Lord Yama, the Hindu deity known as the god of death, dharma, and justice, holds a significant place in the beliefs of Hinduism. He governs the realm of hell, also referred to as Yamaloka, and has a profound influence on devoted Hindus. Lord Yama is recognized by various names throughout India, including Yamraj, Kaladeva, and Dharmaraja.
According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Yama is responsible for dispensing afterlife justice to souls. Interestingly, these scriptures depict Lord Yama as the first mortal, later elevated to the position of the god of death. In some puranas, he even experiences death himself, only to be revived by Lord Shiva.
Five Elements Of Nature Assist Yama
Yama receives assistance from five elements of nature in fulfilling his duty of capturing the most sinful souls. These elements encompass time (kaal), fever (jwara), disease (vyadhi), anger (krodha), and jealousy (asuya).
People who follow Hinduism and hold strong faith in it have mixed feelings about Lord Yama. They perceive him as both their savior and their punisher, dependent on their collective karma in life.
In this article, we’ll explore five lesser-known facts about Yamraj:
Many Names of Yamaraj
As one of the prominent deities in the Hindu pantheon, Lord Yama goes by numerous names, precisely 14. These names are invoked during Yama worship on the day preceding Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. An age-old tradition involves lighting lamps in honor of Lord Yama using these 14 names.
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It is believed that by doing so, one can please Lord Yamaraj and escape the possibility of premature death. Additionally, one should recite the Yama mantra, which mentions all of his 14 names, to purify their souls.
The Yama Gayatri Mantra
ॐ सूर्यपुत्राय विद्महे महाकालय, धीमहि तन्नो यमः प्रचोदयात।
Hindus believe that regularly reciting the Yama Gayatri mantra with full devotion and a pure heart can dispel the fear of death and premature death. If you can please Lord Yama by chanting this mantra, your past sins could be forgiven, bringing you closer to attaining moksha.
The Duties of Yamaraj
As the god of death, Lord Yama is the guardian of the south (the region of death in Hinduism) and the king of Yamaloka. According to the Vedas, Yama was the first mortal to die on Earth. Therefore, he was promoted to the position of the god of death by Lord Shiva. Yamaloka, the abode of Lord Yama, is also known as Naraka. There are 21 levels of hell in this place, where the purification of all souls takes place.
Among the many duties of Yamaraja, he is best known for bringing souls to his abode in Naraka after their death. It’s important to note that Lord Yama himself does not take one’s life as a punishment; Chitragupta is the one who keeps track of one’s karma, whether good or bad.
The Weapons of Yamraj
Lord Yama is depicted with three weapons: a mace, danda (rod), and noose. The mace is said to be a gift from Surya Deva (the Sun God). Yamaraja uses these weapons to capture and punish souls for their bad karma.
According to various Puranas, when Yamaraja needs to punish a sinner, he employs his danda, which he received as a blessing from Lord Brahma. It’s said that no living being can escape its grip, which is why it’s also called the Kaladanda. According to some legends, Brahma gave him this weapon to control the population and punish sinners.
The Wives of Yamaraj
According to sacred texts like the Vishnu Purana and Vishnu Dharmottara, Lord Yama had a total of three wives: Dhumorna, Syamala, and Hema-mala, respectively. The first wife, Dhumorna, is the goddess of the funeral pyre and is mentioned in the majority of ancient texts, while the other two, Syamala and Hema-mala, are only mentioned in a few Puranas, primarily the Garuda Purana.