CONTENTS:- Part I: Heaven: Section I : Heavens as generally described in the Nikayas; Section II : Illustrative stories from the Vimanavatthu Commentary; Section III : Observations. Part II: Hell.
This book describes the Buddhist idea of heaven and hell prevalent amongst the people of northern India at the time of Buddha and later incorporated in the Buddhist scriptures. Contrary to the lofty thought and teachings of the Buddha himself, the joys of heaven as set forth in popular Buddhism are represented as being obtainable by means of what seems suspiciously like a mercenary bargain, entered into in a spirit which, far from being selfless, is on the contrary frankly selfish. In fact piety practised in this calculating way, far from bringing nirvana within the reach of man, only serves to bind him more securely to the wheel of life. The various heavens and hells of Buddhism are in reality places whose inhabitants are as much subject to the iron law of karma as are the dwellers upon the earth itself. As such, the heavens and hells may be said to exist for the purpose of providing a stage to give reward to the meritorious and retribution for the impious, as the individual proceeds through the revolving cycle of existence. The author has collected from Buddhist literature a number of descriptions of the pleasures of heaven and the the sorrows of hell. The catalogue of crimes and their corresponding punishment according to the Buddhist faith is graphically detailed.