The Narada Purana (abridged)

2010 | 18,115 words

The Narada Purana (Nārada Purāṇa) is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It deals with the places of pilgrimages and features a dialogue between the sage Narada, and Sanatkumara. During the course of the dialogue between the two, Narada explains to Sanatkumara the major places of piligrimages, their location, ...

Yama’s Abode

Yama’s abode is very far away. Those who have accumulated punya have nothing to fear there. But the sinners have every reason to be scared. The righteous enjoy the trip to Yama’s abode, but the sinners suffer a lot. The sinners suffer from hunger and thrist and weep throughout the journey. Yama’s servants continually beat them with whips and weapons. The road is lined with mud, fire and hot sands. Hail, burning ? , stones and weapons shower down. In some places there are blistering winds. Parts of the road are dark and bristle with sharp thorns.

One has to climb mountains and creep through caves. The sinners accordingly suffer throughout the journey. Yama’s servants goad and prod them along, pulling them with nooses tied around their necks. Weights are attached to the bodies of the sinners so a sto make the journey even more difficult. Blinders are sometimes put on the eyes so that the sinners can’t see. They fall into pits and holes. It is during this journey that sinners become penitent for their past misdeeds. But by then it is too late.

The righteous have no cause to fear the journey. They travel in great comfort. Those who have donated food get delicious meals along the way. Those who have donated water slake their thirst with condensed milk. Thse who have donated clothes get wonderful clothes to wear. Those who have donated land or houses do not have to walk at all. They travel in vimanas (space vehicles) and are served by apsaras (dancers of heaven). This is also true of those who have donated horses, chariots or foodgrains.

Upon reaching Yama’s abode, people are taken before Yama. Yama has four hands and in three of these hands he holds a shankha (conch shell), a chakra (bladed discus) and a gada (mace). The righteous are welcomed by Yama and sent off to enjoy the fruits of their punya.

But the sinners tremble before yama’s stern visage. He treatens them with his sceptre (kaladanda). His voice thunders. The righteous get to see Yama’s pleasant appearance, while his terrible appearance is reserved for the sinners. This terrible manifestation has twenty-two arms, bloodshot eyes and fearsome teeth.

Chitragupta is Yama’s companion and keeps account of all good deeds and sins. He tells the sinners, “You are evil, you have many sins to your credit. Suffer in hell, repentance now will serve no purpose.”

The sinners are then taken to hell (naraka). After they have served their sentences in hell, they are born again.

They are first born as trees, herbs, grass and creepers. They are thereafter born as worms. When these lives are over, they are born as animals. It is only after several lives that they get to be born as humans again. But ther are different gradations in the human lives as well. The sinners progressively graduate from being born as tanners to being born as outcasts, hunters, washermen, potters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, weavers and traders. Some are born rich, others are born poor. Some are born hale, others are born diseased and malformed. Each birth is determined by the actions of one’s earlier lives.

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