How Night Came Into Being

A Hindu Tale told by D.M. Kartha ©2001. Sent by Cristy West.

Once upon a time only a twin brother and sister lived upon the earth. Their names were Yama and Yami and they loved each other dearly. They roamed the earth enjoying its smells and tastes, it sounds and sights, the touches of the breezes and the feel of the grass beneath their feet.

Where Yama and Yami lived, it was always day and the season was always spring. The sun never set and the moon and stars lay hidden behind its bright, golden light. Time stood still and there was neither yesterday nor tomorrow. The flowers never wilted or died. Beehives overflowed with honey and it was never dry or cold. The birds never became tired of flying, and the trees were never empty of plump, ripe fruits. In this sea of the eternal, happy moment, Yama and Yami swam peacefully like twin swans.

One time, when Yami returned from a solitary walk, she found Yama lying under a tree as if he was asleep. She whispered his name, but he did not answer. She cried out his name in a loud voice, but still there was no answer. Then she shook him gently, but he did not move. She could see no sign that he was breathing and his body felt cold and still.

Yami knew suddenly that she was alone in the world. Her brother Yama was dead. Yami’s sorrow, deeper than the ocean, began to flow out of her heart and through her eyes. It emerged as tears. The river of her tears swelled and began to flood the world. Her sobbing shook the earth and sky, and her grieving heart sent forth an intense fire that started to heat everything up. The gods and goddesses of the elements became worried about the welfare of the earth and all its creatures. They were afraid that Yami’s mourning would bring about the destruction of the world.

The gods took on visible forms and went to Yami as she sat immersed in her agony. They hugged her, and spoke words of comfort to her about the inevitability of death and the need to light the lamp of hope again. But Yami was too sad to listen to consolation. She kept repeating one sentence over and over; “Yama died today! Yama died today!”

The gods and goddesses left in despair. They went to a hillside and sat in silence. Then a thought occurred to them. Yami’s sorrow was perpetuated not just by her love for her brother. In her life, she had known only today. There was no yesterday and no tomorrow. For the pain of Yama’s death to become easier for her to bear, today must end and tomorrow must begin.

The gods and goddesses summoned their powers of creation. First they created the sunset. Then, slowly, a gentle blanket of night enveloped the world. Under the soothing, dark sky of the first night, Yami fell asleep, just as the birds and the animals did, for the first time. When she awoke, the sun was rising in a glorious dance of colors in the eastern sky.

Yami said to herself, “Ah, Yama died yesterday.”

The following day, the gods and goddesses heard Yami say, “Ah, Yama died the day before yesterday.”

As time went by, Yami’s grief began to lessen as the merciful hands of the night dissolved the pain of Yama’s death. Although she never forgot her dear brother, her pain lost its power to haunt her. Her sadness became less fiery, her tears dried up, and the danger her sorrow posed to the world began to fade away.

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