(Last Updated on : 12/09/2009)
There are two great classifications of such forms of evil and demon spirits in Hindu mythology; one is created by the Gods during the creation of the world and thus brought into the world as demons or Gunas, soon after. The forms of evils and demon spirits in Hindu mythology depend on the cause and kind of death occurred to the individual.
The demons usually act at the orders of the greater deities as Nandi of Lord Siva or the demons, who were decreed by Siva to destroy the yajna by Daksheye Prajapati. The second category comprises of those demons, whose were created due to man, rather to the spirits of men, who have once lived on the earth. The existence of these demons is derived from deceased spirits of dead human beings and it is to these that admiration and propitiation are commonly offered. All malignant devils are believed to have been originally human beings.
If a man is injured and finally killed by a tiger or dies due to snakebite and does not receive proper funeral ceremonies, becomes a ghostly spirit. It is believed that to become an unquiet spirit, roaming about with malicious intentions is only possible if the death has occurred due to sudden and unhealthy reason. Death in an accident and formal discarding without proper funeral ceremonies or deaths inflicted by criminals and disposal of the body furtively without proper religious rites changes the transitional body into deadly and fiery ghosts or roaming spirits.
In Southern India, it is believed that if a dishonorable man dies accidentally, his evil nature never expires and his every nearby souls assumes his personality and lives after him as a demon. This is equally applicable to women, so the demons can be of both the sexes, of any caste. Similarly demons may be of all and any ranks and may have either distinguished or of low castes, as the cheating devils, deceitful devils, gaming devils and others. A criminal who dies in a nasty accident, his sins and crimes live after him in the shape of spiteful demons, as assassinate devils, theft devils, infidelity devils and so on. Such demons are always on the search for weak-minded people and influence them to commit crimes of similar type. Incarnated diseases, calamities, disasters, hailstorms are strongly believed to be the activities of demons.
These lower forms of evil demons had been once the dwellers of human bodies that are mostly dreaded by the general mass of Hindus and therefore mostly worshipped to keep them calm. These are of three classes-bhuta, preta and pisacha.
Bhuta is spirit originating from a man, who has died of a violent incident either by accident, suicide or capital punishment. The one who has not had proper funeral ceremony performed later.
A Preta is the spirit of a malformed or crippled person or of one imperfect in some limb or organ or of a child who expires prematurely due to the omission of ceremonies during the creation of the embryo. It may not necessarily be an evil liable spirit.
A Pisacha is a demon formed due to a man`s vices. The ghost of a drunkard, liar, and criminal of any kind, adulterer or one who died as insane is a Pisacha. The Pisitchas are malevolent and roguish. They haunt graveyards or take up trees as their abode. They may take hideous or striking shapes and even the appearance of men. Animal blood is their favorite food but they generally feed on corpses and may even dwell in dead bodies. They may even enter human beings through the mouth and may bring about diseases and unpleasant affections of all kinds. They may take the shape of a dog, cat, serpent or other animal.
No real worship is actually performed for these demons. There are hardly any temples raised to satisfy them. The only place of worship is a sheer heap of earth piled up in a mountain shape, near some tree, or a similar creation formed with bricks that is painted with long streaks of white. There are no special prayers said at such shrines, but offerings of food are often arranged in such customs.
In southern India devil worship is more religiously practiced as compared to the North. Demonophobia is a common ceremony for the dead, prevalent all over the south. The main reason for this could be the dominance of Saivism on a wide scale or that during southern invasion the Dravidian and when they met with the aboriginal tribes. These tribes appeared to them as if resembling those of the demons. As the Aryans advanced their energized imagination, they converted these powerful enemies into supernatural giants and veritable demons called Rakshas. With the passing days, Aryans, Dravidians and indigenous mixed together the dread of demons and generated many more customs to keep away these demons. The lower castes called the Shanars are so scared of the South, that they made a rule never face the doors of their houses towards the South, or else the Evil spirits may enter their houses from that side.
The more, we move to the south, nearer Sri Lanka, we find the people drooped in demonolatry and drenched with every form of superstitious fear of evil spirits. The ghosts and roguish ugly demons are playing an important role in their day-to-day lives. Therefore devil worship and propitiation still prevails among the villagers, who make huge clay horse in their fields, in honor of the male guardian God Ayenar, who is known to be a brave horseman and the most energetic anti-demonist. Offerings and other prayers are presented to these clay horse God images.
The Shanars, whose is known as a cultivator and climbs the Palmyra tree for the sake of the juice, consider every malady to be more superstitious and influenced by a devil and that a sacrifice is always necessary for its removal. Strange severity or continuance of any disease proves the possession to be of the devil spirit. According to Bishop Caldwell, when a woman weeps and laughs alternately, without any proper cause, or screams and looks wild, when no snake or wild beast can be apparently seen, the devil is supposed to be the cause of this hysterical behavior.