Western literature describes a host of mythical creatures like the hippogriff; werewolf; basilisk; centaur. Hindu religion also has a vast literature which describes similar albeit different mythological beings.

What are these beings in specific terms? What is the Hindu view as to the existence of such "fanciful beings"?


5 Answers 5


There are many mythical beings mentioned in the Hindu scriptures some of whom may have some association with the creatures mentioned in the western mythologies:

SECTION LXVI of Sambhava Parva of Mahabharat tells about the progeny of Brahma's mind born sons and mentions the following beings:

"Vaisampayana said, 'It is known that the spiritual sons of Brahman were the six great Rishis. There was another of the name of Sthanu. And the sons of Sthanu, gifted with great energy, were, it is known, eleven. They were Mrigavayadha, Sarpa, Niriti of great fame: Ajaikapat, Ahivradhna, and Pinaki, the oppressor of foes; Dahana and Iswara, and Kapali of great splendour; and Sthanu, and the illustrious Bharga. These are called the eleven Rudras. It hath been already said, that Marichi, Angiras. Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, and Kratu--these six great Rishis of great energy--are the sons of Brahman. It is well-known in the world that Angiras's sons are three,--Vrihaspati, Utathya, and Samvarta, all of rigid vows. And, O king, it is said that the sons of Atri are numerous. And, being great Rishis, they are all conversant with the Vedas, crowned with ascetic success, and of souls in perfect peace. And, O tiger among kings, the sons of Pulastya of great wisdom are Rakshasas, Monkeys,Kinnaras half-men and half-horses, and Yakshas. And, O king, the son of Pulaha were, it is said, the Salabhas the winged insects, the lions, the Kimpurushas (half-lions and half-men), the tigers, bears, and wolves. And the sons of Kratu, sacred as sacrifices, are the companions of Surya, the Valikhilyas, known in three worlds and devoted to truth and vows.

These half-men half-horses beings are very similar to the Centaurs in Greek Mythology and the half-lion half-man beings are actually reminiscent of some Egyptian goddesses such as Sekhmet.

SECTION CLXIX of the Shanti Parva also describes few more species:

At last coming upon a road that led towards the ocean he journeyed on till he reached a delightful and heavenly forest abounding in flowering trees. It was adorned with mango trees that put forth flowers and fruits throughout the year. It resembled the very woods of Nandana (in heaven) and was inhabited by Yakshas and Kinnaras. It was also adorned with Salas and palmyras and Tamalas, with clusters of black aloes, and many large sandal trees. Upon the delightful tablelands that he saw there, fragrant with perfumes of diverse kinds, birds of the foremost species were always heard to pour forth their melodies. Other winged denizens of the air, called Bharundas, and having faces resembling those of human beings, and those called Bhulingas, and others belonging to mountainous regions and to the sea, warbled sweetly there, Gautama proceeded through that forest, listening, as he went, to those delightful and charming strains of nature's choristers.

Yakshas, the forest spirits may actually be similar to Satyrs who are half human half beasts while Bharundas are just a tad bit like the Sphinx in the sense that they have human face and wings but no lion-body. Strictly speaking the Sphinx is known as the Purush-Mriga in Sanskrit and can be commonly seen in temples especially in the southern part of the country. This comes from a folktale:

Krishna called Bheem and asked him to invite/bring Purusha Mriga (a yogi dwelling in the Himalayas) for the grand yagna of Yuddhisthir. Purusha Mriga or Vyaghrapada was a very powerful yogi and Krishna warned Bheem - if he couldn't match Mriga's speed of mind, he would be killed.

Scared, Bheem proceeded towards Himalayas. En route, he met Hanuman who stopped him to ask the cause of worry in his face. Bheem told him the entire story to which Hanuman, his elder brother, told him that Purusha Mriga was a staunch Shiva devotee. The only way to stop him would be to place Shiva's lingam throughout the route so that he stops to worship the idol. That being said, he gave Bheem a bunch of feathers from the tip of his tail - dropping each feather would spawn a lingam - distracting Purush Mriga and helping Bheem.

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Then of course there are the Nagas half human half snake beings and the Garudas with human-bird hybrid bodies. Both of them were born from eggs laid by Kashyap's human wives as described in the SECTION XVI of Astik Parva of Mahabharat

"Sauti continued, 'O best of regenerate ones, after a long time, Kadru brought forth a thousand eggs, and Vinata two. Their maid-servants deposited the eggs separately in warm vessels. Five hundred years passed away, and the thousand eggs produced by Kadru burst and out came the progeny.

Garud's younger brother Arun is also an interesting creature with a half-formed body:

But the twins of Vinata did not appear. Vinata was jealous, and therefore she broke one of the eggs and found in it an embryo with the upper part developed but the lower one undeveloped.....Thus cursing his mother, the child rose to the sky. O Brahmana, even he is the charioteer of Surya, always seen in the hour of morning!

