Hell is the place where humans will be brought to after they had died. Typically, according to believes based on legends, COW HEAD (牛头Niutou) and HORSE FACE (马面Mamian) will be the ones who will bring you down!
After being brought down, you will have to cross the NAI HE QIAO (奈何橋), or a bridge to Hell! After crossing this bridge you are now finally at the main hell gates entrance.
However, Hell is not as simple as what you may imagine it to be.
To generalized, there are 18 levels of hell and in this 18 levels, there are 10 courts. Hell is itself a very complicated underground maze.
However, the above statement is only a very general understanding of what most humans knows about hell. In fact, it is a lot more complicated than that !
Taoism and Buddhism Version of the Same Hell
There is the Taoism (Daoism) version of our Chinese Hell as well the Buddhism version of our Chinese Hell. Although both have much that they share in common and that they both work hand in hand together, but the two however also have differences too.
Originally, it is just the Taoism version as it is the Chinese Hell that we are speaking of. The most original and pure forms of Chinese religions will be Taoism and Confucianism. Hence hell was initially based on them.
However with Buddhism being spread into China from India by DA MO and as a gradual matter of time, Buddhism had rooted itself deeply into China as well, the Buddhism version of the Chinese Hell began to take form too !
The 36 level of Heavens and 36 Grounds
According to the Taoism books, it has been said that there are both 36 heavens and 36 grounds in this universe. In the 36th level of heaven lives the most Original Supreme God. Which is the highest, mightiest and powerful one.
On the 35th level of the heaven lives the Spiritual Treasure Supreme God. As for the 34th level of Heaven lives the Ethics Virtues Supreme God which has been said to have once incarnated to Lao Tse / Lao Zi who was the founder of Taoism.
These above mentioned 3 are the top 3 gods in the Taoism (universe).
The Jade Emperor lives in the 33rd heaven. He is the overall king of gods being in charge of 33 heavens, 36 grounds which is inclusive of the legendary hell and not forgetting to oversee the mortal world.
Where is the Hell?
Based on Taoism documents, hell is under the sea, or so called beneath the sea bed. The kingdom of Hell has 10 palace halls with a respective king in each.
In Each of the respective Palaces lies a Court which we will report to the king upon our deaths. These courts are known to be as the 10 courts of HELL !!!!
Which are the 10 Courts of Hell ?
It is not in the case that all of us will report to all of the 10 courts and all of the 10 kings. But however there is a also a possibility that we might as well.
Basically each court of hell has a different function which base on what type of sins and crimes and wrong doings we have all done when we were alive as humans.
So which are the 10 courts of Hell? Well, they are basically as follows :
The Ten Courts of Chinese Hell
Court 1 : Mirror of Retribution. Ruled by Qin Guan Wang (秦廣王蔣)
Court 2 : Pool of Filth and Hell of Ice. Ruled by Qu Jiang Wang (楚江王歷)
Court 3 : Black Rope Hell and Upside-Down Prision. Ruled by Song Di Wang (宋帝王余)
Court 4 : Lake of Blood and Terrible Bee Torture. Ruled by Wu Guan Wang (五官王呂)
Court 5 : Sixteen Departments of Heart Gouging. Ruled by Yen Lo Wang (閻羅王包)
Court 6 : Screaming Torture and Administrative Errors. Ruled by Bian Cheng Wang (卞城王畢)
Court 7 : Tortured by Mincing Machine. Ruled by Tai Shan Wang (泰山王董)
Court 8 : Hot Suffocation Hell. Ruled by Du Shi Wang (都市王黃)
Court 9 : Iron Web and Office of Fair Trading. Ruled by Ping Deng Wang (平等王陸)
Court 10 : The Wheel of Rebirth. Ruled by Zhuang Lun Wang (轉輪王薛)
The Birthdays of the 10 Kings
Birthdays of the 10 Kings based of the Chinese Lunar Calendars
Please do take note that below date are Chinese dates and not Western date. The Chinese Lunar Calendar for your information is 1 month slower than the western Gregorian Calendar.
Court 1 : Qin Guan Wang (秦廣王蔣) The first day of the second lunar month (February 1st)
Court 2 : Qu Jiang Wang (楚江王歷) The first day of the third lunar month. (March 1st)
Court 3 : Song Di Wang (宋帝王余) The 8th day of the second lunar month ( February 8th)
Court 4 : Wu Guan Wang (五官王呂) The 28th day of the second lunar month ( February 28th)
Court 5 : Yen Lo Wang (閻羅王包) The 8th day of the first lunar month. ( January 8th)
Court 6 : Bian Cheng Wang (卞城王畢) The 8th day of the third lunar month. ( March 8th)
Court 7 : Tai Shan Wang (泰山王董) The 27th day of the third lunar month ( March 27th )
Court 8 : Du Shi Wang (都市王黃) The first day of the 4th lunar month. ( April 1st)
Court 9 : Ping Deng Wang (平等王陸) The 15th day of the 4th lunar month. ( April 15th )
Court 10 : Zhuang Lun Wang (轉輪王薛) The 17th day of 4th lunar month (April 17th )
Miscellaneous Information of the Kings
For your information, Qin Guan Wang (秦廣王蔣) is said to be actually Jiang Ziwen ( 蒋子文 ) of the Han Dynasty and Yen Lo Wang (閻羅王包) is said to be actually Bao Zheng (包拯) of the Song Dynasty.
For your additional information, initially Yen Lo Wang (閻羅王包) was in charge of the first palace of hell, Court 1. However, he had send the dead, back into the mortal world for those who died of injustices to clear up their false charge too many times that in the end he was demoted to the fifth palace of hell.
What are the 10 Courts of Hell?
The below will be a basic introductions to the 10 courts of hell. The Crime that you have committed and the punishment that you will get.
First Court of Hell
Crime: Violating the code of filial piety
Punishment: Put under heavy slabs and boulders or squeezed in the middle of the grinder
Second Court of Hell
Crime: Gossiping, Stealing, Wickedness
Punishment: Having your tongue pierced, Made to kneel on steel granules, Boiled in a cauldron, disemboweled, and put in a volcanic chamber
Third Court of Hell
Crime : Corruption and greed, Disobedience and disrespect to elders, Violating and state a Confucian principles or being an unjust official
Punishment : Handcuffed and beaten, Have your ribs pierced, body grilled, your lungs, heart, liver, intestines and eyes torn out, Have your heart removed, knees crushed and face scraped by a mental instrument
Fourth Court of Hell
Crime : General Sins, Cheating or evading income taxes, Stealing, Breaking promises
Punishment : Hurled into a torrential river, made to kneel on bamboo spikes, boiled in oil, head struck open,
Drowned under a heavy stone ,Have your hands swan off, have your lips split
Fifth Court of Hell
Crime : Cruelty to animals and friends
Punishment :Have your heart torn out with hooks or thrown onto protruding swords
In this Sixth Court of Hell, those who have already been punished but are still unrepentant, are punished further. This includes all crimes against any deity or Buddha or breaking any Buddhist or Confucian laws.
Sixth Court of Hell
Crime : Stealing from temples committing blasphemy , Killing animals
Punishment : Made to kneel on iron nails, swanned in two, gnawed by rats,Have your body chopped in half
Seventh Court of Hell
Crime : Rebelling against authorities , Spreading false rumors , Using drugs, causing quarrels
Punishment : Torn apart by dogs, Have your tongue pulled out , Thrown into a pot of boiling water
Eighth Court of Hell
Crime : Committing crimes against Confucianism and operating houses for immoral purposes
Punishment : Crushed under carriage wheels, sliced, disemboweled, struck by lighting, and having tongues, arms and legs cut off
Ninth Court of Hell
Crime : Smuggling, committing arson , Writing or painting erotic literature or scenes
Punishment :Attacked by snakes, stung by bees, tortured or trafficking drugs in boiling oil
Flattened between two planks, have your head crushed in an iron ring, skull steamed, bones scraped and tendons pulled out
In the Tenth Court of Hell, the President passes his final judgment and the sinner goes through one of the seven-ways in the Wheel of Reincarnation. Shaped like a wheel, wind and clouds billow out from the circle in the centre and the six other circles surrounding it. Depending on the sinner's past life, he will enter a particular way which will determine how he or she will be reborn.
