The world in which we live is a mortal and in Hindu dharma, death has a great significance. Hindu philosophy teaches that any attempt to find permanent happiness in this world is a maya (an illusion). Hindus believe that a person’s Atman (spirit) is permanent and cannot change while the physical body is not permanent and can change. The Atman is reborn many times, this is samsara (reincarnation). As a man casts off his worn-out clothes and takes on other new ones, so does the embodied soul cast off his worn-out bodies and enters other new. Thus, it is no surprise to have a God of Death itself in the ancient Vedic religion.
Lord Brahma is also known as the lord of the universe. He is one of the Trinity gods who is responsible for any activity or energy of creation. Hence, in Hindu dharma, it is believed that Lord Brahma is the one who created the world and among different layers of the world, one is Yamaloka. After creating Yamaloka, Lord Brahma appointed Lord Yamaraj to monitor and execute the cycle of life and death. However, there was one problem. There are many forms of life, as much as 84 lakhs life forms on Earth. Hence, Lord Yamaraj replied that is was not possible for him to execute the task. It was because among the 84 lakhs forms of species, there were also many Rishis, Devas and Asuras who were as powerful as him, which meant they almost had 10% power of lord Brahma.
Hence, it is said that to solve the crisis, Lord Brahma meditated for ages at the bank of Shipra River, that lies in Ujjain. Finally, after a lot of penance, a Lord emerged out from the the body of Lord Brahma himself, who is known as Lord Chitragupta. Legends say, Lord Brahma had many sons and daughters, including many seers born from his mind and many sons born of his body. The story of the birth of Chitragupta is related in different ways, but he is nearly always delineated differently from the other children of Lord Brahma. God Chitragupt is the 17th manas putra of Lord Brahma equipped with 100% power of Lord Brahma.
Lord Chitragupta is the Chief Justice of Yamaloka. He is also known as Dharmaraja Dharmadhikari Dharmahari Dharmalala Sri Chitragupt. Chitragupta is a Hindu god assigned with the task of keeping complete records of actions of human beings on the Earth. Upon their death, Chitragupta has the task of deciding heaven or the hell for all the humans, the birth of various life forms in superior or inferior species and rewards and punishments according to the sins and virtues, depending on their actions on the Earth. Chitragupta Maharaj (Chitragupta the King) is also the patron deity of Kayasthas, a Hindu caste of India and Nepal.
Mentions of Lord Chitragupta in the ancient Hindu texts:
In Matsyapurana, it is mentioned that God Chitragupta is the Adhi Devta for Ketu, one of the Navagrahas. Thus, those who worship God Chitragupta, would be bestowed with prosperity and the evil effects of Ketu during its transit period would be mitigated.
The Mahabharata (Anusasan Parva, chapter 130) recites the teaching of God Chitragupta requiring men to do virtuous and charitable acts and perform Yagya. Men are rewarded or punished according to their good or bad deeds.
In Rig Veda, Lord Chitragupta is referred to as an almighty, the greatest king, king of kings.
chitra eh raja rajaka edanyake yake saraswatimanu
parjanya yebh tatnad dhe varshthaya sahasshrimayuta dahdath
It is also mentioned that an invocation should be made to God Chitragupta before offering sacrifice. There is also a special invocation to God Chitragupta to be made at the performance of shraddha and many other rituals.
In Garuda Purana, God Chitragupta is hailed as the first to give the script.
chitragupt namastubhyaam vedaaksaadatre
He is also described in Garuda Purana as the imperial throne of God Chitragupta in Yamapuri holding his court and dispensing justice according to the deeds of human beings and maintaining their record.
In conclusion, most people often misunderstand Lord Chitragupta for a simple accountant of Lord Yamraj but in reality he is much more. In fact, Lord Chitragupta is almost ten times more powerful than Lord Yamraj himself.