Nagasena Bhiksu Sutra 2.40

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T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues 2.40. The Force of Karma

The king asked Nāgasena again, “Your sramanas say that the worldly fire is not as hot as the fire in the hells. Your sramanas also say if a small stone is put into ordinary fire, even if it remained there until the evening, it could not melt away. But, a large stone could be put into the fires of the hells and could melt immediately. This is a statement that I cannot believe. Your sramanas also say if a person has done demeritorious deeds and is reborn in the hells, that for thousands of years he cannot be burned to death. This, too, is a statement that I cannot believe.”

(a) Nāgasena then asked the king, “Have you heard, great king, that in the sea when female-serpents, female dragons, female tortoises, and female crabs are pregnant, they eat sand and stones as food?”

“Yes, they take them as food.”

“Can the sand and stones be consumed in their stomach?”

“Yes, they can be consumed.”

“But can the embryos in the womb, too, be consumed?”

“No, they cannot be consumed.”

“Why can they not be consumed?”

“It is due to the superior potency of their former deeds that they are not consumed.”

Nāgasena said, “So does the person in the hells, he is not to be burned to death for thousands of years, because the demeritorious deeds he has done are not exhausted.”

(b) Nāgasena again asked the king, “When lionesses, tigresses, female dogs, and female cats all eat meat and swallow bones in their stomach, are the bones consumed?”

“Yes, they are all consumed.”

Then Nāgasena asked the king, “Are the embryos in their belly to be consumed also?”

“No, they cannot be consumed.”

“Why can they not be consumed?”

“It is due to the superior potency of their former deeds that they are not consumed.”

Nāgasena said, “People in the hells are the same. They are not to be burned to death for hundreds and thousands of years, because the demeritorious deeds done by them are not exhausted.”

(c) Nāgasena asked the king again, “When cows, mares, she-donkeys, tailed deer, and doe are pregnant, do they all eat grass and hay as food?”

“Yes, they eat grass and hay as food.”

“Are the grass and hay all consumed in their belly?”

“Yes, they all are consumed.”

“Are the embryos in their belly all consumed?”

“No, they cannot be consumed.”

“Why can’t they be consumed?”

“It is due to the superior potency of their former deeds that they are not consumed.”

Then Nāgasena said, “People in the hells are the same. Because their demeritorious deeds are not exhausted, they are not burned to death.”

(d) Nāgasena asked the king again, “When women of high rank and ladies of rich families all eat delicious and nice food, is the food all digested in their bellies?”

“Yes, it is all digested.”

“But when they are pregnant, are the embryos in their belly consumed also?”

“No, they cannot be.”

“Why can they not be consumed?”

“It is due to the superior potency of their former deeds that they are not consumed.”

Nāgasena said, “People in the hells are the same. They are not to be consumed for thousands of years, because the demeritorious deeds done by them in previous births have not been exhausted.”

Nāgasena continued, “If a person is born in the hells, there does he grow up, there he grows old, and he does not die until his demeritorious deeds are exhausted.”

“Excellent, Nāgasena.”