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In reading this answer to another question I came across this link which is seemingly a Tibetan Buddhist site proclaiming the following:

In Buddhism the two beings that are often confused with the Christian concept of the devil, Yama and Mara, are also Bodhisattvas. Lord Yama’s job is to make sure beings receive the appropriate karmic retribution in the appropriate hell realm.

Which strikes me as completely antithetical to Buddhism, the Dharma, the Bodhisattva way of life, and well in just about every sense wrong and even dangerous idea about how karma works. This is certainly never been taught to me in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and I would be quite shocked if any of my teachers (in the lineage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama) accepted any of this.

As a student of Tibetan Buddhism, but not specifically the Vajrayana I would like to know if there is any defense of this from the viewpoint of Vajrayana? Does anyone follow this way of thinking?

Personally, I would file this under don't believe everything you read purporting to be Buddha Dharma on the internet. There are ignorant people out there making all kinds of bellicose claims and surrounding themselves in the iconography and material trappings of Tibetan Buddhist culture all the while being shockingly ignorant of Buddha Dharma. This seems to me to be one of them.

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    There's more from the same organisation at holyvajrasana.org/lineage/h-h-dorje-chang-buddha-iii and so on. – ChrisW Mar 25 at 15:47
  • You are going wrong direction and wrong question. This question not change your life. Asking questions according your experience. For example Conflict Habit Practice – user17101 Mar 25 at 18:45
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Let me refer you to The Lamp of Wisdom That Illuminates the Darkness of Ignorance, also known as The Voyage to the Hell of the Exalted Lady Choijid, also known as Tale of Choijid Dakini - a story that was popular in 16th century Tibet, "about virtue, sin and the afterlife, told through a 37-year-old woman’s encounter with Lord Yama in hell."

Čoyijod Dagini

Čoyijid dagini had left life before the time allotted to her. After her soul had gone to hell and there witnessed the judgment of Erlig qaγans, the prince of hell, she returned to earth and into her mortal cover to report and write down what she had seen and experienced in hell. The judgment of Erlig qaγan serves to illustrate the Buddhist teaching that those who have lived a virtuous life are happily reborn, while sinful people have to suffer and suffer inferior existence later in life. Neither the author nor the exact time of origin of this story are known, but it is known that it was published in block print in 1534 in Tibetan. There are several Mongolian translations of this block print, some of which contain changes and additions. What is striking is the change in the name "sinful Gelung" (monk) to sinful Gesgüi "(supervisor at prayer events). So by addressing a higher Lamarang, the narrative got something of a socially critical tendency. Episodes were also inserted in which Erlig qaγan punished high lamas and princes hard for their sins.

Unfortunately, I can't find this story in English, but I have it in Russian and believe me, "Lord Yama’s job" is described in all possible details.

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  • Not to discredit her outrightly; but this very much reminds me of the boy who met with ninja turtles in a near-death experience, or the hyper-realistic dream I had about having a meaningful relationship with a friend from outer space. Perhaps they are all very real -- as real as samsara itself? ;-) – bot1131357 May 27 at 2:54
  • Lol, I was literally answering the question, is Yama the ruler of hell an official part of Tibetan Buddhism, and the answer is yes, since at least 16th century. – Andrei Volkov May 27 at 3:44
  • This is probably borrowed from Hinduism. – ruben2020 May 27 at 14:36
  • As was the rest 99% of Buddhist cosmology. This is called Upaya, the expedient means for helping the most confused. – Andrei Volkov May 27 at 15:07
  • The question was not at all “is Yama the ruler of hell?” – Yeshe Tenley May 28 at 17:38

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