Thank you all for your kind answers to my questions. I feel that this community is really different from the others. If I asked the questions I made here in my country, I would be condemned heavily by now.

Back to the question, as Buddhist hell only exists in one's mind, therefore the information on wikipedia must be wrong.


Or is it correct? Why does no one change it?

  • 3
    "Buddhist hell only exists in one's mind" - This is a false assertion Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 13:13
  • Please help me clarify this.
    – Ook
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 13:21
  • 1
    Answered here. It makes this question redundant unless if you are asking if wikipedia got the list right. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 14:19
  • 1
    On Wikipedia everyone can create a profile and write new entries or edit existing entries. The consequence of this, is that the validity is highly uncertain.
    – user2424
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 14:37
  • 1
    @Ook how i think of these sorts of questions is that 1. all buddhists claim that whoever experiences the karmic result is not separate (or the same) from who did it, and 2. you couldn't really claim that every result is experienced in one life. as to your exact question: personally i imagine the description of hells is metaphorical, but perhaps not their (illusory) existence per se, after this life. but that's likely heterodox cos, e.g. as below, of the divine eye
    – user2512
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 4:42

2 Answers 2


In the mind ...

Buddhist hell only exists in one's mind

Here's an interesting story:

The Gates of Paradise

To me that story implies that:

  • Heaven and hell can be experienced (or seen) now (or just a moment away)
  • They exist as a consequence of (as result of) speech (by the monk) and action (by the soldier)
  • They manifest in real life (including "physically") and not "only in one's mind"

Some people do have a view that the world can seem like hell, depending on your state of mind. If hell were defined as "continuous suffering", according to that definition some people might see the current world as a state of woe.

... but not 'only' in the mind

But even if "hell" does exist in (or is perceived or experienced by) one's present mind (as illustrated above), it might be a mistake to assume that it only exists in the mind.

The suttas do describe hell realms -- for example Devaduta Sutta (MN 130) was referenced in the Wikipedia article. I see nothing in that text which shows that the Buddha must have been talking metaphorically.

Theoretically I see three possibilities:

  • The Buddha was speaking metaphorically (e.g. to persuade people to behave well)
  • The Buddha was speaking literally (there is literally a realm like that)
  • Something else

In any case, that sutta certainly appears to be referring to a state which may happen in the future, and is not just a state which is "only in one's mind" (in the present) -- it says,

I — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — see beings passing away & re-appearing ...

... Or how these beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech & mind, who reviled noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a lower realm, hell.'

In summary

In summary you might find it useful to think of "hell" as something which "exists in one's mind", and which is taught to be a realm experienced "with the break-up of the body, after death", or seen "with the divine eye".

By analogy, if you see a photograph of something then it does "exist in the photograph": but it would be odd to say that it exists only in the photograph (the thing photographed may also still exist in real life).

In Wikipedia

FYI according to Wikipedia the Narakas are also described in Hinduism.

Within Buddhism (the article you referenced in the OP),

There are several schemes for enumerating these Narakas and describing their torments. The Abhidharma-kosa (Treasure House of Higher Knowledge) is the root text that describes the most common scheme, the Eight Cold Narakas and Eight Hot Narakas.

You're asking whether Wikipedia is wrong and why no-one changes it: but it doesn't seem to be "wrong" i.e. it is reporting or summarizing what's written in Buddhist literature.

The emphasis or people's interpretation of the Wikipedia article may be wrong, but so far as I know its content is more or less OK for an article that's titled "Naraka (Buddhism)".


There are instances where painful mental states or experiances are called hell. [Patala Sutta] E.g. If I do something that might ripen in being born in hell you also get the hellish feeling here and now, [Maha Dukkha-k,khandha Sutta, Cūla Dukkha-k,khandha Sutta] and in case you are born in the human world similar pains will be experienced. [Maha Kamma,vibhaṅga Sutta, Cūla Kamma Vibhaṅga Sutta]

A more vivid description of hell is found in Bala Pandita Sutta, (Yama) Deva,dūta Sutta and Deva,dūta Sutta. Neyy’attha Nīt’attha Sutta mentions that the Buddha uses direct and indirect languages. Though these destinations may exist some of the descriptions maybe parables so you can draw an analogy of what is there to a concept that you might be familiar with as Arana Vibhanga Sutta mentions that when teaching Dhamma you should use common and familiar language giving allowance to the audience or region they are from. This does not mean that the destination are only exist in the mind or they are parables to experiences in this world.

Also the Wikipedia articles seams mix and match from multiple schools. Also it would be an idea to keep these descriptions as per the wording of the Buddha and let the reader infer its meaning.

With regard to the descriptions in the Suttas many of the experiences in hell will not have a description in common language as language is developed to describe what we come across in this world. What is mentioned would most likely give the best idea of the suffering involved in these worlds.

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