In Hinduism, Yama is the god of death, justice, and the lord of the afterlife. He is also known as Dharma Raja, which translates to the “King of Righteousness.” Yama is a significant deity in the Hindu pantheon, and his role is complex, encompassing both the inevitability of death and the moral order governing human actions.
Key aspects of Yama in Hindu mythology include:
- God of Death: Yama is primarily known as the god who presides over death. He is responsible for guiding souls to the afterlife and determining their fate based on their deeds during their earthly life.
- Dharmic Judge: Yama is often depicted as a fair and just judge who weighs the actions of individuals to determine their destiny in the afterlife. He is responsible for upholding dharma (moral and cosmic order) and ensuring that individuals face the consequences of their actions.
- Yamaloka: In Hindu cosmology, Yama rules over a realm called Yamaloka, which is considered the realm of the dead. It is believed to be a place where souls go after death to await judgment and experience the consequences of their actions.
- Chitragupta: According to Hindu mythology, Yama is assisted by Chitragupta, a divine scribe who keeps a record of every individual’s deeds (good and bad) during their lifetime. This record is used in the judgment of souls.
- Yamadutas: Yama is often depicted with attendants called Yamadutas, who assist him in carrying out his duties. They are described as beings who escort souls to the afterlife.
- Associations with Dharma: Yama is not only the god of death but is also associated with dharma. As Dharma Raja, he is responsible for ensuring that individuals are judged fairly and in accordance with the principles of righteousness.
- Iconography: Yama is typically portrayed with a dark complexion, red eyes, and a crown. He may be depicted riding a buffalo and holding a mace, a noose, or a staff, symbolizing his authority over death.
- Festivals: Yama is honored during the festival of Diwali, particularly on the day of Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Dooj. On this day, sisters perform rituals to ensure the well-being and longevity of their brothers, seeking Yama’s blessings for their protection.
While Yama is a feared deity due to his association with death, he is also considered an embodiment of justice and the cosmic order. The stories and myths surrounding Yama emphasize the moral consequences of one’s actions and the importance of living a righteous life.