(Last Updated on : 18/01/2011)
Lord Yama in Indian mythology is referred to as the Lord of Death. Vedas
describe him as the first man who died. The son of God Surya and Sanjana, Yama presides over the resting place of the dead. He is sometimes referred to as Dharma, in reference to his unswerving dedication to maintaining order and adherence to harmony. He is also believed to be the wisest of devas. In the Katha Upanishad Yama is portrayed as a teacher. He is the father of Yudhisthir
, the oldest brother of the Pandavas. He is considered to have incarnated as Vidur by some accounts in the Mahabharata
period. Yama is subordinate to the ultimate controllers Lord Shiva
and Lord Vishnu.
Yama is credited to be one of the most ancient beings of the world. A story of Yama`s subordinance to Shiva is well illustrated in the story of Markandeya. Yama is called Kala, while Shiva is called Mahakala. Another incidence, which shows Yama`s obedience to Vishnu, is as follows: A man Ajamila had committed many evil acts during his life such as stealing, abandoning his wife and children, and marrying a prostitute. At the moment of his death he involuntarily chanted the name of Narayana and achieved Moksha
, saved from the messengers of Yama. Although Ajamila had actually been thinking the name of his youngest son, Narayana`s name had powerful effects, and thus Ajamila was released from his great sins.
As per Hindu myths Yama is assisted by Chitragupta
who keeps complete records of actions of human beings on the earth. Lord Yama belongs to an early division of Vedic legends. His name means "twin", and in some legends he is paired with his twin sister Yami. He is represented as the guardian of the southern direction. The Vedic Yama was the basis for the Buddhist Yama which in turn became an essential part of Chinese and Japanese folklore.
As per Hindu mythology a dead person based on his deeds is send to heaven or hell. This is decided by Lord Yama. He is depicted with a glittering crown on his head carrying a mace in one hand, and a rope in the other. He rides a black water buffalo.