This is a chapter which gives a graphic description of the way to the world of Yama an extension of the previous chapters. Garuda, full of devotion, with a desire to know, asked his Lord Sri Hari to further describe Yama’s way. In this chapter there are long and detailed descriptions of Yama Sabha, the Death deity’s court.
“What is the extent of Yama’s world? What does it look like? Who made that? How does the assembly or the Court of Yama look?” Asks Garuda avidly. He wanted to know the ways of the Lord of Justice, his mansion and the manner of the behaviour of the virtuous and the righteous. The compassionate Sri Hari undertakes to fulfill his mount’s desire and tells him that the city of Justice can be reached by the virtuous, judicious and devout, and by sages and seers like Narada Maharshi. The city of the son of Vaivaswata is amidst the south and southwest. It is all diamond-studded, effulgent and very strong. It has four angles and four gate ways. It has high ramparts. It measures a thousand yojanas. Chitragupta’s palace is situated there and its extent is twenty-five yojanas. His palace is surrounded by ramparts of iron ten-yojanas high. The shining city has hundreds of streets all fabulously decorated with banners. The city was built by divine designers and architects. The city has gardens and parks, wonderful nesting places for a variety of fauna. Heavenly damsels and singers live there. The powerful and trusted assistant of Yama has a fabulous throne for him in Yama’s court. He has wonderful competence and abilities of distinguishing between the sinners and the meritorious. He knows and keeps a record of all the deeds of all men, both good and evil. To the various sides of Chitragupta’s residence are the houses of various ailments and diseases. To the east there is the house of fever; to the south are the houses of Rheumatism and skin Diseases. To the west there are the snares of Death, Indigestion and Biliousness the Houses of consumption and Jaundice are to the west. To the north-west is the house of Headache and of syncope to the South-east. House of dysentery is to the south-west; to the north-west house of cold and heat. Chitragupta is assigned the onerous responsibility of keeping a record of the various deeds of people on the earth. About twentyyojanas form this officer’s residence lies the wonderful mansion of the Lord of Dharma, Yamadharmaraja. Its extent is two hundred yojanas and the whole place is richly decorated with diamonds and gems of the rarest brilliance. The fabulous mansion has windows decorated and draped in magnificence. The whole palace is fabulous with doors, and around that are the most pleasant trees, plants and vegetation. It is the creation of the Deity’s own Yogic powers. In the middle of the building complex is the court raja sabha, where the Lord holds court in splendour. This world has a temperate and pleasant climate all along the entire year. All inhabitants there are ever happy and healthy. They have plenty to eat and drink. The water is pleasantly cold or warm always sweet and satisfying. Here is a place where desires are fulfilled right away. Only the very meritorious live in this delectable world by virtue of their tapas or the performance god-loving deeds. These fulfilled beings are always clothed in radiance. They have ornaments all over their persons which signify their own deeds which won great merit.
Yamadharmaraja, the Emperor of Justice, sits here on his resplendent throne which has an extent of ten yojanas. He is bedecked head to foot with jewels, diamonds and gems of the rarest radiance and splendour. Over the Emperor’s throne is an umbrella, a sign of royalty. He wears a crown scarecly equalled by any in his world. Celestial damsels wave fans adding grace and further dignity to the position the Emperor of Justice holds. There are numerous damsels, heavenly choristers, singers and attendents to perform, sing and dance ceremonially. Besides these, there are sturdy armed servants to follow their master’s commands with a mere movement of his eye.
The court is filled with pious, virtuous and noble people besides sages and seers of the order of Atri, Vashishtha, Pulaha, Daksha, Jamadagni, to name only a few. It is really impossible to list the names of all such noble, enlightened, blessed ones. Ordered by the Supreme Being many extraordinarily briliant personalities, like those who have written extensive commentaries on shastras and dharma are there, Monarchs of Chandra Vamsha and Surya Vamsha are there too in great numbers. It is a grand assembly of the wisest. The court is adorned with personages of law-givers like Manu, Dilipa, Mandhata, highly revered sages like Yayati, and Puru, emperors like Nala, Bharata, Shantanu and many others.
