Who were Rakshsha? They used to protect Amrit. Why we call them devil?
We often fear the demons. But do you know that the beings you have feared were actually protectors of Amrit? In this article we will explore the truth behind the Rakshashas and who actually were they.
The Rakhashas according to Sanskrit version are humanoid beings. This was even incorporated to Buddhism later. They are often described as man-eaters. They are even sub grouped as demigods. Most of these Asuras were either sage-human hybrids or god-human hybrids. In one of our previous articles, we gave an account of Ravana who was the demon king but he had so many qualities and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva.
Hindu mythology: According certain legends, one day Lord Brahma was asleep and from his breath, Rakshashas were created. After birth they were lustful for blood and started eating Brahma. In terror lord Brahma shouted Rakshasha meaning save me. Lord Vishnu appeared and sent them to patal lok. So the word rakshasha itself means to protect. In Hindu mythology we have the mention of many Rakshshas who were virtuous and protected the humankind. They were great warriors and even outraged the Devas. However in Rigveda they are classified into Yatudhanas meaning beings who consume raw flesh. These Asuras became a separate progeny and they had many supernatural powers.
Great Devotees: They were great devotees of lord Shiva and acquired many boons from him. Ravana was the grestest devotee of Lord Shiva and was the composer of the Mahamtriyunjaya mantra. Same way his brother Vibhisana was also a rakshasha but he was very righteous and became a great friend of Lord Rama. Due to him, the battle of Lanka was won. Even a few of them were parts of gods themselves like Madhu and Kaitab who were born from the ear grime of Lord Vishnu. In that sense they can be called as the sons of Lord Vishnu but soon after their birth they were sent to patal lok and later killed because of their sins. We also have the mention of Gajasur who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He prayed to lord Shiva to receive knowledge. Later Lord Ganesha had his head when he was beheaded by Lord Shiva. Similarly is the story of Gayasur on whose name Gaya stands. It is now the most pious site for funeral. According to legends, his body was as sacred as Lord Shiva.
The tale of Ghatotkach: Bheema married Hidimbi who was a rakshsa. They had a son named Ghotothkacha who was very powerful and fought for the pandavas in the Kurukshetra battle. He fought for the good and had mace as his primary weapon. We can take that the battle of Mahabharata was won because Karna had to use his preserved weapon on Ghatotkacha which he had kept for Arjuna. This is considered as a turning point in the battle of Mahabharata. In Manali, Himachal Pradesh the Hidimba Devi temple honors Ghatotkacha.
Buddhist tradition: In the Lotus Sutra chapter 26 a verse between Lord Buddha and a group of rakshasa daughters is mentioned. Here Lord Buddha commands them to sustain and guard the Lotus Sutra. Even these rashasas teach magical dharanis to guard the followers of the Lotus Sutra. In the life story of Padmasambhava by Yeshe Tsogyal, Padmasambhava receives the name rakshasa due to his rueful battle with the Buddhist heretics to suppress them. In other Buddhist text, Buddha is referred as a Rakshasa and goes to Lanka to meet Ravana.
Jain texts: Jain texts differ from Hindu mythology and they give different accounts of the Rakshasa progeny. In terms of Jain lore, Rakshasas were a realm of cultured and vegan group falling under the progeny of Vidyadhara who were disciples of Tirthankaras.
Mahasagar Manthan: In Hindu mythology Samudra Manthan is the most important occurrence that took place. It gave the Devas extreme power and made them immortals. This was mainly done to provide Amrit to the Devas. During this procedure the Rakshasas played a major part in churning the ocean since the Devas were devoid of all power. This was the result of the curse by Sage Durbasa. Even after promising the Asuras share of Amrit, they were tricked by Lord Vishnu. It was claimed that the Asuras might misuse their immortality. But even the Devas have numerous times misused it. According to a legend, Devtas and Asuras were the sons of the same father who was a great sage. The only difference lies that Rakshas were born of a different mother who is believed to be a demoness. The Rakshsas were entrusted with protecting the Amrit
Good and Bad outlook: It all depends on one’s thoughts whether they are devilish or divine. According to a legend Andhak was born by the darkness of eyes of Lord Shiva. He was a Deva but his devilish nature of wrong doing gave way and he was killed by Lord Shiva himself. So it’s good and bad values that matter and not a progeny. Many Asuras were divinely where even some Devas had devilish characteristics. But whatever may be the matter still the Rakshasas were always tricked and devoid of all superior things even Amrit.
So it depends on us whether we want to be of devilish nature or of divine nature. So in this article we tried to clear some common misconceptions about Rakshasas and who they actually are. Stay tuned for more such jaw dropping articles. We will be back with such facts. Stay safe and take care.