Yama’s Stone

Temple Tale

Walk through the main gate of the Jagannatha Temple, and soon you’ll find yourself ascending steps. 22 steps. These steps are called the Baisi Pahacha and have their own sanctity.

Into the third step of these famed twenty-two steps, a black piece of stone has been inset. This is the Yamashila, Yama’s Stone. Yama is the Hindu God of Death, who also maintains records of a person’s deeds with the help of Chitragupta. And the story behind this small stone says that if you step on it while entering the temple, it robs you of your sins ‘paap’ but if you do so while going out, it takes away the merits ‘punya’ of the darshan. This is extremely unusual, for it takes away not only sins but also merits. And hence, the people customarily step on the stone while entering the temple but do not do so on their way back. Here in Puri, Yama’s account-book can be modified by mortals.

So the next time you go to Puri, look out for that black bar of stone.

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