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Chitragupta is the Hindu Deity entrusted with keeping records of deeds committed by human beings in their sojourn on Earth. He is also fondly referred to as the ‘Bookkeeper’ by human beings and Gods alike. All human beings are accountable for their actions on the Earthly plane and Chitragupta weighs the pros and cons of every individual before deciding if they deserve a place in Heaven or go straight to hell. Since Hindu mythology strongly advocates the role of ‘Karma’ in deciding what path a person ascends after his/her life on earth, all deeds committed by the individual are carefully considered and only then can the right path be determined. This is precisely the role Chitragupta assumes, to create a log of all beings and decide their fate after they shed their mortal coil.
Chitragupta owes his heritage to Lord Brahma, who is his father. Brahma is one of the three Gods in the holy trinity of Hinduism and revered as the Creator. Yama, the God of death and the seventeenth creation of Brahma was initially entrusted with the task of maintaining the records of the dead, but was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the numbers. This led to his taking several wrong decisions which resulted in chaos. He duly beseeched Brahma to provide him with an able assistant to whom he could entrust this task.
Brahma realized the importance of the matter and entrusted the task of maintaining the affairs of the Universe temporarily to Surya, the Sun God, while he pondered over the same. After a staggering 11,000 years of deep meditation, Lord Chitragupta finally emerged from the mind and body of Brahma. He appeared with a pen and paper in his hand, wielding outstanding skills in the role of the Heavenly bookkeeper. Since he was born in secrecy, he was named Chitragupta (hidden picture). Nothing escaped his vigilant eye and not a single deed went unnoticed. Chitragupta is also credited with being the first to use letters. He was married twice, to Dakshina Nandini and Erawati Shobawati with whom he fathered twelve children in all.
This divine being with outstanding powers of managing celestial records of the entire human race, is worshipped in several temples in India. Pooja (known as Dawat or inkpot) and Homas are conducted in his honor, along with offerings of books and pens.
Other offerings include honey, jaggery, plates made of leaves, yoghurt, vermillion, brass utensils, betel nut and sandalwood paste. Before conducting the Puja, the place should be thoroughly cleaned and sweets should be prepared. A Swastika is drawn on the ground and an earthen lamp is lit. Ablutions are carried out on Chitragupta’s idol and vermillion is applied on his forehead. Books and stationery items are kept in front of the idol and people chant Mantras dedicated to Chitragupta. Many write Mantras in a bid to replicate his deeds and also offer flowers as a mark of respect. On completion of the Puja, sweets are distributed as Prasad and all the papers, devotees wrote in his honor are immersed in a water body.
Several temples in India are dedicated to Chitragupta, notable of which are in Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh and Udaipur in Rajasthan. Three more temples dedicated to Chitragupta are located in Bihar in the districts of Hajipur, Raxaul and Muzzafarpur.
Chitragupta was born with astute skills in the art of administration and keeping records, which greatly enhanced his prestige among the Gods and even human beings who acknowledged him as an accomplished custodian of human karmic registers. He blesses his devotees with knowledge, wisdom and an analytical mind which is essential to lead a fruitful life even today. All his teachings are highly relevant, especially in the modern world which relies heavily on the administrative and management skills of a person.