By Swami Harshananda
Piśāca literally means ‘eater of flesh,’ ‘a goblin’.
Belief in devils, goblins, elves and evil spirits is common to almost all the people of the world. In the epics and mythological works, they are called variously as bhutas, pretas, piśācas, yakṣas and so on. Out of these, the piśācas, the flesh- eating and blood-drinking evil spirits, are the most malevolent bent upon harming others. However, being created by Brahmā, they too have a place in his creation.
They are unclean spirits confined to the antarikṣa. They also live in unclean and barren places. In some purāṇas, they are described as belonging to the court of Kubera, the king of Yakṣas ruling at Alakāpurī. In some other purāṇas, they are depicted as devotees of Śiva and living on the Muñjavān mountain.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore