In Hindu mythology, demons are often referred to as rakshasas. It is necessary to determine that these Hindu Demons are supernatural beings who are considered equivalent to humans and Hindu Gods. 

However, it is only in recent times that these Hindu Demons have been considered or incorporated into man-eaters in the Indian culture. Furthermore, they have also been widely accepted in Buddhism, as well. Rakshas are Hindu symbols of Nri-chaksas or kravyads.

The female demon is known as rakshasi. The female demons can take up the form of a human. In such situations, they may be referred to as rakshasa. Asuras and rakshasas both translate to Hindu Demons, and these terms may be used interchangeably.

The Creations of Brahma

According to Hindu mythology, humans, gods, and demons are regarded as the children of Brahma, the universe’s creator. However, the difference in their way of thinking and understanding Brahma’s teachings varied, eventually leading to one’s being considered evil and the other being considered the good. Although there are strong and intelligent demons in India’s culture, some are the creation of good and evil. 

As per the Vedic creation theory, Brahma is the supreme Lord of heaven. Brahma is further responsible for the creation of humans (manavas), Gods (devtas), and demons (asuras, rakshasas, and danavas). The demons are often referred to as daityas. While humans are the intermediary, Gods enjoy the light of heaven, and demons live in the lower region or patala and become a victim to the darkness. The world of demons is full of darkness. 

The demons represent the pain principle. It is said that humans consist of God and humans’ qualities, which is why they are subjected to pain and pleasure. It is just human kshetra. We only experience the force strongly that is the most existent among us. 

If the body becomes prone to demons, we tend to suffer a lot. Our body literally becomes hell with darkness all around. Humans become prone to pride, egoism, rajas, tamas, pride, delusion, and envy. With demons taking over our bodies, we tend to become prone to all impurities and negative thoughts.

Hence, humans should work on resisting the demonic forces. To keep away from the demonic influences, women should focus on virtue, dharma, knowledge, and work towards freedom and liberation.

Top Demons of India culture

According to the Hindu symbols, certain demons are powerful. But some demons are weak and not intelligent. But over the years, in Hindu culture, only strong demons have been looked upon.

1. Ravana

Ravana is one of the main Hindu Demons. The powerful demon King fought against Lord Rama. The demon King has twenty hands and ten heads. Ravana is often hailed as one of the strongest demons capable of changing planets’ alignment. Apart from being powerful, he was extremely intellectual who had mastered all the major scripts from Hindu mythology.

Ravana was a great devotee to Lord Shiva. Ravana abducted Sita, Rama’s wife, and in the war between the two, Rama killed Ravana (This story is the basis for the famous Hindu festival, Diwali). Ravana was one of the longest-living demons. Ravana was killed at the age of 12,00,000 years in the fight.

Hindu demons Ravana
A man in Ravana's costume

Apart from being a powerful demon, Ravana was also brilliant and often hailed to be the world’s first astrologer. Ravana was well-versed in warfare, arts, music, science, and spirituality. According to various Hindu mythology stories, Ravana once made a veena (musical instrument) whose strings were made out of his own intestine. Ravana adopted this practice to be blessed by the Lord. 

Ravana had the capability to clone him. He had 1 lakh (100,000) sons, but only 2 of them were real, and the rest were just his clone. As far as Ravana’s childhood is concerned, he never got to experience his teenage life. This is mostly because, at the age of 8 years, Ravana’s mother had requested his mother to turn their son into an adult. Ravana’s father’s expertise in this technique.

2. Hiranyaksha

The eldest son of Kashyapa and Ditti was an oppressive demon. He belonged to the category of danavas and was also known as Hiranyanetra. Hiranyaksha attacked heaven and also planned to destroy the Earth goddess from Hindu mythology. 

Hiranyaksha was an incarnation of one of the dwarapalas of Vishu, the Vijaya. Hiranyaksha was later on killed by Varaha, one of the forms of Lord Vishnu.

Hindu demon Hiranyaksha
Varaha save world from Hiranyaksha

3. Surpanakha

If you’ve read the Ramayana, you must know Surpanakha. However, if you’ve not, then let us tell you, Surpanakha is the sister of Ravana. 

Surpanakha is a wicked demoness. Although so ugly, she had the desire to be married to Lord Rama. Surpanakha was the wife of Dustabudhi.

As the name suggests, Dustabudhi is the one with the naughty brain. Dustabudhi was a greedy person who wanted to win over Ravana’s kingdom. When Ravana got to know about the intentions of Dustabudhi, the former killed him. Since then, Surpanakha returned to her brother and started living with them. 

