The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Efficacy of Yamadvitiya (The 2nd day of Karttika) which is chapter 11 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the eleventh chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 11 - The Efficacy of Yamadvitīyā (The 2nd day of Kārttika)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. O Lord, I wish to ask you humbly about that Vrata[1] whereby man does not meet with death.

Brahmā said:

2. If, O great Brāhmaṇa, you ask me about the most excellent Vrata, listen to the Vrata named Yama-dvitīyā. It is destructive of Mṛtyu (Death).

3. O great sage, it is to be performed on the second day in the bright half of the month of Kārttika in accordance with the injunctions. It prevents the death of all.

4. After getting up in the Brāhma Muhūrta (i.e. an hour before the dawn) on the Dvitīyā day the devotee should think about what is conducive to his welfare. He should not think of anything harmful to himself.

5-10. After cleansing the teeth he should take his early morning bath. Then he should wear white cloth and white garlands. He should smear himself with unguents. He should finish his daily routine of duties. With great delight he should adorn himself with ear-rings and armlets. He should go near an Auduṃbara (wild fig) tree and there draw the excellent mystic diagram with eight-petalled lotus. There, with calm mind, he should with sandal, agallochum, musk and saffron, with flowers, incense and with Naivedya of coconut fruits etc. worship Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Rudra and Sarasvatī the bestower of boons having the lute and the book (in her hands).

Thereafter, for the purpose of preventing death, he should give a milch cow along with her calf, to a Brāhmaṇa learned in the Vedas. The cow should be richly adorned and gifted away for the prevention of premature death as well as for being taken across the ocean of worldly existence.

11. He should give the cow to the Brāhmaṇa exponent of the Vedas, repeating this Mantra: “O Brāhmaṇa, I am giving this gentle-natured cow to you.”

12-14. If a cow is not available, he should devoutly give a pair of shoes to the Brāhmaṇa. Then he should conclude the worship with great devotion to Puruṣottama. He should make obeisance to the elderly members of the family and excellent kinsmen with great devotion. He should propitiate his own relatives with different kinds of beautiful coconut fruits. Then, O sage, he should go to the house of his own uterine sister and salute her with great devotion.

15. “O gentle lady, O my sister of good fortune, I have come to your abode in order to make obeisance to your lotus-like feet.”

16-18. After saying this to his sister, he should salute her, thinking her to be Viṣṇu.

Then, on hearing the excellent words of her brother, O Nārada, the following words should be addressed by the sister to the brother:

“O my brother, today I have become blessed and auspicious, thanks to you. O lamp of the family, today you should take your food in my house for my longevity, O brother, on the second day in the bright half of the month of Kārttika.

19. On this day formerly Yama was fed by Yamunā in her house and was duly honoured by her. Hell-dwellers were set free on this day by Yama. Those who are fettered with the cords of Karma too, are roaming about as they please.

20-22. The sins beginning with that of the slaughter of a Brāhmaṇa shout thus: ‘We are very glad on receiving that sinful man who does not take his food in the house of his sister, even on Yamadvitīyā day. We have been without food (for a long time). We shall devour him today.’

Hence, O my brother, take food in my house today, the second day in the bright half of Kārttika well-known in all the three worlds. O brother, learned men do not take food in their own house on this day.”

23. On being told thus, the devotee should worship his sister with garments, ornaments and embellishments with great delight, O highly fortunate one.

24. If the sister is elder to him, he should make obeisance to her and get blessings from her. All the sisters should be satisfied by gifts of garments and ornaments.

25. In the absence of one’s own sister, one should go to the house of the sister of one’s father with respect and take food there.

26-27. O son, he who observes this rite of the Dvitīyā named after Yama, shall be liberated from premature death surrounded by sons, grandsons etc. He will enjoy abundant pleasures as he pleases and in the end attain salvation. My words shall not be otherwise.

28-29. These Vratas and all rites of charitable gifts of various kinds are proper only for a householder. Hence one should take up the householder’s life. One who adheres to the Vrata of Yamadvitīyā should listen to the story thereof. Mādhava says that all his sins will perish.

Sūta said:

30. On the second day of Kārttika one should worship Yama in the forenoon. By taking his holy bath in Yamunā, one does not see the world of Yama.

31 -32. O Śaunaka, on the second day in the bright half of Kārttika, formerly Yama was fed and honoured by Yamunā in her own house. The conclusion of the festival too is on the Dvitīyā day. Hell-dwellers too were satisfied. They were rid of their sins and all of them were set free from bondage.

33. Here they were all fed. They became delighted. They all stayed there as they pleased. They celebrated a great festival causing great happiness to the kingdom of Yama.

34-36. Hence this Yamadvitīyā is well-known in the three worlds. So no wise man should take his food in his own house, O Brāhmaṇa. He must take food from the loving hands of his sister. It is conducive to the increase of his strength.

On the second day in the bright half of Kārttika Yama was honoured and propitiated. Yama is seated on his vehicle, the buffalo. The Lord holds his staff and the mallet. He is surrounded by his delighted servants. Obeisance to the Ātman pertaining to Yama.

37. Sisters of good residential facilities should be propitiated by gifts of garments. If this is done, they need not be afraid of their enemies. They will never be involved in any quarrel till the end of the year.

