By Swami Harshananda and Himanshu Bhatt
Yama literally means ‘one who controls’. His other names are Vaivasvata because he is a son of Vivasvata, Samavartin because he is an impartial judge, and Dharma because he acts righteously.
Among Iranian nationalities, he is known usually as Jam or Jamshid, and in the Mazdaen scriptures he is Yima.
Yama as per Ṛgveda
In the Ṛgveda, the word yama has been used in several mantras, in the sense of twins. It has also been used to indicate a god or deity, sometimes identified with the Supreme. As one of the deities like Indra or Varuṇa, he is said to be the offspring of Vivasvān and his wife Samjñā. Hence he is called Vaivasvata also. Yami was his twin-sister. He is the lord of the pitṛs or manes. He is the king of the Pitṛloka, the world of the manes. He is considered as death for the human beings. He sends the dead persons to the regions they deserve, good or bad.
Yama as per Kathā Upaniṣad
The Kathā Upaniṣad is the teaching given by Yama-Vaivasvata to the young seeker Naciketas.
Yama as per Purāṇas
In the epics and the purāṇas, he is described as the lord of the South. His capital is the city called Sarhyamani. Mahiṣa or the buffalo is his vāhana or mount. The river Yamunā is his sister. He gave many boons to Arjuna when he was performing austerities at the Indrakīla mountain. He also gave many boons to Sāvitrī, being pleased with her devotion to her husband Satyavān. As a result of the curse of the sage Aṇimāṇdavya, Yama was born as Vidura, considered a śudra by caste. After testing Yudhiṣṭhira, his own spiritual son, as a Yakṣa, he blessed him, fulfilling all his wishes. When he wanted to take away Mārkaṇḍeya after his life-duration was completed, he was chastised by Lord Śiva. He reminded Rāma at the end of his earthly sojourn of his promise to return to Vaikuṇṭha.
Yama as per Yoga
As a scholar
Yama declares in the Katha Upanishad, "The means for the attainment of the world does not become revealed to the non-discrimnating man who blunders, being befooled by the lure of wealth. One that constantly thinks that there is only this world, and none hearafter, come under my sway again and again."
Yama's family background
Yama's father is Vivasvata. His mother is Saṁjñā, and step mothers are Chhāyā and Vaḍavā.
His first wife is Dhumora. From her his children are Gaja, Gavaksa, Gaveya, Sarabha, and Gandhamana.
From his wife Bhānu was born Deva-ṛṣabha, and from him the son Indrasena.
From his wife Lambā was born Vidyota.
From his wife Kakud was born Saṅkaṭa, and from him the son Kīkaṭa, and from him Durga.
From his wife Yāmi was born Svarga, and from him the son Nandi.
From his wife Viśvā was born Viśvadevas who had no children of their own.
From his wife Sādhyā was born the Sādhyas, 1 of whom had a son named Arthasiddhi.
From his wife Marutvatī was born Marutvān and Jayanta (also known as Upendra.)
From his wife Muhūrtā was born Mauhūrtikas, and from him the son Indrasena.
From his wife Saṅkalpā was born Saṅkalpa.
That Yama's kingdom was in India is no doubt, for even the Harivamsa substitutes the region of Yama for Jambudwipa (Indian Subcontinent) in passages from time to time. Yama's kingdom was in Kashmir which has been called Yama-rajya (or just Yamraj), Yamaloka, Yamapuri, Yama-kṣaya (Yama's Abode), Yamasadanam, Yama-raṣtra (Yama's Dominion), Yama-ṣreya (Yama's Abode), Yama-viṣaya (Yama's Realm), and Dakshinasapti. In the Ṛgveda the realm ruled by Yama is said to be the lower heavens adjoining Earth, though his realm extends through the universe in the upper and middle regions of the earth. His capital city is Samyamani which is also known as both Kalichi and Yamakoti. The Vishnu Purana mentions Yamapuri as south of Meru (K2.)
The etmytology of Srinagar is 'siri-nagar' and the earliest records mention it as such, which in turn is a local transformation of the original Sanskrit name 'sūrya-nagar', meaning City of the Sun-god. This makes sense, as Yama, being sun-god Vivasvant's son, also has the name 'Saur' (Of Surya.) Yama was the son of Vivasvant Martanda, and it is of no surprise that there is an important temple dedicated to that god in Kashmir.
