Published on February 20th, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Yamaraja–The Lord of Death–One of Krishna’s GBC’s

Yamaraja is a GBC, but he made a little mistake. He was punished to become a sudra. So those who are GBC’s, they should be very, very careful to administer the business of ISKCON. Otherwise they will be punished. As the post is very great, similarly, the punishment is also very great. That is the difficulty.

Nitai: “As long as Vidura played the part of a sudra, being cursed by Manduka Muni, Aryama officiated at the post of Yamaraja to punish those who committed sinful acts.”


abibhrad aryama dandam yathavad agha-karisu
yavad dadhara sudratvam
sapad varsa-satam yamah

So Vidura is Yamaraja, the superintendent of death. After our death, we are brought before the justice Yamaraja, what kind of next birth I may have. So Yamaraja is not sudra. He is devotee of Lord Krishna, although he has the duty to punish the criminals. Just like a magistrate is always punishing the criminals. That is his business, but he is not criminal. He is giving judgment to the criminals. Similarly, Yamaraja is the appointed magistrate, superintendent. After death, one has to go before him and take the judgment of his next life. This is the process.

So Vidura was cursed by Manduka Muni, Manduka Muni. He was a great sage, but sometimes in his asrama, some thieves were caught, so police arrested both the Manduka Muni and the thieves, and later on Manduka Muni was chastised to be punished by sula. There was a system of punishment. I do not whether (it is) still existing. The sula means one lance, lancer. Lancer, it is called?

Devotee: Yes.

Prabhupada: It was to be pierced through the rectum and it will go through the head and the man will die. The pierce was standing, and he was to sit down. What is this punishment? Is there any mention?

Pusta-krsna: I never heard of anything.

Guru-gauranga: Arabians have this. It is called pala(?).

Prabhupada: Sula punishment. So when he was condemned to the sula punishment, then the king heard that “Manduka Muni, the great sage, he is punished like that?” Immediately he stopped. “What is this nonsense that Manduka Muni has been punished? He is a great sage.” So the king stopped the punishment and immediately came to see what has happened. Then he was immediately released. But he was very sorry, that “Why the judge Yamaraja punished him like that?” So he asked Yamaraja, “Why you have punished me like this?” “Now, in your childhood you pierced the rectum of an ant with a…,” what is called?

Devotees: Pin, straw.

Prabhupada: No, not straw. Prick, pricking?

Devotee: Pin.

Prabhupada: Kanta, kanta. We say kanta, that pricks. What is called?

Devotees: Thorn.

Prabhupada: Ah, thorn, yes. So therefore he was punished. Now just see. In his childhood he was playing with an ant, piercing the rectum with a thorn.

That is also taken account, “All right. You will be punished.” Just see how finer laws are there in nature. So the Manduka Muni did that. Therefore it was recorded he should be punished like that.

This is our position. Anything… If you are walking on the street, if you kill an ant by walking, you will be punished. This is nature’s law. We are in such a dangerous position. In every movement there is punishment. Now, if you believe the sastras, that is different thing. If you don’t believe, then do anything you like. But from sastra we can understand the laws of nature, or God, is very, very strict, very, very strict. So Manduka Muni also chastised Yamaraja, that “In my childhood, without any knowledge I did something and for which you have given me so great punishment. So you are not fit for becoming a brahmana or ksatriya. You become sudra.” So he was cursed to become sudra. Therefore Yamaraja took his birth as Vidura and was born in the womb of a sudra mother. This is the history of Vidura’s birth.

So in his absence, Aryama, one of the demigods, he officiated Yamaraja. Therefore it is said, abibhrad aryama dandam. The office must go on, the magistrate post cannot be vacant. Somebody must come and act. So Aryama was acting. Yathavad agha-karisu. Agha-karisu. Agha-kari means… Agha means sinful activities, and karisu. Karisu means those who commit sinful acts. And yathavat. Yathavat means exactly to the point, how he should be punished. Yathavad agha-karisu. Yavad dadhara sudratvam. So long Yamaraja continued as a sudra, Aryama was officiating in his place as Yamaraja. This is the purport. (reads purport:) “Vidura, born in the womb of a sudra mother, was forbidden even to be a party of royal heritage along with his brothers Dhrtarastra and Pandu. Then how could he occupy the post of a preacher to instruct such learned…? Answer is that even though it is accepted that he was a sudra by birth, because he renounced the world for spiritual enlightenment by the authority of Rsi Maitreya and was thoroughly educated by him in transcendental knowledge, he was quite competent to occupy the post of an acarya or spiritual preceptor.” Vidura was a sudra, born sudra. Then how he became a preacher?

