Whenever we are confronted with wicked, selfish or cruel people, we lament the fall of righteousness and yearn for the times when the world was a happier place. But what if we start digging the anatomy of these evil beings right from Hindu mythological history? Whether it challenges one’s belief system or not is a matter of debate. The universal truth is that good prevails over the bad, and it has been proven even in mythologies where we come across demigod like evil entities. Some of them are strong and intelligent while others are conniving, weak and stupid. One has to admit that their monstrous act or evil intention was the cause of their destruction. We’re listing the top 10 evil people who are portrayed in Hindu mythology.
She was the beloved wife of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. She was the most preferred of his three wives but Kaikeyi took advantage of her status and was responsible for the 14-year exile of Rama. It was her greed to secure the throne for her son Bharata that made her do the religiously held evil act. Although some argue that it was her help Manthara who poisoned her mind against Rama this does not lessens the guilt of Kaikeyi which resulted in Dasharatha’s death.
The sister of Hiranyakashipu and the aunt of Prahlad, the Bhagavata Purana describes Holika as a demoness who had a boon that prevented fire from burning her. She decides to use this boon to help her brother kill Prahlad, who had become a devotee of Lord Vishnu much to the chagrin of Hiranyakashipu. Holika sits on a pyre with Prahlad but instead of killing Vishnu’s devotee, the flames burn Holika to death. Hindus mark the victory of good over evil as Holika Dahan.
He was the eldest son of King Dhritarashtra of Hastinapur. Duryodhana was envious of Pandavas, his cousins, who he viewed as his competitors to the throne. During his birth, the sages were anxious as there were several ill-omened signs. They even advised Gandhari to abort the child as they predicted he’ll cause misfortune to many, but she didn’t. Mahabharata would have never happened had Gandhari followed the advice of the sages.
She was the help of queen Kaikeyi, who accompanied and stayed with her in Ayodhya after Kaikeyi’s marriage to King Dasharatha. It was Manthara’s instigation that made Kaikeyi force Dasharatha to send Rama to exile and favour her son Bharata for the throne. The name ‘Manthara’ has, over the course of time, become synonymous with someone who conspires.
Surpanakha was the sister of Ravana, the king of Lanka. When she made unwelcomed advances towards both Rama and Lakshmana, the latter chopped off her nose. Humiliated, Surpanakha enticed Ravana by singing praises of Sita’s beauty and how she deserved to be a Lankan queen. Already enraged, ravana he abducts Sita sparking the events that led to the battle of Lanka. Some say that the battle would never have happened if Surpanakaha not made the first move.
5. Daksha Prajapati:
He had the honour of being the father-in-law of Lord Shiva but he was not happy with the fact that his daughter, Sati, had married a yogi. Infuriated, Daksha Prajapati once held a mammoth ceremony where he invited everyone from gods to mortals but intentionally did not invite Sati and Shiva. Sati arrived, nevertheless, but after witnessing the humiliation of her husband – whose image Daksha had erected at the entrance – in his absence, she committed suicide by jumping into the yagna fire. Thus, came about the ire of Lord Shiva who killed Daksha.
Putna was Kansa’s orderly who dressed herself like a beautiful damsel and arrived in Gokul, the place where an infant Krishna was being raised by his foster parents. She attracted everyone with her gorgeous looks. The Gopis thought that she is some kind of goddess and they saluted her. She ventured into Krishna’s nursery hoping to kill him with the poison she had smeared on her breasts. Yashoda, Krishna mother was absent at that time and Putna had ample time to feed the little baby. But mythology says that little Krishna sucked the life out of her.
Shakuni was the prince of Gandhara and one of the main villains in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He was the brother of Gandhari and hence Duryodhana’s maternal uncle. Shakuni is believed to have very sharp mind though full of with evil plans. He is often criticized as the mastermind behind the Mahabharata war.
Kansa, the King of Mathura, was Devki’s brother and Krishna’s uncle. He heard a prophecy that Devki’s eighth son will kill him. So, Kansa jailed his sister along with brother-in-law Vasudeva. He killed the first seven sons of Devki but destiny had its own story to unfold. Devki gave birth to Krishna and he’s taken to safety by Nand, who becomes his foster father. Later, a grown up Krishna avenges the humiliation of his real parents by killing Kansa, fulfilling the prophesy.
The demon of all demons and wisest among the wise, Ravana has no equal in the entire Hindu mythology. He is the main antagonist in Ramayana whose act of abducting Sita leads to his death at the hands of Rama. Although some do not considered Ravana as an evil character, he is held as the epitome of unrighteousness by religious puritans.