There are number of other associated of Yama with Kashmir, including Kashmir's placenames, its legends, and its proverbs. Daman-i-Koh, are the Mountains of Daman which are in the southwestern border of the modern Jammu & Kashmir Indian state. The Yamal is a mountain near Gāndarbal in Kashmir.
- Boundaries of Yamaloka
Scriptures say that the land between the Vātarani (also known as Vasātapta) and Vaivasvati rivers was Yama's Kingdom.
There are instances one comes across in Hindu scriptures wherein Yama is connected with the Kashmir region. For example, it is written that the Vātarana River, also known as "Auspicious Mandakini", is the body of water which takes one from Earth to Yama's abode. We know from Kalidas' Meghaduta text that the Mandakini is the Kishenganga, which emerges from the lake Vishansar (Vishnu Lake) in Sonamarg district. Interestingly enough, the Mandaikini is mentioned in scriptures as originating from Vishnupada (Foot of Vishnu.)
The central portion of Kashmir, more specifically the Srinagar region, is known as Yamraj. Furthermore, Varuṇa is said in Kashmiri folklore to rule "the west", while Yama, south of that land. One can see this reflected in modern times, as Varuna's sacred shrine exists in western Kashmir. Scriptures mention the sacred pilgrimage centre Vimala, also known as Nirmala, and through it passes the holy Vātarani River. This river is called the river of Yama and Vimala is identified with Baramula, which is in Kashmir. Baramula means "Boar Face" and hence, the Vimala Tirtha is also known as Varāha Tirtha. Buddhist scriptures also speak of the Vātarani as Yama's river. The fact that Central Kashmir Valley is Yama's domain is so well known that even the Mazdaen Bundahishn mentions it as "the var made by Yima."
|Included in the latter are other regions, such as Kangdez, the country of Saokavastan, the desert of the Arabs, the desert of Peshanse, the river of Navtagh, Eran-vej, the var made by Yima and Inner Kashmir.|
In the Mazdaen scripture's quote above, one can see that the 3 last lands mentioned are Kamraj (Eran-vej) or Outer Kashmir, Yamraj (the var made by Yima), and Inner Kashmir (Maraj.)
Above the Satyaloka is the region known as Vishnu-pada, in which the sacred river Ganges (that is, the heavenly river) took its rise.
- Yama's kingdom celebrated as a joyful place
|O Of the heavens, two belong to Savitr and one to Yama, this being the third and the highest.|
Yama's domain was no tyrannical kingdom. Yama earned the titles of 'Samavartin' and 'Dharmaraj' because he ruled justly, and protected the decent while prosecuting the evil.
Gautama said, 'O illustrious king, repairing even to that region of Yama where the righteous live in joy and the sinful in grief, I shall take from thee this my elephant!'
- Festivals of Mazdaens corresponding to those of Kashmiri Hindus
Just as Mazdaens celebrate Ahura Mazda (Varuṇa) and King Jamshed so too do Kashmiri Hindus. During the festivity of Tararatrih, on the 14th of the dark half of Magha, King Yama is worshiped. On Varuṇa Panchami, Varuṇa is worshiped. Varuṇa again is worshiped on the 5th day of the festivity of Yatrotsava, whereby Hindus are encouraged to visit his 'abodes' or temples.
- Yama's subjects faced harsh winter climate change, so he resettled many in Sapta Sindhava
|Atharva Veda & Rig Veda||Atharva Veda|
Yama still propitiated in Himalayas
Yama was a king in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, peoples of the Himalayas revere him outside of story-telling even today. In Tibetan cultures he is known and worshiped as Shinje Khorlochen. Any place that venerates Yama has been termed aa 'Yama-prastha-pura'.
Takth-i Sulaiman is Throne of Yama
Although many culturally important pre-Islamic temples and monuments have been converted to Islamic shrines, their legends remain of them.
The Takth-i Sulaiman means Throne of Solomon and the Islamic legend makes the monument in Kashmir, as well as other Takht-i Sulaimans as thrones that were sat upon by King Solomon as he was flying from Jerusalem through parts of the Middle East and India. Their alternative names tend to be Takht-i Jamshed (Throne of Jamshed.)
