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Yaksha (Sanskrit: yaka)


is the name of a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, who are


caretakers of the natural treasures hidden in the earth and tree roots. They appear [2] in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist mythology. The feminine form of the word [3] [4][5] is yak() or Yakshini (yaki, ).

MathuraYaka, 1st-2nd century CE

In Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist mythology, the yaka has a dual personality. On the one hand, a yaka may be an inoffensive nature-fairy, associated with woods and mountains; but there is also a darker version of the yaka, which is a kind of ghost (bhuta) that haunts the wilderness and waylays and devours travelers, similar to the rakasas. In Klidsa's poem Meghadta, for instance, the yaka narrator is a romantic figure, pining with love for his missing beloved. By contrast, in the didactic Hindu dialogue of the Yakapran "Questions of the Yaka", it is a tutelary spirit of a lake that challenges Yudhihira. Theyakas may have originally been the tutelary gods of forests and villages, and were later viewed as the steward deities of the earth and the wealth buried beneath. In Indian art, male yakas are portrayed either as fearsome warriors or as portly, stout and dwarf-like. Female yakas, known as yakis, are portrayed as beautiful young women with happy round faces and full breasts and hips.

yaksha, also spelled yaksa, Sanskrit masculine singular yaka, Sanskrit feminine singular yakor yakin, in the mythology of India, a class of generally benevolent nature spirits who are the custodians of treasures that are hidden in the earth and in the roots of trees. Principal among the yakshas is Kubera, who rules in the mythical Himalayan kingdom called Alaka. Yakshas were often given homage as tutelary deities of a city, district, lake, or well. Their worship, together with popular belief in nagas (serpent deities), feminine fertility deities, and mother goddesses, probably had its origin among the early indigenous peoples of India. The yaksha cult coexisted with the priest-conducted sacrifices of the Vedic period, and it continued to flourish during the Kushan dynasty. In art, sculptures of yakshas were among the earliest of deities, apparently preceding images of the bodhisattvas and of Brahmanical deities, whose representation they influenced. They also were the prototypes for the attendants of later Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina art.