Yama, the chief of the blessed dead, is the subject of three hymns. Another (x. 10) consists of a conversation between him and his sister Yami. He is associated with Varuna, Brhaspati, and, most notably,
Pass on the Karma!
Multiply the positivity, through the Sanatan
Agni, the conductor of the dead, who is both his friend and priest. He is not explicitly designated as a god, but rather as a being who rules over the dead. He is associated with the departed Fathers, particularly the Angirases, and comes to the sacrifice to drink Soma with them.
Yama lives in the far reaches of the sky. He is surrounded by songs and the sound of the flute in his abode, which is the home of the gods. Soma is pressed for Yama, ghee is offered to him, and he arrives at the sacrifice to take his place. He is invoked to guide his devotees to the gods and to extend life.
His father's name is Vivasvant, and his mother's name is Saranyu. Yami refers to Yama as the "only mortal" in her conversation with him, and he is said to have chosen death and abandoned his body elsewhere. He left for the other world, having discovered the path for many to where the ancient Fathers died. Yama's path is death. His foot-fetter (pádbisa) is described as a parallel to Varuna's bond. The owl (luka) and the pigeon (kapóta) are mentioned as his messengers, but his regular emissaries are two four-eyed, broad-nosed, brindled dogs, sons of Sarama (sarameyáu). They protect the path that the dead man takes to join the Fathers who rejoice with Yama. They keep an eye on men and travel among the peoples as Yama's messengers. They are prayed to for continued enjoyment of the sun's light.
Yama appears to have been regarded as a mortal who became the chief of the souls of the departed as the first father of mankind and the first of those who died. He travels back to the Indo-Iranian period, because the primal twins from whom the human race is descended, Yama and Yami, are identical with the Avesta's Yima and Yimeh. Yama himself may have been regarded as a king of a golden age at the time, as he is the ruler of an earthly paradise in the Avesta and a heavenly paradise in the RV.