Tree Ghosts

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Tree Ghosts

Tree spirits of the Indian subcontinent were among the many mythological spirit entities described by William Crooke in his book Religion and Folklore of Northern India (1926).

"These tree ghosts are, it is needless to say, very numerous. Hence most local shrines are constructed under trees; and in one particular tree, the Bira, the jungle tribes of Mirzapur locate Bagheswar, the tiger godling, one of their most dreaded deities. In the Konkan, according to Mr. Campbell, the medium or Bhagat who becomes possessed is called Jhad, or 'tree,' apparently because he is a favourite dwelling-place for spirits.

"In the Dakkhin it is believed that the spirit of the pregnant woman of Churel lives in a tree, and the Abors and Padams of East Bengal believe that spirits in trees kidnap children. Many of these tree spirits appear in the folk-tales. Thus, Devadatta worshipped a tree which one day suddenly split in two and a nymph appeared who invited him to go inside the tree. In there was a heavenly palace of jewels and Vidyatprabha, the maiden daughter of the king of the Yakshas [supernatural beings]; in another story the mendicant heard inside a tree the Yaksha joking with his wife."

Sources:

Crooke, William. Religion and Folklore of Northern India. Humphrey, Milford: Oxford University Press, 1926.