Yama (Sanskrit: यम) is the lord of death in Hinduism, first recorded in the Vedas. Yama belongs to an early stratum of Indo-Iranian theology. In Vedic tradition Yama was considered to have been the first mortal who died and espied the way to the celestial abodes, thus in virtue of precedence he became the ruler of the departed. In some passages, however, he is already regarded as the god of death. Yama's name can be interpreted to mean "twin", and in some myths he is paired with a twin sister Yamī.
Yama is assisted by Chitragupta[1] who is assigned with the task of keeping complete records of actions of human beings on the earth, and upon their death deciding to have them reincarnated as a superior or inferior organism, depending on their actions on the earth (Karma). "In Hinduism, Yama often is considered as ‘Kala’ or time, for Yama comes in a particular time and that time is naturally selected; nobody can stop his coming and change the timing. That after birth a living body gradually approaches towards death through decay or disease or because of accident is just a matter of time or duration of time at the end of which there comes Death. The coming of Death may be delayed by treatment of the patient or the sick person or by the pursuit of a better way of life, but the inevitability of death can never be stopped by any means. That is why Yama is called “Kala’ or time, because the coming of Death is just a matter of time in accordance with the law and system of nature."[2]
Yama is also the lord of justice and is sometimes referred to as Dharma, in reference to his unswerving dedication to maintaining order and adherence to harmony.


Yama is a Lokapāla and an Aditya. He is the son of Surya (Sun) and twin brother of Yami, orYamuna, traditionally the first human pair in the Vedas. Interestingly Surya's two sons Shaniand Yama judge. Shani gives us the results of one's deeds through one's life through appropriate punishments and rewards; Yama grants the results of one's deeds after death.[3]
He is one of the Guardians of the directions and represents the south. Yama is also the god of justice and is sometimes referred to as Dharma, in reference to his unswerving dedication to maintaining order and adherence to harmony. It is said that he is also one of the wisest of the devas.[citation needed] In the Katha Upanishad, among the most famous Upanishads, Yama is portrayed as a teacher. He is the father of Yudhisthira (also known as Dharmaraja), the oldest brother of the 5 Pandavas (Karna was born prior to Kunti's wedlock, so technically Karna is Yudhishthira's older brother) and is said to have incarnated as Vidura by some accounts in the Mahabharata period.
Yama is called Kāla ("Time"). Shiva is also called Kāla ("Time")[4] as well as Mahākāla("Great Time") in his form as the destroyer of the world.[5]

Subordination to Shiva and Vishnu

In the Puranas, Yama although one of the most powerful controllers, is still subordinate to Shiva and Vishnu because they are different aspects of the overruling Brahman. A story of Yama's subordination to Shiva is well-illustrated in the story of Markandeya, where Shiva as Kalantaka ("Ender of Death") stops Yama and rescues his devotee Markandeya from his clutches.
Another story found in the Bhagavata Purana shows Yama's subordination to Vishnu. The man Ajamila had committed many evil acts during his life such asstealing, abandoning his wife and children, and marrying a prostitute. At the moment of his death he involuntarily chanted the name of Narayana (anotherSanskrit name for Vishnu) and achieved moksha, becoming saved from the messengers of Yama. Although Ajamila had actually been thinking the name of his youngest son, Narayana's name has powerful effects, and thus Ajamila was released from his great sins.

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