Yakshas

A 2000-year-old aesthetically carved sculpture of dancing Yakshas has been excavated from a famous Buddhist site in the State’s Krishna district close to a National Highway that runs between Vijayawada and Hyderabad.
The fragmented sculpture on a stone slab measuring 15 x10 x5 cm had once adorned the roof of the Maha Stupa at Gummadi Durru in the district.
Giving details of the recent exploration at the site, he said that the sculpture depicts the Yakshas playing instruments and dancing.
“The garments and facial expressions of the Yakshas in the sculpture are akin to the Amaravathi school of Buddhist art,” he said.
The site was first discovered during the excavation made by East India Company during British Raj and has been unapproachable till recently as it was covered with thick bushes and shrubs.
After cutting the thick forest strip embracing a hillock at the site, ASI has taken up the excavation work for the conservation of the antiques, Das said.[Sculpture of dancing Yakshas excavated in Hyderabad]

In Hinduism besides the pantheon of main Gods, there are a large number of lesser ones like the snake-spirits (Nagas) and earth-spirits (yakshas). Of these the Yakshas associated with Kubera and are considered friendly, but those of the female gender, the Yakshis, would sometimes have you for dinner. Some Yakshas are romantic, like the one who convinces a cloud to take a message to his wife in Kalidasas’s Meghadūta, while some are quiz masters, like the one Yudhistira encountered near a lake.

From Hinduism, Buddhism too inherited the yakshas and they are the attendants of Vaiśravaṇa, a chief modeled like Kubera. One famous sculpture from the Mauryan era is that of the Didarganj Yaksi (pic). The stupa railings in Bharhut in Madhya Pradesh are carved with both yakshas and yakshis besides scenes from the Jataka tales.

See Also: Buddhist Art at Amaravati

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