Among the most ancient deities of South Asia, the yaksstraddles the boundaries between popular and textual traditions in both Hinduism and Buddhism and both benevolent and malevolent facets. As a figure of material plenty, the yaksis epitomized as Kubera, god of wealth and king of the yaks In demonic guise, the yaksis related to a large family of demonic and quasi-demonic beings, such as nagas, gandharvas, raksand the man-eating pisaacas.
Translating and interpreting texts and passages from the Vedic literature, the Hindu epics, the Puranas, Kalidasa's Meghaduta, and the Buddhist Jataka Tales, Sutherland traces the development and transformation of the elusive yaksfrom an early identification with the impersonal absolute itself to a progressively more demonic and diminished terrestrial characterization. Her investigation is set within the framework of a larger inquiry into the nature of evil, misfortune, and causation in Indian myth and religion.
Gail Hinich Sutherland is Assistant Professor of Asian Religions at Louisiana State University.
"The author does a very successful job in exploring the place and function of demons in Hindu/Buddhist mythology and iconography. She addresses the ways in which demons dwell on the boundaries between good and evil, human and divine, and, as boundary transgressors, serve to connect the disparate aspects of the religious traditions together. " -- Paul Courtright, Emory University