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Yama (Sanskrit : यमः) also called as Dharmaraja is the much feared ruler of Kala and Dharma (righteousness). According to Sanatana Dharma principles, after death every deed done by a person when alive are taken into account and the elevation of soul is then decided. A Jiva's path of travel to higher realms namely Devayana and Pitruyana are dependent on the Karma (deeds) and the knowledge attained by a Jiva or soul, the records of which are maintained by Yama.
Yama (Samskrit : यमः) also called as Dharmaraja is the much feared ruler of Kala and Dharma (righteousness), according to Sanatana Dharma principles, after death every deed done by a person are taken into account and the elevation of soul is then decided. A Jiva's path of travel to higher realms namely Devayana and Pritruyana are dependent on the Karma (deeds) and the knowledge attained by a Jiva or soul, all of which is clearly accounted for in the records maintained by Yama.
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== Introduction ==
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== परिचयः|| Introduction ==
 
Yama though is associated with Dharma, is also feared as the god of death. Following are a few important aspects about Yama as given in various texts.
 
Yama though is associated with Dharma, is also feared as the god of death. Following are a few important aspects about Yama as given in various texts.
* '''Dikpalaka''' : Yama, the ruler of the 'South' direction is one among the Astadikpalakas as per the Devi bhagavata (Astama skanda). The name of the city ruled by him is Samyamani.  
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* '''दिक्पालकः || Dikpalaka''' : Yama, the ruler of the 'South' direction is one among the Astadikpalakas as per the Devi bhagavata (Astama skanda). The name of the city ruled by him is Samyamani.  
* '''Yamadharma''' : Yama is known for his scrupulous impartial administration of justice to all the beings who reach Yamaloka after death. Based on their virtues or vices, he assigns suitable punishments depending on the severity of sins in earthly lives and sends them to Naraka (hell).   
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* '''धर्माधिकारी || Dharmadhikari''' : Yama is famed for his impartial administration of justice to all the beings who reach Yamaloka after death. Based on their virtues or vices, he assigns suitable punishments depending on the severity of sins in their earthly lives and are all sent to naraka (hell).   
* '''Agrasandhani''' : As a time and book keeper, Yama records the virtuous and sinful acts of men in this book named Agrasandhani, and Chitragupta is his associate in enforcing justice.  
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* '''अग्रसन्धनी || Agrasandhani''' : As a time and book keeper, Yama records the virtuous and sinful acts of men in this book named Agrasandhani, and Chitragupta, his associate ensures the enforcement of justice.  
*'''Yama avataras''' :  Yama was born as Vidura, as he was cursed by Maharshi Animaandavya as seen in Mahabharata. Yudhisthira was the eldest of the Pandavas, who was born to Kunti, after invoking Yamadeva.   
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*'''यमावतारम् || Yamavataras''' :  Yama was born as Vidura, as he was cursed by Maharshi Animaandavya as seen in Mahabharata. Yudhisthira was the eldest of the Pandavas, who was born to Kunti, after invoking Yamadeva.   
*'''Kaakaswaroopa''' :  Yama took the form of a Crow and escaped, when at King Marutta's Maheswara's sattrayaga, he saw Ravanasura. Pleased with crows, he blessed that crows will have the right to eat rice offered to pitrus or ancestors. (as in Uttararamayana)  
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*'''काकस्वरूपम् || Kaakaswaroopa''' :  Yama took the form of a Crow and escaped, when at King Marutta's Maheswara's sattrayaga, he saw Ravanasura. Pleased with crows, he blessed that crows will have the right to eat rice offered to pitrus or ancestors. (as in Uttararamayana)  
*'''Ramaavatara Samaapti''' : At the end of Sri Rama's rule after 11,000 years, upon Brahmadeva's request Yama descends, on earth, in the form of a maharshi, to recall Sri Mahavishnu back to Vaikuntha. Yama visits Sri Rama and in the ensuing events, Lakshmana first enters Sarayu river followed by Sri Rama, thereby leaving the mortal forms.  
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*'''रामावतारसमाप्ति समये Ramaavatara Samaapti''' : At the end of Sri Rama's rule after 11,000 years, upon Brahmadeva's request Yama descends, on earth, in the form of a maharshi, to recall Sri Mahavishnu back to Vaikuntha. Yama visits Sri Rama and in the ensuing events, Lakshmana first enters Sarayu river followed by Sri Rama, thereby leaving the mortal forms.  
*'''Maarkandeya Yamagaatha''' : The legend about Yama and Maarkandeya, a youth of sixteen years age, who prays to Shiva for longevity is well known. When Yama, in arrogance throws his noose around Maarkandeya who was holding the Shivalinga, Shiva appears and burnt Yama to ashes thereby protecting Maarkandeya. At that time there was no Yama to govern the process of death. Similar such age when there was no Yama includes the Kritayuga, when the earth was overcrowded with living beings.  
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*'''यमगाथ || Yamagaatha''' : The legend about Yama and Markandeya, a youth of sixteen years age, who prays to Shiva for longevity is well known. When Yama, in arrogance throws his noose around Markandeya who was holding the Shivalinga, Shiva appears and burns Yama to ashes, protecting Markandeya. Consequently, Yama is absent to govern the process of death. Another such age is the Kritayuga when Yama was not there and the earth was overcrowded with living beings. The legend about Savitri, a mahapativrata, following Yamadeva to bring back her husband Satyavaan's life is very well known. Yama and Nachiketa legend reveals that Yama was knowledgeable about brahmavidya and he imparts it to Nachiketa. (Chandogya Upanishad).  
*'''Savitri Yamagaatha''' : The legend about Savitri, a mahapativrata, following Yamadeva to bring back her husband Satyavaan's life is very well known.
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== व्युत्पत्तिः|| Etymology ==
*'''Nachiketa Yamagaatha''' : Yama and Nachiketa legend reveals that Yama was knowlegeable about brahmavidya and he imparts it to Nachiketa. (Chandogya Upanishad).
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'''Amarakosha''' defines the following about Yama in स्वर्गवर्गः (Prathama kanda Slokas 58 - 59)<ref>[http://www.sanskritebooks.org/2009/07/amara-kosa-the-sanskrit-thesaurus-with-notes-index/ Amarakosha] (Page no 30)</ref><blockquote>धर्मराजः पितृपतिः समवर्ती परेतराट् | कृतान्तो यमुनाभ्राता शमनो यमराड् यमः || (Amara 1. स्वर्ग. 58)</blockquote><blockquote>कालो दण्डधरः श्राध्ददेवो वैवस्वतोन्तकः | (Amara 1. स्वर्ग. 59)</blockquote><blockquote>''dharmarājaḥ pitr̥patiḥ samavartī paretarāṭ | kr̥tānto yamunābhrātā śamano yamarāḍ yamaḥ || (Amara 1. svarga. 58)''</blockquote><blockquote>''kālo daṇḍadharaḥ śrādhdadevo vaivasvatontakaḥ | (Amara 1. svarga. 59)''</blockquote>Yama like other deities has many names, a few are Dharmaraja, Pitrupati, Samavarthi, Paretaraat, Kritaanto, Yamunabhraata, Shamana, Kaala, Dandadhara, Vaivasvata, Antaka among others.
== Etymology ==
 
'''[[Amarakosha]]''' defines the following about Yama in स्वर्गवर्गः (Prathama kanda Slokas 58 - 59)
 
 
 
धर्मराजः पितृपतिः समवर्ती परेतराट् | कृतान्तो यमुनाभ्राता शमनो यमराड् यमः || (Amara 1. स्वर्ग. 58)
 
 
 
कालो दण्डधरः श्राध्ददेवो वैवस्वतोन्तकः | (Amara 1. स्वर्ग. 59)
 
  
Yama like other deities has many names, a few are Dharmaraja, Pitrupati, Samavarthi, Paretaraat, Kritaanto, Yamunabhraata, Shamana, Kaala, Dandadhara, Vaivasvata, Antaka among others.  
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Yama’s is described by Yaska in the Nirukta (10.2-20)<ref>[http://vedicreserve.mum.edu/nirukta/nirukta.pdf Nirukta] </ref> as follows, <blockquote>यच्छति उप रमयति जिवितम् सर्वम् भुत ग्रमन् इति यमह || yacchati upa ramayati jivitam sarvam bhuta graman iti yamaha || </blockquote>Because Yama causes death to all the beings he is called as Antaka.  Yama’s main responsibility is to give different destinations according to the vices and virtues of a jiva, therefore he is called as Antaka .
  
