purgatory, hell, a place of punishment & torture, where sin is atoned (i.e. kamma ripens = paccati, is literally boiled) by terrible ordeals (kāraṇāni) similar to & partly identical with those of Hades & Tartarus. There are a great number of hells, of which the most fearful is the; Avīcimahāniraya (see Avīci). Names of other purgatories occur frequently in the Jātaka collection, e.g. Kākola; Khuradhāra Ja.v.269 sq.; Dhūma-roruva Ja.v.271 Patāpana Ja.v.266, Ja.v.271, Ja.v.453; Paduma Ja.iv.245; Roruva Ja.iii.299; Ja.v.266;; Sanghāta Ja.v.266; Sañjīva ibid. Sataporisa Ja.v.269; Sattisūla Ja.v.143. As the principal one n. is often mentioned with the other apāyas (states of suffering), viz. tiracchānayoni (animal world) & pittivisaya (the; manes), e.g. at Mnd.489; Cnd.517, Cnd.550; Pv.iv.11; Thag-a.282; Pv-a.27 sq. (see apāya)
■ There is a great variety of qualifying adjectives connected with niraya, all of which abound in notions of fearful pain, awful misery & continuous suffering, e.g. kaṭuka ghora, dāruṇa, bhayānaka, mahābhitāpa, sattussada etc
■ Descriptions of N. in glowing terms of frightfulness are freq. found from the earliest books down to the late Peta-Vatthu, Pañcagati-dīpana & Saddhammopāyana Of these the foll. may be quoted as characteristic: SN.i.152 (10 nirayas); MN.iii.183; AN.i.141 Snp.p.126 = AN.v.173; Mnd.404 sq. = Cnd.304#iii.c; Ja.iv.4 (Mittavindaka); Vv.52 (Revatī); Pv.i.10; Pv.iii.10; Pv.iv.1 Pv.iv.7; Dhp-a.i.148
■ See on the whole subject, esp. L Scherman, Materialen zur indischen Visionsliteratur, Leipzig 1792; & W. Stede, Die Gespenstergeschichten des Peta Vatthu, Leipzig 1914, pp. 33–⁠39
References: Vin.i.227 (apāya duggati vinipāta niraya); DN.i.82, DN.i.107 (id.); Vin.ii.198 (yo kho sanghaṃ bhindati kappaṃ nirayamhi paccati), Vin.ii.204; Vin.ii.203 = Iti.86; DN.i.228 (+ tiracchānayoni), DN.i.54 (read nirayasate for niriyasate); DN.iii.111; SN.iv.126; SN.v.356, SN.v.450; MN.i.73, MN.i.285, MN.i.308, MN.i.334; MN.ii.86, MN.ii.149 MN.ii.186; MN.iii.166, MN.iii.203, MN.iii.209; AN.iv.405; AN.v.76, AN.v.182, AN.v.184; Snp.248 (patanti sattā nirayaṃ avaṃsirā), Snp.333, Snp.660 sq., Snp.677 sq. Dhp.126, Dhp.140, Dhp.306, Dhp.311, Dhp.315; Thag.304 (adhammo nirayaṃ neti dhammo pāpeti suggatiṃ) = Dhs-a.38 = DN-a.i.99 = Dhp-a.i.22; Thig.456; Iti.12; Ja.iv.463; Pp.60; Pts.i.83 (Avīci˚); Vb.86, Vb.337; Vism.102; Mil.148; Dhp-a.i.22; Dhp-a.iii.71; Sdhp.7, Sdhp.285
■ See also nerayika.

  • -gāmin (adj.) leading to purgatory (magga) Snp.277
  • -dukkha the pain of H. Snp.531;
  • -pāla a guardian of P. a devil AN.i.138, AN.i.141; MN.iii.179; Mnd.404; Vv-a.226 Names of guardians (after their complexion) e.g. Kāḷa (black) & Upakāḷa (blackish)
  • -bhaya the fear of P. Ja.i.168; Vism.392;
  • -saṃvattanika conducive to P. Mnd.489.

BSk. niraya, nis + aya of i = to go asunder, to go to destruction, to die, cp. in meaning Vedic nirṛti. The popular etym. given by Dhammapāla at Pv-a.53 is “n’ atthi ettha ayo sukhan ti” = there is no good; that given by Bdhgh at Vism.427 “n’ atthi ettha assādasaññito ayo” (no refreshment)