© 2023 Dr. M. Sheppard

Demons Disease Causing Demons Kola-sanniya and his companions Atura-sanniya Kalu and Aimana-yakka Vata-Kumara Kalu-Kumara Sunni-yakka Mahasona Siri-yakka

History of the Demons

There are believed to be 4 worlds – North, South, East and West with the mountain Meru rising in the centre. To the South lives the King of the Ghosts, in the West dwells the ruler of the snake people. In the East live the demons and their lesser king and then to the North is the main empire of the demons with the most powerful Demon King to whom all the others owe  obeisance. This king is 160 miles high and has a blue body with 3 eyes. The third one is in the middle of his forehead. His name is Vesamunu-rajjuruvo. He wears a crown and holds  a huge sword 16 miles long, in his right hand. In his left he carries a shield as big as the Moon. He rides an enormous blue horse 256 miles long and has 60 carriages filled with jewels. According to legend he was appointed the king of all the disease causing demons by Buddha and Sakra and it is his orders that they are carrying out when they attack humans.

The Disease Causing Demons

The principal ones are as follows:

Siri-yakka– blood demon    

Mahasona – the cemetery Demon   Suniya-yakka  

Kalu-kumara – the Black Prince   

Vatu- kumara – the round prince

Kalu- yakka – the black yakka    

Aimana   Atura-sanniya  

Kola-sanniya or Sanni-yakka who is the illness yakka in charge of the 18 sanni demons. These are the demons represented in the final stage of a Devil Dance by the dancers wearing the masks. Each of these demons is believed to be responsible for certain illnesses.

One legend  about the demons is that at one time Buddha decided to visit their land disguised as a beggar. He intended to reason with them to stop them afflicting mankind. Sakra offered to go with him but Buddha decided to go alone. He called in their land begging for a place to spend the night. They rudely refused him several times but eventually relented and gave him the top of a very small rock. When it became dark and cold Buddha radiated his halo and heated up the rock. The demons  became frightened and rushed to tell their king. He would not believe them until it grew hotter and hotter and the rock started to glow. The demons in terror threw themselves at Buddha’s feet begging for mercy. He took pity on them and agreed to release them so long as when they were summoned by an Edura they must attend, accept the offerings made to them and release the person they had afflicted from their troubles and illness.

A person may be afflicted by more than one demon with sickness. These demons dwell in certain places at different times of the day e.g. big ancient trees, caves, deserted places, crossroads or in the case of Mahasona the Great Cemetery Demon, in graveyards. Others are believed to wander around the villages disguised as villagers. How the demons afflict the individual  and cause sickness is open to debate. Some believe that it is enough to just meet a demon at one of the above places, or to be afflicted from great distances, or they may afflict the person with a great shock. Other demons  may enter the person and suck their blood or eat their entrails causing them to become very thin and weak. I met examples of all of these causes whilst attending Devil Dances.

The afflicted person will not recover from demon attack and return to health until the appropriate ceremony is held in which the afflicted demon is summoned by the Devil Dancer, the patient makes offerings and then the Demon will release them.