Just outside of Bangkok is a rather peculiar place. Wat Saen Suk is a Buddhist temple, but it’s a little bit different than your traditional monastery. It is widely known as the “Hell Garden” due to the larger than life sized depictions of what happens to you sinners out there.
The sculptures are there as a reminder to the Thai people about what happens to you when you go astray in the Buddhist religion. For the unknowing traveler, it would indeed be awkward to stumble upon this place.
Upon entering the wat (temple), one cannot help but feel a little humbled as you are greeted by the great Buddha that watches over the gates of the underworld. Directly inside of the gates you are greeted by two giant looming figures with struggling sinners around them boiling in pots of what looks to be boiling tar.
As you continue on, it becomes very clear that Thai hell is not a place that one would like to end up. There are sculptures for just about every sin in the book, most of which, at least everyone has committed one time or another.
The pain depicted on the faces of the sculptures will be more than enough to give your children nightmares. Perhaps it would be the perfect place for their next “Time Out” when they misbehave.
Hell is referred to as “Naraka” and is not a place of eternal torment for the Thais. It is a place where one goes until their bad karma has been removed and they are cleansed of their wrongdoings. When you die, you are sent to Phaya Yom, the King of Death to pay your respects while your judgement is weighed against you.
If your good deeds outweigh your sins, you are good to go and will be sent to heaven. If not, you will be sent to one of the 136 pits of hell appropriate for your transgressions. The tortures for each sin ranges from terrifying to downright something that you would see in one of the Saw movies.
The sins range from abortion, to thieves and adulterers and the punishments more than fit the offense for the crimes of most normal people. In Christianity and western religions we hear about hell and how awful it is supposed to be, but we never get the visual representation to go along with it unless
Overall the trip to Wat Saen Suk was an adventure worth taking. Regardless of who you are, it will make you second guess the way you have been living your life. Nobody wants to end up torn to bits by hell dogs or having their eyes ripped out by birds. It doesn’t sound pleasant at all.
Remember though, this is Buddhism. If you screw it up once, you can pay for it and try all over again in another life.