THE ANCIENT MYTH OF THE VETALA
THE LONGEST LIST OF THE LONGEST
STUFF AT THE LONGEST DOMAIN NAME AT LONG LAST
The vetal is the Indian equivalent to the vampire.
However, there are quite a few points of difference between the European vampire
popularized by Bram Stoker and the Indian vetal.
The vetal is a reanimated corpse or a spirit occupying
the body of a dead animal or person. A far cry from the debonair, almost
seductive Count Dracula, and more recently Angel (of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
and 'Angel' fame) even Blade and more ghoulish as well these vetals are
animalistic spirits that halt the decay of corpses on possessing them.
Their appearance is demonic and differs greatly from
the near human Dracula. The hands and feet of a victim reanimated by a vetal
point backwards. They cause havoc among human civilization killing, feeding on
the dead and scaring and even eating cattle, poultry and other domestic animals
though their haunt of choice is a graveyard or crematorium.
They can be banished by performing for them
appropriate funeral rites or kept at bay by the chanting of holy mantras.
Although for the most part mischievous, if not outright evil, vetals being the
supernatural creatures they are, have the power of knowledge.
They can see past, present and future and are
possessors of a wealth of wisdom in addition to have great insight into the
human psyche and soul. They are of enormous value to sorcerers and wise men for
these reasons. Vetals, on occasion, are fiercely loyal and this can be harnessed
to make them the guardians of a house, area or village.
A very famous account of human and vetal interaction
is chronicled in the Baital Pancsihi ('Twenty Five Tales Of The Vampire) which
consist of twenty five tales chronicling the adventures of King Vikramaditya and
how his wits were pitted against a vetal a sorcerer had asked him to capture for
him. Vetals have great wisdom and insight into the human soul in addition to
being able to see into the past and future and are thus very valuable
acquisitions to wise men.
This particular vetal inhabited a tree in a
crematorium/graveyard and the only way it could be captured was by standing
still and completley silent in the middle of the graveyard/crematorium. However,
every single time the king tried this vetal would tempt him with a story that
ended in a question the answering of which King Vikramaditya could not resist.
As a result the vetal would re-inhabit the tree and the king was left to try
Only after relating twenty five tales does the vetal
allow the king to bear him back to the sorcerer, hence the name Baital Pancsihi.
The vetal informs the king of the treacherous
sorceror's true intentions. The sorceror means to trick Vikramaditya, possessor
of thirty two virtues, and sacrifice him to a Goddess which would give him
control over the vetal and his kind.
The vetal advises the king to ask the sorcerer how
to pay his respects to the Goddess (which the sorcerer would ask him to do and
use this opportunity to sacrifice him) and behead him while he is distracted. On
following the vetal's advice the king is blessed and granted a boon by Lord
Indra. The king wishes the sorcerer to come back to life and wishes that
henceforth he would have the help and advice of the vetal whenever he needed it.
The Baital Pansihi was originally written in
Sanskrit and is said to be the inspiration for the Arabian Nights and subsequent
collections of fantastic mythological tales.
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