Yama is the hindu god of Death. He is the son of Surya and Sanjana. According to the Vedas, Yama was the first man who died. He presides over the resting place of the Dead. Due to his unswerving dedication to maintaining order and justice and his adherence to harmony, Yama is known as Dharma. Believed to be wisest of the Devas, Yama is revered as the teacher in Katha Upanishad. He is also supposed to be the one of the most ancient beings of the world. However even Yama is subordinate to Shiva and this is brought out in many hindu legends. Whereas Yama is called Kala or Death, Shiva is called Maha Kala or Great Death.
Yama is the deity governing the southern direction and the Ashta Lingam of the South is of course the Yama Lingam. The shrine of Yama Lingam is located appropriately beside the cremation grounds and cemetery on Chengam road about 2 kilometres after Ramanashramam. Every time there is a death, the mourners offer an Abhishekam to the Yama Lingam after cremating the corpse. This is a usual practice. Apart from funerals and the full moon crowds, this Lingam does not seem to have any regular devotees and presents quite a deserted appearance at other times.
The Yama Theertham is a large pond of water situated behind the shrine and is set in a very beautiful scenic place with an abundance of flora and fauna all around. The waters of the Theertham are perennial due to the efforts of the ARS (Annamalai Reforestation Society) in having desilted and unblocked the water channels from the Hill which flow into the Theertham and having constructed culverts under the Chengam road to enable the water to flow in freely.
During our next giripradakshina, while we pay our homage at the shrine of Arunachala-Yama Lingam, may we all learn to embrace Death fully in the way Ramana taught and remember that “True Death is Eternal Life” !