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Yamapuri or Yamaloka - Story of Nachiketa, who goes to Yamapuri in his mortal body

Yamapuri or Yamaloka - Story of Nachiketa, who goes to Yamapuri in his mortal body


Nachiketa with YamaDeva

Once, Janamejaya asked Sage Vaishampayana about Yamarajpuri and it's location. He also wanted to know as to what should a man do so that he does not have to go there.

Sage Vaishampayana narrated the tale of Nachiketa, one of the few blessed persons to have visited yamarajapuri with his mortal body--"Long Long ago, there lived a Sage named Uddyalaka. He had a son named Nachiketa. One day, while Uddyalaka was performing a 'Yagya', Nachiketa arrived there and disturbed him by repeatedly asking - 'To whom will you give me?' Sage Uddyalaka, in a fit of rage cursed Nachiketa to go to hell. But after he cooled down, he regretted for having cursed his dear son. Nachiketa being an obedient son was ready to go to hell. His father tried his best to convince him against doing this but to no avail. Nachiketa assured his father that he would return safely after visiting Yamapuri."

"Thus, Nachiketa went to Yamapuri and met Yamaraja---the Lord of death. He stayed there for some days and witnessed all the events taking place over there. Ultimately he sought yamaraja's permission to return. When he returned home, his father was extremely delighted to find his son alive. Very soon, the place was thronged by many people and everybody was curious to know about his experiences during his stay in the hell. Nachiketa replied--Sinners like liars, greedy people, jealous people, caluminators, treacherers etc, go to hell. Similarly, one who kills a child or a woman, or kills a brahmin, or one who criticizes the Vedas, or lends money on interest, or one who abandons his parents or faithful wife, or one who critisizes his Guru, or one who sells liquor, or a brahmin who sells Vedas, goes to hell and tastes the fruits of his sinful actions."

"Yamapuri is made of gold and spread in the area of one thousand yojanas. It is well fortified and it is impossible for anybody to tresspass its territory. I saw sinners experiencing unbearable torture over there. I also saw couple of rivers flowing there--Pushpodaka, at the bank of which there are trees in abundance and Vaivaswati, which flows through the central part of Yamapuri. Vaivaswati contains divine water which never dries up. Yamapuri has two entrances---one through which only virtuous souls like sages and hermits are allowed to enter and the second through which sinners enter Yamapuri. The former entrance is such that even heat loses its quality in its vicinity. The latter entrance is situated in the south and has a large iron gate. I also saw three large ditches called 'Audoombara', 'Avirchimana' and 'Uchchavacha' which are meant for the sinners. Sinners are also forced to pass through the flames that continuously keep on errupting to the west of Yamapuri.

"I saw a grand assembly hall where truthful and virtuous people live. It is graced by the presence of sages like Manu, Vyas, Atri, Gautam, Angira, Bhrigu and others. There, I saw a goddess who is worshipped by Yamaraja. The goddess controls all the functions of the world. I also saw the ferocious Kala. He possesses extreme anger and is very powerful. Time does not have any influence on him as the result of which he enjoys eternal youth. I also saw various types of demons and giants in the hell."

I saw many messengers of Yamaraja punishing the sinners. Some were beating the sinners with sticks in their hands while some sinners were being forced to enter fire. I saw all the sinner wailing and repenting for their sinful deeds. Many sinners were kept at a very dark place where there was no light. Those who had committed graver sins were put in boiling oil. I saw many sinners being given all sorts of severe punishment. I saw a place where iron nails were spread all around. This was the place where people who breached the modesty of women were given punishment."

"I saw ten different hells--Tapta, Mahatapta, Raurava, etc; Each of the latter is more ferocious than the former. The sinners are sent to all these hells on the basis of the gravity of their sins. Yamaraj himself instructs chitragupta on the punishment to be given to these sinners."

Karma Vipaka means the fruits one reaps according to his or her Karma. While continuing with the description of various aspects of hell, Nachiketa told the assembled sages--At yamapuri, Chitragupta goes through the record of all the deeds, committed by a man when he was alive and brings into the notice of Yamaraja.

Yamaraja then decides upon the punishment to be given to the concerned soul. The punishment can be varied like if the soul was virtuous then it would be sent to heaven, or the soul may even be made to take birth as a tree, or an animal or any other creature. Sinners like those who had remained disinclined towards any kind of virtuous deed, or those who had abandoned there faithful wives, were sent to the hell named Raurava. The souls of virtuous people were sent to the heaven. Those who had extreme attachment to women took rebirth as human beings. People who had attained martyrdom while fighting a battle were sent to Indrapuri. Those who had engaged themselves in virtuous deeds throughout their lives were rewarded for their good deeds."

First of all,the area is purified by coating it with cow-dung after which a black deer-skin is spread on it alongwith 'kusha grass'. Two pots-one large and the other a small one are placed side by side. These pots are filled with sugarcane juice and symbolize 'Rasa-Dhenu' and the calf. Four sugarcanes symbolizing the four legs of 'Rasa-Dhenu' are fixed at four corners. After that, one small silver piece is placed at the base of each of the sugarcanes symbolizing hoofs. Rasa-Dhenu is then adorned with colourful cloths and flowers. Again, four small pots filled with sesame seeds are kept at the four corners near Rasa-Dhenu. After the worship is accomplished, Rasa-Dhenu is donated to a brahmin. A person who donates Rasa-Dhenu is liberated from all his sins and all his ancestors as well as the generations to come attain to the Heaven.

Narada asked Yamaraja about the reason why joy was so elusive to human beings. He also wanted to know about the reasons for man's sorrows.

Yamaraja replied---Man's destiny is defined by his own actions. He has to taste the fruits of his actions. He has to taste the fruits of his each and every actions. So when a man finds himself amidst sorrows he must realize that he is reaping the fruits of his past actions. If a man commits virtuous deeds then joy is experienced but sinful deeds invite sorrows and miseries. Desires force a man to take countless birth. A man takes birth on the basis of his past Karmas. God does not interfere in this matter. So, only foolish people curse God for their miseries. They forget that their sorrows are of their own making. A man can liberate himself from sins by engaging in virtuous deeds and abstaining from sinful deeds. A man should perform his duties with a sense of detachment, because attachment results into the transmigration of the soul.

Lord Brahma has declared that 'Shishumara chakra' is the symbolic expression of his own self. Anybody desirous of getting liberated from his sins must make an image of this chakra and worship it. One who visualises this chakra within his body, too, becomes liberated from his sins. Mental worship of various planets (Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars etc) Visualized at the various points of this chakra helps a man to become liberated from all the sins. Similarly, practising Pranayama for hundred times helps a man to become liberated from all the sins. The most easiest way to become liberated from sins is by engaging oneself in the servitude of a cow. This deed is as virtuous as making pilgrimages to all the sacred places together. Observing fast on Ekadashi also helps a man to become liberated from his sins." Having finished his narrations, Nachiketa, looked at the sages, who were listening with rapt attention. The sages thanked Nachiketa for enlightening them on the sacred place called Yamapuri. 



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