Yama’s is described by Yaska in the Nirukta (10.2-20) as follows, <blockquote>"यच्छति उप रमयति जिवितम् सर्वम् भुत ग्रमन् इति यमह ||"</blockquote><blockquote>"yacchati upa ramayati jivitam sarvam bhuta graman iti yamaha ||"</blockquote>Because Yama causes death to all the beings he is called as Antaka.  Yama’s main responsibility is to give different destination according to the vices and virtues of a jiva, therefore he is called as Antaka .
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"यमु उपरमे" is the Dhatu or the root word from where "यम शब्द" is derived from. Swami Dayanand's commentaries of the Vedas have expressed that Yama also means Paramatma (While Nachiketa means Jivatma). Example : यमः = यन्ता (परमेश्वरः) (Yaju. 35.1 Maharshi Bhashyam)
 
== Role of Yama ==
 
== Role of Yama ==
Yama's chief role is that of time calculation and administration of impartial justice to all souls after their lifespan is completed on earth. Thus, he is much feared as the Mrityudeva (Devata for Death).   
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Yama's chief role is that of time calculation and administration of impartial justice to all souls after their lifespan is completed on earth. Thus, he is much feared as the Mrityudeva (Devata for Death).   
 
=== धर्मराजः || Dharmaraja ===
 
=== धर्मराजः || Dharmaraja ===
Yama though kept at a distance as Mrityudevata, his role is highly acclaimed as the Dharmadevata. Yama is known for his meticulous book keeping and impartiality towards all beings and hence called as समवर्ती || Samavarthi. With this unyielding impartial nature he takes into account the minutest karmas of every being with the help of Chitragupta and accordingly assesses their path to further higher realms ([[Devayana and Pitrayana (देवयान मार्ग और पित्रयान मार्ग)|Devayana and Pitriyana]]). It is said that a soul after liberation from the mortal body is received by the agents of Yama and taken to Yamapuri. From there the holy souls are directed to Vaikuntha (the abode of Vishnu) or to the abode of Parabrahma and the sinful souls are sent to Naraka (Hell) to complete their time as per the nature and seriousness of their sins. Garuda Purana has the detailed information of 28 different kinds of Narakas based on the sins committed.   
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Yama though kept at a distance as Mrityudevata, his role is highly acclaimed as the Dharmadevata. Yama is known for his meticulous book keeping and impartiality towards all beings and hence called as समवर्ती || Samavarthi. With this unyielding impartial nature he takes into account the minutest karmas of every being with the help of Chitragupta and accordingly assesses their path to further higher realms ([[Devayana Marga and Pitruyana Marga (देवयानमार्गः पितृयानमार्गः च।)|Devayana and Pitriyana]]). It is said that a soul after liberation from the mortal body is received by the agents of Yama and taken to Yamapuri. From there the holy souls are directed to Vaikuntha (the abode of Vishnu) or to the realms of Parabrahma and the sinful souls are sent to Naraka (Hell) to complete their time as per the nature and seriousness of their sins. Garuda Purana details the 28 different kinds of Narakas based on the sins committed.   
  
Yama disclosed the secrets of Dharma as per Mahabharata (Anus. Parv. Chap. 130)
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Yama discloses the secrets of Dharma as given in Mahabharata Anushasana Parva (Adhyaya 130).<ref name=":0">[http://www.rsvidyapeetha.ac.in/mahabharatha/menu.html Shri Mahabharatam] </ref>
=== कालः || Kaala ===
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=== समयपालकः || Samayapalaka ===
Brahma, it is said assigns a time of existence or  lifespan for every being, to be spent on Bhuloka. In the sense of maintaining the longevity records of every being, Yama plays an important role as a timekeeper of every being that is born on prithvi (earth). Markandeya's legend explains the scrupulous time keeping sense of Yama, where He throws his pasha or noose around Markandeya at the end of his lifespan, and invites the wrath of Mahadeva.   
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Brahma, it is said assigns a time of existence or  lifespan for every being, to be spent on Bhuloka. In the sense of maintaining the longevity records of every being, Yama plays an important role as a Samayapalaka or timekeeper of every being that is born on prithvi (earth)<ref name=":0" />. Markandeya's legend explains the scrupulous time keeping sense of Yama, where He throws his pasha or noose around Markandeya at the end of his lifespan, and invites the wrath of Mahadeva.   
 
=== पितृपतिः || Pitrupati ===
 
=== पितृपतिः || Pitrupati ===
Yama is the Adhipati or king of Pitruloka.  This loka is in the middle of the three worlds, bordered by Bhuloka on the southern side and Atalaloka on the upper end. Agnisvattas and other pitrs stay there in meditative trance for securing prosperity to those who come to pitruloka.  The efficacy of performing shraddha karmas, giving tila (gingelly seeds), jala (water), and anna (food) to Brahmana's and other shrouta dharmas are overseen by Yama.    
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Yama is the Adhipati or king of Pitruloka.  This loka is in the middle of the three worlds, bordered by Bhuloka on the southern side and Atalaloka on the upper end. Agnisvattas and other pitrs stay there in meditative trance for securing prosperity to those who come to pitruloka.  The efficacy of performing shraddha karmas, giving tila (gingelly seeds), jala (water), and anna (food) to Brahmana's and other srauta dharmas are overseen by Yama as mentioned in Mahabharata Anushasana Parva (Adhyaya 68)<ref name=":0" /> under the heading तिलजलदीपरत्नादीनां दानमाहात्म्यप्रसङ्गे धर्मराजब्राह्मणयोः संवादः    
== Yama Devataswaroopam ==
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== Yama Devataswaroopa ==
 
=== Birth and Family ===
 
=== Birth and Family ===
* Yama descended from Mahavishnu in the following order according to Puranic Encyclopedia : Vishnu - Brahma - Marichi - Kaasyapa - Surya - Yama.
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* Yama descended from Mahavishnu in the following order according to Puranic Encyclopedia<ref name=":2">Mani, V. (1975). ''[https://archive.org/details/puranicencyclopa00maniuoft Puranic encyclopaedia : A comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature.]'' Delhi:Motilal Banasidass.</ref>: <blockquote>'''''Vishnu - Brahma - Marichi - Kasyapa - Surya - Yama'''''</blockquote>
* The birth of Yama is described in Vishnu Purana (Part 3, Chap 2). Yama is the son of Surya and Samjna.  Dhoomornaa is the name of Yama's wife. (Mahabharata. Udyoga Parva, Chapter 117, Verse 9).
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* The birth of Yama is described in Vishnu Purana (Part 3, Chap 2)<ref>[http://www.astrojyoti.com/pdfs/DevanagariFiles/VishnuPurana.pdf Vishnu Purana] Page Number 188</ref>. Yama is the son of Surya and Samjna.  Dhoomornyaa is the name of Yama's wife. <blockquote>यथा चन्द्रश्च रोहिण्यामुर्मिलायां[ण्यां '''धूमोर्णया''' '''यथा यमः'''। वरुणश्च यथा गौर्यां यथा चर्ध्यां[र्द्ध्यां] धनेश्वरः॥ 5-117-9 (Mahabharata. Udyoga Parva, Chapter 117, Verse 9).</blockquote><blockquote>''yathā candraśca rohiṇyāmurmilāyāṁ[ṇyāṁ dhūmorṇayā yathā yamaḥ। varuṇaśca yathā gauryāṁ yathā cardhyāṁ[rddhyāṁ] dhaneśvaraḥ॥''</blockquote>
 
* Yama is the brother of Manu, Yami, Sanaischara, Tapati and Manu (another one of same name) and Ashvinikumaras, Revanta and Bhaya.
 
