I HAVE received the narrow-sleeved robe, persimmon-colored with a gray lining, and I think it must be padded with ten ryō of stuffing!
Underneath the earth there are two types of hells. One type is the hot hells. Imagine that someone kindled a blaze and set fire to the fields so that they were consumed in flames and turned the color of molten iron. Offenders roasted in these hells burn up like pieces of paper cast into the flames, or like chips of wood thrown into a roaring fire. Into these hells fall those who set fire to buildings and take advantage of the confusion to steal the goods in them, those who start fires in order to attack an enemy, or women whose hearts burn with the fires of jealousy.
The other type is the cold hells, of which there are eight. The Nirvana Sutra says: “There are eight types of icy hells. These are the Hahava hell, the Atata hell, the Alalā hell, the Ababa hell, the Utpala hell, the Padma hell, the Kumuda hell, and the Pundarīka hell.” The eight hells take their names from the cries uttered by those who suffer from the intense cold, or from the various colors that their bodies take on.
In our country, [the cold of] Lake Suwa, the north winds that blow over Mount Tateyama in Etchū, the birds with their frozen feathers on the peak of Mount Hakusan in Kaga, the freezing skirts of the aged widow, the pheasants crying as the snows pile up around them—these tell you what it is like.
Tortured by the cold, their jaws going clack-clack, the sufferers cry out “Hahava!” “Atata!” “Alalā!” Tortured by the cold, their bodies, we are told, turn crimson like a crimson lotus or a great crimson lotus. And do you ask what sort of persons fall into these hells? People who in this life steal the clothes of others, people who see their parents or their teachers shivering with cold but go on wearing their own thick garments, comfortably warm day and night—they are the ones who fall into these hells!
Among the six paths, the path or realm of heavenly beings is the only one in which beings are born with clothes on. But even in the path of human beings, Shānavāsa and the nun Bright White1 were born from the womb of their mothers wearing clothes. This was because they had [in previous existences] not only donated clothing to persons of worth, but had also made offerings of warm, pure garments to their parents, their lords, and to the three treasures of Buddhism.
The man named Shānavāsa donated a robe to a pratyekabuddha who was naked, and thereafter, for age after age 722and lifetime after lifetime, he always had clothes on his body. The woman known as Gautamī2 presented Shakyamuni Buddha with a woolen robe, and he predicted that she would become a Buddha named Gladly Seen by All Living Beings.
And now here is a woman who donates a robe to the Lotus Sutra. In future lives she will not only escape the sufferings of the eight cold hells, but in her present life she will be spared major calamities. Her benefits will be such that they extend to her sons and daughters, so that they are dressed in robe upon robe, of color upon color!
The eighteenth day of the eleventh month in the third year of Kenji , cyclical sign hinoto-ushi
Reply to the wife of the lay priest Ōta