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We have heard and read lot of stories involving Yakshas like Kuber was a Yaksha, there was an encounter of Yudhisthir with Yaksha who asked seven questions to him(ofcourse that was revealed to be Dharmaraj later). My question is who are Yakshas and how were they different from normal human beings. Do they possess any powers. Do they have any responsibilities towards anything? Also how come Kuber be a Yaksha when his father sage Vishrawa was a Brahmin?

  • yaksha was yama; the god of death the had taken the form of yaksha to see and test yudhistra . he asked yudhistra many questions. – harsh rawat Nov 16 '17 at 6:44
  • @Aby yaksha is a yoni of beings. They reside in yaksha loka. Like devas and gandharvas they too are celestial beings. Yaksh usually are devoted to lord shiva. Gandharvas are.also celestial beings. – Rakesh Joshi Nov 16 '17 at 16:21
  • Kuber father was brahmin true. But he was also father.of demon right ? BecAuse of mother – Rakesh Joshi Nov 16 '17 at 17:11
  • Yakshas and Rakshasas are counterpart same as how Devas and Daityas are. Added answer with references... – YDS Dec 23 '17 at 19:47
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Yakshas and Rakshasas are counterpart same as how Devas and Daityas are.

Screenshot from Valmiki Ramayana: UTTARA KANDA: Sarga 4 (Sanskrit - Hindi version by Chaturvedi Dwarka Prasad Sharma): Valmiki Ramayana - Uttar Kanda - Sarga 4

Transliteration:

  1. prajāpatiḥ purā sṛṣṭvā apaḥ salilasaṃbhavaḥ

    tāsāṃ gopāyano sattvān asṛjat padmasaṃbhavaḥ

  2. te sattvāḥ sattvakartāraṃ vinītavad upasthitāḥ

    kiṃ kurma iti bhāṣantaḥ kṣutpipāsā bhayārditāḥ

  3. prajāpatis tu tāny āha sattvāhi prahasann iva

    ābhāṣya vācā yatnena rakṣadhvam iti mānadaḥ

  4. rakṣāma iti tatrānyair yakṣāmeti tathāparaiḥ

    bhuṅkṣitābhuṅkṣitair uktas tatas tān āha bhūtakṛt

  5. rakṣāma iti yair uktaṃ rākṣasās te bhavantu vaḥ

    yakṣāma iti yair uktaṃ te vai yakṣā bhavantu vaḥ

English translation:

The lotus born one [Lord Bhrahma] generated creatures for protecting that element (water). And thereupon those creatures humbly presented themselves before the creator, saying, What shall we do? We are sore tried by hunger and thirst. The lord of creatures, laughing, addressed them, saying, Ye men, do ye carefully guard this (water). Thereat some said Rakshama, and others Yakshama.

Thus accosted by those afflicted with hunger and thirst, the creator said, Those among you who have said Rakshama, shall be called Rakshasas and those among you who have said Yakshama shall be called Yakshas.


Yakshas

Yakshas' lineage is not mentioned clearly in scriptures but they engaged in virtuous deeds, became powerful and came to be known as demigods.

Later Vaisravana (son of Visrava i.e. Kubera) did intense penance and got boons from Lord Bhrahma of protecting people (the post Lokapala) and god of Riches (the post of Vitarakshanam). Lord Bhrahma gave him Pushpaka vimana too and provided the status equivalent to Devas.

  • Kubera became king of Yakshas and Lanka.

Rakshasas

On another hand Rakshasas too did intense penance, became powerful but didn't engaged in virtuous deeds.

Among the Rakshasas, who thus guarded the sacred waters, Hoti (or Heti) and Prahoti became the leaders of the Rakshasas. Praheti went in forest for tapsya.

But Heti wanted to marry and got married to Kala's sister Bhaya. Heti's son was Vidhyutkesha. Sukesha (who was abandoned by his mother soon after his birth but later was blessed by Lord Shiva and Paravati) was son of Vidhyutkesha. Sukesha's sons were Malyavan, Sumali and Mali.

  • Malyavan's children: Vajramushti, Virupaksha, Durmukh, Suptaghana, Yaghyakopa, Matta, Unamnta, Analaa

  • Sumali's children: Prahasta, Akampana, Viakata, Kalikamukha, Dhumraksha, Danda, Suparshva, Sanghadi, Praghasa, Bhaskarna, Kumbhinashi, Kaikashi (Ravana's mother), Rakaa, Pushpotaktaa

  • Mali's children: Anala, Anila, Hara, Sampati (later they became ministers of Vibhishana)


Lanka

  1. Lanka was built by Vishvakarma. Malyavan, Sumali and Mali used to live in Lanka. Later they attacked Devas and Lord Vishnu came to fight with them. Lord Vishnu killed Mali. Seeing Mali slain, Sumali and Malyavan, burning in grief, led precipitately towards Lanka along with their forces. But Lord Vishnu didn't stop killing Rakshas.

    • Malyavan, Sumali and Mali became king of Rakshasas and Lanka.
  2. And albeit inlated with pride, they, incapable of coping with Vishnu, leaving Lanka, went to the nether regions (Rasatala) with their wives for dwelling there. Then Kubera started living in Lanka.