* Yama is the brother of Manu, Yami, Sanaischara, Tapati and Manu (another one of same name) and Ashvinikumaras, Revanta and Bhaya.
== Yama in Vedas ==
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== Yama in Vedas And Upanishads ==
 Among the many devatas, Yamadeva is one of the significant ones, as he represents Kala (time). Along with Indra, Varuna, Agni, and Soma, Yama is also worshiped since Vedic times. <blockquote>"यत्र राजा वैवस्वतो यत्रावरोधनं दिवः | यत्रामूर्यह्वतीरापस्तत्र माममृतं कृधीन्द्रायेन्दो परि स्रव ||" (Rig. Veda. 9.113.8)</blockquote><blockquote>"yatra rājā vaivasvato yatrāvarodhanaṁ divaḥ | yatrāmūryahvatīrāpastatra māmamr̥taṁ kr̥dhīndrāyendo pari srava ||" (Rig. Veda. 9.113.8) </blockquote>Meaning : Make me eternal in the realms where King Vivaswaan's son rules. Surya is also called Vivasvaan.<blockquote>"तिस्रो द्यावः सवितुर द्वा उपस्थां एका यमस्य भुवने विराषाट | आणिं न रथ्यममृताधि तस्थुरिह ब्रवीतु य उ तच्चिकेतत् ||" (Rig. Veda. 1.35.6)</blockquote><blockquote>"tisro dyāvaḥ savitura dvā upasthāṁ ekā yamasya bhuvane virāṣāṭa | āṇiṁ na rathyamamr̥tādhi tasthuriha bravītu ya u tacciketat ||" (Rig. Veda. 1.35.6)</blockquote>Meaning: Two of the three Urdhvalokas (Higher heavens) are controlled by Savitr, and one by Yama.
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 Yama, as an upholder of Dharma is seen in the vedic literature as one who is well versed in brahmavidya. The famous conversation of Nachiketa and Yama, Savitri and Yama stand as a testimony to the greatness of Yama's knowledge of the subtle aspects of Vedas.
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=== Rigveda ===
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 Among the many devatas, Yamadeva is one of the significant ones, as he represents Kala (time). Along with Indra, Varuna, Agni, and Soma, Yama is also worshiped since Vedic times. Yama is mentioned in many instances in the Rig Veda. <blockquote>"यत्र राजा वैवस्वतो यत्रावरोधनं दिवः | यत्रामूर्यह्वतीरापस्तत्र माममृतं कृधीन्द्रायेन्दो परि स्रव ||" (Rig. Veda. 9.113.8)<ref>Rig Veda ([http://vedicheritage.gov.in/samhitas/rigveda/shakala-samhita/mandal-09-sukta-113/ Mandala 9, Sukta 113])</ref></blockquote><blockquote>"yatra rājā vaivasvato yatrāvarodhanaṁ divaḥ | yatrāmūryahvatīrāpastatra māmamr̥taṁ kr̥dhīndrāyendo pari srava ||" (Rig. Veda. 9.113.8) </blockquote>Meaning : Make me eternal in the realms where King Vivaswaan's son rules. Surya is also called Vivasvaan.<blockquote>"तिस्रो द्यावः सवितुर द्वा उपस्थां एका यमस्य भुवने विराषाट | आणिं न रथ्यममृताधि तस्थुरिह ब्रवीतु य उ तच्चिकेतत् ||" (Rig. Veda. 1.35.6)<ref>Rig Veda ([http://vedicheritage.gov.in/samhitas/rigveda/shakala-samhita/rigveda-shakala-samhitas-mandal-01-sukta-035/ Mandala 1, Sukta 35])</ref></blockquote><blockquote>"tisro dyāvaḥ savitura dvā upasthāṁ ekā yamasya bhuvane virāṣāṭa | āṇiṁ na rathyamamr̥tādhi tasthuriha bravītu ya u tacciketat ||" (Rig. Veda. 1.35.6)</blockquote>Meaning: Two of the three Urdhvalokas (Higher heavens) are controlled by Savitr, and one by Yama.
  
Swarga (heavens) are three in number, of which two, the द्युर्लोकः || Dyurloka (land of light ) and Bhuloka are under the control of the Surya. One is under the control of Yama.  
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Swarga (heavens) are three in number, of which two, the द्युर्लोकः || [[Dyurlok (द्यु्र्लोक)|Dyurloka]] (land of light ) and Bhuloka are under the control of the Surya. One is under the control of Yama.  
  
 
Sayanacharaya explains that Yama controls the middle planet Antariksha where exists the Yamaloka also described as Paravyoma, it is the higher plane of existence for the dead, who along with the pitris (ancestors) reside in this place for which Yama is the palaka (governor). Thus, Yamaloka and the Pitruloka are under the control of Yama.   
 
Sayanacharaya explains that Yama controls the middle planet Antariksha where exists the Yamaloka also described as Paravyoma, it is the higher plane of existence for the dead, who along with the pitris (ancestors) reside in this place for which Yama is the palaka (governor). Thus, Yamaloka and the Pitruloka are under the control of Yama.   
  
=== Yama Sukta यम सूक्त ===
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Therefore, it should not be hastily construed that Yamaloka is the land of suffering alone. This larger understanding as explained in the Vedas demolishes the common notions prevalent among people, that Yamaloka is an infernal place. However it should be emphasized that Naraka does exist and Yamadeva oversees the activities there. Thus, the common notion that Yama is only the master of the Naraka (hell) is not appropriate.<ref name=":1">Narayanacharya, K. S. (2011). ''Veda Samskrita Parichaya''. Hubli:​Sahitya Prakashana​.</ref>
वैवस्वतो यमः। यमः,६ अङ्गिरःपित्रथर्वभृगुसोमाः,७-९ लिङ्गोक्तदेवताः पितरो वा,१०-१२ श्वानौ। त्रिष्टुप्,१३,१४,१६, अनुष्टुप्, १५ बृहती।
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=== Kathopanishad ===
 
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Nachiketa’s journey to Yamaloka is described in describes Nachiketa's understanding that the yamaloka is the resting place of his pitris (ancestors). He also heard the playing of the flute (Rig Veda. 10.135.7).  
परेयिवांसं प्रवतो महीरनु बहुभ्यः पन्थामनुपस्पशानम | वैवस्वतं संगमनं जनानां यमं राजानं हविषा दुवस्य || 1
 
 
 
pareyivāṁsaṁ pravato mahīranu bahubhyaḥ panthāmanupaspaśānama | vaivasvataṁ saṁgamanaṁ janānāṁ yamaṁ rājānaṁ haviṣā duvasya || 1
 
 
 
यमो नो गातुं प्रथमो विवेद नैषा गव्यूतिरपभर्तवा उ | यत्रा नः पूर्वे पितरः परेयुरेना जज्ञानाः पथ्या अनु सवाः || 2
 
 
 
yamo no gātuṁ prathamo viveda naiṣā gavyūtirapabhartavā u | yatrā naḥ pūrve pitaraḥ pareyurenā jajñānāḥ pathyā anu savāḥ || 2
 
 
 
मातली कव्यैर्यमो अङगिरोभिर्बृहस्पतिऋक्वभिर्वावृधानः | याँश्च देवा वावृधुर्ये च देवान्त्स्वाहान्ये स्वधयान्ये मदन्ति || 3
 
 
 
mātalī kavyairyamo aṅagirobhirbr̥haspatir̥kvabhirvāvr̥dhānaḥ | yām̐śca
 
devā vāvr̥dhurye ca devāntsvāhānye svadhayānye madanti || 3
 
 
 
इमं यम प्रस्तरमा हि सीदाऽङगिरोभिः पित्र्भिःसंविदानः | आ त्वा मन्त्राः कविशस्ता वहन्त्वेना राजन्हविषा मादयस्व || 4
 
 
 
imaṁ yama prastaramā hi sīdā'ṅagirobhiḥ pitrbhiḥsaṁvidānaḥ | ā tvā mantrāḥ kaviśastā vahantvenā rājanhaviṣā mādayasva || 4
 
 
 
अङगिरोभिरा गहि यज्ञियेभिर्यम वैरूपैरिह मादयस्व | विवस्वन्तं हुवे यः पिता तेऽस्मिन्यज्ञे बर्हिष्यानिषद्य || 5
 
 
 
aṅagirobhirā gahi yajñiyebhiryama vairūpairiha mādayasva | vivasvantaṁ huve yaḥ pitā te'sminyajñe barhiṣyāniṣadya || 5
 
 
 
अङगिरसो नः पितरो नवग्वा अथर्वाणो भृगवः सोम्यासः | तेषां वयं सुमतौ यज्ञियानामपि भद्रे सौमनसेस्याम || 6
 
 
 
aṅagiraso naḥ pitaro navagvā atharvāṇo bhr̥gavaḥ somyāsaḥ | teṣāṁ vayaṁ sumatau yajñiyānāmapi bhadre saumanasesyāma || 6
 
 
 
प्रेहि प्रेहि पथिभिः पूर्व्येभिर्यत्रा नः पूर्वे पितरःपरेयुः | उभा राजाना स्वधया मदन्ता यमं पश्यासिवरुणं च देवम || 7
 
 
 
prehi prehi pathibhiḥ pūrvyebhiryatrā naḥ pūrve pitaraḥpareyuḥ | ubhā
 
rājānā svadhayā madantā yamaṁ paśyāsivaruṇaṁ ca devama || 7
 
 
 
सं गच्छस्व पित्र्भिः सं यमेनेष्टापूर्तेन परमेव्योमन् | हित्वायावद्यं पुनरस्तमेहि सं गच्छस्व तन्वासुवर्चाः || 8
 
 
 
saṁ gacchasva pitrbhiḥ saṁ yameneṣṭāpūrtena paramevyoman | hitvāyāvadyaṁ punarastamehi saṁ gacchasva tanvāsuvarcāḥ || 8
 
 
 
