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Yam Raaj

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Yam Raaj
Read his one story   Here in Shiv Puraan

Yam Raaj is the Devtaa of Death. He is the one who keeps the account of the Paap and Punya of all the creatures through his assistant Chitrarath. When people die, he prescribes Swarg (Heaven) or Narak (pleasures or pains and sorrows) according to their Karm. He gives the dead person a resting place and prepares an abode for him. It is curious that though Yam rules the dead, he is not feared but loved because of the belief that upon death a person joins his ancestors in Heaven ruled by him.

Yam is also known as Dharm Raaj or god of justice. In this capacity he could punish the evil doer also and hence later he came to be feared. He is also mentioned in Rig Ved as one of the sons of Vivaswaan, a human. He is considered as one of the atmospheric divinities, perhaps because he was the first one to successfully reach the blessed celestial spheres. Yam and his sister Yamee are also found in the Paarasee scriptures as Yim and Yimeh.

In Hindu incest (marriage) between real sister and brother is considered a great sin. In order to illustrate this, a dialog between Yam and Yamee is described in Rig Ved, wherein Yamee wants to seduce her brother but Yam successfully repulses her by pointing out the sinfulness of such a course. [ Rig Ved, 10-10]
[Aangiras, p 298-299]

According to Bhaagvat Puraan, 5/8, there are four Lokpaal, one for each direction - Indra is for East, Yam Raaj is for South, Varun is for West, and Chandramaa is for North. To the East of Meru Parvat is Indra's Devadhaanee Puree, to the South is Yam Raaj's Sanyamanee Puree, to the West of meru Parvat is Varun's Nimlochanee Puree, and to the North of meru Parvat is Chandramaa's Vibhaavaree Puree.

There is an interesting Shlok about Yam
yama vaidyakayormadhye yam shreshtho na vaidyakah
yamah (or Yamastu) praanaan harati vaidyah praanaan dhanaani cha
It means that Yam is better between Yam and Vaidya, because Yam only takes life, while Vaidya takes both life and money.

Siblings of Yam
Yam is the son of Soorya Dev. Soorya Dev was married to Sangyaa, the daughter of Vishwakarmaa. Sangyaa had three children - two sons Yam, and Shraaddh Dev and a daughter Yamee. Later Sangyaa could not tolerate Soorya's Tej so she put her shadow woman in her place and went to do Tap. The shadow she put with Soorya was named as Chaayaa (shadow). Since Chhaayaa was exactly .like Sangyaa, Soorya did not the difference between Sangyaa and Chhaayaa. This Chhaayaa also had four children from Soorya - two sons - Saavarni Manu and Shanaishchar and two daughters Tapatee and Vishti. Later when Soorya came to know that Chhaayaa was not his wife, he went to Vishwakarmaa and asked him where was she? he told him that she had gone to Uttar Kuru region to do Tap. There she was living in the form of a mare and was doing Tap. Soorya also went there in the form of a horse and had her. Thus she had a twins Ashwinee Kumaar.

Once an argument broke between Yamee and Tapatee so they both turned into the rivers named Yamunaa and Taaptee because of one another's curse.
Soorya's two sons became Manu - Shraaddh Dev Manu and Saavarni Manu
His two sons, Yam and Shanaishchar became the Devtaa of death and a planet respectively.
Ashwinee Kumaar were appointed as Devtaa's doctor (Vaidya)

Yam's Earthly Children and Incarnations

(1) Yudhishthir
Among his earthly children Yudhishthir is his well known son. He was the eldest Paandav.

(2) Dome
Among his first incarnations, the Dom is the first one. He was born by the curse of Maandavya Rishi's curse (see below) and employed Raajaa Harishchandra.

(3) Vidur
Among his second incarnation, Vidur Jee was the second incarnation. he was born to a maid as a Shoodra by the curse of Maandavya Rishi's curse, see below.

Some Events of Yam's Life
There are some very well known events of Yam's life.

(1) Yam is Cursed by Rishi Maandavya)
Once Yam Raaj punished Maandavya Muni for a sin,  that he was pierced by a stake. He went to Yam Raaj and asked him why he had to tolerate such a pain/ He had not committed such a sin knowingly. Yam Raaj told him that he pierced a locust (Tiddee) in his childhood. Maandavya Muni said - "It must before the age of 15 or so when children do not what they are doing. otherwise it was such a small sin, why should he punish him so much for such a small sin? Since you have punished me for such a small sin, I curse you to be born on Prithvi three times and live there for 100 years." that is why Yam had to be born on Prithvi three times -
(1) First time he was born as the Dom who employed Harishchandra after he donated his kingdom to Vishawaamitra. He sold himself to that Dom.
(2) Second time he incarnated as Vidur,
(3) Then he was born as the son of Yam Raaj - Yudhishthir

(2) Another Version of the Curse to Yam Raaj
This version is from
 Padm Puraan, 2/2.  In this version Durvaasaa Muni cursed him, not Maandavya Muni; and he cursed him for three things but all things happened during the same time, not to take birth three times. Its story goes like this - "Sumanaa said - "Atri and Anasooyaa's son Dattaatreya has seen Dharm. Both Durvaasaa and Dattaatreya have done Tapasyaa and behaved according to Dharm. They did Tapasyaa for 10,000 years without eating anything drinking only air. Then they did Panchaagni Tapasyaa for another 10,000 years. Then they stood inside water for another 10,000 years. Both became very weak, Durvaasaa got very angry at Dharm, so Dharm appeared before him. Brahmcharya and Tap also came in person along with Dharm; and many others also came along with him.

Dharm said to Durvaasaa - "Hey Braahman, Why did you get angry in spite of being a Tapaswee? Anger destroys man's both grace and Tapasyaa, therefore one should abandon this anger at least at the time of Tapasyaa." Durvaasaa asked - "Who are you and who are all these people along with you?" Dharm said - "They are Brahmcharya, Satya, Tap, Dam (control on Indriyaan), Niyam (discipline), Shauch (cleanliness) etc etc. I am Dharm, please be calm and protect me. Why are you so angry?" Durvaasaa said - "I can see that I have done so much Tapasyaa with all necessary discipline but you are not pleased with me, that is why I am angry at you. I will give you three curses - "Dharm, you become a King and a maid's son and be born in Chaandaal caste." Thus after giving these three curses, Durvaasaa Muni went away. Because of these three Shaap, Dharm incarnated as King Yudhishthir in Bharat family; when he was born as a maid's son, he was known as Vidur; and when Vishwaamitra afflicted King Harishchandra, he was born as a Chaandaal to give him a job."

But this story does not prove that why Yudhishthir had to undergo such a difficult life. He was born as a King, that is all right, but except for a few years of kingship he indeed suffered a lot - in fact since his childhood.

(3) Yam is Defeated by Shiv (Yam and Maarkandeya)
Once a Braahman boy was born by the grace of Shiv Jee - Maarkandeya Rishi, but he had a very short life span - only of 16 years. So he started doing worshipping Shiv before his death time. When his Time came Yam's messenger came and returned seeing the boy worshipping Shiv. So Yam himself had to come and as he threw his noose in the boy's neck, it did not go to boy's neck, it fell onto Shiv ling the boy was worshipping. And as he pulled it, the Ling got uprooted from the base and Shiv came out of it. Both fought and Yam was defeated. He had to leave without taking the life of the boy. The boy got immortality and a 16-year old boy form forever.

(4) Yam is Defeated by a Woman (Yam and Saavitree)
Is it? Yes, it is strange, isn't it? But it is true. A King had no child so he worshipped Gaayatree Devee and by her grace got a daughter. he named her Saavitree. She was so beautiful, so intelligent and so well-behaved that the king could not search a boy for her, spo he asked her to go around and asked her to search a boy for herself. He gave her some ministers, her friends and she set off on her jourfney. She saw a boy in an Aashram cutting wood. She liked him and told this to ministers. They came home and ministers told this to the King. Naarad Jee was sitting there, he said - "this boy is not good for her as he has only one year to live from today." The King asked Saavitree to choose another boy but she refused and the King married her to that boy.

