As you approach the Judge of the Underworld, Yama – appointed to the post because he was the first man to die – remember to salute him and thank him for sending you his five secret messengers. These are (in order): a child, an old man bowed down by age, a cripple, a bound criminal, and a dead body. Tell him you have understood their meaning.

The message is that it is every man’s fate to be born, grow old, fall sick, suffer punishment[*], and to die.

If you fail to explain this to him, he will order the guards to imprison you in a house filled with fire, where you will burn for all eternity.

Yama is the master of Time, identified by the Hindus with Death, and thus with the Judge of the dead. Like Minos, his counterpart in Greek mythology, his house is a bewildering place, full of mirrors and false turnings.

[S. Sunderland, Soul Avatars, p. 174]

the houses are full of smoke

child, crock, cripple, criminal or corpse?

[*] See >Xanthippe.

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