So the reason is… “According to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, anyone who is conversant in the transcendental knowledge or the science of Godhead, be he a brahmana or sudra, a householder or a sannyasi, is eligible to become a spiritual master.” Not that because he was born a sudra, he cannot preach, he cannot take the post of acarya or spiritual master. That is not Caitanya philosophy. Caitanya philosophy has nothing to do with this body, external body. Caitanya philosophy is concerned with the soul. This movement is the movement of elevating the soul, saving the soul from degradation. Therefore people sometimes are surprised. The bodily concept of life, the same activities will be karma. And on the platform of spiritual life, the same karma will be bhakti. Same karma will be bhakti. So bhakti is not inactivity. Bhakti is all active. Yat karosi yaj juhosi yad asnasi yat tapasyasi kurusva tad mad-arpanam. This is bhakti, bhakti-yoga. Krsna says to everyone, “If you cannot give up your karma, then that’s all right. But the result of your karma, give to Me. Then it will be bhakti.

So Vidura was Yamaraja. Not only he was Yamaraja, ordinary, but he is one of the great authorities. There are twelve authorities mentioned in the sastra. One of them is Yamaraja. Balir vaiyasakir vayam. This is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Yamaraja is one of the GBC of Krsna. Yes. As we have got twelve GBC’s, similarly Krsna has got GBC’s. Now,

svayambhur naradah sambhuh kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo
balir vaiyasakir vayam

That twelve men are authorized to preach Krsna consciousness. So we have to follow. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Therefore we have created these GBC. So they should be very responsible men. Otherwise, they will be punished. They will be punished to become a sudra. Although Yamaraja is a GBC, but he made a little mistake. He was punished to become a sudra. So those who are GBC’s, they should be very, very careful to administer the business of ISKCON. Otherwise they will be punished. As the post is very great, similarly, the punishment is also very great. That is the difficulty. You can see from this example, Vidura. He was immediately punished. He did little mistake at Manduka… Because the rsis, the munis, they will curse. Dealing is very… Even Yamaraja is not taking.

(reads:) “He was to play the part of so-called sudra for years, being cursed by Manduka Muni. He was the incarnation of Yamaraja, one of the twelve mahajanas, on the level with such exalted personalities as Bhisma, Narada, Brahma, Narada, Siva, Kapila, Bhisma, Prahlada, etc. Being a mahajana, it is the duty of Yamaraja to preach the cult of devotion to the people of the world as Narada, Brahma and other mahajanas do. But Yamaraja is always busy in his plutonic kingdom, punishing the doers of sinful acts. Yamaraja is deputed by the Lord to a particular planet some hundreds of thousands of miles away from this planet.” That is mentioned. He has got a different planet, where the criminals are taken away after death, and he gives the judgment, what kind of body he will have. And not like the theosophists’ thinking, “Now I have got human body. It is permanent settlement.” No, that is not permanent settlement. According to one’s work… Work means all sinful acts. Without Krsna consciousness, anyone who acts, he acts sinfully. There is no doubt of it. Because he is acting for sense gratification, and sense gratification means almost 99.9% all sinful activities. Duskrtinah. It is very risky job. Unless you act in Krsna consciousness… Yajnarthe karmano ‘nyatra loko ‘yam karma-bandhanah. This is the stringent law of the nature, that you have to act only for Yajna, for satisfaction of Krsna or Visnu. Otherwise, you will be entangled. And who is serving Krsna? Nobody is serving Krsna. So everyone is being entangled. This is the material world.

(reads:) “Yamaraja is deputed by the Lord to a particular planet, some hundreds of thousands of miles away from the planet of earth, to take away the corrupt souls after death and convict them in accordance with their respective sinful activities. Thus, Yamaraja has very little time to take leave from his responsible office of punishing the wrongdoers. There are more wrongdoers than righteous men. Therefore Yamaraja has to do (more) work than other demigods who are also authorized agents of the Supreme Lord. But he wanted to preach the glories of the Lord, and therefore, by the will of the Lord, he was cursed by Manduka Muni to come into the world in the incarnation of Vidura and work very hard as a great devotee.”

The punishment was also reward. Those who are servants of Krsna, even they are so-called punished, there is some motive behind this. Just like Jaya and Vijaya. They were also punished to come down and…, just to become enemy of Krsna.

Krsna, when they were very much perturbed that “We are going to the material world from Vaikuntha. So what will be our fate, Sir? There is some little mistake on our part. What we shall do?” So Krsna gave him that “If you become My enemy, then you will be relieved in three births, and if you become My friend, then seven births.” So the Jaya and Vijaya agreed, “Sir, we shall become Your enemy.” So what is the purport? Krsna wanted some enemy to fight. Just like we sometimes want to fight. So this desire is there, Krsna. Otherwise, where we get this desire? So actually, it was Krsna’s service, this Jaya and Vijaya. Krsna wanted to have some fight. In the spiritual world there cannot be fight. There is no fight. There is only service. Therefore some of His devotees, this Jaya and Vijaya, agreed to become His enemy, come to this material world and to…

, Krsna fought with the Jaya and Vijaya. As Ramacandra, He fought with Ravana, and as Nrsimhadeva, He fought with Hiranyakasipu, and as Krsna, He fought with Yamara…, er, Kamsa.

So similarly, Vidura also, he thought that “I am always busy in this magisterial work, simply to punish. I have no chance to preach.” So Krsna is very kind to His devotee. So He gave the chance to preach. So this was the arrangement, that he was cursed by Manduka Muni, came down to this material world. That is also material. Yamaraja’s planet is also in the material world. Therefore he was given the chance of preaching. (reads:) “He is transcendental to such divisions of mundane society, just as the Personality of Godhead assumes His incarnation as a hog, but He is not hog.” If somebody thinks that He has come as a hog, playing the part of a hog, that is not the fact. Even though assumes the… (reads:) “The Lord and His different authorized devotees sometimes have to play the role of many lower creatures to claim the conditioned souls, but both the Lord and His pure devotees are always in the transcendental position.” Etad isanam isasya. That is the authority of God, that even though He accepts some lower position, He is never in the lower position. He is always in the transcendental position. I have given the example yesterday. Just like the sun is sometimes evaporating the urine. This is not very good business. But still, sun is sun. He is never polluted. Similarly, Krsna or His devotee, if sometimes apparently does something which is not befitting their position, still, they are in their position. This is the conclusion. Krsna has given this concession to His devotee.

It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita,

api cet su-duracaro bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah

Even sometimes, not by willing, sometimes accidentally, a devotee… Just like the other day in the meeting, somebody was giving the example, “Lord Christ, he ate fish.” So he can do that. There was some necessity. But you cannot do that. So even though it is sometimes done, abominable, but still they are in exalted position. This is to be understood. Tejiyasam na dosaya. Tejiyasam, those who are very, very powerful, anything abominable done by them, it does not contaminate. This is to be understood. But you cannot do that. You cannot imitate.

(reads:) “When Yamaraja thus incarnated himself as Vidura, his post was officiated by Aryama, one of the many sons of Kasyapa and Aditi, the Adityas, or sons of Aditi, and there are twelve Adityas. Aryama is one of the twelve Adityas, and therefore it was quite possible for him to take charge of the office of Yamaraja during his one hundred years’ absence in the form of Vidura. The conclusion is that Vidura was never a sudra, but was greater than the purest type of brahmana.

Now, have kirtana. (end)

[740604SB.GEN] Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.13.15 Geneva, June 4, 1974

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

7 Responses to Yamaraja–The Lord of Death–One of Krishna’s GBC’s

  1. pramanta says:

    It is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam that by association of pure devotee of Lord Sri Krishna one can get rid all the contamination within his heart but why many so-called gurus in ISKCON who have had Srila Prabhupada’s physical association instead of getting rid the contamination within their hearts and following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada, they even destroy ISKCON with their self-appointed acharyas system? Even ordinary Christians accept Lord Jesus Christ as their bonafide spiritual master although he is not physically present

  2. Andrei says:

    Dear Prabhu,

    Hare Krishna to you!

    I bought the epub collecetion of Srila Prabupada’s works from Krishna store, and I am endeavoring to read everyday. Thank you for making it available.

    If I may could I ask you two questions:

    1. Out of Mongala Aaroti and Chanting 16 rounds, which one should be te first priority. Both are important, but in the morning I get two hours, and the closest temple is over 20 miles far. I spent almost two hours in the whole process of attending the Mongala aaroti. I must say, it was the best thing I did all this year. However, after than I am unable to find time to Chant 16 rounds. I could probably finish a couple of rounds alng with attending Mangola Aaroti. However, was thinking to chant 16 rounds everyday, but wouldn’t be able to attend Mangola Aaroti. Could I prioritize chanting and attend Mongola aaroti couple of months later

    Please advice.

