teaching. Also I do not believe this was added later.

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    Yes. But readers must understand that this is not the Immortal Hell or the Damned hell some religions preach. What Buddhism teach is a realm / world which is full of pain. And the birth there has an expiration date just like here. – Theravada Mar 24 '16 at 12:07
  • I always felt "Hell" was not the best word to use for this realm. It can be confusing for most non-Buddhist. "Purgatory" I think leaves a less confusing image while also giving people an idea that it's a cleansing cycle and not an eternal state. – Theo Christos Sep 21 '16 at 12:04
  • I have to ask, when there can have punishment; then who punish one who found itself in hell? Also when Buddhism is only about forgiveness, Buddha or Buddhists never punish someone or curse someone . I think so it must punish through that person's karma, would turn back as boomerang. Isn't it? – Swapnil Mar 17 '17 at 7:11
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Yes, hell exists in Buddhism as a literal real place as real as this world we live in, but there many hellish worlds and they are temporary (though many can last for extremely long time-periods).

In reality the concept of hell might have originated in Buddhism because early Hinduism does not seem to have the concept nor does early Judaism or the majority of pre-Buddhist religions, they have only vague ideas and concepts.

Buddhism is among the only religion where hell is central concept, described in high graphic details, highlighted and emphasized all the time. Most certainly it was not added in because it is found everywhere in earliest scriptures.

This makes me wonder if NT Christian writers had copied the concept of hell from Buddhism since there were many Greco-Buddhists. The Greek concept of hell is vague and only somewhat like the NT Christian version which seems to more resemble Buddhist hell. It would be much more reasonable to argue that hell was added into NT Christianity than added into Buddhism, because the evidence shows Buddhism as the probable originator of the hell concept.

Which other recorded figure had ever described hell in such high graphic details before The Buddha?

The Buddha says:

"In the same manner bhikkhus, the unpleasantness and displeasure experienced on account of six thousand whips three times a day cannot be reckoned as a comparison, not even as a quarter, nor even as a sign for the unpleasantness and displeasure experienced in hell. The warders of hell give him the fivefold binding." (Balapandita Sutta, MN 129)


"And then later on, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I see that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he has reappeared in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell, and is experiencing extremely painful, racking, piercing feelings.

Suppose there were a charcoal pit deeper than a man's height full of glowing coals without flame or smoke; and then a man scorched and exhausted by hot weather, weary, parched and thirsty, came by a path going in one way only and directed to that same charcoal pit.

Then a man with good sight on seeing him would say: 'This person so behaves, so conducts himself, has taken such a path, that he will come to this same charcoal pit'; and then later on he sees that he has fallen into that charcoal pit and is experiencing extremely painful, racking, piercing feelings. So too, by encompassing mind with mind... piercing feelings." (Maha-sihanada Sutta, MN 12)

You said:

"As it creates fears instead of freeing one's mind from suffering. It also creates a mechanism of punishment for not believing in the religion as well."

I don't know, lots of things create fear, but the belief in hell can create positive fear and motivation to act. The Buddha states the truth not what people necessarily want to hear.

My personal belief is that hellish worlds are really physically real and that it would be proven in the future, it's only a matter of time. I already have a hunch on how it could be proven, but who wants to witness or go to hell?

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Hell exists in Buddhism but not the kind of you normally you think of as hell (examples would be hell in conventional Christianity. *Ancient Christianity/Gnosis is different story)

In fact, you are in hell right now. Heaven and hell exists within you at the same time but you just don't realize. If your life is guided by something imaginary and not own your own and chasing for something imaginary you think is real and suffering by them, wouldn't it be reasonable to call that hell?

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How would hell be completely existent in every school of Buddhism if it was a tool added to control society? If something was added not everyone would accept it resulting in various schools as we see now but this hasn't occurred with Hell so it isn't a later addition.

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I understand that hell is being used for keeping the order of our society

Order of the society is not the goal of Buddhism. The goal is to attain Nibbana -in other words, to end suffering.

Does hell really exist in Buddhism

There are many hells, not one. They are actual realms where beings are born into, due to unwholesome Kamma. Hell-beings experience both physical pain and mental suffering. Hells are categorized into 4 types:

  1. Asuras
  2. Petas(Ghosts)
  3. Tiracchana(Animals)
  4. Niraya(Hells of great suffering)

it creates fears instead of freeing one's mind from suffering. It also creates a mechanism of punishment for not believing in the religion

Whether you believe in Buddhism or not, if the Kamma that comes forward to give your next life is unwholesome, it will cause birth in one of the above mentioned hells.

If a doctor advises a patient not to smoke, warning that he could get lung cancer as a consequence, is it a mechanism of punishment for not believing in the doctor?

If it is written in Tipitaka, how do we know that it wasn't added later by someone that wanted to use it as a rule for making people behave themselves?

When you commit an unwholesome act, you can notice how the nature of your mind changes. A part of this Kamma you have to face in this life. It is called Dittadhammavedaniya. If you pay wise attention, you can notice how your life changes according to the Kamma you do. With that understanding, it is not hard to believe that a birth caused by an unwholesome kamma will lead to a bad destination.

If you need visual proof of the actual hells, you have to do Samatha meditation and attain the divine-eye faculty.

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Does hell exist in Buddhism?

Yes it does.

how do we know that it wasn't added later by someone that wanted to use it as a rule for making people behave themselves?

No one added it later.
Now I will give my answer.

Even Lord Buddha as mentioned about hell in several suthras. You have to know that Buddhism doesn't accept "the hell" concept. Because according to the preaching there are many hells. Lord Buddha has clearly mentioned about each of the hell including its life span, size of it and the pain creature are suffering. If someone goes to hell after the death, which hell he should be born is decided by the sins he has done. (not only in this life). But Lord Buddha clearly mention that if someone born in hell it's really hard to get out from there.

Please note that there is a good explanation for heavens also.

So my personal idea is try to do good deed as much as you can. If you can to do good deeds at least try to stay away from committing sins.

Please note that in hell, who ever born in there gets a physical body too

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