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The Fourth Court of Hell

The Fourth Court of Hell

C023/9533

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Credit

SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Chinese beliefs “Naraka” is the Buddhist concept of hell in the afterlife. Under this doctrine, the soul must pass through ten stages, in the form of the ten Courts of Hell. All souls are judged on the type and extent of their evil deeds, and the degree and duration of their punishment is determined. The Fourth Court of Hell, governed by Wu-Kwan-wang, consists of one large prison and 16 small dungeons. The punishments include kneeling on spikes, needles thrust in eyes, thrown in roaring stream. After the punishments, the souls are prepared for reincarnation by the process of metempsychosis, involving the taking of the “elixir of forgetfulness” to remove all previous memories. The reborn souls enter Nirvana after crossing the “Bridge of Helplessness”. From “Recherche sur les Superstitions en Chine” by Henri Doré, Shanghai, 1914.

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