अपेत वीत वि च सर्पतातोऽस्मा एतं पितरो लोकमक्रन् | अहोभिरद्भिरक्तुभिर्व्यक्तं यमो ददात्यवसानमस्मै || 9
 
 
 
apeta vīta vi ca sarpatāto'smā etaṁ pitaro lokamakran | ahobhiradbhiraktubhirvyaktaṁ yamo dadātyavasānamasmai || 9
 
 
 
अति द्रव सारमेयौ श्वानौ चतुरक्षौ शबलौ साधुना पथा | अथा पितॄन्त्सुविदत्रानुपेहि यमेन ये सधमादं मदन्ति || 10
 
 
 
ati drava sārameyau śvānau caturakṣau śabalau sādhunā pathā | athā pitr̥̄ntsuvidatrānupehi yamena ye sadhamādaṁ madanti || 10
 
 
 
यौ ते श्वानौ यम रक्षितारौ चतुरक्षौ पथिरक्षी नृचक्षसौ | ताभ्यामेनं परि देहि राजन्त्स्वस्ति चास्मानमीवं च धेहि || 11
 
 
 
yau te śvānau yama rakṣitārau caturakṣau pathirakṣī nr̥cakṣasau | tābhyāmenaṁ pari dehi rājantsvasti cāsmānamīvaṁ ca dhehi || 11
 
 
 
उरूणसावसुतृपा उदुम्बलौ यमस्य दूतौ चरतो जनाँ अनु | तावस्मभ्यं दृशये सूर्याय पुनर्दातामसुमद्येह भद्रम || 12
 
 
 
urūṇasāvasutr̥pā udumbalau yamasya dūtau carato janām̐ anu | tāvasmabhyaṁ dr̥śaye sūryāya punardātāmasumadyeha bhadrama || 12
 
 
 
यमाय सोमं सुनुत यमय जुहुता हविः | यमँ ह यज्ञो गच्छत्यग्निदूतो अरंकृत || 13
 
 
 
yamāya somaṁ sunuta yamaya juhutā haviḥ | yamam̐ ha yajño gacchatyagnidūto araṁkr̥ta || 13
 
 
 
यमाय घृतवद्धविर्जुहोत प्र च तिष्ठत | स नोदेवेष्वा यमद्दीर्घमायुः प्र जीवसे || 14
 
 
 
yamāya ghr̥tavaddhavirjuhota pra ca tiṣṭhata | sa nodeveṣvā yamaddīrghamāyuḥ pra jīvase || 14
 
 
 
यमाय मधुमत्तमं राज्ञे हव्यं जुहोतन | इदं नमर्षिभ्यः पूर्वजेभ्यः पूर्वेभ्यः पथिकृद्भ्यः || 15
 
 
 
yamāya madhumattamaṁ rājñe havyaṁ juhotana | idaṁ namarṣibhyaḥ pūrvajebhyaḥ pūrvebhyaḥ pathikr̥dbhyaḥ || 15
 
 
 
त्रिकद्रुकेभिः पतति षळ उर्वीरेकमिद्बृहत | त्रिष्टुब्गायत्री छन्दांसि सर्वा ता यम आहिता || 16 (Rig. Veda. 10.14).
 
 
 
trikadrukebhiḥ patati ṣaḻa urvīrekamidbr̥hata | triṣṭubgāyatrī chandāṁsi sarvā tā yama āhitā || 16 (Rig. Veda. 10.14).
 
 
 
'''Brief Summary''' : This is a sukta in honor of Yama. We honor Yama, Vivasvan's son, who gathers all men together, and shows them a place to stay. He travels above and shows the path to many. Men may chose their own path to their ancestors (based on their deeds). Along with the Angirasas, Atharvans, Bhrigus, Yama is invited to have Soma. All the meters Tristub, Gayatri are contained in Yama. Mantra 8 and 9 in this sukta explain that Yamaloka is an abode for the ancestors, where they are given a place to rest with light and water.  
 
  
Therefore, it should not be hastily construed that Yamaloka is the land of suffering alone. This larger understanding as explained in the Vedas demolishes the common notions prevalent among people, that Yamaloka is an infernal place. However it should be emphasized that Naraka does exist and Yamadeva oversees the activities there.
+
Yama upon Nachiketa's perseverance reveals the eternal secret of the Vedas to him. Even though every living entity has eternal association with Paramatma, an age-old question that bothers many people, is how does Jiva acquire births as different species of lifeforms? Yama discusses the role of Paramatma for jiva as an indwelling Consciousness and its impact on  jiva’s rise and fall.<ref name=":1" /><blockquote>नचिकेतमुपाख्यानं मृत्युप्रोक्तं सनातनम् || (Katha. Upan. 3.16)<ref>[http://vedicheritage.gov.in/upanishads/kathopanishad/ Kathopanishad]</ref></blockquote><blockquote>''naciketamupākhyānaṁ mr̥tyuproktaṁ sanātanam ||''</blockquote>Meaning'':'' This is Sanaatana (timeless) Nachiketa story told by Mrityu (Yama).    
  
It is also explained that Yama strolls along with other devatas (Rig. Veda.10.135.1). Therefore it is not correct to say that Yama is only the master of the Naraka (hell).    
+
In this Upanishad, Yama is referred to, not as a person, but by Antaka, Mrityu, and Vaivasvata. Kathopanishad contains the 'secrets of death'. Yama answers these questions, though some may assume this is the act of destiny or blame the paramatma for pushing jiva into different forms of life, it is the own actions or Karma of the Jiva when in bodily form, that makes a Jiva attain births in different life forms.<ref name=":1" /><blockquote>अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषोऽन्तरात्मा सदा जनानां हृदये सन्निविष्टः || (Katha. Upan. 6.16)</blockquote><blockquote>''aṅguṣṭhamātraḥ puruṣo'ntarātmā sadā janānāṁ hr̥daye sanniviṣṭaḥ ||''</blockquote>Meaning'':'' In the body, in the hridaya-stana, is seated the thumbsized  Jivatma (Inner Self) which is immortal.        
  
Nachiketa’s journey to Yamaloka describes Nachiketa's realisation that the yamaloka was the resting place of his pitris (ancestors). He also heard the playing of the flute (Rig Veda. 10.135.7).
+
Apart from the above mentioned instances the story of [[Nachiketa (नचिकेताः)|Nachiketa]] and his conversation with Yama is found in Taittriya Brahmana, Varaha Purana and Mahabharata       
 
== Yama in Mahabharata ==
 
== Yama in Mahabharata ==
Yudhishthira once requested Bhishmacharya to describe the greatness in giving gifts, sesame or til seeds, of lighting lamps and giving Vastra or clothes. Bhishmaacharya in this context recited the narrative of the conversation that took place in ancient times between a Brahmana called Sarmi and Yama.  
+
=== Yama and Sarmi ===
 
+
Yudhishthira once requested Bhishmacharya to describe the greatness in giving gifts, sesame or til seeds, of lighting lamps and giving Vastra or clothes. Bhishmaacharya in this context recited the narrative of the conversation that took place in ancient times between a Brahmana called Sarmi and Yama (Mahabharata Anushasana parva Chapter 68)<ref name=":0" /><ref name=":2" />.  
In the country lying between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, at the foot of the hills of Yamuna, in a town called Parnasala, there were a number of eminent scholars. In this places lived a well learned Brahmana called Sarmi. One day, Kaala or Yama's messengers were instructed to bring one of the two persons who were named Sarmi. The did the very reverse of what Yama had been bidden them to do. Attacking that person, he brought him who had been forbidden by Yama to be brought. Possessed of great energy, Yama rose up at the sight of the Brahmana and worshipped him duly. The king of the dead then commanded his messenger, saying, 'Let this one be taken back, and let the other one be brought to me.' When the great judge of the dead said these words, that Brahmana addressed him and said, 'I have completed my study of the Vedas and am no longer attached to the world. Whatever period may yet remain of my mortal existence, I wish to pass, dwelling even here, O thou of unfading glory! 1
 
  
"Yama said, 'I cannot ascertain the exact period, ordained by Time, of one's life, and hence, unurged by Time, I cannot allow one to take up one's residence here. I take note of the acts of righteousness (or otherwise) that one does in the world. Do thou, O learned Brahmana of great splendour return immediately to thy abode. 'I ell me what also is in thy mind and what I can do for thee, O thou of unfading glory!'
+
In the country lying between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, at the foot of the hills of Yamuna, in a town called Parnasala, there were a number of eminent scholars. In this places lived a well learned Brahmana called Sarmi. One day, Kaala or Yama's messengers were instructed to bring one of the two persons who were named Sarmi. The did the very reverse of what Yama told them to do. Yama rose up at the sight of the Brahmana and worshipped him duly. He then commanded his messenger, that he should be taken back saying, 'Let this one be taken back, and let the other one be brought to me.' When the great judge of the dead said these words, that Brahmana addressed him and said, 'I have completed my study of the Vedas and am no longer attached to the world. Whatever period may yet remain of my mortal existence, I wish to spend the balance of my life dwelling here."
  
