The appalling 'unholy family' of Hindu India. The lord of all rakshashas is Ravana. He has ten heads and twenty arms which grow again as soon as they are cut off, and a body hideous with the myriad scars and open wounds of his endless battles with the gods. Rakshasa is a powerful vampire and magician.
They usually appear as humans with animal features (claws, fangs, slitted eyes, etc.) or as animals with human features (feet, hands, flattened nose, etc.). The animal side is very often a tiger. They eat the victim's flesh in addition to drinking their blood. Rakshasas may be destroyed by burning, sunlight or exorcism.
Rakshashas are dedicated evildoers who strive continuously to defeat the gods, sometimes winning and sometimes losing, but they also war against mankind and devour great quantities of men, women, and children. Naturally they hate holy men, whom they snatch away from their prayers and gobble up with shrieks of demoniac glee. Mortals are helpless against rakshashas and must rely on the gods to keep them under control, even though the terrible Durga, a rakshasha with the body of a man and the head of a bull, once conquered all the gods and forced them into exile.
A host of lesser fiends supports these dominant demons, and plagues both the living and the dead. Pishacas, which are goblin-like creatures but even more repulsively hideous, live in cemeteries and torment the dead but also affect the living humans. They are vampires and creators of such foul diseases as leprosy.
Bhutas, their kindred spirits, also infest cemeteries. They are the evil spirits of the dead, probably aroused and spurred on by the pishacas, and they can actually force the dead to arise from their graves and attack humans.
Grahas, another branch of this unholy family, are demons of disease. They too inhabit cemeteries, and lie in wait fro an unwary human who passes by after dark. As soon as he comes within reach they enter his body by its various orifices and settle down to destroy it from within.