For the one in Baramulla, Kashmir there is a Shankaracharya Temple which is propitiated by the locals.
According to the most popular legend, the current Śankaracharya Hill Temple was built by Jaunaka, son of Asoka the Great. This is very likely true, at least that Jaunaka had renovated the temple because there's another legend connecting Asoka to Kashmir Shaivism. Asoka is stated to have gone to Kashmir and worshipped Lord Shiva at the famous temple of Harmuktaganga. Another states, that Kashmiri King Sandhiman coronated Ādi Śankara on Sarvajña Pītha on the famous hill. This is the reason why the hill is traditionally called as “Sandhiman Parvat”.
The hillock, according to the Tarikh-i-Hassan and Waquiai Kashmir of Mulla Ahmed was known originally as Anjana and later as Jeth Ludrak and the temple was built by King Sandhiman (Aryarja) of the Gonanda Dynasty of Kashmir (471-536 Laukek Era), corresponding to 2605- 2540 BCE. He gave the name Jeshteshwara to the temple and the hillock came to be known as Gopadari or Gopa Hill. One story states that the hill is called Gopadari after King Gopaditya of the 3rd century CE. According to Tarikh-i-Hassan, Ādi Śankara stayed at the complex. This could explain why the present temple is known as the Śankaracharya Hill Temple.
- History of ancient geography
- The spread of Hinduism in the Iranian Plateau
- Modern identification of Rig Vedic rivers
- Ravana's Lanka is in Kashmir
- Hanuman's Kishkindha is in Kashmir
- Zarathustra was born in Kashmir
- Olmo Lungring is in Karakoram
- Kingdoms of Asura Dominance
- Rgveda 1.164.15; 2.39.2
- Rgveda 1.164.46
- Vivasvān means the Sun.
- Rgveda 9.113.8
- Ṛgveda 10.16.9
- Ṛgveda 10.165.4
- Rgveda 10.14.1
- Mahābhārata, Vanaparva 297
- Mahābhārata, Ādiparva 108.16
- Vanaparva 313
- She was also called Saranyu.
- P. 620 History Of Ancient India (portraits Of A Nation), 1/e By Kapur, Kamlesh
- Katha Upanishad 1.2.6; P. 2 Reflections: April May June 2016 edited by Sasvati Nome
- P. 212 Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 39 By American Oriental Society
- Ṛgveda 1.35.6
- P. 65 Ātman: A Reconstruction of the Solar Cosmology of the Indo-Europeans By Alexander Jacob
- M. Monier Monier–Williams, "Śrīnagar", in: The Great Sanskrit–English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1899
- P. 432 The valley of Kashmir: the making and unmaking of a composite culture? By Aparna Rao
- P. 92 The Hindu Temple, Volume 1 By Stella Kramrisch, Raymond Burnier
- It means the son of Yama.
- Brahmānanda Purana 22.2-6
- P. 291 Kamandalu: The Seven Sacred Rivers of Hinduism By Shrikala Warrier
- It means Yama's rule.
- Northern Kashmir is known as 'Kamraj', and the southern portion is 'Maraj'.; P. 456 Kalinda
- P. 306 Medieval Kashmir By Jogesh Chandra Dutt
- P. 13 The Mahābhārata: Volume 3, Volume 3 By Bibek Debroy
- P. 261 Cultural History from the Vāyu Purāna By Devendrakumar Rajaram Patil
- P. 314 Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People By Mohini Qasba Raina
- P. 318 Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People By Mohini Qasba Raina
- P. 320 Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People By Mohini Qasba Raina
- Atharvaveda XVIII.1.49
- Ṛgveda x.14.1
- Atharvaveda XVIII.4.7
- Ṛgveda satan himah: 1, 64, 14
- Ṛgveda satam himah: 5, 54, 15
- Ṛgveda 1 6, 10, 7
- P. 332 The Clear Mirror: A Traditional Account of Tibet's Golden Age By Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen
- Tarikh-i-Hassan P. 394-496, Vol.II
- Tarikh-i-Hassan P. 80-82, Vol.I
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore