Nature spirits associated with South Asian and Southeast Asian mythologies / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The yakshas (Sanskrit: यक्ष yakṣa; Pali: yakkha) are a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, but sometimes mischievous or capricious, connected with water, fertility, trees, the forest, treasure and wilderness.[4][5] They appear in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist texts, as well as ancient and medieval era temples of South Asia and Southeast Asia as guardian deities.[5][6] The feminine form of the word is yakṣī[7] or yakshini (Sanskrit: यक्षिणी yakṣiṇī; Pali:Yakkhini).[8]

Remains of the colossal statues of the Parkham Yaksha (150 BCE) and the Mudgarpani ("Mace-holder") Yaksha (100 BCE), Mathura. These colossal statues stand around two metres tall.[1] The Mudgarpani Yaksha holds a mudgar mace in the right hand, and the left hand used to support a small standing devotee or child joining hands in prayer.[2][3]
Art of Mathura, Mathura Museum

In Hindu, Jain and Buddhist texts, the yakṣa has a dual personality. On the one hand, a yakṣa may be an inoffensive nature-fairy, associated with woods and mountains; but there is also a darker version of the yakṣa, which is a kind of ghost (bhuta) that haunts the wilderness and waylays and devours travellers, similar to the rakṣasas.