The religious ideas of the illiterate villagers of South India, nominal adherents to Hinduism, are extremely vague, ill-defined and confused. In one respect alone is there general understanding and agreement; this is the universal acceptance of the belief that demon spirits prowl around their homes, ever seeking opportunity to inflict misery and disease upon those who do not adequately propitiate these potential workers of evil. The basis of this belief reaches back into a distant past, antecedent to the influx into the plains of India, through the northwest passes, of those swarms of Aryan-speaking people who brought with them the Vedic cult of the sun, moon and planets, fire, wind and rivers, humanized by anthropomorphic ideology. On entry into India this glorious imagery found itself in conflict with two aboriginal cults strongly entrenched in the religious beliefs of the land. One of these was the worship of gods and goddesses of whom the most honoured or dreaded as the case might be, were those concerned with procreation, the continued fertility of the fields, and with the infliction of epidemic diseases and other miseries. Of these deities we have little precise information but it seems certain that phallic worship, typified in the lingam of Siva, was incorporated in this cult, and that many of the ills that afflict mankind were considered as due to the malevolence of malignant demons and to the jealous hatred of the living possessed by the disembodied spirits of the dead. The other and milder cult native to the soil was the worship of trees and serpents, or rather of the spirits or influences inhabiting them or associated therewith.