Pishaca, aka: Piśāca, Pisāca, Pisaca, Piśācā; 14 Definition(s)

Introduction

Pishaca means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit terms Piśāca and Piśācā can be transliterated into English as Pisaca or Pishaca, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

Alternative spellings of this word include Pishacha.

In Hinduism

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

1) Piśāca (पिशाच) is a Sanskrit word referring to a group of deities. Acording to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.88-93, when Brahmā, Indra and all other gods went to inspect the playhouse (nāṭyamaṇḍapa) designed by Viśvakarmā, he assigned different deities for the protection of the playhouse itself, as well as for the objects relating to dramatic performance (prayoga).

As such, Brahmā assigned the Piśāca, the Yakṣas, the Bhūtas and the Guhyakas to the pillars of the Mattavāraṇī (two side corridors of the stage used for peripheral acting or partial entry/exit). The protection of the playhouse was enacted because of the jealous Vighnas (malevolent spirits), who began to create terror for the actors.

2) Piśācas are to be worshipped during raṅgapūjā, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra 3.1-8. Accordingly, the master of the dramatic art who has been initiated for the purpose shall consecrate the playhouse after he has made obeisance (eg., to Piśācas).

3) The masks of the piśācas should be represented with long hair (lambakeśaka), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. Providing masks is a component of nepathya (costumes and make-up) and is to be done in accordance with the science of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Piśāca (पिशाच).—Description of a women of piśāca type;—A woman who has more or less than the usual number of fingers, is merciless during sexual acts, has the habits of roaming in gardens and fields, and of terrifying children, is treacherous, speaks with a double entendre, behaves abominably during sexual acts, has a hairy body and loud voice, and is fond of spiritous liquor and sexual indulgence, is said to have the nature of a piśāca.

(Source): archive.org: Natya Shastra
Nāṭyaśāstra book cover
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Nāṭyaśāstra (नाट्यशास्त्र, natya-shastra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition of performing arts, (e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nāṭya) and poetic works (kāvya).

Dharmaśāstra (religious law)

Piśāca (पिशाच) and the rest (yakṣa and rākṣasa) are lower classes of beings, ignorant of the law relating to what should and what should not be eaten; and it is they that eat meat (See the Manubhāṣya verse 11.95)

(Source): Google Books: Manusmṛti with the Manubhāṣya
Dharmaśāstra book cover
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Dharmaśāstra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharma-shastra) is a category of Hindu literature containing important instructions regarding religious law, ethics, economics, jurisprudence and more. It is categorised as smṛti, an important and authorative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

Discover the meaning of pishaca or pisaca in the context of Dharmashastra from relevant books on Exotic India

Purāṇa

Piśāca (पिशाच) refers to a class of demons and represents a type of Ādhibhautika pain, according to the Viṣṇu-purāṇa 6.5.1-6. Accordingly, “the wise man having investigated the three kinds of worldly pain, or mental and bodily affliction and the like, and having acquired true wisdom, and detachment from human objects, obtains final dissolution.”

Ādhibhautika and its subdivisions (eg., piśācas) represents one of the three types of worldly pain (the other two being ādhyātmika and ādhidaivika) and correspond to three kinds of affliction described in the Sāṃkhyakārikā.

The Viṣṇupurāṇa is one of the eighteen Mahāpurāṇas which, according to tradition was composed of over 23,000 metrical verses dating from at least the 1st-millennium BCE. There are six chapters (aṃśas) containing typical puranic literature but the contents primarily revolve around Viṣṇu and his avatars.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Viṣṇu-purāṇa

1) Piśāca (पिशाच).—A son of Jāmbavān.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 303.

2) Piśācā (पिशाचा).—A kind of semi-divine beings governed by Śiva;1 three steps inferior to the Rākṣasas;2 born of Kapiśa; descendents of Krodhavaśā; sixteen kinds of, two distinguished among them; their forms and features, harassing children; seeing their awkward forms the creator blessed them with the powers of assuming any form and hiding themselves, moving about at both the sandhya times, frequenting deserted houses and waters, men devoid of ācāra and saṃskāra, royal roads, termini of roads, doors and doorways, trees on roads; deities for those professionalists who earn their livelihood by unrighteous means; bali offerings at the termini of the parvas to them with liquor, flesh, sesamum, incense, black cloth, etc.;3 ruin the śrāddha,4 vanquished by Rāvaṇa;5 people in Kali look like them;6 create trouble to disputants in religion.7

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 32. 1-2; 35, 191; Matsya-purāṇa 8. 5; Vāyu-purāṇa 9. 55; 30. 90; 31. 12.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 3. 97; 7. 168.
  • 3) Ib. III. 7. 376-411: 8. 71; Bhāgavata-purāṇa I. 15. 43; II. 6. 43; 10. 38; VI. 8. 25; X. 6. 27; 45. 23; 63. 11; 85. 41.
  • 4) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 11. 81.
  • 5) Ib. III. 7. 256.
  • 6) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XII. 3. 40.
  • 7) Vāyu-purāṇa 66. 118.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
context information

The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Piśāca (पिशाच) is the name of a class of demon mentioned in the Atharvaveda and later. In the Taittirīya-saṃhitā they are associated with Rakṣases and Asuras, while opposed to gods, men, and fathers. In the Atharvaveda they are described as kravyād, ‘eaters of raw flesh’, which may be the etymological sense of the word Piśāca itself. A science called Piśāca-veda or Piśāca-vidyā is known in the later Vedic period.

(Source): archive.org: Vedic index of Names and Subjects

The Pishachas are flesh eating monsters, who are the sons of the great sage Kashyapa and Krodhavasa. They are sometimes said to be a part of Ganas, the army of Lord Shiva.