    2. Prabhu, I read in Srila Prabhupada’s books and on this website, that if somehow, one is able to remember Krishna at his death, he will definitely go back to Godhead, and never return. In that case, if someone is in hospital, and if he be asked to see pictures of Krishna and hears the holy name, wouldn’t he too go back to Godhead too no matter how he led his life so far? No matter if he has Chanted the Holy name is life or not, or taken austerity like attending mangola aaroti and ekadashi fasts?

    Please accept my humble obeisances,


    • Hare Krishna Andrei

      You can do Mangal-Aroti in your own home. And then you can chant Hare Krishna, 16 rounds. You do not have to go to the temple every morning for Mangal-aroti. I think this will solve your problems. In this way you will be able to have Mangal-aroti and chant 16 rounds a day and read Prabhupada’s books every day.

      Chanting 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra is more important than attending Mangal-aroti. But both things are important.

      As far as remembering Krishna at the time of death, you will remember what is the most important thing in your life at the time of death. So if Krishna is the most important thing in your life then you will remember Krishna at the time of death. So we have to make Krishna the most important thing in our lives. And the whole program Srila Prabhupada is giving us is so we can be remembering and serving Krishna constantly 24 hours a day. So if we practice like this. Remembering Krishna, serving Krishna, chanting Hare Krishna, 24 hours a day, then we will naturally remember Krishna at the time of death.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  3. Sonal says:

    Hare Krishna.

  4. Saurav says:

    Hare krsna
    Dandavat pranam pvg
    All Glowries to Sri Guru n Gouranga

    Many many thanks for your great Preaching effort…

    I would like to pray some kind of personal favour that may be very easier for u
    as u possess vast n deep knowledge in preaching

    can u make topmost 20 points of Devotion or Krsna Conciusness at a glance, number wise

    where the subjects should reflects like ….it is the top most process,
    for eveyr section off people in any socities,
    for indians or westeners for Muslims or christians,

    it is the esseances of all Vedas,

    it is eternal,ancient n simoulteniously very much relavant to present age…..

    some meessage for those who alredy hindu but confused that what is the right and absolute way ..Lord Shiva ,Ganesji, Ramji or lord krsna..

    also meseeage against those Islamist s n missionary’s who are misinterpretining n blashfaming left and right vedic culture or deity worship and converting innocent hindus in massive way..

    hope u can understand my point…

    as i think, now a days no body has time to thorow study by affording major time…. so to attract people attentions and creat interest this kind of phylosophycal presentation at glance may work….

    This way, personnely i would like to preach through internet or in face
    and in india printing PALM PLATE and distributing hand to hand in major festival and gathering ….

    I m waiting for yr reply.and guidance

    its personal so pl mail me only…

    thank u
    Aspiring to be yr servant of servant

    • Hare Krishna Prabhu

      Krishna consciousness is not something that can be understood in 20 points like this. It is a way of life. And if one is not prepared to change his life into this way he can never understand what is Krishna consciousness. Firstly the people have to accept the four regulative principles (no illicit sex life, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication) and they have to agree to and actually chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily on beads. These are prerequisites. Otherwise, without these things, no one can understand what Krishna consciousness is.
      We can help the people come to this platform by performing sankirtan, that means a group of men going out and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra publicly with the accompaniment of mrdanga and kartals and if the chanters are pure this chanting will purify the hearts of everyone who hears it.

      Also we can distribute prasadam [food that has been prepared by a devotee with love and offered to Krishna] and anyone who takes this prasadam will also become spiritually advanced.

      And most importantly of all we can distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books to the people. This is where they will find the real knowledge, Prabhupada’s books.

      If people could become Krishna consciousness by reading a sheet of paper with twenty points on it then why did Srila Prabhupada write more than 80 big books on the subject of Krishna consciousness?

      We have to get the people to read Prabhupada’s books. So you need to get some cases of Prabhupada’s books and distribute them to the people around you.

      Prabhupada has already given us his books to distribute, there is no need for us to invent anything new to distribute…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  5. vilas says:

    Kindly let me know that is – Yamaraja or kalabhairava one and the same and to be known as Vampire ?

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