Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

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RAKSHASAS

(RAK-sha-sa)
Variations: Ramayana
In the Hinduism that is practiced in India there is a vampiric race of demons known as the rakshasas, created by Brahma to protect the ocean from those who sought to steal the secret Elixir of Immortality. They are part human and part animal, but the human-to-animal ratio varies widely depending on the source being cited. Most often the animal mix is tiger. The Vedas, a Hindu religious text, describes the beings as having five legs and a body completely covered in blood. Modern descriptions of rakshasas add that they have fangs and the ability to use magic.
When not protecting the Elixir of Immortality, the rakshasas live in the treetops; however, they will often wander in cemeteries where they will disrupt services and religious incantations. When hunting for humans to feed upon, the male of the species will stay up in the treetops and wait for its favorite prey to pass underneath: infants or pregnant women. Then, the rakshasas will vomit down onto them, killing them. Female rakshasas, called rakshasis, have the ability to shape-shift into beautiful women, and in that guise will lure men off to a discreet location in order to attack them, draining them of their blood.
There is a belief that if a child can be persuaded to eat human brains, it will transform into this vampiric creature. Atype of sorcerer exists that follows the rakshasas' activities closely, as they will consume the uneaten remains of a rakshasas kill. This act is called YATU DHANA.
Rakshasas can be killed if an exorcism is performed on them, but prolonged exposure to sunlight or burning them to ash works as well.
Source: Crooke, Introduction to the Popular Religion,
124, 154­58, 234, 320; Knapp, Machine, Metaphor, and the Writer, 161­62, 171; Pattanaik, Indian Mythology, 79, 86, 90­96
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