38-40. O sinless son, everything has been expounded by me, along with its esoteric secret. It is conducive to wealth, fame and longevity. It is a means of achieving virtue, wealth and love.

It was on this day that Lord Yama was fed by Yamunā with all the love of a sister. On that day, if a person takes food from the hands of a sister, he attains excellent wealth and splendid prosperity.

Sūta said:

Some more special details were mentioned by Vālakhilya sages which I shall recount. Listen to them, O excellent sages.

Vālakhilyas said:

41. The second day in the bright half of Kārttika is named after Yama. Then in the afternoon the worship of Yama should by all means be performed.

42-43. Formerly Yamunā used to come to Yama everyday with the request, “O brother, come to my house for food in the company of your attendants.” Everyday Yama used to reply that he would go “today or tomorrow or the day after.” There is no leisure to persons with minds engrossed in their duties.

44-46. Then once, he was invited with persistent solicitation, O great sages, on the Dvitīyā day in the month of Kārttika. He went there after setting free all the residents of hells. Accompanied by his attendants, the son of Sun was received with great hospitality by Yamunā. O bird, different kinds of dishes were prepared. He was anointed with oil by Yamunā and sweet-smelling, fascinating unguents were smeared upon his body. The son of Sun was bathed duly.

47-49. Then ornaments were presented to him along with different kinds of clothes, sandal paste, garlands etc. He was made to sit on a cot.

The gentle lady Yamunā cooked in gold vessels sweet rice dishes of various kinds with delighted mind and fed Yama.

After taking food, Yama honoured his sister with ornaments and different kinds of clothes. Then he said, “Q beautiful lady, choose your boon.” On hearing his words Yamunā spoke these words:

Yamunā said:

50-51. Come to my house for food every year. O Yama, all sinners are to be set free from hell today. Those who take food today from the hands of their sisters, should be happy. Grant them happiness. I choose only this.

Yama said:

52-53. O Yamunā, he who takes his bath in Yamunā and offers libations to Pitṛs and Devas, he who takes food in the house of his sister and worships her, shall never see the entrance to my abode.

54-56. Yamatīrtha on the north-east of Vīreśa (a deity at Kāśī) is glorified. There the excellent man should take his holy bath and duly offer libations to the Pitṛs and Devas. Then till midday he should repeat these (following) names, facing the Sun with controlled mind. He should have steady posture and remain silent. The devotees repeat these names of Yama: “Yama, Nihantā (Annihilator), Pitṛdharmarāja, Vaivasvata (son of Sun), Daṇḍadhara (Holder of rod of punishment), Kāla, Bhūtādhipa (overlord of all beings), Dattānusārī (one who follows what is given), Kṛtānusārī (one who follows what is done) and Kṛtānta.”

57-59. After worshipping Yameśvara he should go to the house of his sister. With the following Mantra he should be respectfully fed at the outset by her:

“O brother, I am your younger sister. Eat this splendid food for the delight of Yamarāja and Yamunā in particular.”

He should then propitiate his sister with garments, ornaments etc. Thereby, he will not see the world of Yama even in dreams.

60-65. Those who are detained as prisoners by kings should necessarily be sent to their sister’s abodes on my day for taking their food.

The sinners should be released by me from Narakas (hells) on this day. Those who keep persons imprisoned today, should be beaten by me by all means.

If one has no younger sister,[2] one shall go to the elder sister’s house. If she too does not exist, he should go to the abode of the married daughter of his paternal uncle.

In her absence, to the house of mother’s sister or to that of the maternal uncle’s daughter. The order of precedence shall be fixed on the basis of the relationships as the children of co-wives or of the same Gotra.

In the absence of all these, some lady should be considered as a sister. If she too is not available, one should make a cow or a river as his sister, in the absence thereof, the devotee should make a forest his sister’s house. O gentle lady, one must not take one’s food in one’s own house on this day.

66. Those men of evil deeds who take food (in their own house), fall into hell.

After saying this Dharmarāja went to his capital Saṃyaminī.

67. Hence, O excellent sages, all those who perform the Kārttika Vrata should eat from the hands of their sisters. It is true. It is true. There is no doubt (about it).

68. If a person does not take food in the house of his sister on the Yarnadvitīyā day, the merit accrued to him during the year perishes. This is the statement heard from Sun-god.

69. The woman who feeds her brother on the Tithi pertaining to brother and adores him with betel-leaves will never have widowhood.

70. The span of life of the brother too shall not decrease at all. In regard to the feeding of the brother, the Dvitīyā should extend to the afternoon.

71-73. If out of ignorance or out of delusion, food is not taken in the sister’s house because the brother happened to be touring abroad, or sick or had been imprisoned, or if there is no sister, one shall get the benefit of taking food there by listening to this story.

In the month of Kārttika particularly, if one resorts to the shade of Emblica officinalis and takes food, one shall attain Vaikuṇṭha.

Footnotes and references:


This is a touchingly affectionate occasion of meeting of brothers and sisters once a year on, the 2nd day of Kārttika. ‘Vrata’ is a dry Purāṇic term for this family meeting. The Vrata is described in vv 2-40 with all the formalities of an orthodox religious observance.


VV 62-65: The substitutes for a sister in the case of a sisterless person. A person should accept food in the house of sisters as per priority given here buī should not eat in his own house on this day (Yama Dvitīyā day).

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