Rahu (Hindu) Rahu, also known
as Abhra-pisacha, the 'demon of the sky,' was a great prince of the
Daityas, a race of gigantic demons who warred against the gods. His
father was Viprachitta who was king of the Daityas and his mother
was Sinhika who was a flesh-eating fiend who could seize the shadow
of the object she wanted to devour and so drag her prey into her
jaws. Rahu had four arms, and sometimes the lower part of his body
ended in a dragon's tail.
He is best known for his attempt to interrupt the regular gods and has the reputation of a cunning and mischievous demon. By churning the ocean, the gods had produced Amrita, the elixir of immortality.
One day they were waiting in line for the beverage to be passed out. Rahu, wearing a disguise, insinuated himself among the gods and hid between Soma, the moon, and Surya, the sun. By the time these two gods discovered the fraud and called out to Vishnu, Rahu had already sipped the divine liquid. Vishnu turned towards the demon in rage, and with his discus cut Rahu's body in half. But the Amrita had already had time to take effect, and both parts of Rahu lived on. Rahu never forgave the sun and moon for informing Vishnu of him, and his bodiless head has been pursuing his enemies ever since, occasionally swallowing them. Lacking a body, he can't retain them, and they reappear for a short time. He is thus the source of eclipses.
Rahu is sometimes shown riding an owl or reclining on a divan. His name means 'to abandon' or 'void,' hence blackness or having no body, links him to the astronomers' 'umbra.' He is associated with a star in the northern sky, in the constellation of Draco, which is sometimes referred to as the Crooked Serpent.
Raiden The Japanese god of thunder (rai) and lightning (den). He prevented the Mongols from invading Japan in 1274. Sitting on a cloud he sent forth a shower of lighting arrows upon the invading fleet. Only three men escaped. Raiden is portrayed as a red demon with sharp claws, carrying a large drum. He is fond of eating human navels. The only protection against him is to hide under a mosquito net. Also called Kaminari Sama.
Raiju A Japanese demon whose name means "thunder animal". It is a demon of lightning in the shape of a cat, badger or weasel. During thunderstorms it becomes extremely agitated and leaps from tree to tree. If a tree shows the marks of lightning, people say that Raiju's claws have scratched it open. The demon likes hiding in human navels, so, if afraid, a person should sleep on his or her belly during thunderstorms.
Rakshasas (India) demon whose appearance in the least, horrifying. Along with Ravana, the Rakshasas, whose name means 'to guard,' were created by Brahma in order to protect the ocean from anyone who might try to obtain the elixir of immortality, which could be found on the ocean floor. Other sources have stated, though, that the Rakshasas, who frequently peopled the numerous epic poems of ancient India, were in fact the negroid race of barbarians inhabiting the southern part of India before the conquest of the country by the Aryans.
The Rakshasas were evil spirits and demons living on the island of Lanka, ruled over by Ravana. They were renown for haunting burial grounds, animating dead bodies, terrorizing priests and cannibalizing villages.
The Ramayana, one of the great Indian epics, tells how Hanuman, a demiurge in the form of a monkey, visited Lanka. He found that
the Rakshasas sleeping in the houses were of every shape and form. Some of them disgusted the eye, while others were beautiful to look upon. Some had long arms and frightful shapes; some were fat and some very lean. Some had monstrous bellies, sagging breasts, long projecting teeth and crooked thighs; whilst others were exceedingly beautiful to behold and clothed in great splendour. Some had two legs, some three legs, and some four legs. Some had heads of serpents, some had heads of donkeys, some the heads of horses and some the heads of elephants.'This huge array of differing appearances is mirrored in the multitude of names the Rakshasas were given: biters, cannibals, vampires, night-stalkers, assassins, dark faces - a list of titles as endless as the catalogue of their crimes.
'Ravana had ten heads, twenty arms, and copper-coloured eyes, and bright teeth like the young moon.Rama created a host of monkeys and bears to fight by his side against the archfiend. They began the battle by killing off large numbers of Rakshasas. At this Ravana became so incensed that he abducted Rama's beautiful wife, Sita, with whom the king of the demons had fallen in love.
His form was as thick as a cloud or a mountain, or the god of death with open mouth. He had all the marks of royalty, but his body bore the impress of wounds inflicted by all the divine arms in his warfare with the gods.
He was scarred by a thunderbolt of Indra, by the tusks of Indra's elephant Airavata, and by the discus of Vishnu.
His strength was so great that he could agitate the seas and split the tops of the mountains.
He was a breaker of all laws and a ravisher of other men's wives...Tall as a mountain peak, he stopped with his arms the sun and moon on their course, and prevented their rising.
His presence creates a fear so paralyzing, that wherever he travels, the sun does not give out its heat, the winds do not blow and the ocean becomes motionless.'
'Ravana fell to the ground and expired, and the gods sounded celestial music in heaven and assembled in the sky and praised Rama as Vishnu, in that he had slain Ravana who would otherwise have been their destruction.'Red Man The demon of the tempests. He was supposed to be furious when the rash voyager intruded on his solitude, ad to show his anger in the winds and storms.
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