A few years later, Surpanakha saw Lakshmana and Rama roaming around the forest. In their sight, she was attracted to them and wanted to marry them.

However, both declined the proposal, and she became agitated. To win over the love, she even attempted to attack Sita, wife of Rama and sister-in-law of Lakshmana. 

Because of this behavior, Lakshmana got very angry and chopped off her nose, post which a huge battle occurred between Rama and Surpanakha.

In the end, Surpanakha lost the battle. Rama emerged victoriously, and Surpanakha eventually left crying to complain about the incident to her brother, the Demon King, Ravana.

Valmiki's ramayana amazon
Valmiki's Ramayana - Click For Details!

It was only after a few years that Surpanakha passed away and her cause of death still happens to be a cause of mystery.

4. Mahishasur

His name consists of the word ‘asur.’ Mahishasur is a demon king who inherited a buffalo’s body but the upper part of a human. Mahishasur’s father was the demon king who gradually became attracted to a buffalo’s beauty and married her.

In their union, the buffalo gave birth to Mahishasur (Mahisha means buffalo, whereas asur means a demon). He was a devotee of Lord Brahma and eventually got a blessing from him. According to the blessing, no man on the planet would ever be able to kill him, and that a woman could only kill him. 

Hindu demons Mahishasura
Hindu demon Mahishasura

Mahishasur was extremely powerful, and it was his pride that led to his downfall. He was proud and overconfident about the fact that no man on this planet could kill him, and hence, he would be immortal.

At the same time, he was also very sure that no woman would be able to kill him because she wouldn’t match his strength. However, the prophecy was fulfilled when Mahishasur met death at the hands of Ma Durga. In a battle between the two, Goddess Durga killed him to prevent the huge ruckus he was causing.

5. Putana

The story of Putana is found in the stories of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna, the divine being, is one of the most important Gods in Indian culture. As he was the supreme personality, he was responsible for killing all demons and protecting the devotees. 

Putana was a demon who learned the black magic art and knew how to kill infants. Putana’s black magic made her able to kill babies. Once Krishna was born, Kansa, his maternal uncle, had sent Purana to kill infant Krishna. 

Killing, Putana, Saraba - Wooden carvings - Vazhappally Temple

Putana dressed up as a beautiful lady and set out to meet Krishna. She had visited the house to kill him, but people thought that the beautiful lady praised the child, but that wasn’t true.

Putana entered the house and found the infant in his room. She took him on her lap. The wicked demoness had poisoned her breast and pushed the nipple in his mouth to breastfeed him the poisonous milk. She had planned that this would kill her. 

The plan went all wrong, and the infant sucked the life out of her. Eventually, the demoness returned to her normal form and died screaming of pain. On returning to her normal form, Putana’s body extended up to 12 miles crashing the trees and the village houses.

6. Mahabali

Not every demon in the Hindu mythology was bad. Mahabali is himself an example of one of the most generous demon kings. Everyone around was happy under the rule of Mahabali. He wished the best of his people and was completely devoted to the Lord.

One time, a Vamana came to his kingdom and asked the demon King to give him a piece of land that can be covered by his footsteps. It was Lord Vishnu who had disguised himself as the Vamana.

Hindu demon Mahabali
Hindu demon Mahabali

Being the generous demon king that Mahabali is, he promised to fulfill the wish of Vamana. On hearing this, the Vamana increased his size. The footstep covered the entire world, and Mahabali came to know who the Vamana was. 

To seek blessings from the Lord, Mahabali requested Vamana to put the third step on his forehead. On receiving the footstep, Mahabali met death. To celebrate the victory of good over evil, several places around the world celebrate Onam.

7. Kumbhakaran

Kumbhakaran is neither completely evil nor completely good. He knew that he wasn’t walking the right path, yet he chose to tread along the way for the sake of his brother.

Hindu demon Kumbhakarna
Kumbhakarna yawns as he is roused from sleep

Kumbhakaran, or the sleeping giant, was blessed with the capability to sleep for months. Moreover, he could also go on eating the entire world and yet won’t be satisfied. His body was huge.

Although a demon, Kumbhakaran was extremely learned and a great philosopher. Because of his learnings, he knew that all these were sins and never wanted to be indulged in one. 

Once Kumbhakaran’s brother, Lord Ravana, needed his sleep, he forgot his principles. It was considered impossible to wake Kumbhakaran.

When war broke out between Ram and Ravana, the latter’s army was skeptical of waking him up. But, Ravana wanted his strong brother to be on his side, for his other brother, Vibhishan, had already betrayed him.

