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In many movies, there is a scene about Yama-Loka where Chitragupta records good and bad deeds of people who arrive there after death.

My questions:

  1. Is there a scripture that describes this part after death in detail?
  2. Is there a real character called Chitragupta?
  3. Does Yama really decide the fate of each person?
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Is there a real character called Chitragupta?

"Brahman said, 'O highly blessed one, excellent is the duty that thou hast enunciated, together with its secret ritual. Praise be to thee! I grant thee this boon, viz., that thy penances will continually increase!' "Yams said, 'I have heard from thee an excellent and agreeable discourse. Listen now to what Chitragupta has said and what is agreeable to me. Those words relate to duty with its secret ritual, and are worthy of being heard by the great Rishis, as also by men endued with faith and desirous of achieving their own good. Nothing is lost of either piety or sin that is committed by creatures. On days of the full moon and the new moon, those acts are conveyed to the sun where they rest. When a mortal goes into the region of the dead, the deity of the sun bears witness to all his acts. He that is righteous acquires the fruits of his righteousness there. I shall now tell you of some auspicious duties that are approved by Chitragupta. Water for drink, and lamps for lighting darkness, should always be given, as also sandals and umbrellas and Kapila kine with due rites. In Pushkara especially should one make the gift of a Kapila cow unto a Brahmana conversant with the Vedas. One should also always maintain one's Agnihotra with great care. Here is another duty which was proclaimed by Chitragupta.

— The Mahabharata :Book 13: Anusasana:Parva SECTION CXXX

source:— http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13b095.htm

Is there a scripture that describes this part after death in detail?

&

Does Yama really decide the fate of each person?

And garuda purana says:—

  1. Garuḍa said: What are the torments like that the sinful suffers, having passed along the way of Yama into the abode of Yama? Tell me this, O Keśava.

  2. The Blessed Lord said: Listen, O Descendant of Vinatā. I will tell it to you from the beginning to the end. Even at the description of hell you will tremble.

  3. Four and forty yojanas, O Kāśyapa, beyond the city of Bahubhīti, lies the great city of the King of Justice.

4-5. The sinful man cries when he hears the mingled wails of 'Oh, Oh,' and having heard his cry, those who walk about in the city of Yama. All go to the door-keeper and report it to him. The doorkeeper Dharmadhwaja, always stands there.

  1. He, having gone to Chitragupta, reports the good and evil deeds. Then Chitragupta tells it to the King of Justice.

  2. The men who are Deniers, O Tārkshya, and always delight in great sin; these are all, as is proper, well- known to the King of Justice.

  3. Nevertheless, he asks Chitragupta about their sins. Chitragupta, although he is all-knowing, enquires of the Śravaṇas.

— The Garuda Purana: CHAPTER III. An Account of the Torments of Yama.

source:— http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/gpu/gpu05.htm

more info:— https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitragupta

  • Citra of rig veda is Chitragupta? Any other verse mentioning Yama? I looked nearby and it was about Indra. – aakruthi Jan 20 '18 at 19:09
  • @aakruthi thanks i followed what i got in wikipedia article mentioned for more info and name looked similar thanks for info. – Fierce lord Jan 20 '18 at 19:21
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Yes he is mentioned in many Puranas (like Agni, Varaha, Devi Bhagavata etc) as the accountant of Yama - the God of death. Whenever, Yama is mentioned, Chitragupta is also mentioned along with.

From Agni Purana:

Since he [Yama] keeps tally of all good deeds and all sins. Yama is also known as the god Dharma. Those who have done good deeds are rewarded by Yama and those who have committed sins are punished. Chitragupta is Yama’s accountant, he keeps the account of all punya and papa.


Similarly, the Varaha Purana says:

Karma Vipak 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 Yamaraj.

Yamaraj 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 Raurav. 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.”


Does Yama really decide the fate of each person?

Yes, he kind of does that. But actually a person's own actions decide his destiny more than anything else.

Yama, then, just designs his next birth according to those actions. This is what he himself says to Narada in the Varaha Purana:

Narad asked Yamaraj about the reason why joy was so elusive to human beings. He also wanted to know about the reasons for man’s sorrows.

Yamaraj 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.

  • I don't know about any such books that exclusively talk about him but most Puranas talk about him @Shashwat – Rickross Jun 11 at 8:59
  • That is a bit sad. He is the first kayastha, so it would have been a pleasure to know about him in detail. Thanks for answering. – Random-15 Jun 11 at 9:02
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Garuda Purana deals with the journeys of a soul after it discards the body. This is a dialogue between Lord Mahavishnu and His mount Garuda. Chapter 3 deals with the torments of Yama. Here Chitragupta, his role, his helpers and aides are described. Without quoting the Sanskrit text, I reproduce below the English translation by Ernest Young and S.V.Subrahmanyam from their book 'The Garuda Purana.

CHAPTER III. An Account of the Torments of Yama.

1. Garuḍa said: What are the torments like that the sinful suffers, having passed along the way of Yama into the abode of Yama? Tell me this, O Keśava.

2. The Blessed Lord said: Listen, O Descendant of Vinatā. I will tell it to you from the beginning to the end. Even at the description of hell you will tremble.

  1. Four and forty yojanas, O Kāśyapa, beyond the city of Bahubhīti, lies the great city of the King of Justice.

4-5. The sinful man cries when he hears the mingled wails of 'Oh, Oh,' and having heard his cry, those who walk about in the city of Yama. All go to the door-keeper and report it to him. The doorkeeper Dharmadhwaja, always stands there.

6. He, having gone to Chitragupta, 1 reports the good and evil deeds. Then Chitragupta tells it to the King of Justice.

7. The men who are Deniers, O Tārkshya, and always delight in great sin; these are all, as is proper, well-known to the King of Justice.

8. Nevertheless, he asks Chitragupta about their sins. Chitragupta, although he is all-knowing, enquires of the Śravaṇas 1.

9. The Śravaṇas are the sons of Brāhmaṇ who wander in heaven, on earth, and in the nether regions, hear and understand at a distance, and see a long way off.

10. Their wives have a similar nature, and are called, distinctively, Sravanīs. They know accurately all that is done by women.

11. These report to Chitragupta everything that is said and done, openly and secretly, by men.

12. These followers of the King of Justice know accurately all the virtues and vices of mankind, and the karma born of mind, speech and body.

13. Such is the power of these, who have authority over mortals and immortals. Thus do these truth-speaking Śravaṇas relate the actions of man.

14. To the man who pleases them by austerity, charity and truthful speech, they become benevolent, granting heaven and liberation.

15. Knowing the wicked actions of the sinful, those truth-speakers, relating them before the King of Justice, become dispensers of misery.

16. The sun and moon, fire, wind, sky, earth and water, the heart. Yama, day and night, the two twilights, and Justice--know the actions of man.

17 The King of Justice, Chitragupta, Śravaṇas, the sun and others see fully the sins and merits of the embodied being.

18. Then Yama, having assured himself concerning the sins of the sinful, summons them and shows them his own very terrible form.

Hence Chitragupta is just not the record keeper of Yama, but an able lieutnant in discharging Yama's role as the upholder of Dharma.

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