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Yakshinis (Sanskrit: याक्षिणि, also called yaksinis or yaksis and yakkhini in Pali) are benevolent mythical beings of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology. A yakshini is the female counterpart of the male yaksha, and they both attend on Kubera (also called Kuber), the Hindu god of wealth who rules in the mythical Himalayan kingdom of Alaka. They both look after treasure hidden in the earth and resemble that of fairies. Yakshinis are often depicted as beautiful and voluptuous, with wide hips, narrow waists, broad shoulders, and exaggerated, spherical breasts. In the Uddamareshvara Tantra, thirty-six yakshinis are described, including their mantras and ritual prescriptions. A similar list of yakshas and yakshinis is given in the Tantraraja Tantra, where it says that these beings are givers of whatever is desired. The list of thirty-six yakshinis given in the Uddamareshvara Tantra is as follows:

  1. Vichitra (The Lovely One)
  2. Vibhrama (Amorous One)
  3. Hamsi (Swan)
  4. Bhishani (Terrifying),
  5. Janaranjika (Delighting Men)
  6. Vishala (Large Eyed)
  7. Madana (Lustful)
  8. Ghanta (Bell)
  9. Kalakarni (Ears Adorned with Kalas)
  10. Mahabhaya (Greatly Fearful)
  11. Mahendri (Greatly Powerful)
  12. Shankhini (Conch Girl)
  13. Chandri (Moon Girl)
  14. Shmashana (Cremation Ground Girl)
  15. Vatayakshini, Mekhala (Love Girdle)
  16. Vikala, Lakshmi (Wealth)
  17. Malini (Flower Girl)
  18. Shatapatrika (100 Flowers)
  19. Sulochana (Lovely Eyed)
  20. Shobha
  21. Kapalini (Skull Girl)
  22. Varayakshini
  23. Nati (Actress)
  24. Kameshvari
  25. Unknown
  26. Unknown
  27. Manohara (Fascinating)
  28. Pramoda (Fragrant)
  29. Anuragini (Very Passionate)
  30. Nakhakeshi
  31. Bhamini
  32. Padmini
  33. Svarnavati
  34. Ratipriya (Fond of Love)

Early figures

The three sites of Bharhut, Sanchi, and Mathura, have yielded huge numbers of Yakshi figures, most commonly on the railing pillars of stupas. These show a clear development and progression that establishes certain characteristics of the Yakshi figure such as her nudity, smiling face, common association with fertility (usually shown with her hand touching a tree branch), and sinuous pose.

Yakshis in Kerala

In South India, Yakshis are not considered benevolent beings. They are reputed to waylay men with their beauty and drink their blood. The Yakshi theme is the subject of popular Kerala tales, like the legend of The Yakshi of Trivandrum, as well as of certain movies in modern Malayalam cinema.

In fiction

In Christopher Pike’s novel The Last Vampire, a yakshini is an extremely powerful and evil demon that led to the creation of the vampires around 3000 B.C. in what is now present-day Rajasthan, India. A yakshini was summoned by an Aghoran priest so that it could devour a rakshasa that was causing a plague. The yakshini was summoned into the corpse of a recently deceased woman who had been pregnant. It took control of the woman’s body, horribly maimed and killed the priest, and then appeared to disappear. The yakshini in fact transferred itself into the baby in the dead woman's womb which then begins to show signs of life. The child is freed from the dead woman's womb and grows up as an Aryan boy who is the first vampire.

See also

External links

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