Each region of the hells has several storeys. Their number is the highest in the uppermost, and it decreases as one comes down. There is a central hell in the centre of every storey. The numbers of hells of every storey decreases likewise when one moves downwards.
The inhabitants of the hells (Narakas) are not born like the inhabitants of the earth, but are born in a supernatural manner, by "manifestation", by suddenly coining out of the holes in the walls and falling down there. Their complete evolution takes one Muhurta (48 minutes). Besides the fiery-and Karma-body, which is a characteristic of all beings, they have a "metamorphic" body with a grey appearance; their structure is completely unsymmetrical, and all are hermaphrodites.
They have the first three types of knowledge and seeing, thus also the transcendent knowledge of material things, but this capability serves only to increase their sufferings. There are unbelievers among them and those who have the three lowest forms of faith; self discipline is not possible among them, and therefore they cannot rise ever beyond the 4th stage of virtue. The unbelievers think of giving sufferings to the others, but thereby suffer themselves the most; those who have the right faith do not do this, but are tortured by the qualms of conscience for what they had done in earlier existences. The deeper the hells worse are their inhabitants, and greater are their pains they have to suffer. The hells of the first 4 regions are hot; those of the 5th region partially hot, partially cold, the lowest two are cold. The type (character) of souls is grey in the first and the second, grey or dark in the third, dark in the fourth, dark or black in the fifth and black in the sixth and seventh. The body-size of those who are condemned is, in the individual storeys, very different.
The horrible conditions in the hells are described in glowing terms. The stay is equally unpleasant for all senses. The air is sharp and pungent and there is a constant awful darkness. Walls and floors are covered with repulsive dirt; it is on account of it so slippery everywhere that the Narakas slip whenever they move and collide with the others causing sufferings to one another. The hells resound constantly from plaintive sound of those who are tormented. Heat and cold, fever and body-itching constantly torture the condemned ones and they cannot be removed.
A Naraka dies only when he has gone through the whole series of punishment prescribed for him by his Karma. Death follows without any known cause. The soul leaves then the decayed body and assumes a new existence as animal or human being, because the hells of Jainas are purgatories.
While many put the lowest hell Mahatamah-prabha directly near the lower end of the world, others presume that there is still a zone without any ground below it which is inhabited by Nigodas and other lowly-organized beings which cannot move on their own. The idea that the souls which became Nigodas of this type on account of their misdeeds are eternally condemned appears to be common among many Jainas.
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