Tenth Court of Hell
The sinner will be reincarnated as:
First Way : Wealthy and powerful human
Second Way : Birds
Third Way : Farmers and laborers
Fourth Way : Working class folk
Fifth Way : Dragons, fish, crabs, insects or sea creatures
Sixth Way : Lions, tigers, horses, deer, elephant or other four-legged animals
Seventh Way : Poor, lonely and the destitute
Wheel of Reincarnation / Life
In this Wheel of Reincarnation or the Wheel of life, you will be reincarnated into the 7 ways or the so called 6 realms
The 7 ways are already as per mentioned above and the 6 realms will be :
1) God Realm (天道) : Devas ; Blissful State
2) Demi-God Realm (修罗道) : Asura /Titan ; Jealousy & Anger
3) Human Realm (人道)
4) Animal Realm (畜生道)
5) Hungry Ghost Realm (饿鬼道) : Petra ; strong possessiveness & desires, always hungry & thirsty
6) Hell Realm (地狱道) : Naraka ; Remain in hell & continue to be punish till negative Karma is used up
The below will now be a slightly more detailed description to the individual 10 courts of Hell.
This is where you will first report to !
The court inside this first palace is in the hall and it is also the entry door to hell. The first king of the first palace is Qin Guan Wang (秦廣王蔣)., who is in charge of people's date of birth and death
There you will face the Mirror of reflection ! In this mirror all of the things that you have done when you are living will be reflected out in the mirror as if it is like some movie or drama in the TV or Cinema.
This Sin mirror with 50-feet width and 10-feet height on the stage. The mirror of reflection is also known as Sin Mirror or Karma Mirror.
This is where you will really get to have a chance to look at yourself and what have you really done ! Have you been good or bad etc...
This one mirror every single individual will get their turn to face it , one by one at a time. After you have seen everything, the king will be made his verdict based on what the mirror has reflected.
Your punishments to your sins and crimes and to what court you will go to after this will be based on this court 1 king, Qin Guan Wang (秦廣王蔣).
Some of the lucky ones can even proceed straight to court 10 immediately and await to be reborn. Such People are the ones who have the benevolent deeds with good virtue will be protected and escorted to pass the hell and be sent to the heaven or happiest world. People have some kind deeds and charitable work will be sent to 10th palace of the hell and wait for rebirth. People with evil behaviors will bring up the a stage.
Court 2 king is Qu Jiang Wang (楚江王歷)
There are quite a few things in this part of hell and they are as follows :
1)Hell of Dark Clouds of Dust
2)Hell of Night Soil and Urine
3)Hell of Five Pronged Fork
4)Hell of Extreme Hunger
5)Hell of Excruciating Thirst
6)Hell of Slough and Blood
7)Hell with Boiling Copper Cauldrons
8)Hell of Iron Corslets
9)Hell of Great Scales
10) Hell where you will be pecked by Cocks
11)Hell of Rushing Ashes
12)Hell where the Body will be cut into pieces
13)Hell of Knives and swords
14)Hell of the Beasts
15)Hell of Cold an Ice
16)Hell of numerous Copper Cauldrons
Some examples of why you get such punishments are because you are a kidnapper, claimed a lost deposit of somebody for your ownself into your own account. Due to your own incompetency you are resulted in the tragic and sufferings of others.
In the third palace of Hell lies court 3 and the King is Song Di Wang (宋帝王余).
This is basically one large Hell with many small dungeons. In this Hell, there are :
1) Hell of Rib Piercing
2) Hell of handcuffs
3) Hell where your Knees are Crushed
4) Hell where you drink blood
Some Examples of why you gain entry into this hell will be due to :
1) A Terrible , Bad and lousy Wife who is a burden and a Worry to the husband
2) A Disobedient Slave, Maid, Servant, Employee
3) Cheating on the funds of the Company, Family, Country or Friends
4) Unreasonably delayed a funeral or done forgery
In this fourth palace of hell, lies Court 4 and the king to it is Wu Guan Wang (五官王呂).
