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.