elves: Indic counterpart?

Chris Haskett chrishaskett at YAHOO.COM
Tue Feb 8 08:07:52 EST 2005

I think my expertise here tends more toward the Tolkien and less the indic lore. Nevertheless, here's an idea  Allen's original criteria included:

The only
thing I could think of was gandharvas, since they are beautiful,
elegants, and sprightly, but they are erotic in a way in which elves (at
least Tolkien's) aren't.

Others have noted longevity, ugliness, short and roly-poly.  Only the first applies--the latter three are for dwarves, clearly vamana--unless one wanted to reserve that for hobbits, who are also short. Elves also needn't be only female.

I think to include longevity, exclude eroticism to some degree, and bring in some connection with forests and supernatural powers, perhaps vanadevatas would be the best bet.

Monier-Williams has vidhyAdharaH, apadevatA, vetAlaH, bhUtaH, rAkshamaH, and pizAcah for elf--please forgive my lack of familiarity with the transliteration.  See his English-Sanskrit dictionary page 221.   I still think vandadevata has something to say for itself.

Chris Haskett

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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