Yama and sisters…

पूषन्नेकर्षे यम सूर्य प्राजापत्य व्यूह रश्मीन्समूह ।
तेजः यत्ते रूपं कल्याणतमं तत्ते पश्यामि योऽसावसौ पुरुषः सोऽहमस्मि ॥ १६ ॥

pūṣannekarṣe yama sūrya prājāpatya vyūha raśmīnsamūha |
tejaḥ yatte rūpaṃ kalyāṇatamaṃ tatte paśyāmi yo’sāvasau puruṣaḥ so’hamasmi || 16 ||

16. O Sun, sole traveller of the Heavens, controller of all, Surya, son of Prajapati remove thy rays and gather up thy burning light. I behold thy glorious form; I am he, the Purusha within thee.

Today is Yama-Dwitiya, or Bhai Dooj. The more popular festival is Raksha Bandhan, especially in the metros, but Raksha Bandhan does not have a very long history behind it. Bhai Dooj, on the other hand, has been celebrated for thousands of years, and many know very little about the significance. Here is a bit to help you understand.

भाई दूज की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएँ! Happy Bhai-Dooj!

Yama and Surya (Sink and source) are the source of creation of Praja. The pair is also called Agni-soma, Atma-Jiva, or Shiva-Shakti etc.

According to the Taittiriya Samhita and Devi Bhagawata, the Raasa of Devas starts in month of Karttika. Raasa is the creation process in which consciousness is the control center and all others move around it.

Krittika and Vishakha are the 2 points of intersection of the ecliptic and equator. The earth’s axis moves in a circle in 26,000 years.

At the first point, two branches start like the blades of a pair of scissors (krittika) and the opposite point joins the two branches (Dvi-shakha or Vishakha). So the festival Yama-dvitiya is on second day of Karttika which is symbolized by pair of brother-sister.

Vishakha-pattanam is bounded by two rivers Nagavali and Vamshadhara which start from same place but remain separate throughout journey till sea, so it is Vishakha.


Once upon a time, long long ago, Surya was married to a beautiful princess called Samjna (also pronounced as Sangya). In the course of a year, she presented him with twins. The twins were christened Yama, and Varni or Yamuna, and they grew up together. However, Samjna, after some time, was unable to bear the brilliance of her husband, and so decided to go back to earth. However, she left her shadow, Chaya, her exact replica, behind, so that to Surya, it would appear that she was still there.

Chaya turned out to be a cruel stepmother and was very unkind to the twins. She soon gave birth to her own children, and then convinced Surya to drive out Samjna’s twins, Yama and Varni from the heavens. Varni fell to earth and became the river Yamuna, and Yama went to the underworld (hell) and became the Lord of Death.

Many years passed since this incident. Varni married a handsome prince and was content and happy in her life. But she missed her brother and yearned to see him. Yama, too, missed his sister and decided one day to visit her. Overjoyed by news of her brother’s visit, Varni prepared a great feast in his honor. It was two days into Deepavali, so her home was already decorated with lamps.

She lovingly prepared a feast, including all the sweets and delicacies that her brother loved. Her husband, the handsome prince, was very happy seeing Varni so dedicatedly preparing a welcome for her brother.

Yama, too, was delighted by his sister’s loving welcome, and the brother and sister spent a pleasant evening in each other’s company, after their long period of separation. When it was time for Yama to leave, he turned to his sister and said, “Dear Varni, you have welcomed me so lovingly. But I did not bring you a gift. Ask, therefore, for something and it will be yours.”

“Your visit is gift enough,” replied Varni lovingly. “I have no need for anything else.”

But Yama was persistent. “You must let me give you a gift,” he insisted.

“Okay,” agreed Varni, taking a moment to think. “I ask that all brothers should remember their sisters on this day and visit them if they can, and that, on this day, all sisters should pray for the happiness of their brothers.”

“So be it!” proclaimed Yama, “And I grant all brothers who give their sisters a loving gift on this day a long and healthy life!”