Yakshas and Yakshinis
The yakshas are a class of spirit beings or semi divine beings who are mentioned in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain literature as inhabitants of the subterranean earth and protectors of treasures.
Historically, a tribe of yakshas, known for their wealth and valor, seemed to have ruled some region in the foothills of the Himalayas, which was probably visited by the Pandavas during their sojourns into the north.
Their female counterparts, known as the yakshinis are known for their beauty and charm.
While the male yakshas are depicted in Hindu art and architecture as portly and deformed, the yakshis or yakshinis are depicted as women of great charm and beauty.
We find references to the yakshas and yakshinis in the epics, the Puranas and in the works of Kalidasa. They describe two types of yakshas, benevolent and malevolent.
The Yakshas are described in Hindu literature as the brothers of demonic beings (rakshasas), who live further down below the earth in the subterranean planes.
They are mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and in several Puranasa.
The famous Yaksha king, Lord Kubera was a cousin or brother of Ravana.
It is said that Lord Kubera was a benevolent king, who used to travel in the sky in his celestial spaceship, Pushpaka Vimana, showering people upon earth with his treasures.
Ravana later borrowed the plane from him and kept it with himself. The Pandavas visited the kingdom of Yakshas during their wanderings.
In some folk traditions of India, the yakshas are also worshipped as local deities.
In the Buddhist and Jain art and sculpture they are depicted as associates and attendant deities of Bodhisattvas and Tirthankaras.
Lord Kubera (meaning deformed) is known in Buddhist literature as king Vaisravana and in Jainism as Saravanabhuti.
He is described in the Hindu literature as giver of wealth (dhanada), lord of wealth (dhanadipa), king of kings (rajaraja) and king of hidden mysteries (guhyadhipa).
He is considered the wealthiest of all gods and divinities and a great entertainer, whose court was often frequented by Lord Siva and Parvathi.
Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi is said to be indebted to him because he took a huge loan from him for his marriage, which is yet to be repaid, despite the vast wealth of donations he receives everyday from his devotees.
In Hindu temple art and sculpture, Kubera is depicted with a big belly, dwarfish limbs, and a rather fierce face, seated on a lotus with a club in his hands.
Although he is a yaksha, in Hindu rituals, he enjoys the status of a minor divinity as the lord of desires (Kamesvara) and receives offerings.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Descriptions of Rudra, Rudras in Hindu Scriptures
- Buddhi, Discriminating Intelligence
- Samskaras - Rites and Rituals in Hindu Tradition
- The History and Antiquity of Varanasi
- Chitta - The Mind Stuff
- Asvins, the Twin Gods of Healing in the Vedas
- The Ajivika Sect of Ancient India
- Adityas, the Solar Deities
- The Concept of Atman or Eternal Soul in Hinduism
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- Belief In Atman, The Eternal Soul Or The Inner Self
- Brahman, The Highest God Of Hinduism
- The Bhagavad Gita Original Translations
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- Bhakti yoga or the Yoga of Devotion
- Hinduism And The Evolution of Life And Consciousness
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- Origin, Definition and Introduction to Hinduism
- Symbolic Significance of Numbers in Hinduism
- The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism
- The True Meaning Of Renunciation According To Hinduism
- The Symbolic Significance of Puja Or Worship In Hinduism
- Introduction to the Upanishads of Hinduism
- Origin, Principles, Practice and Types of Yoga