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

In Buddhism

Pali

pisāca : (m.) goblin or sprite.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Pisāca, (cp. Sk. piśāca & Vedic piśāci; to same root as pisuna=Vedic piśuna, & Lat. piget, Ohg. fēhida enmity=Ags. faehp (“feud”), connected with root of Goth. fijan to hate; thus pisāca=fiend) 1. a demon, goblin, sprite D. I, 54 (T. pesācā, v. l. pisācā, expld at DA. I, 164 as “pisācā mahanta-mahantā sattā ti vadati”), 93; S. I, 209; A. III, 69; Ud. 5; J. I, 235; IV, 495 (yakkha p. peta); Miln. 23; VvA. 335; PvA. 198; Sdhp. 313.—f. pisācī J. V, 442.—2. (like pisāca-loha referring to the Paiśāca district, hailing from that tribe, cp. the term malla in same meaning and origin) a sort of acrobat, as pl. pisācā “tumblers” Miln. 191.—nagara town of goblins (cp. yakkha-nagara) Vism. 531.—loha (connected with the tribe of the Paiśāca’s: Mhbh VII. 4819; cp. Paiśācī as one of the Prākrit dialects: Pischel, Prk. Gr. § 3) a kind of copper VbhA. 63 (eight varieties). (Page 461)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Piśāca (पिशाच).—The piśācas are a group of deities categorised as belonging to the vyantara class of Gods (devas). The vyantaras represent a class of Gods (devas) comprising eight groups of deities that wander about the three worlds (adhaloka, madhyaloka and ūrdhvaloka).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Jainism

Piśāca (पिशाच).—A class of vyantara gods;—The Piśācas are sub-divided into 14 classes by the Tiloyapaṇṇatti:

  1. Kūṣmāṇḍa,
  2. Yakṣa,
  3. Rākṣasa,
  4. Sammoha,
  5. Tāraka,
  6. Aśucināmaka,
  7. Kāla,
  8. Mahākāla,
  9. Śuci,
  10. Satālaka,
  11. Deha,
  12. Mahādeha,
  13. Tuṣṇika,
  14. Pravacana.

All the Piśāca gods are black and the two Indras of Piśācas are Kāla and Mahākāla. According to the Śvetāmbaras, the piśācas are blackish, but beautifull in appearance and adorned with ornaments of various jewels. Kadamba tree is the symbol on the Dhvajas of the Piśācas, according to the Śvetāmbaras, who divide the Piśācas into sixteen classes:

  1. Kūṣmāṇḍa,
  2. Pālaka,
  3. Sujoṣa,
  4. Āhnika,
  5. Kāla,
  6. Mahākāla,
  7. Cokṣa,
  8. Acokṣa,
  9. Tālapiśāca,
  10. Mukharapiśāca,
  11. Adhastāraka,
  12. Deha,
  13. Videha,
  14. Mahādeha,
  15. Tuṣṇika,
  16. Vanapiśāca.
(Source): Google Books: Jaina Iconography

Piśāca (पिशाच) refers to the “goblin” class of “peripatetic celestial beings” (vyantara), itself a category of devas (celestial beings), according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 4.10. Who are the lords amongst the goblin (piśāca) peripatetic (forest) class of celestial beings? Kāla and Mahākāla are the two lords in the goblin class of peripatetic celestial beings.

 

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 4: The celestial beings (deva)
General definition book cover
context information

Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

piśāca (पिशाच).—m (S) A devil or fiend, one of a class of malevolent beings. 2 The spirit of a deceased person which, having at death some unaccomplished wish, haunts the scenes of its mortal existence and afflicts people; a ghost, a goblin, a sprite.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

piśāca (पिशाच).—m A devil or fiend. The spirit of a deceased person. A ghost.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Relevant definitions

Search found 121 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Jivantapishaca
jīvanta-piśāca (जीवंत-पिशाच).—
Jita Pishaca
jitā piśāca (जिता पिशाच).—m jitā sambandha m jitī avadasā f See jīvanta piśāca &c.
Pamsupishaca
Pāṃsupiśāca (पांसुपिशाच).—a class of demons. Derivable forms: pāṃsupiśācaḥ (पांसुपिशाचः).Pāṃsup...
Pisaca Kavala Karanara
pisācā kāvaḷā karaṇārā (पिसाचा कावळा करणारा).—One that deals in hyperbole; that can make a crow...
Talapishaca
Tālapiśāca (तालपिशाच) refers to a class of piśāca deities according to the Śvetāmbara tradition...
Pishacasabha
Piśācasabha (पिशाचसभ).—1) an assemblage of fiends. 2) pandemonium, the hall of their assembly.D...
Mukharapishaca
Mukharapiśāca (मुखरपिशाच) refers to a class of piśāca deities according to the Śvetāmbara tradi...
Vanapishaca
Vanapiśāca (वनपिशाच) refers to a class of piśāca deities according to the Śvetāmbara tradition ...
Pishacaloka
Piśācaloka (पिशाचलोक) refers to the world of the Paiśācas and represents a division of the divi...
Kala
Kāla (काल, “time”) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 5.21.—Now many types of time (k...
Yaksha
Yakṣa (यक्ष) refers to the “treasure-keeper” class of “peripatetic celestial beings” (vyantara)...
Loha
Lohā is one of the eighty-four Siddhas associated with eighty-four Yogic postures (āsanas), acc...
Rakshasa
Rākṣasa (राक्षस) refers to the “demon” class of “peripatetic celestial beings” (vyantara), itse...
Vata
Vaṭa (वट).—[vaṭ-ac Uṇ.4.116] The fig-tree; अयं च चित्रकूटयायिनि वर्त्मनि वटः श्यामो नाम (ayaṃ c...
Bhuta
Bhūta (भूत) refers to the “true saṃgha” and represents one of the four types of saṃghas (assemb...

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