Hindus believe that a deity named Chitragupta is in charge of recording all the deeds -- both good and bad -- that people perform during their lifetimes. Chitragupta is an angelic being called a deva, and he works for the Hindu god of death, Yama (who is also sometimes known as Dharam Raja) writing down people's actions in the Akashic records (a mystical code of everything that has ever happened in the universe).
Chitragupta's name is similar to the names of the two angels in Sikhism who record people's deeds during their lifetimes: Chitar and Gupat (whose alternate names are Chitra and Gupta, which together form Chitragupta's name).
Recording Every Action
Chitragupta notices and records absolutely everything a person chooses to do during his or her lifetime, believers say.
"Chitragupta knows all of the deeds and behaviors of each individual on Earth," writes Constance Victoria Briggs in her book Encyclopedia of the Unseen World: The Ultimate Guide to Apparitions, Death Bed Visions, Mediums, Shadow People, Wandering Spirits, and Much, Much More.
In his book Fasts and Festivals of India, Manish Verma writes that, "Chitra Gupta literally means 'hidden picture' and it is he who presents a true picture of our actions after death."
Reviewing the Records for Judgment
Yama (Dharam Raja) carefully reviews the records that Chitragupta has kept on every person, and then uses the recorded information about each person's actions to decide how to reincarnate that person in the next life, say believers.
"In ancient Indian mythology, Chitra Gupta is the scribe who records all actions of every human being," writes Kamaljeet Singh Dogra in his book Prayer at Dawn. "These records are reviewed by Dharam Raja for judging the soul after it migrates to the next world after death."
Briggs writes in Encyclopedia of the Unseen World that Yama and his helpers take the souls of people who have just died to a place called Yamalok to examine them, "and his or her good and bad acts are recorded and kept by the god Chitragupta (the keeper of records of humanity). ... From these records, Yama decides where the person will go in his or her next incarnation."
In Fasts and Festivals of India, Verma writes: "It is Chitra Gupta who maintains the accounts of our good and bad actions in this world, and we are rewarded or punished accordingly in the afterlife. The good and evil deeds are reckoned and judgment passed by Yama. The good are then sent to one of the higher Lokas or worlds, and the sinful are sent to hell to receive their deserts."
Chaitra Purnima Festival
During the full moon in either March or April, people in India celebrate a festival called Chaitra Purnima to honor Chitragupta and try to motivate him to show them grace when recording the details of their lives, believers say.
In their book Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Constance A. Jones and James D. Ryan write that people celebrate Chaitra Purnima "to recognize Chitragupta, assistant to the god of death Yama. It is thought that if he is honored while people are alive he may be more lenient with them after death."
Knowing that Chitragupta is watching them and writing down what they choose to do at every moment gives people valuable motivation to reflect on their lives and intentionally make good choices whenever possible, say believers.
Verma writes in Fasts and Festivals of India: "The worship and prayer offered to Chitra Gupta, the chief scribe of Yama, makes us aware that the gods up above are keeping a watch of each and every action of ours and maintaining a record of it. It helps us in self-analysis and maintaining a good conduct so as to reap good rewards and avoid punishment after death. It also reminds us that a sin can be forgiven if one repents sincerely, vows not to repeat it, and prays to the Lord with a penitent heart, devotion and intense faith."
As people reflect on the information that's being recorded about them in the Akashic records, they can begin to understand the impact that they and their choices make on all of creation, since everything is unified, believers say.
In her book The New Akashic Records: Knowing, Healing & Spiritual Practice, Cheryl Trine writes: "As Book of Life, we think of the Akashic Records as having a scribe or recorder whom we meet upon entering. Whether this person be Thoth, the Egyptian God of Writing; or Chitra Gupta, scribe for Yama, the Hindu God of Death; or Metatron, also called Enoch, the man chosen by God to become angel; there must be some type of intermediary between us and the information to be had from our Akashic Records. Whether we call them guides, keepers, or Lords of Karma, we picture someone helping us find our one book among the many, helping us find the right page amongst the uncountable pages available. However, within the perspective of Spiritual Energy Dynamics ... opening the Akashic Records is actually an opening into the collective experience of All That Is and is also the beginning of understanding the experience of Unity. Practically speaking, opening the Akashic Records feels like sending your awareness into the unknown to have a conversation with those who are deeply aware and full of love, compassion, and energy for you."