The assembly is a dazzling spectacle: both for its appearance and for its assemblage. The sinners who go to Yama loka, however, never have even a glimpse of it, for they are led in through the Southern gate. The three other gates lead to the assembly and only the meritorious and righteous see it. The eastern way abounds in all joys and pleasures. There is a pleasant fragrance of parijata flowers which the wayfarers enjoy there. There are paths on which brilliant chariots pass; ponds where swans offer a feast to the eye and many other fascinating things. The way is used by glorious sages, seers and breath¬takingly beautiful damsels and such others. The meritorious who have done good deeds like giving water to the thirsty in the severely hot summers or providing shelter to helpless people in times of slashing rains use the path ways. The virtuous and the meritorious who keep to the path of righteousness, whatever their state or condition, become honoured guests using this way. People who make gifts and perform charity of various things while alive, sons who revere their parents and forefathers, all are the fortunate ones who tread this path. Owing to the merit they earned by performing good deeds on the earth, these people join the sabha of the Deity of Death. This is verily the assemblage of the righteous.
The second way is the northern way. Paved with yellow and sandal-wood, this way is used by charioteers and palanquin-bearers. The lakes by its side are full of rare swans, foul, and Brahmany ducks. The lake-water tastes sweet like nectar. Vedic scholars also use this way. Devotees of Durga and the Sun have a liking for this path. Certain righteous people like those who die in pursuit of the right path, those who treat guests with reverence and those die by prayopavesh, fast-unto-death take this road. Those who die for Brahmins, in the service of their masters near a sacred water body or holy ground would prefer this way. Those who die practising Yoga or by the will of deities and those who revere the deserving and those who give away manificently take to this way to enter the Assemblage of the Righteous in Yamadharmaraja’s resplendent Court.
The Western way is the third way to Yama’s Court. It is lined with jewelled palaces and has on its both sides ponds. Elephants from the lineage of Indra’s mount Airavata and horses of the lineage of Uchchaishrava, the divine horse pass on that road. This way is used by highly devout worshippers of Vishnu and Gayatri. Very righteous people, celibates, people with total vairagya-non-attachment and such pure minds pass on this splendid path. People who have redeemed their rinas, indebtedness to the rishi, God and parents, find this route most suitable for their use. Great devotees of Shiva and Vishnu who are dispassionate and who take great pleasure and draw satisfication by performing the pancha yajnas take this path. These five have the sanction of Shruti, Smruti and Sampradaya. Smriti has five : Deva, Pitree, Brahma, Bhoota and Manushya Yajnas. The route is supposed to be specially preferred by those who shun the company of the evil-minded, and those who dedicate themselves to doing good to everyone around. This way they daily reach the assemblage of the righteous in Yamadharmaraja’s resplendent court.
The devotion and righteousness of these people who approach from the three ways cited above please the presiding King Yamadharmaraja so much that He comes down His throne and walks forward with a gesture of welcome to all of them. Yamadharmaraja has a splendid appearance. He has four arms each holding a discus, a mace, conch and sword. Pleased with his assemblage, he speaks sweetly and delightfully. He makes gestures of salutation to all in the court and honours them.
He addresses the assemblage and asks them to pay obeisance to the Lord of Creation, Brahma. Such of those who do this would reach Brahma Loka, the world of the creator. He compliments all those who could make it to his loka. Those who attaining the state of being born as a human being should not let go of the opportunity to rise higher. Those who a foolishly let the rare opportunity go must end up in the horrid hell. The body is transient and fleeting and all comforts and enjoyments relating to sense-gratification are deceptive and short-lived. The wise one is he who realizes this and acts with righteousness. Merit needs to be earned and accumulated with intense effort. One should endeavour to reach a higher state of being and attain the upper world.
The inhabitants in Yama’s domain hear the Lord with reverence and deep concentration and when the address comes to a close salute him. The members of the assemblage slowly rise to their feet and wait till the great ones leave in their chariots and other means of conveyance. After spending their allotted time in that domain, by virtue of their righteousness they take birth on the earth again. They would take human birth and by virtue of their good conduct would spend a life in comfort, peace and joy. So saying Sri Hari concludes his narration to Garuda.