THE TEMPLE RUINS OF YAXHA, GUATEMALA – THE INDIA CONNECTION

Yaxha is the third-largest Mayan ceremonial city in Guatemala, the other two are named ‘Tikal’ and ‘El Mirador’. The name Yaxha is uncanny. In Sanskrit the word ‘yaksha’ (यक्ष) means ‘demi god’ or ‘spirit’. 


The Mahabharata describes a tribe by the name ‘Yaksha’, which inhabited India and Sri Lanka. The Yaksha tribe had kinship to the Rakshasa tribe. Ravana, (the demonic Rakshasa King who ruled Sri Lanka) mentioned in the Indian epic ‘Ramayana’, was the brother of Kubera, King of the Yakshas. Ravana and Kubera were brothers born to two different mothers. Their father was Pulastya. 


However,  it is believed that the in ancient times the Yakshas traveled from Sri Lanka to many parts of the world including South America. In fact, the Vishnu Purana clearly states that the Yakshas made their home, or even originated from Patala-Loka, which has been identified as Central and South America. It is also stated that there the Yakshas built magnificent temples and palaces.


Gene Matlock, a scholar of Mayan studies, says that, “One of the largest tribes in South America, the Guaraní, derive their collective name from Kuvarani, that is, ‘Kubera’s People’. 


The Yaxha Temple Ruins, Guatemala

The ancient Mayan city, Yaxha was built on the shores of Lake Yaxha. In the ancient Mayan language it is said that ‘Yaxha’ means blue-green and refers to the colour of the water of Yaxha lake. However, it may be that those who have interpreted the Mayan texts have associated the word ‘yaxha’ with blue-green, as the ‘yaksha demi-gods’ were often portrayed with a blue-green complexion. An example is the Yaksha sculpture of Thailand were the complexion of the ‘yaksha’ is always green:



‘Yaksha’ image at a temple in Thailand

That the ancient ruins at Yaxha too have a link to the ‘yakshas’ of the Indian tradition is revealed by two Yaksha stone stelae found at Yaxha. (A stela is an upright stone slab with markings. The plural is ‘stelae’). 


A ‘Yaksha’ stone stela from the ruins
of Yaxha, Guatemala
A ‘Yaksha’ sculpture from India

Just across from ‘Yaxha’ (Guatemala) is the ancient site of Copan in Honduras. Its ancient most name is Yax Mutal. This site too has an India connection. Here is a sculpture of the Monkey God from this site. Notice the ‘gada’ (गदा) in his hand. 

The Monkey God sculpture from Copan,
in Honduras
The Hindu God Hanuman

There are many other ancient sites in South America which bear testimonial to the presence of the ‘yakshas’ in that part of the world. An example is ‘Yaxachilan’ in Mexico.


A lintel from Yaxchilan. 

Notice the ‘yakshas’ with their armaments.



In the Hindu tradition ‘yakshas’ are often portrayed as fearsome warriors and as the guardians of the wealth of the riches of the world. Kubera, the yaksha king, in the Vedic Hindu tradition is regarded as the wealthiest of all deities. Hence, the need for the ‘yaksha’ guards.

To read more about the Sanskrit connection to ‘Yaxchilan’ click here.

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