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In Hindu mythology, the Rakshas are a group of usually, but not always, evil beings who are often in opposition to the gods, and to ordinary humans. The female form of the term is generally Rakshasi.

They are represented as enemies of the gods, and battle the gods, particularly Vishnu (see Rama). In the Ramayana, they are led by King Ravana and were believed to live on Lanka (cur: Sri Lanka). They are sometimes thought as being fat (or skeletal) dogs or birds.

In an instance in the Mahabharata however, the Pandava hero Bhima falls in love with, and lives with a Rakshasi, Hidimba. She bears him a son, Ghatotkacha.

The term is derived from an old Sanskrit root raksha which bears the meaning of protector and defender. Related words with these meanings are found in most modern Indian languages.

Alternative: Rakshasa, Rakshas