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Who is Chitragupta?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
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Chitragupta is a god in Hindu mythology, responsible for tracking people through their lives to determine where they go after they die. He is the son of Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe, and holds a fairly special place in the Hindu pantheon because of the order of his birth. An important puja, or Hindu religious ritual, is done to Chitragupta.

Lord Brahma had many various sons and daughters in various myth structures, including many seers born of his mind, such as Vashishta, Narada, and Atri, and many sons born of his body, such as Dharma, Delusion, Lust, Death, and Bharata. 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, and a common thread is that he is born directly of Lord Brahma’s body.

In one popular version of the creation myth of Chitragupta, it is said that Lord Brahma gave the land of the dead over to the god Yama, also known as Dharamraj or Yamraj. Yama would become confused sometimes when dead souls would come to him, and would occasionally send the wrong souls to either heaven or hell. Lord Brahma commanded him to keep better track of everyone, and Yama declared that he could not reasonably be expected to keep track of the many people born of the eighty-four different life forms in the three worlds.

Lord Brahma, determined to solve this problem for Yama, sat in meditation for many thousands of years. Finally he opened his eyes, and a man stood before him with a pen and paper. As Chitragupta was born of Lord Brahma’s body, or kaya in Sanskrit, Brahma declared that his children would forever be known as Kayasthas. As he was first conceived in Brahma’s mind, or chitra, and then made whole in secrecy, or gupta, away from the other gods, he was named Chitragupta.

Chitragupta is sometimes also referred to as the first man to use letters, and is hailed that way in the Garud Puran. He is known as being incredibly meticulous, and with his pen and paper he tracks every action of every sentient life form, building up a record of them over the course of their life so that when they die the fate of their soul can be easily determined. These perfect and complete documents are referred to in mystical traditions as the Akashic records, and as they contain the actions of each person from birth to death, they can be said to contain every action taken in the universe.

Items associated with Chitragupta in his puja include the paper and pen, ink, honey, betel nut, matches, mustard, sugar, sandalwood, and frankincense. A puja is often performed to Chitragupta in reverence of the four virtues he is seen to embody: justice, peace, literacy, and knowledge. Part of the Chitragupta puja also includes writing down how much money you make in your household, and how much you need to make to survive in the following year, while making offerings of turmeric, flowers, and vermilion.

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Discussion Comments

By anon990966 — On May 18, 2015

The ancient world of India is deserving of applause for accurate language and recording. It is in Ancient India where it all began in the written world of languages. Let us consider all those religions who steal from Hinduism, and let us acknowledge the facts of prejudice of Hindu Dharma and Bon Societies. Islam came to India to destroy what was already fully established and recorded by the Gupta Kayastha Empire.

By anon290349 — On Sep 09, 2012

I have read too much about different religions which are made by humans only. But after all, there is only one meaning in all religions made by us.

1. Never say false things. 2. Don't behave badly. 3. Never kill anyone. 4. Live and let live (peace), etc. too many truths which are similar in all religions.

There is only one God. Hindu says it is Bhagwan, Islam says Paigambar, Christians say the god, but there is no difference. If you look deeply in every book, there you will find only One which we know as God, Bhagwan or Paigambar. There is no difference.

So why we are fighting each other? If we find god in our soul, we will find it. As we all know, a truth is that as we are born, we will have to die. Even this world will die at a certain time. So, If our god gives us a life to live peacefully and give us an opportunity to permanently leave the birth and death cycle, why can't we see our soul?

If you agree with me, please pass this message to everybody in the world, and let's save the worldWe are not god, but we can try to save this world. I hope this step can be good for all.

By candyquilt — On Mar 13, 2011

I'm surprised to hear about the notion of recording one's good and bad deeds in Hinduism. The same notion is also in Islam. In the Qur'an, it says that there are two angels, one on our right shoulder and one our left shoulder. The one on the right records our good deeds and the angel on the left records our bad deeds. On the day of judgment, Allah will weigh our good and bad deeds on a scale. If our good deeds are more, we will go to heaven and if our bad deeds are more, we will go to hell. I know that there isn't heaven and hell in Hinduism, but the recording of our deeds seem to exists in many belief systems.

By burcidi — On Mar 11, 2011

I heard that if one does Satyanarayana pooja, Chitragupta pooja and Lakshmi pooja on a full moon day, he or she will have material wealth and abundance. Has anyone else heard of this and tried this? Satyanarayana is another form of Lord Vishnu, preserver of the universe, Chitragupta is the son of Brahma, creator of universe and Lakshmi, goddess of wealth is the wife of Vishnu. So, can we just pray to Vishnu and Brahma for financial comfort and prosperity?

By ddljohn — On Mar 10, 2011

I was born and raised in the U.S., so I don't know too much about the Hindu gods. I do remember Chitragupta though because my grandmother used to live with us before she passed away. Every time I was mischievous or did something wrong, she would tell me about Chitragupta and how he was noting everything I did. She would scare me saying that I would not reach nirvana and liberation if I did bad things. And that I would have to be reborn over and over again until I paid for my deeds. Boy, was that enough for me to be well behaved!

By turquoise — On Mar 08, 2011

My family is from North India. We do Chitragupta puja (worship)and have festivals in honor of Chitragupta on a particular day in the year. There is also a puja for Chitragupta during Diwali, the festival of lights every November. Not everyone does this but studying is particularly important for my family so Chitragupta puja is an important function. Since Chitragupta is symbolized by pen and paper, we do not use any pen or paper the day before puja and then on the day of puja we include pen and paper in our worship.

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