"Then at the expiration of the five hundred years, bursting open the other egg, out came Garuda, the serpent-eater. O tiger of Bhrigu's race, immediately on seeing the light, that son of Vinata left his mother. And the lord of birds, feeling hungry, took wing in quest of the food assigned to him by the Great Ordainer of all.".

The Mahabharat Astik Parva SECTION XXXVI describes Shesh-Naga the chief of Nagas as a snake with a human-like body:

And the Grandsire of all, Brahma, saw that ascetic with knotted hair, clad in rags, and his flesh, skin, and sinews dried up owing to the hard penances he was practising. And the Grandsire addressing him, that penance-practising one of great fortitude, said, 'What is that thorn doest, O Sesha? Let the welfare of the creatures of the worlds also engage thy thoughts. O sinless one, thou art afflicting all creatures by thy hard penances. O Sesha, tell me the desire implanted in thy breast.'

"Unto Sesha who had said so, the Grandsire said, 'O Sesha, I know the behaviour of all thy brothers and their great danger owing to their offence against their mother. But O Snake, a remedy (for this) hath been provided by me even beforehand. It behoveth thee not to grieve for thy brothers. O Sesha, ask of me the boon thou desirest. I have been highly gratified with thee and I will grant thee today a boon. O best of snakes,? it is fortunate that thy heart hath been set on virtue. Let thy heart be more and more firmly set on virtue.'

The Harivansha also gives a description of Sheshnaga in a half human-half serpent form where he is shown to have attributes of Lord Balaram:

tasya madhye sahasrAsyaM hematAlochChritadhvajam | lA~NgalAsaktahastAgraM musalopAshritodaram ||2-26-49

In the middle (of nAgaloka), with thousand heads, with a flag showing a golden palm leaf, carrying a plough in one hand (he saw sheSha). A club (musala) was kept near his belly.

asitAmbarasaMvItaM pANDuraM pANDurAsanam | kuNDalaikadharaM mattaM suptamamburuhekShaNam ||2-26-50

Wearing a blue dress, with white complexion and seated on a white seat, wearing one ear ring, intoxicated, with eyes looking like sleepy lotus flowers,

bhogotkarAsane shubhre svena dehena kalpite | svAsInaM svastikAbhyAM cha varAhAbhyAM mahIdharam ||2-26-51

seated on the white seat, created by his own serpentine body, adorned by svastika and varAha and holding the earth,

ki~nchitsavyApavR^ittena maulinA hemachUlinA | jAtarUpamayaiH padmairmAlayAchChannavakShasam ||2-26-52

with his head slightly inclined to the left adorned with golden ornaments and his chest covered with a garland of golden lotus flowers,

raktachandanadigdhA~NgaM dIrghabAhumarindamam | padmanAbhasitAbhrAbhaM bhAbhirjvalitatejasam ||2-26-53

the killer of enemies with his long arms smeared with paste of red sandal, the one with a lotus flower from his navel, with white complexion, attractive with his effulgence,

The Naga Takshak is also mentioned transforming from a human into a serpent:

"On the road Utanka perceived coming towards him a naked idle beggar sometimes coming in view and sometimes disappearing. And Utanka put the ear-rings on the ground and went for water. In the meantime the beggar came quickly to the spot and taking up the ear-rings ran away. And Utanka pursued the thief with the utmost speed. And having with great difficulty overtaken him, he seized him by force. But at that instant the person seized, quitting the form of a beggar and assuming his real form, viz., that of Takshaka, speedily entered a large hole open in the ground. And having got in, Takshaka proceeded to his own abode, the region of the serpents.

There are also other mythical beings such as certain rakshas species with humanoid bodies and animal faces. FOr example, Mahishasura the buffalo-demon is somewhat similar to the dreaded Minotaur of Greek myths:

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Similarly, the Greek Hydra is a huge serpent that was defeated by Heracles and it can be equated with the Kaliya Naga of multiple hoods defeated by Krishna. BTW many of the labors of Hercules are also similar to the acts performed by Krishna in his childhood. Most of these stories may have come from common origins and hence we do find some similarities between the kind of mythical beings in both though each culture would have of course transformed the myth into its own version later on.


There are various stories related to Non Human Races in Hindu Mythology. Not similar with the names or the Description you have provided (Hippogriff , WereWolf ,Basilisk ,Centaur ). Basically theses are of Western Origin. We have In Hinduism our own set of creatures which were described in our "Purans" (पुराण). The word "Puran" or "Puranas" means, what is ancient, and are simply Mythological Stories , But they are not "Myths" or "fiction". They are real events ,described by means of stories.(Their are evidences to prove authenticity of stories of "Puranas")

I am providing the list of some of the creatures (Non Human) Discribed in Hindu "puranas" or "Mythological Stories"

1) Apsara (अप्सरा) - An Apsara is a female spirit of the clouds and waters.

