Bhutas, Pisachas etc : Ghosts and Demons or Translation Errors?

Ghosts and Demons or Translation Errors?

All the words that are used to describe the various words for ghosts, demons etc in modern Indian languagesare derived from Sanskrit. But in Sanskrit literature, they refer to human beings of different geographical areas of India and around India.

Kailasavasa Neelakantha Parama Siva was Bhutanatha (the lord of the Bhutas) and Pisacha pate (the people of Paisacha Desa. SivaDSC00257 : Photo Credit : Satya Sarada Kandula : All Rights Reserved was the God, Lord and Leader of all the Mountain people (Himalayas and Sahyadri – Western Ghats). The Yakshas and Rakshasas of Nepal (nEtra pHAla) and Sri Lanka worshipped Trinethra, Siva.

  • I think ‘The errors in Translation’ possibly occured much before the Sanskrit-English translations.

When people eat, they sprinkle water around their lunch plates (leaves) and say ‘Utthisthanthhu Bhuta Pisachani’ (may the bhutas and Pisacas stand). The water keeps ants etc out of one’s plate. What is the purpose of the words?

  • The Kannada word for ghosts is Devva,  which sounds a bit like Deva, the word for God.
  • The Telugu word for ghosts is Daiyyam which sounds like the Telugu word Daivam  for God (God, Fate – in Sanskrit).

As the Uttar Pradeshis say –  daal mein kuchh kala hai. (there is something black in the daal/lentils!.

There are no ghosts, demons etc, only nice People. Something has been lost in translation. And in that loss is an interesting piece of history waiting to be discovered.

See Also:

From : Isa Vasya Upanishad : The Self is pure, eternal, formless, Self-caused : sa paryagacchukram: Eighth Mantram

A person I travelled with a bhumihaar brahmin (these are different from other brahmins.. not sure how), asked me about ghosts. A paryagaat or sarvagata Atman which is pure and sinless and does not have a brain with which to think evil thoughts, which is all knowing and gives meaning to time is simply not a ghost. For this reason I differ with all the people I have ever met who insist that ghosts exist. THAT which outlasts the body is One in All and All are in That.

I subsequently learned that not all people have access to/interest in/value for Upanishadic truths. I believe the Upanishads as a person super strongly influenced by Vivekananda, Sankaracharya and Veda Vyasa. You are likely (and welcome) to be influenced by others. However there is at least one section ofHindus like me.. who think that ghosts as shown in Ram Gopal Varma’s movies don’t exist.

Finally I asked that young man if he believed in Bhagavad Gita and he said yes. So I said there are no ghosts as per Gita please read at least chapter two. Gita Press will give you word by word translation in very many Indian languages and it costs Rs 30/- He was a train friend so I never saw him again.. and I don’t know what happened later, but at Omkareswar I did see people getting “treated” for ghosts.. so clearly some Hindus believe in them. “

From :

“I am beginning to think that the Nagas who worshipped the snakes and the Syenas (Garudas) who worshipped birds were, like the Vanaras, powerful Indian civilizations. The Nagas, like the Rakshasas and Devas had technology that looked like magic to the sanskrit writers.

However, looking at the Vigrahas (Images) in temples and reading the literature, it looks like Sri Krishna won over the Nagas (Kalindi, Khandava), Sri Rama  befriended the Vanaras of Kishkinda (you have Sri Rama hugging Hanuman who also served him), Sri Vishnu riding Garuda and resting on a Naga.

Nearly all temples have Garuda, Hanuman or Nagas facing either Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Ganesa or Siva and standing in a respectful pose. The worship of the navagrahas also has its place in temples though subsidiary. In all these temples, it is customary to respect Hanuman, Garuda, and Subrahmanyeswara (Nagas) as well as the Navagrahas.

Bangalore has a high number of Sanisewara or Saturn temples.

There are also stories of fights between Nagas and Garudas in which Garuda won, between Garuda and Hanuman in which Hanuman won and so forth. The Nagas enjoyed the protection of Siva.

The words bhuta and pisaca are frequently and incorrectly translated as ghosts etc.

I think that the Bhutas who fought alongside Bharata against Gandhara where in fact the Bhutanese and the Pisacas were from Paisaca (near Nepal).”

Authorship and Copyright Notice: Content and Photograph: All Rights Reserved: Satya Sarada Kandula