Terrifying Rulers of The Underworld
Yama is the king of hell in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shinto. In Hinduism, he was the first man. His sister, Yami, was the first woman. Legend says that he became the Lord of the Dead after Yami wanted to conceive a child with him. Yama refused, considering intercourse with his sister to be incest. He later died. But without children, he couldnt continue the cycle of rebirth and was resigned to remain forever in the land of the dead as its ruler.In Buddhism, he is ruthless and without mercythe ultimate judge of the dead.
Yama even sends souls to multiple levels of the eight hells. A soul may serve its time in one level only to be sucked down into a worse level to pay for a different sin. Still, Yama is without partiality and is ultimately fair. Despite his cruelty, he is considered a righteous judge. At times, though, he has been forced to release a handful of lucky souls. One had been given the ability to turn hell into a lotus pool, so Yama was forced to spare him to preserve the integrity of his realm. In some texts, Yama himself is subject to eternal torments. One story has him being followed by a cauldron of molten copper. It is said that he is fastened down by one of his own men, his mouth opened with a hook, and the molten copper poured down his throat. Whether this torment was decreed by Yama unto himself is unclear, but it certainly shows the belief that even the king of hell is subject to karma.