Saavitree came to the Aashram and waited for the D-Day. Three days before she kept fast, worshipped and the third day when the boy got ready to go to forest she also accompanied him in spite of stopping several times. There after a while he felt sick, Saavitree asked him to take rest and in the meantime, she saw a black man riding on a buffalo coming to her. She understood that he was Yam Raaj. She got ready to talk to him. When Yam Raaj returned after taking the boy's astral body, Saavitree followed him. To stop her coming behind him, Yam asked her to ask for a boon. Saavitree was intelligent, she asked the boon for her in-laws. they were blind and had lost their kingdom. She asked eye sight for them and return of their kingdom. She still continued to follow him. Yam Raaj again noticed her following him so he asked her to ask for another boon to stop her following him. This Saavitree asked many children for her parents. Yam gave them to her.

But Saavitree still followed him. This time Yam Raaj warned her finally and promised to give her the third and final  boon. Saavitree was looking for this opportunity, she immediately asked - "I want to have 100 sons." Since Saavitree was asking children for everybody Yam Raaj granted them to her also." but found her still following him. On asking she asked - "O Yam Raaj, What type of Devtaa you are? You are giving me boon of 100 sons and taking my husband with you?" Hearing this Yam Raaj got embarrassed, beat his head that a young girl had cheated him. He had to return her husband to her.

(5) Yam and Nachiketaa Or Yam Geetaa (Kath Upanishad)
There is an Upanishad on the duo - Kath Upanishad. in Agni Puraan, 34 this is named as Yam Geetaa. Nachiketaa was the son Maharshi Uddaalak. Once Uddaalak did a Yagya in which he had to donate everything, so he did. When his young son Nachiketaa, of 16 years of age, saw this, asked his father - "I am also your property, to whom you will give me?" Uddaalak tried to ignore his question, but on asking the same question several times, he said just to satisfy him - "I will give you to Yam Raaj." The boy took it as his word and went to Yam Raaj. he came to Yam Raaj but found that he was out for some work, so he sat down on his door and waited for him. He came three days later. Yam's wife told him that a Braahman was waiting for him for three days. yam got very angry hearing this, a Braahman should not wait at his door like this, hungry and thirsty. He immediately called him, asked for his forgiveness for such a treatment and promised him to bestow three boons, one for each day, waiting at his door hungry and thirsty.

Nachiketaa asked his first boon that "his father should not be angry at him when he returns home. He should be happy to see him in the same way as he was when he looked at him when he was born." In the second boon, he asked "I have heard that there is a land in which one lives free from old age and is forever young. They also say that you know an Agni Vidyaa (fire sacrifice or Yagya) that leads to this land. Teach me that sacrifice as my second boon." Yam bestowed these two boons without any hitch, but what Nachiketaa asked as his third boon shook him from head to foot. He had to bribe him with many things for asking some other boon instead of that one, but Nachiketaa remained unmoved. He asked - "I want to know the secret of life and death. When you take away the life of somebody, where does he go? Is that the end, or there is something which you cannot kill? And if that is the end, then also I want to be certain; and if it is possible to go beyond death, then show me the way." And Yam had to tell him everything about it - this is written in Kath Upanishad.

(6) Yam Raaj and Yudhishthir
This story comes in MBH, Van Parv, G-0-4-Van/53. When Paandav were spending their time in 13 years of exile, during the last days of the 12th year, a Braahman came to them and asked their help. He said - "A deer was wandering about that my two sticks used to make fire and the churning staff struck fast into its antlers. The deer ran speedily and went out of the Aashram. I am worried about my Agnihotra. Please follow him and bring back my things, so that my Agnihotra is not stopped." All Paandav went to follow him, they found him, and shot some arrows also at him but he escaped. They were tired so they sat under a tree. Yudhishthir asked Sahadev to look for some water. He found water nearby and went to bring water from there. He saw a pond and as he wanted to drink water from it, a Yaksh appeared. He told him that that pond belonged to him and asked him to answer his question before drinking water from it, otherwise he would be dead. But Sahadev did not listen to him and drank some water from the pond. As he drank water, he fell dead.

When Sahadev did not come for some time, Yudhishthir sent his other brothers but all of them met the same fate as of Sahadev. Then Yudhishthir himself went there. He found his all brothers dead but without any sign of struggling of weapon or fighting etc. He did not understand how his so mighty brothers were dead just like that. He thought that first let him drink water then he would find out, so as he strated drinking water that the same Yaksh appeared again and said the same thing to him also. Yudhishthir respected him and answered his all questions correctly. After that Yaksh told him that he had killed his brothers because they tried to drink water without fulfilling his condition. Now since he was very happy with Yudhishthir, he was ready to bring his one brother alive. Yudhishthir said - "If you are pleased with me please bring my Sahadev alive." Yaksh was very pleased to hear this and he brought all his brothers alive.

Then the Yaksh asked Yudhishthir to ask for a boon. Yudhishthir said - "Now our A-Gyaatvaas is going to begin, grant us the boon that we are not recognized during that period." "So be it." After that Yudhishthir said - "May I ask you one question?" Yaksh said - "Sure." he said - "Who are you? You cannot be Yaksh as Yaksh have no power to bring dead people alive. If it is not objectionable, please temm your true identity." Yaksh said - "You are right. I am not a Yaksh. I am Dharm Raaj, your father. I wanted to see you that is why I played this game. I was the deer who ran away with Braahman's things. Take them." Yaksh returned Braahman's things to him and disappeared.

(7) Yam Geetaa
There is one more Yam Geetaa on his name. It comes in Vishnu Puraan, 3/3. It is a dialog between Raajaa Sagar and Maharshi Aurv about Vishnu's worship, duties of four Varn people, method of performing Sanskaar, and Shraaddh etc. A dialog between Yam Raaj and his servants is also given here as who is that person who cannot be taken away even by Yam Raaj. He says that "I cannot take those people who worship Vishnu, who take name of Vishnu and who call Vishnu at the time of their death, because Vishnu is respectable for me as He is my creator, so I cannot disregard Him."

(8) Yam Raaj and Raavan
Read about Yam Raaj and Raavan in Raavan's Victory Over Yam Raaj.

Some Stories About Yam Raaj
There are some stories also about Yam Raaj.

(1) Yam Deep Daan - Story Related to Dhan Teras (Kaarttik Krishn 13th day)
As per the legend the story goes like this:
King Hima's 16-year old son was destined to die of a snake-bite on the 4th day of his marriage as per his horoscope. To combat this adversity, the newly married bride piled all her gold ornaments and lots of silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband's room and lighted innumerable lamps all over the place. She made sure that her husband did not fall asleep, so she engaged him by singing songs and narrating stories.

Yam Raaj came in the guise of a serpent to bite him, but shine of the dazzling jewels blinded him and he could not fulfill his duty. He waited impatiently with no results. The whole night passed like this waiting and nothing happened. The next day arrived by the break of dawn, and Hima's son was saved from the jaws of death. Since then, this day of Dhan Teras came to be known as the day of "Yam Deep Daan" day and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yam, the god of Death.

13 names of Yam Raaj
Bhavishya Purann, p 611, (9/4/51) gives the following 13 names of Yam Raaj --
(1) Dharm Raaj,  (2) Kaal,  (3) Chitragupt,  (4) Dandee,  (5) Mrityu,  (6) Kshayaroop,  (7) Antak,  (8) Yam,  (9) Pret Naath,  (10) Raudra,  (11) Vaivaswat,  (12) Mahishasth,  (13) Dev

A Shlok by Yam Raaj
pathi chyutam tishthati dishta-rakshitam,  grihe sthitam tad-vihatam vinashyati
jeevaty anatho 'pi tad-ikshito vane,  grihe 'bhigupto 'sya hato na jeevati
Sri Yamaraja said : Sometimes one loses his money on a public street, where everyone can see it, and yet his money is protected by destiny and not seen by others. Thus the man who lost it gets it back. On the other hand, if the Lord does not give protection, even money maintained very securely at home is lost.

If the Supreme Lord gives one protection, even though one has no protector and is in the jungle, one remains alive, whereas a person well protected at home by relatives and others sometimes dies, no one being able to protect him. Our plans to protect or annihilate do not act, but whatever the Lord thinks of doing actually happens..... Prahlaad said that a child is certainly dependent on his father and mother, but in spite of their presence, the child is harassed in many ways........ Sometimes, in spite of a supply of good medicine and an experienced physician, a patient does not survive..... Therefore, since everything is dependent on the free will of the Supreme God, our only duty is to surrender unto Him and seek His protection.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 06/15/13