God’s Note Book!!!


By London Swaminathan
Post No. 911 Dated 16th March 2014

There are so many inspiring anecdotes in English and other literatures of the world. Many of our sublime thoughts are echoed in their poetry and philosophical works. Earlier I posted an article about St.Francis of Assisi, a great Christian mystic.

Abou Ben Adhem, a poem by James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784- 1859) is an inspiring one. We have similar poems by Hindu saints as well.

Abou Ben Adhem (May his tribe increase!)
“Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But clearly still, and said “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest”.


‘Human birth is to serve others’

‘Paropakaram idham sareeram’ is a popular Sanskrit proverb. God has given us a body with two hands and two feet just to serve the humanity. Pattinathar, a Tamil Siddha (enlightened soul), has sung a poem similar to Leigh Hunt. He lived in the tenth century. His poem Koil Nan Mani Malai has some interesting information about a Note Book that Lord Shiva keeps with him.

“They alone live who live for others; the rest are more dead than alive”- said Swami Vivekanada. Under the chapter ‘’Benevolence’’, great Tamil poet says,
“Only those, who know and practise social cooperation, live their life;
The others are as good as dead” –(Kural 214)
The German Philosopher-poet Goethe conveyed the same idea in a similar context when he said:
“A useless life is only an earthly death”.


Shiva whose abode is in Mt.Kailash keeps a ruled note book with him in which he enters the names of those who work for the welfare of others. He adds the name of the saints, enlightened people and Shiva’s devotees in the note book. Those who are entered into the book will get out of the cycle of birth and death. So Pattinathar begs to Lord Shiva to enter his name as well. This is similar to Leigh Hunts poem. Did Leigh Hunt get the idea from Pattinathar?

But even before Pattinathar, Appar also wrote a similar poem. He clashed with the mighty Pallava emperor Mahendra Pallava and won at the end. One of the four great Saivite saints Appar alias Tirunavukkarasu (means King of Speech) lived in the seventh century inTamil Nadu.
He warns the lazy ,gossipy, talkative, sluggish and lethargic that their names are also entered by Lord Shiva. But Shiva is so good he writes the sincere god loving devotees’ names too.

Appar says,

“ O,Lord Shiva, you write down the names of those who offers you flowers, who sheds tears of ecstasy praising you and those who waste their time idly ignoring you”—(Fifth Tirumurai,Thevaram).


(Hindu Hell picture taken from Wikipedia.

Hindus always believed that Chitra Gupta, Yama’s PA, is writing everything in his note book and when the day of judgement comes after our death, he sends us to heaven or hell according to what we did on earth. That is, Chitra Guptas’s note book decides our future. Someone interpreted Chitra Gupta means ‘’Hidden Pictures’’- and they are nothing but our good or bad thoughts. Like our powerful super computer do billion calculations in a second, Chitra Gupta? Thought Pictures do billions of calculations after our death and decides our fate. Every thought of ours sends ripples of waves and pictures!

So the moral we learn from Abou Ben Adhem, Appar and Pattinathar is that the God or his angels are always watching us from above and write everything we do whether it is good or bad. We know that the big powers are spying on us from above through their satellites. They tap or telephones, interrupt our e mails! That is for political reason. We know that anyone can watch anyone’s house though google street watch. That is for nosy reasons. But God is watching us for Dharmic reasons!


Tamil References

தம்மை மறந்து நின்னை நினைப்பவர்
செம்மை மந்த்தினும் தில்லை மன்றினும் நடம்
ஆடும் அம்பல வாண!——————–
நிந்தமர் பெயர் எழுதிய வரிநெடும் புத்தகத்து
என்னையும் எழுத வேண்டுவன், நின்னருள்
ஆனை வைப்பில், கணொனா அணுவும்
வானுற நிமிர்ந்து காட்டும்.
——-பட்டினத்தாரின் கோயில் நான்மணி மாலை

அப்பர் தேவாரம்

தொழுது தூமலர் தூவித் துதித்துநின்று
அழுது காமுற்று அரற்றுகின்றாரையும்
பொழுது போக்கிப் புறக்கணிப்பாரையும்
எழுதும் கீழ்க்கணக்கு இன்னம்பர் ஈசனே (அப்பர், 5ஆம் திருமுறை)

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Why do Hindus Worship God of Death Everyday?


By London Swaminathan

As a Brahmin I worship the Vedic God Yama every day along with Agni, Indra, Varuna, Mitra, Vayu, Arka (sun), Vageesa (Brihspati/ Jupiter) and Vishvedeva:. I feel very proud to continue the tradition that was started at least 5000 years ago on the banks of the mighty River Sarasvati.


I turn towards South and recite a mantra for Yama, Lord of Death, in my daily prayers called Sandhya vandanam. Brahmins, and in olden days, all the three castes Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaisya were performing this ritual known as Sandhyavandhanam (Surya Worship) thrice a day; just before sun rise, mid day and during sun set.


Yama is known as Dharma Raja, Mrtyu, Antaka, Vaivasvata, Kala, Sarva Bhoota Kshayakara, Audumbara, Dathna, Neela, Parameshti, Vrukodara, Chitra, Chitra Gupta (14 names) in the mantra.


One of the names is ‘Black’ (neelaaya). This is another blow to Aryan Dravidian theory. Like Kali, Sanaischara (Saturn), Vishnu, Vyasa, Krishna, Rama, Yama is also black. Black is the colour of death all over the world. Even today Christians and Jews wear only black dress for funeral ceremonies. Without realising this, so called Dravidian political parties of Tamil Nadu also follow this and wear Black badges for funerals!! Yama is always associated with South.

Only known statue of Lord Yama

Why do Hindus, particularly Brahmins, worship Yama every day?

Remembering death every day will make them do good things without any delay. This is because Hindus believe that the merits (Punya) that one earns in this life will help one in the afterlife. Remembering death every day serve as shock absorbers. As births in any family are common, deaths are also common in all our families. But some people find it very difficult to overcome such a big shock. If they recite Yama mantra every day this will give them some solace. Because we know Yama will visit us one day with his accountant/ assistant Chitra Gupta.


Another belief among Hindus is that by reciting certain mantras, you can avoid death until you are hundred years old. Hindus fixed one’s full life span as 100. They were the inventors of decimal system. So all their mantras will have 100, 1000, 100, 000 (Lakh= laksha) or Koti (ten million).

Brahmins recite one other mantra before this Yama mantra. It is recited in the mid day oblations. They ask for good eye sight, good hearing power, good life, healthy and happy life for 100 years ( (The mantra begins with Pashyema Sardas satam……).

For Hindus, death is like throwing away old shirts (old body) and birth is like taking new shirts. Krishna makes it very simple through this simile in His Bhagavad Gita ( Sloka 2-22 begins with Vasamsi Jeernanani…….). Tamil poet Tiru Valluvar compares it to birds leaving the nests (Kural 338, 339).


Tamil and Sanskrit literature is full of hymns and poems on the impermanence of life. They are taught to children from very young age through school text books.


Mahabaharata has a beautiful episode called Questions of a Ghost known as Yaksha Prasna. Yakshas are tree spirits. The last question of the ghost was ‘’What is the most wonderful thing in the world?’’. Dharma, while answering this question, said, ‘’ Every day people are dying, but yet people think that they are going to be here permanently and don’t bother about death at all.’’

yama statue 2

A couple of observations here won’t be out of place:

Yama is called ‘dathnaya’. English word death came from this.

Chitra Gupa is called Yama’s accountant who takes into account the good and bad deeds we do every day and punishes or rewards after death. If the balance is in our favour we go to heaven, if it is not in our favour we go to hell. Hindus believe in this Punya and Papa. In fact Chitra Gupta is an abstract thing. Whatever we think is recorded as mental pictures or impressions. That is known as Chitra Gupta= Secret Drawing/picture.

We may lie to anyone but not to our conscience. We may pretend that we are following the right path. But our inner conscience contradicts it. Chitra Gupta takes in to account all our good and bad thoughts and deeds. Even our thoughts are counted. If our brain and computers can do billions of calculations, can’t Chitragupta do it?


Interesting Facts about Yama :(Source: Yama by Kusum P.Merh)

Yama means twins in general. Yama has a twin sister Yami. Yama was the first man to die. Yama was the son of Vivaswat. His brother was Vaivaswata Manu. Yama is compared to Pluto and Minos in western pantheon. Yama has two dogs with four eyes each. He rides upon a buffalo. In Mahabaharata he was the father of Dharma. Chitra Gupta’s register is called Agra Sandhani. Yama carries a noose. His wives are Hemamala, Susila and Vijaya. Rig Veda has a hymn on Yama (10-14). Yama’s mother was Saranyu.


Yama is compared with Avestan Yema, Lettic jumis, Mir.emuin (all meaning Twins); Latin geminus, gemellus, Greek Didumos according to Guntert.


Following is the prayer to Yama; Brahmins recite it thrice a day:

‘’Yamaaya dharma raajaaya

Mrutyave cha antakaaya cha

Vaivasvataaya kaalaaya

Sarva bhoota kshayaaya cha.


Audumbaraaya dadhnaaya

Neelaaya parameshtine

Vrukodaraaya chitraaya chitraguptaaaya vai namaha

chitraguptaaaya vai nama om namaha  iti’’.


Statue of Takao Yama, Japan

Meaning in English: Yama vandanam : Salutations to Yama,( Lord of Death ) who controls everything, Lord of Dharma (righteousness), who is death and who is time, who dissolves all ,who terminates everything, who is the son of Vivsvan, who is very strong, who has the name of Dadhna, who is of black complexion, who is worshipped by all, who has a large belly, who preserves all secrets scrupulously and who is a miracle himself. Prostration with On to Chitragupta.


For more on Sandhaya Vandhana, please road my A layman’s Guide to Sandhya Vandhana titled ‘’ Why Do Brahmins Deserve an Entry in to Guinness Book of Records?’’. Also ‘’Why Do Hindus worship Bells?’’ ‘’Why do Hindus worship Shoes?’’ ‘’Why do Hindus practise Homeopathy’’? HEAD TOWARDS NORTH IS WRONG  + 600 articles.

Pictures are taken from other sites;thanks. Contact swami_48@yahoo.com