Campaign of the Month: February 2017
The Deva god of the underworld
Yama achieved his status as the god of Naraka, the underworld, because he was the first man to die, but his great dedication and meticulous organization make him well-suited to the job. Yama runs Naraka strictly by the book, deciding whether the deceased are to be reincarnated into greater or humbler forms, and using the terrible torments of Naraka to scourge the dead of their shortcomings between lives. Yama is stern and cold, but not cruel; he is merciless not because he enjoys others’ suffering, but because the unpleasantness of the Deva’ Underworld is necessary medicine, required to cure those souls of the imperfections that keep them trapped in the cycle of samsara. He is the youngest son of Surya, and, along with his sister, the only one actually borne by Surya’s wife Saranyu; his hideous, ogre-like appearance only serves to cause humanity to fear him more, but he continues in his duties unshaken despite their lack of understanding.
Yama and Shiva
There was once a great sage who was a devout worshiper of Shiva, and his praises so pleased the god that he offered him a choice of boons; he would give him either a son who was incredibly brilliant and gifted but who would not live long, or a son who would be dull-witted but who would have a long life. The sage chose for his son to be brilliant, and soon he welcomed a son named Markandeya. Markandeya, though destined to die on his sixteenth birthday, still praised Shiva constantly throughout his entire life, and was praying to the god on the very day of his death; Yama’s servants were afraid to disturb him while he prayed to the god of destruction, and so they returned to their master and explained that they could not kill him. Yama rose up to the world himself to collect the boy’s soul, but as he reached to throw his noose around Markandeya’s neck, he stumbled and accidentally threw it about the neck of the statue of Shiva the boy was praying to instead. Incensed by what he perceived as an attack against him, Shiva erupted out of the statue and battled Yama until he slew him. Seeing this, the other gods were distraught, for no more men or beasts on the earth could die and soon chaos reigned. They begged Shiva to forget his rage and bring Yama back to life, which he eventually agreed to; his anger appeased, he resurrected the death god but made him promise not to take the devout boy to the realm of the dead, granting Markandeya eternal life for his devoted service.
Yama and Vishnu
There lived an evil man named Ajamila, who had committed many sins and cruelties throughout his lifetime; as he was lying on his deathbed and Yama was coming to claim him, he cried out the name of his youngest son, Narayana, in fear. Narayana was also another name for Vishnu, however, and the god came to his side, believing that the man had repented and asked for his blessing, which he gave. Yama protested the mistake, but to no avail; Vishnu decreed that Ajamila be released, and Yama was forced to return to Naraka without being able to punish his soul for the wrongs it had done.
Yama and Yami
Yami, Yama’s twin sister, aided him night and day in his duties, and one day she saw how hard-working and righteous he was and fell in love with him. She begged him to marry her over and over, claiming that they had been placed in the womb together because they were destined for one another, but he refused, reminding her that incest was a sin and that she must find a husband other than himself. She continued to try to seduce him mercilessly until, afraid he would give in to her demands, he finally called upon the fire god Agni and offered her to him as a bride; frightened by Agni’s ever-burning fire, Yami begged her brother not to give her away and henceforth ceased to ask for his love.