Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

topic posted Tue, March 28, 2006 - 2:27 PM by  arun
There are some Sanskrit words referring to entities that surround Lord Shiva which are often translated into English as the above title.
I am curious as to any links or sources regarding
Ganas, Bhutas, Rakshasas, Pisachas, Pretas, etc.
in the Thousand Names some refer to mysterious entities...
Bhuteshvara (lord of "Ghosts" ) Gananatha (Lord of the Ganas) Pramatadhipa (served by goblins)
These translations may be shaky or even spurious...i consult many sources...but variations of these do occurr in most

I have recently read of the ganas attendant upon Shiva compared to the Satyrs, Fauns etc. in the company off Dionysus...

If anyone has any opinions, links or sources that would be great...also and especially...any good pictures of Shiva and the Ganas or Ganesha and the Ganas?

I am aware that these refer to cosmic principles as much as astral or nature-spirits and that they are not to be taken at face-value...but what is?
posted by:
  • Re: Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

    Tue, March 28, 2006 - 3:46 PM
    There are a lot of those type of creatures in the Ramayana.
    • Re: Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

      Tue, March 28, 2006 - 3:57 PM
      When viewing paintings of the climactic battle between the asuras and the monkey army of Rama in the Ramayan, it becomes possible to relate the clash between cultures, races, tibes of humans in our past with the various mythological clashes between "Gods and Demons" or
      "elves and orcs" or whatever. In some paintings of this...the demons all have the sect mark of Lord Shiva on their foreheads and grass-skirts...the monkeys are all golden and wearing Dhotis and bear allegiance to Vishnu (Rama). Perhaps this painting is a distant memory of a time when one racial-cultural tribe and their God were encountering another racial-cultural tribe and their God.

      I still would like some links to art depicting the various nocturnal and chaotic spirits attendant upon Lord Shiva. The earlier, less civilized manifestations of Elemental Force are never far beneath the later, human pantheons.
      • Re: Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

        Fri, March 31, 2006 - 9:27 AM
        Have you read Shiva and Dionysus by Alain Danielou? It has a chapter called The Companions of the God. My take is that these entities are the much older pantheon, the elder chaotic gods. Most of my understanding of the nature of pretas, asuras and rakshasas comes from Tibetan tantrism. These beings are in the retinue of the deity, and sometimes the minor ones are servitors or minions who carry out the will of the god/goddess. I've always seen rakshasas and asuras as similar to the jinn: a race of beings parallel and ancient, frequently inhabiting the depths of the earth or bodies of water.
        And don't forget my personal favorites, the nagas. You can see them draped all over Shiva, and when I was visiting India and Nepal they were prominent if you bent down to look for them....
        • Re: Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

          Fri, March 31, 2006 - 2:12 PM
          In southeast Asia, the prevalence of the gorgeous Nagas all over the Theravada Buddhist Temples is an example of the absorption of earlier mythic and natural forces into a missionary religion...
          the ancient Serpent God of Water and Life could not be replaced...He had to be absorbed into the missionary religion of Buddhism...
          when i visited the temples, it was the Serpent King that inspired and empowered me, not the Buddha enthroned thereon...
          that is just my persuasion, i guess...
          • Re: Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

            Fri, March 31, 2006 - 2:35 PM
            I liked the Naga Buddhas as well when I was in Thailand.
            • Re: Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

              Sat, April 1, 2006 - 11:27 AM
              there is a curious saint-deity character within Thai Buddhism that is a link between the Buddha and the Serpent King...sort of a way to "marry him into the family"....this character, about whom it is very difficult to get information, is said to have been conveived when the Buddha washed his undergarments in a particular river...thus impregnating the river-spirit, daughter of the Serpent King of the Underworld who resides beneath all rivers. Some believe that this myth links the older, primordial God with the newer, moralistic Bodhisattva...perpetuating the former and validating the latter.
  • Re: Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts, Oh My!

    Sun, April 9, 2006 - 3:13 PM
    There are seven main categories of so called ghosts or disembodied souls of the negative variety they are –durmukha, kabandha, madhyakapala, brahmadaetya or bramapishaca, akashiipreta, and pishaca. They are all of the category of a kind of pretayonii called Gandhapishaca.
    There are also seven main categories of positive entities or devayoniis all under the name of Gandhayaksinii, they are –yaksa, kinnara, gandharva, vidyadhara, prakrtiliina, and siddha.
    All of these entities “move throughout the entire universe from one celestial body to another…without caring for the atmospheric conditions or barometric readings.” (P.R. Sarkar) I prefer the intuitional scientific explanation for these entities, for thorough descriptions of this, check out the following books.
    and for an incredible story of Lord Shiva and all aspects relating to his life as a historical person and how the various mythologies came from and relate to him.