views updated May 18 2018

Yakkha (Pāli; Skt., Yakṣa).
1. In Buddhism, historical and legendary communities. References to Yakkhas belong to three main types or classes: (i) the records of Buddhist contact with individual Yakkhas or communities of Yakkhas; (ii) the records showing the actual process of amalgamation of the Yakkha tribes with the ‘cultured peoples’; (iii) the records which preserve the myths and legends of the Yakkhas as they persisted in society long after the Yakkhas lost their tribal identities.

2. Supernatural beings in Buddhism (cf. Hindu yakṣa) who may be neutral in their relations to humans, but who more often are malevolent.