Narak and Noruk – hell is hell

The Sanskrit word for hell is “Narak” and interestingly we learnt from Mr. Soeun during our Cambodia trip that hell is pronounced as “Noruk” in the Khmer language !! The Khmer language has about 25% Sanskrit words.. Quite a deep influence.

Cambodia and India not only share our Gods and the Ramayana, but both societies have also experienced hell on earth. The Khmer Rouge remodelled a school into the Tuol Sleng prison (more famously known as S-21) and the British got the cellular jail on the Andaman Island built nearly 70 years before the S-21 in 1906 for prisoners of the independence struggle. The cell sizes are uncannily similar, the S-21 cells were pigeon holes as were the cellular jail’s cells – just enough for a human being to stand or lie down.

The torture was worse in S-21 because the sole idea was to kill the prisoners and wipe out their entire families, while the cellular jail was for political prisoners, who were mostly kept in solitary confinement and far away from the mainland. The torture in the cellular jail was hard labor and harsh punishment, and 87 prisoners were hanged from the 238 that tried to escape. The S-21 witnessed nearly 20,000 killings. :(:(:(

Every mystic from every age has said that hell and heaven are not places somewhere but a state of the mind… Well they missed S-21, the concentration camps of Hitler and places like the cellular jail, which are physical manifestations of hell. But in a way, the mystics were also right, because we have survivors from each of these places who proved that hell and heaven are states of the mind, the most famous survivor being Victor Frankl from the concentration camp, Vann Nath, Chum Mey and 5 other survivors of S-21 and Veer Savarkar from the cellular jail. These heroes tell us, that you can survive hell with your mind !!

Remember these people as we face much smaller challenges everyday, they survived hell, you just have to manage inconveniences, not solve for a life and death situation… So smile and thank the universe that you are in heaven and help those who think inconveniences make their life hell to change their perspective and understand they too are in heaven.

May the souls of the prisoners who endured hell in S-21, the concentration camps and the cellular jails rest in peace… Pray. And may we never build another hell on Earth.

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