16 Facts About Yama


In Hinduism, Yama is the son of sun-god Surya and Sanjana, the daughter of Vishvakarma.

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Yama is the brother of Sraddhadeva Manu and of his older sister Yami, which Horace Hayman Wilson indicates to mean the Yamuna.

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Yama is one of the oldest deities in the pantheon and some of his earliest appearances are found in the Rigveda.

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Yama is one of the Lokapalas, appointed as the protector of the southern direction.

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Yama is described as having four arms, protruding fangs, and complexion of storm clouds with a wrathful expression; surrounded by a garland of flames; dressed in red, yellow, or blue garments; riding a water-buffalo and holding a sword, noose and a mace to capture the souls of those who have sinned.

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In Buddhism, Yama is a dharmapala, a wrathful god or the Enlightened Protector of Buddhism that is considered worldly, said to judge the dead and preside over the Narakas and the cycle of rebirth.

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Buddhist Yama has developed different myths and different functions from the Hindu deity.

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In Pali Canon Buddhist myths, Yama takes those who have mistreated elders, holy spirits, or their parents when they die.

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Contrary though, in the Majjhima Nikaya commentary by Buddhagosa, Yama is a vimanapeta – a preta with occasional suffering.

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In Chinese texts, Yama only holds transitional places in Hell where he oversaw the deceased before he, and the Generals of Five Paths, were assigned a course of rebirth.

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Yama was later placed as a King in the Fifth Court when texts led to the fruition of the underworld that marked the beginnings of systemizations.

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Yama can be found in one of the oldest Japanese religious works called Nipponkoku Genpo Zenaku Ryoiki, a literary work compiled by the Monk Keikai in 822.

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Yama was introduced to Japan through Buddhism, where he was featured as a Buddhist divinity.

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The imagery of Yama would have been used in order to explain such a concept to followers of the Sikh Gurus who came from Hindu backgrounds: there is imagery of the Islamic angel of death that was used to help followers from Islamic backgrounds.

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Later, as Islam replaced Hinduism as the majority religion of Java, Yama was demystified by Walisanga, who ruled at that time.

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Yama'sstatue is usually enshrined in the Mahavira halls of Chinese Buddhist temples along with the statues of the other devas.

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