image from thehotspotonline.com
Apart from the vampire creatures of Desi horror flicks do vampires have a history in Indian folklore? Well, yes…in fact, it is rumoured that some of the vampire myths abounding in the West drew their roots from places like India, Tibet, China and Egypt, as tales were carried back and forth along the silk route, passing through the Mediterranean and spreading stories stories out along the Black sea coast to Greece, the Balkans and of course the Carpathian Mountains, including Hungary and Transylvania.
Here are some Desi Vampire cousins of traditional western vampires…
Although the Goddess Kali is clearly not a vampire…she does drink blood, and certainly has a relationship with divine thirst…a nocturnal force of nature, she is also sometimes represented with fangs, and is an avatar of destructive beauty. She wears a wears a garland of corpses or skulls and has four arms. Her temples are located near cremation grounds. She and the goddess Durga battled the demon Raktabija who could reproduce himself from each drop of blood spilled. Kali drank all his blood so none was spilled, thereby winning the battle and killing him. Other names for Kali were Sara or the Black Goddess, by the Gypsies. (excerpt from wikipedia)
image from thaliathook
This vampire race was short in stature, only standing one and a half meters tall. But, height was not the only thing that had set this species apart; it seems that the Baital was half man and half bat.
image from thefightingfury
The Pacu Pati:
The Pacu Pati is another powerful vampire from India. Deemed as the lord of all beings of mischief. It is seen at night in cemeteries and places of execution. The Pisacha, another name for the Pacu Pati were a race of flesh eaters. They are described as evil ghouls that were created by the vices of humankind. Although its attitude is generally not human friendly, it will cure diseases if enticed to do so. Its favorite pass-time is the consumption of human flesh. Also included in this species is the Mmbyu (death), it was considered the chief of all malevolent creatures. They were vampires of a demonic nature who torment their victims through demonic possessions.
image from link
The Rakshasa was a powerful Indian vampire and magician. They like to confuse those around them by appearing either in human form with animal attributes (claws, fangs, slitted eyes, etc.) or as animals with human features (feet, hands, flattened nose, etc.). The animal side is very often a tiger. They are known to eat the victim’s flesh in addition to drinking their blood. The Rakshasa are a shape-shifting species of Hindu mythology that were originally created by the Brahma to protect the sea from those that wanted to steal the elixir of immortality from it. They lived in Lanka (Ceylon) and were ruled by Ravana. Later they became identified as demonic creatures that would often take the shape of a seductive woman and lure men to their deaths. In other accounts these creatures lived in trees and caused vomiting and indigestion to those who strayed to close to its domain. It was said that children would become one of these creatures if they could be induced to eat human brains. The Rakshasa were no longer human but still possessed a physical nature, they loved to prey upon the helpless. Another description of this vampire was a grave wandering, flesh eating, blood-drinking version of elves sporting fangs and drenched in blood. As you can see there are several different versions of this vampire, but they were all accepted as reality by the Hindus who wrote of such a creature in the Vedas. It was possible to destroy this creature by burning, exposing to sunlight or exorcism.
(this is definitely the most bizarre account of Rakshashas I’ve ever come across but maybe folklore took them in another direction…)
image from Buddha
In northern India, there is the BrahmarākŞhasa or the Brahmaparusha, were a vampire-like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood. This vampire-like creature was a head encircled by intestines and carried a skull from which it drank blood. It was told in folklore that this evil spirit enjoyed eating humans and it would drink the victims blood through the skull it carried, then eat the victims brains. Afterward it would wrap the intestines of the victim around its body to perform a ritual dance.
image from link
The Churel or (Churail):
is a vicious vengeful ghost-like vampire found in India. It is normally a woman who died while pregnant during the Diwali festival or while unclean at any time. They are said to have vile appearances, possessing pendulant breasts, thick ugly lips, black tongues and unkept hair. They preyed upon young men, keeping them captive and slowly draining their life forces until they become withered old men. She is said to hate life, and keeps all her greatest spite for her relatives.
Is a female vampire of India; she is said to be the spirit of the burial grounds. The Masani is black in appearance and her hunts are conducted at night, starting as she emerges from a funeral pyre. Anyone passing the burial site will be attacked.
Interestingly enough, Vampires have a different life cycle in Hinduism than they do in Christianity. In Christianity they are understood as a form of demon, that is expected to live forever, that is, until judgement day, when they will then (or if they are killed earlier) be forever more burned in the fires of hell like any other demon. Hinduism is less brutal to its beasties. Apparently you may be able to die and be reincarnated in mortal human flesh. And be warned… it is supposed that leading an unholy or immoral life, sin or suicide, will lead the soul to reincarnate into such evil spirits. Excellent news.
The first part of the documentary on Vampire folklore has some stuff on Indian vampires…