FOREST SHAMAN “BAN JHANKRI”

Banjhākri and Banjhākrini are shamanic deities in the tradition of the Tamang people of Nepal. The two are a couple, and possibly different aspects of the same being.[1] They are supernatural shamans of the forest. In the Nepali languageban means “wilderness”, jhākri means “shaman”, and jhākrini means “shamaness”. Banjhākrini is also known as Lemlemey.

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Banjhākri and Banjhākrini are shamanic deities in the tradition of the Tamang people of Nepal. The two are a couple, and possibly different aspects of the same being.[1] They are supernatural shamans of the forest. In the Nepali languageban means “wilderness”, jhākri means “shaman”, and jhākrini means “shamaness”. Banjhākrini is also known as Lemlemey.

Banjhākri is a short, wild, simian trickster who is a descendant of the Sun.[1] His ears are large and his feet point backward. Long, matted hair covers his entire body, except for his face and palms,[2] and plays a golden dhyāngro.[3] The dhyangro is the frame drumplayed by Nepali jhākri.

Banjhākri finds human children who have the potential to be great shamans, and takes them back to his cave for training. There, the children are in danger of being eaten whole by Banjhākrini. Banjhākrini is both ursine and humanoid, with long hair on her head; long, pendulous breasts; and backward-pointing feet. She is usually described as bloodthirsty and brutal. She carries a symbolic golden sickle.[1][2]

Although Banjhākri abducts boys (and, by some accounts, girls), he does not do so out of malice. He trains the children who pass Banjhākrini’s initiation. When the children return home with their shamanic training, they can become more powerful than the shamans trained by people.

Like the yeti, Banjhākri and Banjhākrini can be seen in our world, and not just in the spirit world. However, only powerful shamans can see him. Although both Banjhākri and yeti are apelike, yeti are taller than humans, whereas Banjhākri is only about 1–1.5 metres (3–5 feet) tall.[2]

Homayun Sidky, a professor of anthropology at Miami University,[4] concludes that Banjhākri is a therianthrope: A humanoid who changes into a non-human animal form.[3]

Some legends say that there are numerous ban-jhākri and ban-jhākrini. In any case, the shamans of Nepal regard the original Banjhākri as the founder of Nepali shamanism. Banjhākri is revered and celebrated as a teacher and as the god of the forest.

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