2) Gandharva (गंधर्व) - Are male nature spirits, husbands of the Apsaras. Some are part animal , usually a bird or horse . They have superb musical skills. 

3) Garuda (गरुड) - The Garuda is a large bird-like creature, or humanoid bird that appears in "Puranas".

4) Naga (नाग) - Deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great Snake.

5) Rakshsa (राक्षस) - Is a demonic being from Hindu "Puranas" .

6) Yaksha (यक्ष) - The name of a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, who are Caretakers of the natural treasures.

7) Vidyadharas (विद्याधर) - literally "wisdom-holders") are a group of supernatural beings in Hindu Puranas who possess magical powers. etc. the list is broad.

One can find description of such creatures in puranas . And they are not generally described in "Vedas". or "Shastras". "Veda" and "Shastras" are very different from "Puranas" .

Please find more info. about such creatures here

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    Please provide reason for downvote , whome it may concern , thanks Jul 5, 2016 at 9:46

You can add Kinnara to the list. Either half-human and half-horse in Hinduism, or a bird with a human head according to Buddhism. The Harivamsa explains there was a period between 2 yugas (i believe Dvapara -> Kali) when the Kinnaras came into being. It is possible these creatures existed throughout the world (for example, compare the similarities of the mythical creatures from Mesopotamia)


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    According to the Wikipedia entry on the "Kinnara Kingdom", the Mahabharata describes these entities as half-man and half-horse. A similarity may be drawn to the Greek "centaurs". According to this epic poem and other Puranic literature, the Kinnaras dwelled in a region north of the Himalayan Mountains. They seem to be associated with a tribe called the "Kambojas" (a tribe of fierce warriors who were skilled in horse-riding and horse-warfare). Interestingly, another reference from the Mahabharata classifies the Kinnaras as a subgroup of the Gandharvas. Jul 5, 2016 at 23:11

I would like to mention about Gandabherunda.

This is a giant bird which is having two heads and capable of carrying elephants!! Wikipedia source for Gandabherunda. This bird is the official logo for KSRTC

  • Kabanda is not a creature but it happened to him due to a curse by a Rishi. He was a Rakshasa originally. Feb 15, 2018 at 4:12
  • @Sarvabhouma Still it is a creature. Few scripts describe as a giant creature.
    – Bharadwaj
    Feb 15, 2018 at 8:02
  • Not like Kinnaras, Gandabherunda etc., The question is not asking change due to a curse. He was a rakshasa with a beautiful look like Indra who got a bad phisique due to a curse. It is not a fantastic creature like Kinnara Kimpurusha. There are many instances where the form is changed but that doesn't make them a fantastic creature. Feb 15, 2018 at 8:07
  • @Sarvabhouma got it. Editing my answer
    – Bharadwaj
    Feb 15, 2018 at 8:42

These are all fantastical creatures. In the Hindu epics and Puranic texts, many fantastical creatures are described. If one believes in the Yuga theory, a Satya Yuga ("Golden Age") did exist in the ancient, misty past. Many individuals with psionic powers and siddhis did exist back then. Did these individuals have the arcane knowledge of genetic engineering and/or creating fantastical creatures with powerful thought-forms? This is certainly a distinct possibility.

Researchers are finding out that the ancient Sumerian civilization had such arcane knowledge. The ancient Vedic civilization would have been contemporaneous with both the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations. All of these cultures described fantastical creatures. Are all these creatures mere mythological constructs? Perhaps, they existed during an advanced and distant age. Our ancestors may have had distant memories of these "fantastical creatures" passed down via the oral and written traditions.

  • The view which I posted above is certainly unorthodox in the view of the conventional historians. However, the traditionalists within the Hindu fold are well aware of the Yuga theory. Swami Sri Yukteswar provides a very convincing description of the cyclical Yuga theory in his book, "The Holy Science" (originally published in 1894). He was an accomplished student of Jyotish Shastra and invokes the "precession of the equinoxes" concept to justify his proposal. As such, I believe in the cyclical model of history - not the standard linear approach adopted by the current historians. Jul 5, 2016 at 22:53
  • Hence, the explanation which I have posted above may seen controversial to those of "standard linear history" sensibilities. This is another reason why we need traditional Hindu scholars and Hindu theologians also examining and dissecting these issues. I am in agreement with Rajiv Malhotra on this latter point. Jul 5, 2016 at 22:58
  • I think this subject merits a serious re-exploration. Anomalies are being discovered in archaeology. Even the American series, "Ancient Aliens", has commented several times regarding India's wondrous antiquity - an aspect which the conventional historians or those with a colonial or Marxist bent tend to downplay or neglect altogether. I encourage all students of Vedic literature to perform sincere investigation into these "fantastical creatures". I don't think that they can be dismissed as mere mythology. The individual(s) who have downgraded my previous comment should also explain why. Aug 12, 2017 at 13:14

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