"The Brahmana said, 'Do thou tell me what those acts are by accomplishing which one may earn great merit. O best of all beings, thou art the foremost of authorities (on the subject) even in the three worlds.'
+
Yama could not allow the Brahmana's wish to take up residence in Yamaloka. Upon the request of the Brahmana, Yama recites the merits of giving charity and gifts.  
  
"Yama said, 'Do thou hear, O regenerate Rishi, the excellent ordinances regarding gifts. The gift of sesame seeds is a very superior one. It produces everlasting merit. O foremost of regenerate ones, one should make gifts of as much sesame as one can. By making gifts of sesame every day, one is sure to attain the fruition of one's every wish. The gift of sesame at Sraddhas is applauded. Verily the gift of sesame is a very superior one. Do thou make gifts of sesame unto the Brahmanas according to the rites ordained in the scriptures. One should on the day of the full moon of the month of Vaisakha, make gilts of sesame unto the Brahmanas. They should also be made to eat and to touch sesame on every occasion that one can afford. They that are desirous of achieving what is beneficial to them should, with their whole souls, do this in their houses. 2 Without doubt, men should similarly make gifts of water and establish resting places for the distribution of drinking water. 3One should cause tanks and lakes and wells to be excavated. Such acts are rare in the world, O best of regenerate persons! Do thou always make gifts of water. This act is fraught with great merit. O best of regenerate persons, thou shouldst establish resting places along the roads for the distribution of water. After one has eaten, the gift unto one should especially be made of water for drink.'
+
The offering of sesame seeds is a very superior one. One should gift of as much sesame as one can. By gifitng sesame every day, all wishes are fulfilled. The donation of sesame at Sraddhas is applauded.  
  
"Bhishma continued, 'After Yama had said these words unto him, the messenger who had borne him from his abode conveyed him back to it. The Brahmana, on his return, obeyed the instructions he had received. Having thus conveyed him back to his abode the messenger of Yama fetched Sarmin who had really been sought by Yama. Taking Sarmin unto him, he informed his master. Possessed of great energy, the judge of the dead worshipped that righteous Brahmana, and having conversed with him a while dismissed him for being taken back to his abode. Unto him also Yama gave the same instructions. Sarmin, too, coming back into the world of men, did all that Yama had said. Like the gift of water, Yama, from a desire of doing good to the Pitris, applauds the gift of lamps to light dark places.  
+
One should on the day of the full moon of the month of Vaisakha, offer sesame to the Brahmanas. They should also be offered to eat sesame on every occasion possible. Similarly men should make gifts of water and establish resting places for the distribution of drinking water especially during Vaisakha month. Digging wells, tanks and lakes were seen as acts of great merit. Similarly establishing resting places along the roads, setting up the distribution of water are pious acts that should always be done. Like the gift of water, Yama, from a desire of doing good to the Pitris, applauds the gift of lamps to light dark places. Lighting of lamps benefit the Pitris, and they bestow prosperity to the lineage.
 
+
=== Yama and Savitri ===
Hence, the giver of a lamp for lighting a dark place is regarded as benefiting the Pitris. Hence, O best of the Bharatas, one should always give lamps for lighting dark spots. The giving of lamps enhances the visual power of the deities, the Pitris, and one's own self. 1 It has been said, O king, that the gift of gems is a very superior gift. The Brahmana, who, having accepted a gift of gems, sells the same for performing a sacrifice, incurs no fault. The Brahmana, who, having accepted a gift of gems makes a gift of them unto Brahmanas. acquires inexhaustible merit himself and confers inexhaustible merit upon him from whom he had originally received them.  
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This famous legend about Savitri, a mahapativrata, who brought back the life of her husband Satyavan from Yama, is given in the Vanaparva of Mahabharata (Chap 293 to 299)<ref name=":0" />. Savitri upon her husband's death, follows Yama to the neither worlds, and seeing her resolve Yama offers her four boons, except the life of her husband. As a first boon, she asks for the restoration of the eyesight of Dyumatsena, the King of Salva and father of Satyavan. Secondly she asks that his lost kingdom be restored to him, which Yama willingly grants her. For her third boon she asks that her father, Asvapati, the King of Madra, be blessed with hundred sons to continue the lineage. As she still refused to leave her husband, Yama pleased at her love and devotion, grants her the fourth boon.  For her fourth boon she asks to be blessed by a hundred sons from Satyavan, to which Yama agrees in haste. Realizing the futility of the boon if Satyavan is not alive, Yama grants her back the life of Satyavan.  
 
 
Conversant with every duty Manu himself has said that he, who, observant of proper restraints, earns makes a gift of gems unto a Brahmana observant of proper restraints earns inexhaustible merit himself and confers inexhaustible merit upon the recipient. The man who is content with his own wedded wife and who makes a gift of robes, earns an excellent complexion and excellent vestments for himself. I have told thee, O foremost of men, what the merits are that attach to gifts of kine, of gold, and the sesame agreeably to deserve precepts of the Vedas and the scriptures One should marry and raise offspring upon one's wedded wives. Of all acquisitions, O son of Kuru's race, that of male issue is regarded as the foremost.'"
 
 
== Yama And Crows ==
 
== Yama And Crows ==
In Valmiki Ramayana, Uttara Kanda, there is a story about the crow's right to eat the offering of rice to Pitrus. 
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In Valmiki Ramayana, Uttara Kanda, there is a legend about the crow's right to eat the offering of rice to Pitrus.<ref name=":2" />
  
Once a King named Marutta performed a Mahesvara sattra. Indra and other Gods attended the sattra; hearing about this, Ravana came that way. 
+
Once a King named Marutta performed a Mahesvara sattra. Indra and other Gods attended the sattra; hearing about this, Ravana came that way. The frightened Gods took the forms of different birds. Indra took the form of peacock, Yama a crow. Kubera, a chameleon. Varuna took the form of a Royal Swan. From that time, Yama was pleased with crows
  
The frightened Gods took the forms of different birds. Indra took the form of peacock. Yama escaped the attention in the form of a crow. Kubera took the form of chameleon. Varuna took the form of a Royal Swan. 
+
He gave a blessing that in future, when human beings worship the pitrus by offering rice to them, the crows will have the right to eat that rice.  
 
 
From that time, Yama was pleased with crows. 
 
 
 
'When human beings suffering from hunger, if you are fed / eating, those people become happy as if they have (met and fed) all his relatives (past and present). 
 
 
 
He gave a blessing that in future, when human beings worship the pitrus by offering rice to them, the crows will have the right to eat that rice. Thus the right of the crows to eat offerings of rice, originated from that time.
 
 
== Worship of Yama ==
 
== Worship of Yama ==
Yamapanchakas is the period of time starting from Asweyuja Krishna Trayodasi till Kaartika Suddha Tritiya.  The Day of Narakachaturdashi  falls in between Sacred scripts prescribe that after taking bath on Naraka Chaturdasi day all those who are eligible to offer Pithru tharpana should give Thila Tharpanam in the name of Yama Dharma Raja (God of Death) called Yama Tharpanam by reciting the following sloka containing 14 names of Lord Yama Dharma Raja. 
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A special mention of worship of Yama is made here since Yama is feared in general and his worship is less known. However, during the time of Deepavali, Yama is worshipped. Yamapanchakas is the period of time starting from Asweyuja Krishna Trayodasi (13th day of the Second half of Asweyuja month) till Kaartika Suddha Tritiya (3rd day of the First half of Kaartika month). Based on different calendars the month is either Asweyuja or Kartika, but it happens during the time of Deepavali. The day of Narakachaturdashi falls in between these five days. The worship of Yama is also observed in Nepal.<ref>https://www.ishtadevata.com/events/event/yama-panchak-begins-2/</ref>
{| class="wikitable"! colspan="4" |
 
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|}Yamaaya; Dharmarajaya; Mruthyave; Chaantakayacha;
 
  
Vaivaswathaya; Kaalaaya; Sarva Bhootha Kshayayacha;
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Sacred texts like Dharmasindhu<ref>Upadhyaya, Kasinath (1907) ''[https://archive.org/stream/DHARMASINDHU/DHARMA%20SINDHU#page/n1/mode/2up The Dharmasindhu]'' Delhi : Sri Sadguru Publications</ref> prescribe that after taking bath on Naraka Chaturdasi day all those who are eligible to offer Pithru tharpana (offerings to ancestors) should give Thila Tharpanam (offering of sesame or gingelly seeds) in the name of Yamadeva (Mrityudevata). This is called Yama Tharpanam, which is done by reciting the following mantras having the 14 names of Yamadharmaraja. 
  
