From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Yamagitā literally means ‘song of Yama’.

The epics and the purāṇas contain a large number of religious discourses that often go by the name Gītā. [1] There are three such pieces that are called Yamagitā. They are part of:

  1. The Viṣṇupurāṇa[2]
  2. The Agnipurāṇa[3]
  3. The Nrsimhapurāṇa[4]

Overview of Yamagitā[edit]

Out of these, the one in the Viṣṇupurāṇa is more well- known, It has just 39 verses. Maitreya asks Parāśara about those karmas[5] by which a person becomes free from the clutches of Yama, the god of death. Parāśara replies that Nakula had put the same question to Bhīṣma, the grandsire and that Bhīṣma had replied quoting a wise brāhmaṇa from the country of Kaliṅga. This forms the content of the Yamagitā.

Content of Yamagitā[edit]

Once a duta[6] of Yama who went out in search of the jivas[7] was about to die, was advised by his master not to touch but leave off the devotees of Viṣṇu since he had no control over them. On being asked about the characteristics of a devotee of Viṣṇu, Yama described them in detail as follows:

  • A devotee of Viṣṇu never transgresses the duties prescribed for his varṇa and āśrama.
  • He is equanimous towards his friends and foes.
  • He never harms others.
  • He is ever pure in mind and always meditates upon Viṣṇu in his heart.
  • He is free from the ariṣaḍvarga.[8]
  • He is always peaceful both inside and outside.
  • He can never commit sins or crimes.
  • Yama then narrated the signs of one who was not a devotee of Viṣṇu, an evil person.
  • Such a person robs the wealth of others, tells lies and harms the living beings.
  • He is arrogant, jealous and abuses others, especially the good ones.
  • He never performs yajñas or sacrifices, does not give gifts to deserving persons, nor even treat his own kith and kin properly.
  • Always being in the company of the evil ones, he commits sins one after another.
  • Yama’s final words of advice to his servant were that he should never touch the devotees of Viṣṇu who were ever protected by his cakra or the discus.


  1. It is in the imitation of original Bhagavadgītā of the Mahābhārata.
  2. Viṣṇupurāṇa 3.7
  3. Agnipurāṇa 381
  4. Nrsimhapurāṇa 8
  5. Karmas means actions, way of life.
  6. Duta means servant.
  7. Jivas means souls of living beings.
  8. Ariṣaḍvarga means six passions like lust and greed.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore