Yama Gita

All of us have surely heard of Bhagavadgita. But Yama and Gita? No chance. At least I never heard about it untill I read Vishnupurana. Not that I did not know of Yama’s scholarship especially after listening to a discourse on Kathopanishad, wherein, he unravels the secret knowledge of Vedanta to Nachiketa, an inquisitive kid.

Recently, I happened to read a few parts of Vishnupurana written in Telugu and this particular chapter attracted my attention. Our puranas narrate stories in a peculiar way. A disciple would ask a query and the Guru would answer quoting an incident from another Purana or story, which in turn will invariably have  one more built-in story. If one is not attentive, one can easily lose track of who was narrating to whom in the first place. In the text that I read the student Maitreyi wishes to understand from the Guru Parasara Maharshi as to what is the antidote to the endless cycle of birth and death. The Guru answers quoting Bhishma who narrates a story to Nakula in answer to a similar question. Here is the simple story:

We all know Yama is the God of  Death and is all-powerful. But then he was also aware where his powers came from as well as his limitations.  On one occasion before dispatching his assistant to earth to do his job, Yama gives him a briefing. He tells him he should steer clear of people who are devotees of Vishnu(otherwise known as ‘Vishnu bhaktas’) because all his powers would come to naught when he encounters Vishnu bhaktas. He further clarifies that his jurisdiction is limited to people who are not Vishnu bhaktas. Yama’s assistant listened attentively and said: “Oh, Lord, I will faithfully follow your instruction and keep away from Vishnu bhaktas. But pray tell how the hell do I make out whether someone is a Vishnu bhakta or not”.

One would have expected, as I did, that Yama would give identification marks and holy symbols such as “NAAMAA” etc or perhaps talk about worshipping the Lord Vishnu as another indicator of a devotee. However, Yama sprang a surprise on me with an entirely different discourse listing out criteria to qualify as a Vishnu bhakta. The text refers to Yama’s discourse as Yama Gita. Let us see the criteria:

– One who carries out his duties as per his professional demands

– One who is dispassionate in his outlook with respect to friends and foes

– One who is free from greed and doesn’t desire other’s wealth

– One who doesn’t think of harming anyone even in his dreams

– One who is pure hearted ( Antakkarana Shudhi)

– Peaceful & peace-loving, well-behaved

– One whose speech is endearing and well-intentioned etc

The list goes on to more than one page. As if to re-emphasize these criteria, Yama gives another set of negative qualities which a Vishnu bhakta is not expected to possess. Of course, towards the end, he does mention about worshipping the Lord Vishnu as another qualification.

It’s interesting to note that our Puranas lay emphasis on character building as the fundamental prerequisite for a spiritual seeker. Character building takes precedence over rituals.

Published in: on June 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The story and the advice of Yama to his subordinates are elaborately covered in Thirumalai,paasuram12,40,41,43.(thondaradipodi Alwar) Nice! Athimber

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Today I have quoted a wrong pasuram, that The Lord Yama, tells his subordinates not to bother the bakthas of Lord Narayanan. It is in the first thiruvanthathi,pasuram55 the Poigaialwar confirms that the devotees of The Lord Narayana is never subjected to any scrutiny by Yama or his men. Athimber Sent from my iPad


    • thanks

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