Yakṣas was originally published by the
Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in two parts (1928 and
1931). Subsequently, Ananda Coomaraswamy re-thought his topic and
a great deal of iconographic and literary material that permitted him to
reconstitute a pre-Vedic cosmology with which the Yakṣas, a whole series
of pre-vedic and non-Vedic divinities, were intimately associated.
In part I, Coomaraswamy examined the origin of Yakṣas
in the context of Vedic, Brāhmanical and Upani adic literature. His
thorough revisions of the early chapters of part I are incorporated in
this edition. Coomaraswamy dealt with the interpretative levels of the
artistic motif in part II. He delved deeper to unfold the water
cosmology underlying what may appear on surface as either a minor
deity or tutelary god, or only an ornamental motif.
Coomaraswamy did not restrict himself
to the Indian literature on water cosmology but drew attention to many
ancient cultures, especially those of Egypt and Iran.