Monday, November 23, 2015



Yakshi – Female Earth Spirit - Symbol of Fertility

Yakshi is female earth spirits which is considered as a symbol of fertility by the Hindu, Jain and the Buddhist faith and are portrayed as wide-hipped voluptuous women with narrow waists, broad shoulders who caused a tree to bear fruit by simply touching it with her foot.

Here the figure is depicted smartly unified in the form of a column, the centre of which takes the shape of a leafy tree. The yakshi is generally depicted with her upper hands holding a branch of the tree with a graceful pose which is a traditional gesture in sculptures of yakshi. The Ashoka tree is closely linked with the Yakshini mythological beings.

Yakshi with her foot on the trunk and her hands holding the branch of anartificial flowering askoka or less often other tree with flowers of fruits, is one of the frequent elements in India art that is found at the gates of Buddhist as well as Hindu temples.The sculptures of yakshi are generally perceived in intricate architectural motifs on the porticoes of temples as well as stupas.

These types of figures recognized often as mother-goddesses date back to the Indus Valley civilization which is the earliest known Indian urban culture.

Yakshi Female Counterpart of Male Yaksha

Yakshi or Yakshini or Yakkhini are mythical beings and the female counterpart of the male Yaksha who are attendees of Kubera, the Hindu god of wealth. He rules in the mythical Himalayan kingdom of Alaka. They are considered to be guardians of the treasure that is hidden in the earth, resembling fairy.

 Thirty six Yakshinis, in Uddamareshvara Tantra, are described which include their mantras as well as ritual prescriptions. In early Buddhist monuments, Yakshis were considered important as decorative element and are found in several ancient Buddhist archaeological locations.

One will find an identical list of Yakshas and Yakshinis in the Tantraraja Tantra which states that these beings are givers of whatever is preferred.

 Though Yakshinis are generally generous, there are other yakshinis with spiteful characteristics in Indian folklore. In pre-Aryan days, the folk goddesses were protective deities in Indian religions and yakshis were worshipped by the rural folks with the expectations of boon or protection from evil.

Main Indian religions of later day considered these goddesses to attract the rural folks, making them accept these religions without reservation. Importance to yakshis in Jainism is seen from the fact, that there is a yakshi of each of the 24 tirthankaras and is the tirthankaras of the guardian deities.

Yakshi have Special Place in Art History of India

Five out of these 24 yakshis, are celebrated in sculptures, terracotta figurines and bronzes, the popular ones are Ambica, the yakshi of Neminatha, the 22nd tirthankara. The others are the Jwalamalini, Padmavathy, Siddhakkiya and Chakreswari, the protecting goddesses of Parsvanatha, Mahaveera, Chandraprabha and Adinatha, respectively, the 23rd and 24th - the last, the eighth and the first tirthankaras.

Yakshis have now become folk deities again due to the decline of Jainism. Retired senior epigraphist, V, Vedachalam, of Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department who has done perceptive research on the origin and the growth of the yakshi cult has commented that `yakshis have a special place in the art history of India’.

From the fourth century B.C. during the time of the Mauryas, the Kushanas – second century B.C. and the Guptas – fourth century A.D. right to the 13th century A.D. yakshi has been celebrated in hundreds of standalone sculptures, terracotta figurines, bas-beliefs and stunning bronzes. Nonetheless, yakshis worship was recognized in a regular manner from the Gupta era. In Tamil Nadu one will find separate shrines for them dating from the 12th century.

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