VRITRA – The Mighty Asura (Demon)

In the Rigveda Vritra was a monster whose name meant the one who “held back,” “restrained,” or “enveloped.” Killing Vritra was Indra’s crowning moment. Vritra enveloped a celestial mountain and held back its waters, but Indra’s action released the waters, bring the fertilizing rains and prosperity to the Aryans, even providing soma for gods and … Read more

SUKRA – Master of Magic, Teacher of the Demons

In the Epics S´ukra was the son or grandson of Bhrigu, the powerful magician who almost killed Agni. S´ukra was also known as Kâvya. S´ukra became the greatest master of magic of his age, but he served the asuras. The devas (gods) sent sage Kaca to learn how he had made the asuras invincible. Devayânî … Read more

RÂVANA – Ten Headed Râkshasa (Demon)

Râvana was born as the son of Vis´ravas. Dasânana is another name of Râvana, and it means one who has ten heads. Râvana’s character changed dramatically in the many retellings of his actions as the central antagonist of Râma in the Râmâyana. At one extreme Râvana was the consummate expression of evil and at the … Read more

RÂHU – Vedic Astrological Asura (Demon)

Râhu can be seen as the earliest Vedic astrological pre-science embedded in a story—the ascending and descending nodes created as the moon’s orbit intersects the ecliptic plane of the earth, used in predicting solar and lunar eclipses. Mythologically, Râhu was one of the great demons (daityas) at the Churning of the Milky Ocean. Râhu managed … Read more

MAHISHA, MAHISHÂSURA – Buffalo Demon

At the beginning of this creation, Kasyâpa-prajâpati and Danu had two powerful sons who competed with the devas (gods), Rambha and Karambha. They practiced austerities (tapas) in order to defeat the gods, but in spite of this Karambha was killed by Indra. Rambha chose to use Brahmâ’s boon for his ascetic practice to gain a … Read more

KUMBHAKARNA – The Sleeping Mighty Asura (Demon)

Kumbhakarna appeared in the Râmâyana in a line of rebirths that started in Brahmâ’s court in heaven (svarga). In that lifetime he had been Vijâya, one of a pair of twin doorkeepers who were cursed for not properly performing their duties. He was reborn as Hiranyakas´ipu and killed by Vishnu in his Narasimha incarnation (avatâra). … Read more

KAMSA, KANSA – Uncle of Srî Krishna

The myth of Kamsa is told in a series of nested myths that are an excellent study of karma as a process over many lifetimes. But its primary location is within the Krishna myth cycle, where Kamsa plays a role in Krishna’s nativity and his first great battle with evil (though in previous lives Krishna … Read more

KAITABHA – Demon Born from Earwax of Vishnu

There are two versions of the origin of Kaitabha and his brother Madhu. The version in the Purânas said that Madhu and his brother Kaitabha were born from the earwax of Vishnu. Vishnu was ending his cosmic sleep reclined upon the serpent Sesha (also called Ananta) floating on the Milky Ocean. Brahmâ emerged from the … Read more

KABANDHA – The Headless Demon

In the Râma myth cycle in his previous life Kabandha was a gandharva called Visvâvasu. He was born to a gandharva called S´rî Vis´vâvasu, who was also known by the name Danu. Vis´vâvasu performed a penance (tapas) and received the boon of immortality from Brahmâ. Arrogant about this boon, Vis´vâvasu then attacked Indra. In the … Read more

HIRANYAKASIPU – Demon Killed by Narasimha

Hiranyakas´ipu was a worthy opponent of Lord Vishnu, born repeatedly, which necessitated multiple incarnations of Vishnu to conquer this powerful asura and restore dharma (righteousness) to earth. A demon of this magnitude would have quite a lineage and an appropriate source of his tremendous powers. There was a time before the life when he had … Read more