Audhumbaraya; Dhadnaya; Neelaya; Paramestine;
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'''Yamaaya; Dharmarajaya; Mruthyave; Chaantakayacha; Vaivaswathaya; Kaalaaya; Sarva Bhootha Kshayayacha; Audhumbaraya; Dhadnaaya; Neelaya; Paramestine; Vrukodaraya; Chitraya; Chitraguptayathe Namah'''
  
Vrukodaraya; Chitraya; Chitraguptayathe Namah
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Facing South, '''tarpanam''' should be given with water and black sesame seeds (thila) with Yagnopaveetham in Savya position like in Deva Tharpanam by reciting each name in the above sloka by adding Namah. For eg. Yamaaya Namah–Yamam Tharpayami; Dharmarajaya Namah – Dharmarajam Tharpayami; etc…… It is said and believed that giving Yama tharpana on this day is highly meritorious and one will get relief from suffering in Naraka Loka. 
  
Facing South, Tharpana should be given with water and black sesame seeds (thila) with Yagnopaveetham in Savya position like Deva Tharpanam (Yama Dharma Raaja being a Demi God) by reciting each name in the above sloka by adding Namah. For eg. Yamaaya Namah–Yamam Tharpayami; Dharmarajaya Namah – Dharmarajam Tharpayami; etc…… It is said and believed that giving Yama tharpana on this day is highly meritorious and one will get relief from suffering in Naraka Loka. 
+
According to Dharma Sindhu this Tharpana should be given by one and all irrespective of the fact whether one's father is alive or not. In case father is not alive tila tarpanas can be given with yagnopaveetam in Apasavya position. In case one's father is alive, it should be given with water and rice with yagnopaveetham in Savya position.
 +
== Verses and Meanings ==
 +
यम सूक्त || Yama Sukta in Rig Veda<blockquote>प्रेहि प्रेहि पथिभिः पूर्व्येभिर्यत्रा नः पूर्वे पितरःपरेयुः | उभा राजाना स्वधया मदन्ता यमं पश्यासिवरुणं च देवम || 7</blockquote><blockquote>prehi prehi pathibhiḥ pūrvyebhiryatrā naḥ pūrve pitaraḥpareyuḥ | ubhā rājānā svadhayā madantā yamaṁ paśyāsivaruṇaṁ ca devama || 7</blockquote><blockquote>सं गच्छस्व पित्र्भिः सं यमेनेष्टापूर्तेन परमेव्योमन् | हित्वायावद्यं पुनरस्तमेहि सं गच्छस्व तन्वासुवर्चाः || 8</blockquote><blockquote>saṁ gacchasva pitrbhiḥ saṁ yameneṣṭāpūrtena paramevyoman | hitvāyāvadyaṁ punarastamehi saṁ gacchasva tanvāsuvarcāḥ || 8</blockquote><blockquote>अपेत वीत वि च सर्पतातोऽस्मा एतं पितरो लोकमक्रन् | अहोभिरद्भिरक्तुभिर्व्यक्तं यमो ददात्यवसानमस्मै || 9</blockquote><blockquote>apeta vīta vi ca sarpatāto'smā etaṁ pitaro lokamakran | ahobhiradbhiraktubhirvyaktaṁ yamo dadātyavasānamasmai || 9</blockquote><blockquote>अति द्रव सारमेयौ श्वानौ चतुरक्षौ शबलौ साधुना पथा | अथा पितॄन्त्सुविदत्रानुपेहि यमेन ये सधमादं मदन्ति || 10 (Rig. Veda. 10.14)</blockquote><blockquote>ati drava sārameyau śvānau caturakṣau śabalau sādhunā pathā | athā pitr̥̄ntsuvidatrānupehi yamena ye sadhamādaṁ madanti || 10 (Rig. Veda. 10.14)<ref>Rig Veda ([http://vedicheritage.gov.in/samhitas/rigveda/shakala-samhita/rigveda-shakala-samhita-mandal-10-sukta-014/ Mandala 10, Sukta 14])</ref></blockquote>'''Brief Summary''' '''of the Sukta:'''  This is a sukta in honor of Yama. We honor Yama, Vivasvan's son, who gathers all men together, and shows them a place to stay. He travels above and shows the path to many. Men may chose their own path to their ancestors (based on their deeds). Along with the [[Angirasa (अङ्गिरसः)|Angirasas]], Atharvans, Bhrigus, Yama is invited to have Soma. All the meters Tristub, Gayatri are contained in Yama. Mantra 8 and 9 in this sukta explain that Yamaloka is an abode for the ancestors, where they are given a place to rest with light and water.  
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== References ==
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<references />
  
Scripts like Dharma Sindhu says that this Tharpana should be given by one and all irrespective of the fact whether father is alive or not. In case father is not alive it can be given in Savya/Apasavya position as said above. In case father is alive it should be given with water and rice with Yagnopaveetham in Savya position.
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[[Category:Devatas]]
== References ==
 
# VSP
 
# The Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Section 68
 

Latest revision as of 16:44, 9 August 2019

Yama (Sanskrit : यमः) also called as Dharmaraja is the much feared ruler of Kala and Dharma (righteousness). According to Sanatana Dharma principles, after death every deed done by a person when alive are taken into account and the elevation of soul is then decided. A Jiva's path of travel to higher realms namely Devayana and Pitruyana are dependent on the Karma (deeds) and the knowledge attained by a Jiva or soul, the records of which are maintained by Yama.

परिचयः|| Introduction

Yama though is associated with Dharma, is also feared as the god of death. Following are a few important aspects about Yama as given in various texts.

  • दिक्पालकः || Dikpalaka : Yama, the ruler of the 'South' direction is one among the Astadikpalakas as per the Devi bhagavata (Astama skanda). The name of the city ruled by him is Samyamani.
  • धर्माधिकारी || Dharmadhikari : Yama is famed for his impartial administration of justice to all the beings who reach Yamaloka after death. Based on their virtues or vices, he assigns suitable punishments depending on the severity of sins in their earthly lives and are all sent to naraka (hell).
  • अग्रसन्धनी || Agrasandhani : As a time and book keeper, Yama records the virtuous and sinful acts of men in this book named Agrasandhani, and Chitragupta, his associate ensures the enforcement of justice.
  • यमावतारम् || Yamavataras : Yama was born as Vidura, as he was cursed by Maharshi Animaandavya as seen in Mahabharata. Yudhisthira was the eldest of the Pandavas, who was born to Kunti, after invoking Yamadeva.
  • काकस्वरूपम् || Kaakaswaroopa : Yama took the form of a Crow and escaped, when at King Marutta's Maheswara's sattrayaga, he saw Ravanasura. Pleased with crows, he blessed that crows will have the right to eat rice offered to pitrus or ancestors. (as in Uttararamayana)
  • रामावतारसमाप्ति समये Ramaavatara Samaapti : At the end of Sri Rama's rule after 11,000 years, upon Brahmadeva's request Yama descends, on earth, in the form of a maharshi, to recall Sri Mahavishnu back to Vaikuntha. Yama visits Sri Rama and in the ensuing events, Lakshmana first enters Sarayu river followed by Sri Rama, thereby leaving the mortal forms.
  • यमगाथ || Yamagaatha : The legend about Yama and Markandeya, a youth of sixteen years age, who prays to Shiva for longevity is well known. When Yama, in arrogance throws his noose around Markandeya who was holding the Shivalinga, Shiva appears and burns Yama to ashes, protecting Markandeya. Consequently, Yama is absent to govern the process of death. Another such age is the Kritayuga when Yama was not there and the earth was overcrowded with living beings. The legend about Savitri, a mahapativrata, following Yamadeva to bring back her husband Satyavaan's life is very well known. Yama and Nachiketa legend reveals that Yama was knowledgeable about brahmavidya and he imparts it to Nachiketa. (Chandogya Upanishad).

