July 25, 2024
Rakshasas, The Humanoid Beings

Hindu mythology states that Rakshasas are humanoid beings. A few other religions including Buddhism were influenced by this mythology. Rakshasas are believed to be created from Brahma’s breath. Rakshasas are also called as ‘Maneaters’. A Rakshasa in female form is called Rakshasi and a Rakshasa in the form of a human is termed as Rakshesha. The term Rakshasa and Asura are used interchangeably.

At the end of the Satya Yuga when Brahma was asleep, the Rakshasas were born from his breath. The bloodthirsty Rakshasas started devouring Brahma himself, but when he screamed for protection, Vishnu came to help and banished all the Rakshasas to Earth.

In Sanskrit, Rakshasa means ‘Protect Me!’ The name Rakshasas has been given to them after Lord Brahma’s cry for help. Origins of the word Rakshasa, in the literary sense, can be traced toVedic sources in a hymn in the tenth Mandala of the Rigveda.

In terms of appearance, the Rakshasa are enormous, fierce looking, have claw-like and sharp fingernails, are mean, ferocious and ugly looking, have two fangs protruding from top of the mouth and growl like beasts. They eat raw flesh, are voracious man-eaters, drink blood from a human skull or with palms, have flaming hair and vampire-like red eyes. With their magical powers they can take the form of any creature, willingly change their size, vanish or fly. The Mahabharata and Ramayana have mention about both evil and good Rakshasas. In the Ramayana, the commander of Rakshasas was Ravana, the ten headed King of Lanka.