    • Kubera became king of Yakshas and Lanka.
  3. Later Sumali encouraged his daughter Kaikesi to marry Visrava. Coming to know that his daughter's sons, Dasanana and his two brothers, got powerful boons (Dasanana was incapable of being slain by Nagas, Yakshas, Daityas, Danavas and the Devas) form Lord Brahma, Sumali shed all his fear of Vishnu and came out from Rasatala. Later Sumali encouraged Ravana to take Lanka back from Kubera. Vishrva advised Kubera to leave Lanka and build another city name Alkapuri on Kailash mountain which Kubera accepted.

    • Ravana became king of Rakshasas and Lanka.

How are they different from normal human beings, do they possess any powers? How come Kuber be a Yaksha when his father sage Vishrawa was a Brahmin?

Yes, they possess powers. Nature of Rakshas' power is Tamsik however nature of Yakshas' power is Rajasik. Kubera didn't born from Yakshas, his grand father was a Bhrahmrishi and his father was Visharva and mother was a daughter of Rajrishi. But later he evaluated to the king of Yakshas. As I mentioned above Kubera did intense penance and asked boons from Lord Bhrahma and became Lokapala, God of riches and king of Yakshas. On another hand, Ravana's father was also same Visharva (however mother was different) but Ravana joined his maternal uncles who were from Rakashas. Rakashas later appointed Ravana as their king.


Sources:

Valmiki Ramayana: UTTARA KANDA: Sarga 3 - Sarga 11

  • Thanks for your answer. It solved my doubt about how Kuber became a Yaksha/King of Yakshas and also cleared that Yakshas are normal beings, rather a kind of designation/title who is given to different people at different times and they may/may not have special powers. – Aby Dec 29 '17 at 20:34
  • This is a very good answer, but can you add parenthetical translations for the transliterated words? For example, "some said Rakshama ("We will protect."), and others Yakshama ("We will sacrifice.")," and also things such as, "Lord Bhrahma gave him the chariot Pushpaka Vimana too." I am not sure if these translations are correct, so I don't want to risk editing your answer. But, if I am looking these things up I think future seekers will want to know as well. – Rubellite Yakṣī May 3 '18 at 4:27
  • Which book is the screenshot from ? Is it Valmiki Ramayana? It will be helpful for us if the chapter numbers are also added in the answer. – Sarvabhouma yesterday
  • @RubelliteYakṣī & Sarvabhouma Done! :) – YDS 19 hours ago
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Yaksha is very similar to Jinn (or Ginny). They are usually demonic entities (as per ISKCON) or Ogres (as per Gambhirananda). Though they are similar, they are different from the Rakshasa.

From Wikipedia article:

Yaksha (Sanskrit yakṣa, Pali yakkha) is the name of a broad class of nature-spirits (or demons), usually benevolent, who are caretakers of the natural treasures hidden in the earth and tree roots. They appear in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist texts. The feminine form of the word is yakṣī or Yakshini (yakṣiṇī).

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 travelers, similar to the rakṣasas.

According to Gita, the people with Rajasic nature worship them.

यजन्ते सात्त्विका देवान्यक्षरक्षांसि राजसाः। प्रेतान्भूतगणांश्चान्ये यजन्ते तामसा जनाः
BG 17.4 - Those with sattva, worship the deva-s; those having rajas, worship the ogres (yaksha) and monsters (rAkshasa); Other people possessed of tamas, worship ghosts and the spirits

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    Thanks for your reply but Kuber was also a Yaksha and he was not of demonic appearance. Rather, he was the son of Sage Vishrawa who was a brahmin and still Kuber is a Yaksha. I am mainly confused with this. I am ok with the point that they are the caretakers of natural treasures hidden in earth and woods but who assigned them this responsibility and divided their areas. – Aby Sep 1 '15 at 13:27
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    @iammilind Yaksha doesn't mean demon. The translation is just eliding the distinction between Yakshas and Rakshasas. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 6 '15 at 10:39
  • @KeshavSrinivasan, I too wasn't sure initially but even asitis also gives similar translation. Let me know if there is more accurate meaning for it. – iammilind Sep 6 '15 at 11:36
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    vedabase.com and asitis.com are both websites which display the same ISKCON translation "Bhagavad Gita As It Is". The translation is imprecise in this verse, eliding the distinction between Yaksha and Rakshasa. Yaksha aren't demons, there's no precise English-language equivalent but they're a race similar to dwarves or elves or goblins. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 6 '15 at 11:44
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    In European lore fairies can be mischievous or very helpful depending on how they are treated (think Tinkerbell for an overly-simple example). They included not just winged fairies (sylphs)—as most think—but water fairies (undines), and earth fairies (gnomes, kobalds, and dwarves). Maybe I am wrong, but I read that yakshas can also be helpful, beautiful, and kind or scary, ugly, and mean. Like Western fairies they are nature spirits of trees and other plants, but also especially of minerals, gemstones, and "buried treasures." I didn't find any water yakshas; only water rakshasas. – Rubellite Yakṣī May 3 '18 at 4:59
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Yaksha's are in the similar class structure as the Maruts (which are the warriors of Rudra). Yaksha's are the warriors for Kubera. Known yaksha's include Lord Hanuman and Devi Mahalakshmi (yakshini). They wield the same powers as the gods and can grant all boons. They are associated with Rudra. They have all ashtasiddhis and protect devotees. They have mastered all there senses and have obtained deva-powers because of there self-mastery.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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protected by iammilind Nov 16 '17 at 8:39

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