व्युत्पत्तिः|| Etymology

Amarakosha defines the following about Yama in स्वर्गवर्गः (Prathama kanda Slokas 58 - 59)[1]

धर्मराजः पितृपतिः समवर्ती परेतराट् | कृतान्तो यमुनाभ्राता शमनो यमराड् यमः || (Amara 1. स्वर्ग. 58)

कालो दण्डधरः श्राध्ददेवो वैवस्वतोन्तकः | (Amara 1. स्वर्ग. 59)

dharmarājaḥ pitr̥patiḥ samavartī paretarāṭ | kr̥tānto yamunābhrātā śamano yamarāḍ yamaḥ || (Amara 1. svarga. 58)

kālo daṇḍadharaḥ śrādhdadevo vaivasvatontakaḥ | (Amara 1. svarga. 59)

Yama like other deities has many names, a few are Dharmaraja, Pitrupati, Samavarthi, Paretaraat, Kritaanto, Yamunabhraata, Shamana, Kaala, Dandadhara, Vaivasvata, Antaka among others. Yama’s is described by Yaska in the Nirukta (10.2-20)[2] as follows,

यच्छति उप रमयति जिवितम् सर्वम् भुत ग्रमन् इति यमह || yacchati upa ramayati jivitam sarvam bhuta graman iti yamaha ||

Because Yama causes death to all the beings he is called as Antaka.  Yama’s main responsibility is to give different destinations according to the vices and virtues of a jiva, therefore he is called as Antaka .

"यमु उपरमे" is the Dhatu or the root word from where "यम शब्द" is derived from. Swami Dayanand's commentaries of the Vedas have expressed that Yama also means Paramatma (While Nachiketa means Jivatma). Example : यमः = यन्ता (परमेश्वरः) (Yaju. 35.1 Maharshi Bhashyam)

Role of Yama

Yama's chief role is that of time calculation and administration of impartial justice to all souls after their lifespan is completed on earth. Thus, he is much feared as the Mrityudeva (Devata for Death).

धर्मराजः || Dharmaraja

Yama though kept at a distance as Mrityudevata, his role is highly acclaimed as the Dharmadevata. Yama is known for his meticulous book keeping and impartiality towards all beings and hence called as समवर्ती || Samavarthi. With this unyielding impartial nature he takes into account the minutest karmas of every being with the help of Chitragupta and accordingly assesses their path to further higher realms (Devayana and Pitriyana). It is said that a soul after liberation from the mortal body is received by the agents of Yama and taken to Yamapuri. From there the holy souls are directed to Vaikuntha (the abode of Vishnu) or to the realms of Parabrahma and the sinful souls are sent to Naraka (Hell) to complete their time as per the nature and seriousness of their sins. Garuda Purana details the 28 different kinds of Narakas based on the sins committed.

Yama discloses the secrets of Dharma as given in Mahabharata Anushasana Parva (Adhyaya 130).[3]

समयपालकः || Samayapalaka

Brahma, it is said assigns a time of existence or lifespan for every being, to be spent on Bhuloka. In the sense of maintaining the longevity records of every being, Yama plays an important role as a Samayapalaka or timekeeper of every being that is born on prithvi (earth)[3]. Markandeya's legend explains the scrupulous time keeping sense of Yama, where He throws his pasha or noose around Markandeya at the end of his lifespan, and invites the wrath of Mahadeva.

पितृपतिः || Pitrupati

Yama is the Adhipati or king of Pitruloka. This loka is in the middle of the three worlds, bordered by Bhuloka on the southern side and Atalaloka on the upper end. Agnisvattas and other pitrs stay there in meditative trance for securing prosperity to those who come to pitruloka. The efficacy of performing shraddha karmas, giving tila (gingelly seeds), jala (water), and anna (food) to Brahmana's and other srauta dharmas are overseen by Yama as mentioned in Mahabharata Anushasana Parva (Adhyaya 68)[3] under the heading तिलजलदीपरत्नादीनां दानमाहात्म्यप्रसङ्गे धर्मराजब्राह्मणयोः संवादः

Yama Devataswaroopa

Birth and Family

  • Yama descended from Mahavishnu in the following order according to Puranic Encyclopedia[4]:

    Vishnu - Brahma - Marichi - Kasyapa - Surya - Yama

  • The birth of Yama is described in Vishnu Purana (Part 3, Chap 2)[5]. Yama is the son of Surya and Samjna. Dhoomornyaa is the name of Yama's wife.

    यथा चन्द्रश्च रोहिण्यामुर्मिलायां[ण्यां धूमोर्णया यथा यमः। वरुणश्च यथा गौर्यां यथा चर्ध्यां[र्द्ध्यां] धनेश्वरः॥ 5-117-9 (Mahabharata. Udyoga Parva, Chapter 117, Verse 9).

    yathā candraśca rohiṇyāmurmilāyāṁ[ṇyāṁ dhūmorṇayā yathā yamaḥ। varuṇaśca yathā gauryāṁ yathā cardhyāṁ[rddhyāṁ] dhaneśvaraḥ॥

  • Yama is the brother of Manu, Yami, Sanaischara, Tapati and Manu (another one of same name) and Ashvinikumaras, Revanta and Bhaya.

Yama in Vedas And Upanishads

 Yama, as an upholder of Dharma is seen in the vedic literature as one who is well versed in brahmavidya. The famous conversation of Nachiketa and Yama, Savitri and Yama stand as a testimony to the greatness of Yama's knowledge of the subtle aspects of Vedas.

Rigveda

 Among the many devatas, Yamadeva is one of the significant ones, as he represents Kala (time). Along with Indra, Varuna, Agni, and Soma, Yama is also worshiped since Vedic times. Yama is mentioned in many instances in the Rig Veda.

"यत्र राजा वैवस्वतो यत्रावरोधनं दिवः | यत्रामूर्यह्वतीरापस्तत्र माममृतं कृधीन्द्रायेन्दो परि स्रव ||" (Rig. Veda. 9.113.8)[6]

"yatra rājā vaivasvato yatrāvarodhanaṁ divaḥ | yatrāmūryahvatīrāpastatra māmamr̥taṁ kr̥dhīndrāyendo pari srava ||" (Rig. Veda. 9.113.8)

Meaning : Make me eternal in the realms where King Vivaswaan's son rules. Surya is also called Vivasvaan.

"तिस्रो द्यावः सवितुर द्वा उपस्थां एका यमस्य भुवने विराषाट | आणिं न रथ्यममृताधि तस्थुरिह ब्रवीतु य उ तच्चिकेतत् ||" (Rig. Veda. 1.35.6)[7]

"tisro dyāvaḥ savitura dvā upasthāṁ ekā yamasya bhuvane virāṣāṭa | āṇiṁ na rathyamamr̥tādhi tasthuriha bravītu ya u tacciketat ||" (Rig. Veda. 1.35.6)

Meaning: Two of the three Urdhvalokas (Higher heavens) are controlled by Savitr, and one by Yama.

Swarga (heavens) are three in number, of which two, the द्युर्लोकः || Dyurloka (land of light ) and Bhuloka are under the control of the Surya. One is under the control of Yama.  

Sayanacharaya explains that Yama controls the middle planet Antariksha where exists the Yamaloka also described as Paravyoma, it is the higher plane of existence for the dead, who along with the pitris (ancestors) reside in this place for which Yama is the palaka (governor). Thus, Yamaloka and the Pitruloka are under the control of Yama.

Therefore, it should not be hastily construed that Yamaloka is the land of suffering alone. This larger understanding as explained in the Vedas demolishes the common notions prevalent among people, that Yamaloka is an infernal place. However it should be emphasized that Naraka does exist and Yamadeva oversees the activities there. Thus, the common notion that Yama is only the master of the Naraka (hell) is not appropriate.[8]

Kathopanishad

Nachiketa’s journey to Yamaloka is described in describes Nachiketa's understanding that the yamaloka is the resting place of his pitris (ancestors). He also heard the playing of the flute (Rig Veda. 10.135.7).

Yama upon Nachiketa's perseverance reveals the eternal secret of the Vedas to him. Even though every living entity has eternal association with Paramatma, an age-old question that bothers many people, is how does Jiva acquire births as different species of lifeforms? Yama discusses the role of Paramatma for jiva as an indwelling Consciousness and its impact on  jiva’s rise and fall.[8]

नचिकेतमुपाख्यानं मृत्युप्रोक्तं सनातनम् || (Katha. Upan. 3.16)[9]

naciketamupākhyānaṁ mr̥tyuproktaṁ sanātanam ||

Meaning: This is Sanaatana (timeless) Nachiketa story told by Mrityu (Yama).   In this Upanishad, Yama is referred to, not as a person, but by Antaka, Mrityu, and Vaivasvata. Kathopanishad contains the 'secrets of death'. Yama answers these questions, though some may assume this is the act of destiny or blame the paramatma for pushing jiva into different forms of life, it is the own actions or Karma of the Jiva when in bodily form, that makes a Jiva attain births in different life forms.[8]

अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषोऽन्तरात्मा सदा जनानां हृदये सन्निविष्टः || (Katha. Upan. 6.16)

aṅguṣṭhamātraḥ puruṣo'ntarātmā sadā janānāṁ hr̥daye sanniviṣṭaḥ ||

Meaning: In the body, in the hridaya-stana, is seated the thumbsized Jivatma (Inner Self) which is immortal.  