In this hell, you will be thrown into a roaring stream, made to kneel on spikes, get your tendon cut off, flesh gimleted , limps cut off, sit on sharp rocks, lips are splited and buried under gravel.
Some examples of why you will receive such punishment will be due to :
1) Deliberately opening and reading of letters which you should not have
2) Pilfered oil from the sanctuary lamp
3) Not giving money to the needy
4) Spreading of garish rumors
5) You are a Litter bug
The king to the fifth palace of hell, Court 5 it is Yen Lo Wang (閻羅王包).
In this Hell, are those who are punished for being unbelievers who defy, rapists, seductive woman, brigands, harlots, those who curse monks, priest etc.., arson on properties and nature, ill treatment to animals and did not bury them well.
In the sixth palace of hell is Court 6 with Bian Cheng Wang (卞城王畢) as the King.
In this hell, you will kneel on iron filing, nipped by insects, crushed under rollers, sawn into half, drink mucky waters and kicked by donkeys.
Some of the people you will find here would be those who :
1) Curse Nature, Gods, Buddha etc..
2) Disrespect Religion or who challenge the religion
3) Destruction to religious buildings, objects etc...
4) Promote Obscenities and Porn instead of putting a stop to it.
In the seventh palace of hell is Court 7 and King to it is Tai Shan Wang (泰山王董).
Sometimes, this hell is referred to the hell of remorse and self hatred. This is the hell whereby your legs will be hacked and burnt, ankles bitten by dogs, your flayed skin is fed to the hogs and after which you will be pecked by eagles.
Some examples of the why you are here is simply because you have :
1) Violated or raided Tombs
2) Lazy, neglectful, never perform your duties well as mentors, teachers, lecturers etc..
3) drug traffickers,
4) Staged a Rebellion against your master
5) caused quarrels ,conflicts or done sow discords
Court 8 is in the eighth palace of hell and Du Shi Wang (都市王黃) is the King to this place.
In this hell, you will get crushed under carriage wheels, tongue cut out, sliced into pieces and ripped into bits.
You are probably here because of disrespect ,rudeness or because you bully your parents and other elderly folks. After which you will be send into the tenth court and be turned into as animals, most likely.
In ninth palace of hell court 9 is under King Ping Deng Wang (平等王陸) !
In this hell, your Bones are scraped, tendons snapped, your head will be crushed in iron rings, and your Skull steamed in frying pan.
Some examples of what you are guilty of will be such as
1)Guilty of the Ten Great crimes
2)Wrote Erotic books, drew dirty pictures, photo dirty photos, you are an abortionists
This place is sometimes also called as the city of suicides.
Zhuang Lun Wang (轉輪王薛) is the king of the tenth palace of hell, court 10 ! King Zhuang Lun Wang (轉輪王薛) is in charge of the rebirth of death spirits, who might become saints, human, spirits, animal, ghost or staying in the Hell.
Only when your agony is completed and that you have truly repented for what you have done after receiving all of your dued punishments, will you then be reborn.
King Zhuang Lun Wang (轉輪王薛) will then decide the manner of your next existence before sending you to have a ride on the wheel of Reincarnation / Life.
You shall aim for the boat across the Styx to proceed to the Wheel but you can get knocked off down into the waters by fierce demons sometimes.
After you have already crossed the Styx, you will see MENG PO (孟婆) awaiting for you of your arrival. She will give to you the soup of forgetfulness in which you will forget everything of your current life and your punishments.
After which will you then proceed to the wheel of Reincarnation / Life finally.
Sometimes it has been believed and said that it is because you did not drink the finish the soup, therefore you can have memories of your previous life or of what you have been through in hell.
When you are on the wheel, the wheel will spin round and round , faster and faster until you are finally being shoot off into a void and land into a body of something such as a human , animal etc.. and you shall begin your new life all over again.
However, if your negative karma is still too strong, you will not be reborn but instead, you will stay in hell almost permanently and get back to be punished again ! You will only leave hell after all of your negative karma is being used up. It is only then will you get be to be reborn.