Ghosts, or Bhoot as they are called across India, have been dominating the cultural and literary space of the country for centuries. Through tales or anecdotes, Bhoot enter our minds during the impressionable ages of our childhood and remain fixated in our psyche as long as we are alive. We are both frightened and delighted at the mention of ghosts. Such is the power they have on us. But do you know ghosts have, perhaps, as many varieties as there are humans on the planet? They come in all shapes and sizes and can do logic-defying things that can put…umm…Rohit Shetty movies to shame! We could not have counted all of them for you! So we have the 10 greatest ghosts and spirits of the Indian supernatural you have been hearing in stories, watching on screens and, perhaps, experienced in real life. (Ooh, that’s scary!)
1. Pishacha – The dark Superman.
Very dark complexion, bulging biceps and glowing red eyes – this is what a Pishacha is. Basically, a Pishacha is dark Superman! According, to Hindu mythology they were created by Brahma. (Who else?) Superstitious people say Pishachas feed on human energies, possess the ever helpless humans and alter their thoughts, often turning them insane. It has also lent its name to the most inferior type of marriage according to Hindu mythology.
2. Chudail – Scary godmother #1.
One of the two great Godmothers of all dark forces, the Chudail is the Indian counterpart of the Western witch. She often appears as a beautiful maiden who seduces and sucks the blood of her victims, obviously men. Some say they have feet turned backwards. It is said that women who die at childbirth or during pregnancy due to neglect by family members turn into Chudails.
Now I know why they took extra care of pregnant women in ancient and medieval times.
3. Daayan – Scary godmother #2.
The other great Godmother of popular evil imagination. A Daayan is basically an uglier version of the Chudail. She not only sucks blood but also eats the flesh of her victims. The usual stuff such as the sex and serenade are there. Oh, and she has a film to her name – ‘Ek Thi Daayan’! They presented her as a spirit whose power lay in her long braid. She’s also said to have the “reverse feet” syndrome.
4. Preta and Pretni – Possible lovebirds of ghost world.
The male, Preta, are ghosts of the most vile among human beings or those who have committed suicide. The female, Pretni, is the unfortunate one who dies unmarried. Originally from Bengal, tales have carried them to other parts of India and they now command a special respect among their spirit brethren. They are the most powerful shape-shifters and do all the evil stuff you can think of. The Pretni is the one of the three female spirits suffering from the “reverse feet” syndrome.
5. Brahmarakshas – Trends with #Respect on ghost-book.
He was the main antagonist, and may I say better performer, in ‘Creature 3D’.
A Brahmarakshas is the spirit of a Brahmin who has done evil deeds. They are brutal killers of the ghost world. Many South Indian temples have idols of these spirits, who are worshipped by people. Privileges of being a Brahmin, I guess!
6. Jinn or Genie – Never does anything for free.
The genie can be both good and bad but certainly not funny as has been depicted in the Aladdin animated series.
It is popularly held that they reside in old lamps, but the Jinn might also be an independent spirit. Yes, they are efficacious – they fulfil wishes of all kinds – but that comes for a price. Since most genies are slaves to their masters, they understand the meaning of freedom and constantly demand it. The Communists, perhaps?
7. Rakshasa – Lord of all evil.
Unlike apparitions, Rakshasas are flesh and blood. Hindu mythology presents them as commander-in-chief of all evil spirits. They are deeply connected to the spirit world, and are malevolent demons who are obviously up to the vilest of acts. They kill, kill and kill – for good or bad. Do not forget that this race is the royalty of the spirit world. Ravana was a Rakshasa.
8. Nishi – The time-table worker.
A unique kind of ghost. A Nishi operates only at night, hence the name. While others may do overtime by working in broad daylight, a Nishi steadfastly refuses. They call out the victim’s name twice but not more than that. If the victim turns to the call, he is a goner for sure.
This is why many in India do not respond until their names are called more than two times. And you thought they are being rude and deaf! Damn you!
9. Betaal – The wisest of them all.
The ghost whose kind is known as cruel but wisest among the spirit world. They are environment lovers, which is why they love hanging upside down from trees. Popular tales shower effusive praises on their intellect. Not everyone can answer the moral of the story in a Betaal tale! Would you dare risking your head?
10. The Irregulars – (Or the minions without ghost rights.)
They are stray ghosts; the lowest in the spirit world. They can be seen wandering around under bridges, abandoned palaces and forts, derelict houses and labyrinthine forests. Basically, anywhere eerie. Some of them can be funny, others can be mischievous. Overall, the minions of the empire.
But we tell you, dear readers, that there is no such thing as ghosts. Innocent women are killed in rural India in the name of witchhunting. This is deplorable. An educated society should not have place for such superstitions.