To wake Kumbhakaran for the war, one thousand elephants were made for walking over his body. Eventually, Kumbhakaran woke up. Kumbhakaran was a man of principles and knew that his brother was on the wrong track.

He even tried to convince his brother that he was wrong. Eventually, Kumbhakaran sided with Ravana and waged the battle. Ravana waged war, and Kumbhakaran destroyed half the army of Rama. However, Rama killed Kumbhakaran. 

8. Raktabija

Raktabija is often hailed to be one of the strongest demons who had a very weird boon or blessing. As per the blessing, if one drop of Raktabija’s blood fell on the ground, from the same, a duplicate of him would be born. Hence, it was very difficult to defeat or kill Raktabija. Because of his blessing, no one even dared to challenge him. 

The Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight Mother Goddesses in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija

Every time Raktabija’s duplicate was formed, his power would be increased. It was Goddess Durga who came forward the undefeatable Raktabija. But, even she wasn’t able to defeat him. 

Raktabija’s blood spilled around during the battle, and from those blood spills, thousands of Raktabija were born. Eventually, the Hindu Goddess Kali came forward and pierced the demon. Even before a drop of blood fell on the ground, and new Raktabija could come up, Goddess Kali drank every drop of blood.

9. Tarakasura

The evil King Tarakasura was also a mighty demon. Being powerful that he is, Tarakasura was able to defeat all his challengers. Once the challengers were defeated, Tarakasura transformed them into his servants. He hailed the Gods and eventually received their blessing. Tarakasura turned to kill the King and innocent people too. Hence, he began to misuse his power. 

As per the boon, Tarakasura could only be defeated by the son of Lord Shiva. However, Shiva had no child. But, after Shiva’s marriage with Parvati, Kartikeya was born. Kartikeya fought Tarakasura and killed him. Not only that, Tarakasura’s brothers were killed in the battle. Tarakasura is often referred to as Murugun and is worshipped across different parts of the world.

10. Hiranyakshipu

The brother of Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakshipu, was the egoistic demon king. He believed himself to be equal to the Gods and wanted his people to praise him to the same level. The demon king considered himself to be the center of the world.

He believed that he was the creator of the universe who had the supreme power, and no one could control him. Although the whole kingdom worshipped him, his own son, Prahlad, refused to worship his own father as the Lord.

Hindu demon Hiranyakshipu
Hiranyakashipu wielding a mace against Narasimha

Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Out of jealousy, Hiranyakshipu tried his best to kill his son. After the failure of all his efforts, he asked his sister, Holika, to sit on fire with his son on her lap. However, this attempt failed too, and Holika caught fire. 

Eventually, Lord Narsimha, a form of Lord Vishnu, tore apart from the demon Hiranyakshipu and killed him. Hiranyakshipu symbolizes immortality and hate. However, his son stood up as the symbol of assurance and was a strong believer in God. The place where the demon resides is also the place where a believer grew.

11. Narakashura

Narakashura is yet another demon king. He was the ruler of Pradyosapuram. His people did not like him, for he tortured them. Once upon a time, he had kidnapped around 1600 women and tortured them only to gain pleasure. 

Narakashura was also responsible for killing sages and innocent people. His people were no longer able to keep up with the torchers with the demon king. As a result, all of them approached the supreme being, Krishna. 

Krishna Battles the Armies of the Demon Naraka

Krishna promised that he would fight and kill the demon king on their behalf. However, Naraksura was cursed. His curses stated that only a woman would be able to kill him.

Both Krishna and his wife fought the battle against Naraksura. Eventually, both of them emerged victoriously and killed Naraksura. Narak Chaturdashi is celebrated all around the world as a sign of Krishna’s victory against Naraksura.

12. Banasura

Banasura or Bana was the son of Mahabali, the demon KingKing. In India, there’s a hill named Banasura hill dedicated to Banasur. 

Banasura was the ruler of the large kingdom of Shontipur. He was one of the strongest demon kings. His influence and threat were so strong that even the lords feared him. Banasura was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. 

As per Hindu mythology, the Agnigarh hillock was constructed of Banasura to keep his daughter segregated from others.

Hindu demon Banasura
Krishna forgives Banasura

Conclusion

Although these demons were powerful, they weren’t all evil. Many of them practiced evil deeds, but many demons believed in serving the people. 

Hindu mythology has stories about many demons. These demons often considered themselves to be the equal of Gods, which often led to their downfall. 

There are many more who tried to step over and become God. But the Gods of heaven showed them their real place.

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