Pishaca, aka: Piśāca, Pisāca, Pisaca, Piśācā; 18 Definition(s)


Pishaca means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Buddhism, Pali, 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

Natyashastra (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
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, 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 (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Dharmashastra (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
Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Pishaca in Purana glossary... « previous · [P] · next »

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).—(Devil, Satan) Origin. A malevolent being which is the very manifestation of evil. Everybody, everywhere in the world, from the very birth of this universe believed in the presence of such a wicked soul. According to Hindu Purāṇas, Piśāca is a creation of Brahmā. In the beginning Brahmā created the eighteen prajāpatis headed by Dakṣa, the Yakṣas, the Gandharva and the Piśācas. (Chapter 1, Ādi Parva). This wicked being is called in English a 'Devil'. This word is derived from the Greek word 'diabolos'. People of the West and East equally believe that Piśāca (Satan) is an enemy of men and gods alike. (See full article at Story of Piśāca from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Piśāca (पिशाच).—A Yakṣa. (Śloka 16, Chapter 10, Śānti Parva).

3) Piśāca (पिशाच).—An inhabitant of the country of Piśāca in ancient Bhārata. These Piśācas fought against the Kauravas on the side of the Pāṇḍavas during the great battle. It was these piśācas that stood on the southern side of the Krauñcavyūha of Yudhiṣṭhira in the great battle. (Śloka 50, Chapter 50, Bhīṣma Parva). A few of these Piśācas were with Bhagadatta in the army of Duryodhana. (Chapter 87, Bhīṣma Parva). Śrī Kṛṣṇa cursed the piśācas. Chapter 11, Droṇa Parva).

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

Piśāca (पिशाच) refers to a group of inhabitants of ancient Kaśmīra (Kashmir valley) according to the Nīlamatapurāṇa.—Verses 203-6 refer to a group of the Piśācas who were friendly towards the Daityas and dwelt in an oasis, six yojanas long, in the middle of the Sea of Sand. Then we are introduced to a Piśāca chief Nikumbha who was appointed by Kubera to keep the above mentioned Piśācas under control and who along with his five koṭi Piśāca followers used to fight for six months with the Piśācas of that oasis. For the rest of the year he used to live on Himācala. As a result of Kaśyapa’s curse on the Nāgas, the Piśācas occupied the valley of Kaśmīra for six months of each year. After the passing of four ages, they were completely ousted from the valley which, thenceforth, was inhabited by the Nāgas and the men.

Source: archive.org: Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study

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

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Itihasa (narrative history)

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Piśāca (पिशाच) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. VI.46.49, VI.83.8, VI.83.8, VIII.30.44, VIII.30.78, IX.36.21, XIV.8.5, XIV.8) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Piśāca) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

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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 Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

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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
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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.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

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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
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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.

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Marathi-English dictionary

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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
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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.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Piśāca (पिशाच).—[piśitamācāmati, ā + cam bā° ḍa pṛṣo°] A fiend, goblin, devil, spirit, malevolent being; नन्वाश्वासितः पिशाचोऽपि भोजनेन (nanvāśvāsitaḥ piśāco'pi bhojanena) V.2; Ms.1.37;12.44.

Derivable forms: piśācaḥ (पिशाचः).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

Search found 139 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Piśācabādhā (पिशाचबाधा).—demoniacal possession. Piśācabādhā is a Sanskrit compound consisting o...
Karṇapiśāca (कर्णपिशाच) is the name of one of the thirty-two Yakṣiṇīs mentioned in the Kakṣapuṭ...
Udarapiśāca (उदरपिशाच).—a. [udare tatpūrtau piśāca iva] gluttonous, voracious (having a devilis...
Piśācabhāṣā (पिशाचभाषा).—'the language of devils', a gibberish or corruption of Sanskrit, one o...
jīvanta-piśāca (जीवंत-पिशाच).—
Brahmapiśāca (ब्रह्मपिशाच).—n., Derivable forms: brahmapiśācaḥ (ब्रह्मपिशाचः).Brahmapiśāca is a...
Piśācaprayāṇa (पिशाचप्रयाण) is the name of a festival that once existed in ancient Kashmir (Kaś...
Jita Pishaca
jitā piśāca (जिता पिशाच).—m jitā sambandha m jitī avadasā f See jīvanta piśāca &c.
Pāṃsupiśāca (पांसुपिशाच).—a class of demons. Derivable forms: pāṃsupiśācaḥ (पांसुपिशाचः).Pāṃsup...
Piśācacaryā (पिशाचचर्या).—the practice of पिशाच (piśāca)s Piśācacaryā is a Sanskrit compound co...
Pisaca Kavala Karanara
pisācā kāvaḷā karaṇārā (पिसाचा कावळा करणारा).—One that deals in hyperbole; that can make a crow...
Piśācacaturdaśī (पिशाचचतुर्दशी) is the name of a festival that once existed in ancient Kashmir ...
Piśācasabha (पिशाचसभ).—1) an assemblage of fiends. 2) pandemonium, the hall of their assembly.D...
Tālapiśāca (तालपिशाच) refers to a class of piśāca deities according to the Śvetāmbara tradition...
Vanapiśāca (वनपिशाच) refers to a class of piśāca deities according to the Śvetāmbara tradition ...

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