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Yama (Sanskrit: यम) is the Hindu lord of death, whose first recorded appearance is in the Vedas. He is one of the most ancient beings in the world and parallel forms of one sort or another have been found all over Eurasia. He is known as Yima by Zoroastrians, and is considered to be cognate with Ymir of Norse legend and has become known as Enma, or Emma-o (閻魔大王), in Japanese legend. Some even claim that he also shares the same mythological roots as Abel.
The spirits of the dead, on being judged by Yama, are supposed to either pass through a term of enjoyment in a region midway between the earth and the heaven of the gods, or to undergo their measure of punishment in Naraka (or Jigoku), the nether world, situated somewhere in the southern region. After this time they return to Earth to animate new bodies.
In Vedic tradition Yama was considered to have been the first mortal who died and espied the way to the celestial abodes, and in virtue of precedence he became the ruler of the departed. In some passages, however, he is already regarded as the god of death.
Characteristics of YamaEdit
He is a Lokapala and an Aditya. In art, he is depicted with green or red skin, red clothes, and riding a buffalo. He holds a loop of rope in his left hand with which he pulls the soul from the corpse. He is the son of Surya (Sun) and twin brother of Yami, or Yamuna, traditionally the first human pair in the Vedas. He was also worshiped as a son of Vivasvat and Saranya. He is one of the Ashta-Dikpalas and represents the south. He reports to Lord Shiva the Destroyer, an aspect of Trimurti (Hinduism's triune Godhead). Three hymns (10, 14, and 35) in the Rig Veda Book 10 are addressed to him.
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. In this capacity, he is normally depicted wearing a Chinese judge's cap in Japanese art. It is said that he is also one of the wisest of the devas. In the Katha Upanishad, among the most famous Upanishads, Yama is portrayed as a teacher. He is the father of Yudhisthira, the oldest brother of the 5 Pandavas (Karna was born prior to Kunti's wedlock, so technically Karna is Yudhthira's older brother) and is said to have incarnated as Vidura by some accounts in the Mahabharata period.
Garuda Purana mentions Yama often. His description is in 2.5.147-149: "There very soon among Death, Time, etc. he sees Yama with red eyes, looking fierce and dark like a heap of collyrium, with fierce jaws and frowning fiercely, chosen as their lord by many ugly, fierce-faced hundreds of diseases, possessing an iron rod in his hand and also a noose. The creature goes either to good or to bad state as directed by him." In 2.8.28-29, "...the seven names of Yama, viz Yama, Dharma-raja, Mrtyu, Antaka, Vaivasvata, Kala, Sarva-pranahara...". His wife is Syamala (3.17.4-5, 3.29.16, 24-25).
Subordination to Shiva and VishnuEdit
Another story, found in the Bhagavata Purana, shows Yama's subordinance to Vishnu. The 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 (the Sanskrit 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. 
Yamas as codes of conductEdit
In a related usage, a yama is a "restraint" or rule for living virtuously. Ten yamas are codified in numerous scriptures, including the Shandilya and Varaha Upanishads, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Gorakshanatha, and the Tirumantiram of Tirumular. Patanjali lists five yamas in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The ten traditional yamas are:
- Ahimsa: abstinence from injury, harmlessness, the not causing of pain to any living creature in thought, word, or deed at any time. This is the "main" Yama. The other nine are there in support of its accomplishment.
- Satya: truthfulness, word and thought in conformity with the facts.
- Asteya: non-stealing, non-coveting, non-entering into debt.
- Brahmacharya: divine conduct, continence, celibate when single, faithful when married.
- Kshama: patience, releasing time, functioning in the now.
- Dhriti: steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, and indecision; seeing each task through to completion.
- Daya: compassion; conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings.
- Arjava: honesty, straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing.
- Mitahara: moderate appetite, neither eating too much nor to little; nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs.
- Shaucha: purity, avoidance of impurity in body, mind and speech.
- Aparigraha: absence of avariciousness, non-appropriation of things not one's own.
Yama in popular cultureEdit
- In the anime and manga Dragon Ball, Enma (The Japanese name for Yama) is portrayed as a harried bureaucrat with a short temper, attended to by an army of office-worker oni. Though the ruler of the afterlife, he is surpassed in power by both the four Kaiō and the one remaining Kaiōshin (higher gods in whose hands rest the stewardship of the entire universe).
- He is depicted in a similar fashion in YuYu Hakusho, as the pen-pushing ruler of the spirit world and a shadowy figure known for his temper; however, he is also the father of Koenma (literally, "Child-Enma"), who often runs the underworld in his father's stead. He is known as "Yemma" (based on an older Japanese pronunciation) in the English-dubbed Dragon Ball Z anime, and Yama in the English version of YuYu Hakusho.
- Yama is a major character in the science fiction novel Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. In this novel certain colonists from Earth gain control of high technology on a faraway planet and rule it as Hindu gods. Yama is the genius behind most of the technology.
- In the Spriggan manga, Yama was a virus programmed from ancient text that overran an ARCAM compound in the United States, brainwashing its occupants to kill intruder by flashing the words "KILL THEM ALL!"
See also Edit
- Hindu mythology
- Hindu deities
- List of Hindu deities
- List of Hinduism-related articles
- History of India
- Hindu scriptures
- Dying, Yamaraja and Yamadutas
- Painting of Yama
- Yama's subordinance to Vishnu
- Thangka Painting of Yama
- Foundations of Yoga - Discussion of Yama and Niyama, by Swami Nirmalananda Giri
- redirect Template:Hindu deities and texts
|Yogas:||Agni Yoga - Anahata Yoga - Anusara Yoga - Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga - Bikram Yoga - Hatha yoga - Integral yoga - Iyengar Yoga - Kriya yoga - Kundalini yoga - Natya Yoga - Sahaj Marg - Sahaja Yoga - Satyananda Yoga - Sivananda Yoga - Six yogas of Naropa (Tummo) - Surat Shabd Yoga - Viniyoga - Yoga in Daily Life - Yoga Nidra|
|Texts:||Bhagavad Gita - Yoga Sutras - Hatha Yoga Pradipika - Gheranda Samhita - Shiva Samhita|
|Hinduism paths:||Bhakti yoga - Karma Yoga - Jnana Yoga - Raja Yoga|
|Raja Yoga limbs:||Yama - Niyama - Asana - Pranayama - Pratyahara - Dharana - Dhyana - Samadhi|
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|Related topics:||Ayurveda - Chakra - Mantra - Tantra - Vedanta - Yoga (alternative medicine) - Yoga as exercise|
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