Apart from the above mentioned instances the story of Nachiketa and his conversation with Yama is found in Taittriya Brahmana, Varaha Purana and Mahabharata  

Yama in Mahabharata

Yama and Sarmi

Yudhishthira once requested Bhishmacharya to describe the greatness in giving gifts, sesame or til seeds, of lighting lamps and giving Vastra or clothes. Bhishmaacharya in this context recited the narrative of the conversation that took place in ancient times between a Brahmana called Sarmi and Yama (Mahabharata Anushasana parva Chapter 68)[3][4].

In the country lying between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, at the foot of the hills of Yamuna, in a town called Parnasala, there were a number of eminent scholars. In this places lived a well learned Brahmana called Sarmi. One day, Kaala or Yama's messengers were instructed to bring one of the two persons who were named Sarmi. The did the very reverse of what Yama told them to do. Yama rose up at the sight of the Brahmana and worshipped him duly. He then commanded his messenger, that he should be taken back saying, 'Let this one be taken back, and let the other one be brought to me.' When the great judge of the dead said these words, that Brahmana addressed him and said, 'I have completed my study of the Vedas and am no longer attached to the world. Whatever period may yet remain of my mortal existence, I wish to spend the balance of my life dwelling here."

Yama could not allow the Brahmana's wish to take up residence in Yamaloka. Upon the request of the Brahmana, Yama recites the merits of giving charity and gifts.

The offering of sesame seeds is a very superior one. One should gift of as much sesame as one can. By gifitng sesame every day, all wishes are fulfilled. The donation of sesame at Sraddhas is applauded.

One should on the day of the full moon of the month of Vaisakha, offer sesame to the Brahmanas. They should also be offered to eat sesame on every occasion possible. Similarly men should make gifts of water and establish resting places for the distribution of drinking water especially during Vaisakha month. Digging wells, tanks and lakes were seen as acts of great merit. Similarly establishing resting places along the roads, setting up the distribution of water are pious acts that should always be done. Like the gift of water, Yama, from a desire of doing good to the Pitris, applauds the gift of lamps to light dark places. Lighting of lamps benefit the Pitris, and they bestow prosperity to the lineage.

Yama and Savitri

This famous legend about Savitri, a mahapativrata, who brought back the life of her husband Satyavan from Yama, is given in the Vanaparva of Mahabharata (Chap 293 to 299)[3]. Savitri upon her husband's death, follows Yama to the neither worlds, and seeing her resolve Yama offers her four boons, except the life of her husband. As a first boon, she asks for the restoration of the eyesight of Dyumatsena, the King of Salva and father of Satyavan. Secondly she asks that his lost kingdom be restored to him, which Yama willingly grants her. For her third boon she asks that her father, Asvapati, the King of Madra, be blessed with hundred sons to continue the lineage. As she still refused to leave her husband, Yama pleased at her love and devotion, grants her the fourth boon. For her fourth boon she asks to be blessed by a hundred sons from Satyavan, to which Yama agrees in haste. Realizing the futility of the boon if Satyavan is not alive, Yama grants her back the life of Satyavan.

Yama And Crows

In Valmiki Ramayana, Uttara Kanda, there is a legend about the crow's right to eat the offering of rice to Pitrus.[4]

Once a King named Marutta performed a Mahesvara sattra. Indra and other Gods attended the sattra; hearing about this, Ravana came that way. The frightened Gods took the forms of different birds. Indra took the form of peacock, Yama a crow. Kubera, a chameleon. Varuna took the form of a Royal Swan. From that time, Yama was pleased with crows. 

He gave a blessing that in future, when human beings worship the pitrus by offering rice to them, the crows will have the right to eat that rice.  

Worship of Yama

A special mention of worship of Yama is made here since Yama is feared in general and his worship is less known. However, during the time of Deepavali, Yama is worshipped. Yamapanchakas is the period of time starting from Asweyuja Krishna Trayodasi (13th day of the Second half of Asweyuja month) till Kaartika Suddha Tritiya (3rd day of the First half of Kaartika month). Based on different calendars the month is either Asweyuja or Kartika, but it happens during the time of Deepavali. The day of Narakachaturdashi falls in between these five days. The worship of Yama is also observed in Nepal.[10]

Sacred texts like Dharmasindhu[11] prescribe that after taking bath on Naraka Chaturdasi day all those who are eligible to offer Pithru tharpana (offerings to ancestors) should give Thila Tharpanam (offering of sesame or gingelly seeds) in the name of Yamadeva (Mrityudevata). This is called Yama Tharpanam, which is done by reciting the following mantras having the 14 names of Yamadharmaraja. 

Yamaaya; Dharmarajaya; Mruthyave; Chaantakayacha; Vaivaswathaya; Kaalaaya; Sarva Bhootha Kshayayacha; Audhumbaraya; Dhadnaaya; Neelaya; Paramestine; Vrukodaraya; Chitraya; Chitraguptayathe Namah

Facing South, tarpanam should be given with water and black sesame seeds (thila) with Yagnopaveetham in Savya position like in Deva Tharpanam by reciting each name in the above sloka by adding Namah. For eg. Yamaaya Namah–Yamam Tharpayami; Dharmarajaya Namah – Dharmarajam Tharpayami; etc…… It is said and believed that giving Yama tharpana on this day is highly meritorious and one will get relief from suffering in Naraka Loka. 

According to Dharma Sindhu this Tharpana should be given by one and all irrespective of the fact whether one's father is alive or not. In case father is not alive tila tarpanas can be given with yagnopaveetam in Apasavya position. In case one's father is alive, it should be given with water and rice with yagnopaveetham in Savya position.

Verses and Meanings

यम सूक्त || Yama Sukta in Rig Veda

प्रेहि प्रेहि पथिभिः पूर्व्येभिर्यत्रा नः पूर्वे पितरःपरेयुः | उभा राजाना स्वधया मदन्ता यमं पश्यासिवरुणं च देवम || 7

prehi prehi pathibhiḥ pūrvyebhiryatrā naḥ pūrve pitaraḥpareyuḥ | ubhā rājānā svadhayā madantā yamaṁ paśyāsivaruṇaṁ ca devama || 7

सं गच्छस्व पित्र्भिः सं यमेनेष्टापूर्तेन परमेव्योमन् | हित्वायावद्यं पुनरस्तमेहि सं गच्छस्व तन्वासुवर्चाः || 8

saṁ gacchasva pitrbhiḥ saṁ yameneṣṭāpūrtena paramevyoman | hitvāyāvadyaṁ punarastamehi saṁ gacchasva tanvāsuvarcāḥ || 8

अपेत वीत वि च सर्पतातोऽस्मा एतं पितरो लोकमक्रन् | अहोभिरद्भिरक्तुभिर्व्यक्तं यमो ददात्यवसानमस्मै || 9

apeta vīta vi ca sarpatāto'smā etaṁ pitaro lokamakran | ahobhiradbhiraktubhirvyaktaṁ yamo dadātyavasānamasmai || 9

अति द्रव सारमेयौ श्वानौ चतुरक्षौ शबलौ साधुना पथा | अथा पितॄन्त्सुविदत्रानुपेहि यमेन ये सधमादं मदन्ति || 10 (Rig. Veda. 10.14)

ati drava sārameyau śvānau caturakṣau śabalau sādhunā pathā | athā pitr̥̄ntsuvidatrānupehi yamena ye sadhamādaṁ madanti || 10 (Rig. Veda. 10.14)[12]

Brief Summary of the Sukta: This is a sukta in honor of Yama. We honor Yama, Vivasvan's son, who gathers all men together, and shows them a place to stay. He travels above and shows the path to many. Men may chose their own path to their ancestors (based on their deeds). Along with the Angirasas, Atharvans, Bhrigus, Yama is invited to have Soma. All the meters Tristub, Gayatri are contained in Yama. Mantra 8 and 9 in this sukta explain that Yamaloka is an abode for the ancestors, where they are given a place to rest with light and water.

References

  1. Amarakosha (Page no 30)
  2. Nirukta
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Shri Mahabharatam
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Mani, V. (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : A comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Delhi:Motilal Banasidass.
  5. Vishnu Purana Page Number 188
  6. Rig Veda (Mandala 9, Sukta 113)
  7. Rig Veda (Mandala 1, Sukta 35)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Narayanacharya, K. S. (2011). Veda Samskrita Parichaya. Hubli:​Sahitya Prakashana​.
  9. Kathopanishad
  10. https://www.ishtadevata.com/events/event/yama-panchak-begins-2/
  11. Upadhyaya, Kasinath (1907) The Dharmasindhu Delhi : Sri Sadguru Publications
  12. Rig Veda (Mandala 10, Sukta 14)