Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 6: Chapter 3: Verses 1-13
A dialogue between Yama (the god of retribution) and his messengers
The king (Pariksit) said : What did the god Yama (the deity presiding over righteousness), under whose sway all this (animate) creation is and whose authority was thus
obstructed, say in reply to his servants-who had been foiled by the messengers of Lord Visnu (the Slayer of the demon Mura)-on hearing their report ? (Such) supersession of the authority of the glorious Yama at the hands of another was never heard of before, o (holy) sage ! (And) none other than you can resolve the doubt which will arise in the popular mind on this point; that is my conviction.Sri Suka replied : The messengers of Yama, whose efforts (to execute the commands of their master) were interrupted by the servants of the Lord, O king, submitted to their master, Yama, the ruler of the (city of) Samyamani (as follows).
The messengers of Yama said : How many in this world are the rulers of human beings performing actions of three kinds (virtuous, sinful and of a mixed type)-rulers who are responsible for the manifestation (dispensation) of their fruit (in the shape of happiness, misery and a mixture of both)? If there be in the world many a ruler wielding the rod of punishment, who would suffer death (the tortures of hell) and who would enjoy immortality or heavenly bliss (in the event of a split, resulting in a complete deadlock); whereas (in the reverse case , i.e., in the event of harmonious relations, obtaining between them) who would not experience the tortures of hell as well as immortality too (for, while one ruler may ordain hellish tortures in the case of a particular man in view of a grievous sin committed by him, overlooking his meritorious acts, another may condone his faults and reward his virtuous deeds with immortality and the orders of both will be executed as carrying equal force). If there be a plurality of rulers in this world for (the control of) the vast number of men engaged in action, their authority will (no doubt) exist. Such authority (however) would be only secondary like that enjoyed by tributary chiefs (inasmuch as it would extend over a limited section of humanity and would not be absolute and primary, thus rendering it necessary to postulate another ruler exercising primary, and universal authority).
Therefore (a plurality of rulers being out of the question), you are (to our mind) the one Supreme Lord and ruler of all living beings-including the guardian deities-capable of distinguishing the merit and sin of men (who alone enjoy freedom of action), and (actually) wielding the rod of punishment (for the evil-doers, and rewarding the virtuous). Such as you are, your authority stands superseded and no longer prevails in the world today, as is evidenced by the fact that your command was set at naught by four wonderful angelic persons l They forcibly released a sinner who was being taken by us under your order to the infernal regions (the places of suffering), cutting the nooses (with which he had been fastened). We are keen to know them (their particulars) from you, if you deem it good for us (as otherwise by showing disrespect to them through ignorance we may bring harm even to you). The moment the word'Narayana' was uttered (by the sinner) they hastened in saying "Do not be afraid I" Sri Suka continued : Thus interrogated the celebrated god Yama, the controller of living beings, was (greatly) delighted and replied to his messengers (as follows), contemplating on the lotus-feet of Sri Hari. Yama said : The Supreme Lord of the mobile and immobile creation is other than me (and all other guardians of the spheres-Indra, Varuna and others). It is by Him that the whole universe stands pervaded on all sides as a piece of cloth by its warp and woof. (Nay,) it is from His part manifestations (Brahma, Visnu and Siva) that the evolution, maintenance and dissolution of this universe proceed and the (entire) creation is subject to His control even as a bullock tied with a string passed through its nostrils is controlled by the man holding the string. Just as a farmer ties (his) oxen with tethers to a big cord (to keep them together), He binds men with (different) denominations (Brahmana, Ksatriya and so on) to His own Word (the Veda)-allots them different duties as enjoined by the Vedas; and, bound by (these) strong ties in the shape of class, names and obligations (attaching thereto), the aforesaid men meticulously bear offerings (do homage) to Him (through the scrupulous discharge of their duties).