So who are these Yakshas were they feared? Were they tormentors or protectors, or simply creatures from the Cosmic World. For Centuries & ages these questions have always hounded us & people continue to be worrisome of them. But while we are taking a round of the 48 kos (192kms) Ranbhumi (War Field) of Kurukshetra, we are introduced to the Four Yakshas or the Guardians of Kuruskshetra & without knowing them Kurukshetra is definitely not complete.
The Word Yaksh means mysterious, supernatural being manifesting itself suddenly, they are the creatures described in the Rig Ved, Atharva Veda who are mix of both benevolence & evil, while if we look at the Shivopanishad, it recommends their destruction. They have been recognized in Buddhism & Jainism as well.
Kurukshetra as mentioned in the earlier paragraph is protected by the four invincible Yaksha’s known as Ratna, Arantuka, Kapila & Machakruka, who are even described in the Vaman Puran or even in the Satapatha Brahaman, in addition to the Buddhist text of Yaksha Chaitya’s. These four Yaksha’s are the guardians of the four corners of Kurukshetra & are considered to be partly helpful & partly destructive. Distinguished by their muscular stout builds, bulging bellies, turbaned heads, scarf on the shoulders & arms, dhotis neatly worn, heavy earrings has been a symbol of power, wealth, protectors & guarding angels as well.
Interestingly while the Buddhist & Jain texts also recognize them on similar lines, it’s often believed in Jainism that there is always a Yaksha attached to a spiritual master & are considered as Demigods or gods of intermediate status. Throughout the Vedas & Upanishads or various Puran’s we have known Kuber the king of these Yaksha’s & on similar lines as mentioned in ancient literary texts Lord Sri Vishnu pleased with the penance of King Kuru (founder of Kurukshetra) assigned a Yaksha named Chandra to protect Kurujangla (ancient name of Kuruskhetra).
Kuruskshetra has since then been protected & guarded by these four Yakshas or Dwarpals as stated below:
1. The North East Corner by Ratna/Ratnuk located at Bid Pipli on the bank of River Saraswati.
2. The North West Corner by Arantuka in the village Beharyakh located at Kaithal district of Haryana.
3. The South West Corner by Kapila or Ramahadra situated in Ramrai to the South west of Jhind district of Haryana. Phokarkheri Village.
4. And the South East corner by Machakruka located at the Village Sinkh in Panipat district.
Yaksha worship has been widely practiced in the Indian Sub-Continent since the Vedic ages & quite widespread similar to a cult in the land of Kurukshetra. Yaksha Cult over a period of time has evolved from the convergence of Tantrsim & Shakti Worship. While Lord Buddha traveled from Hastinapur to Gandhar he was accompanied by his close disciple Ananda & a Yaksha called Vajrapani. Through the anals of time we may have forgotten these Yaksha’s, but their Cult still continue’s & being guardian deities of Kurukshetra they continue to remind us of our glorious vedic culture which was often replicated in other forms across Bharat Varsh.