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Ernest Griset's depiction of a vetala escaping from King Vikram in Vikram and the Vampire, Richard Francis Burton's 1870 retelling of Baital Pachisi.

A vetala (Sanskrit: वेताल vetāla) is a revenant in Hindu mythology, usually defined as an evil spirit that has taken possession of a corpse at charnel grounds. The vetala is comparable to the zombies of Western mythology, the reanimated corpse can be used as vehicle for movement, as the corpse no longer decays while it is inhabited by the spirit; the vetala may also leave the dead body at will.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The most popular vetala story is Baital Pachisi. Vikram Aur Betaal was a television programme produced by Ramanand Sagar and directed by his son Prem Sagar that aired on DD National channel that was based on it. Vetala are also part of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel and have appeared in television shows such as Supernatural season 7 episode 11, Adventures in Babysitting, Sleepy Hollow, Jekyll & Hyde, and a web series titled The Vetala released in 2009, written and directed by Damon Vignale. The series reveals a CGI vetala character in the final episode. The Vetala (Linda Leith Publishing, 2018) is a novel by Canadian author Phillip Ernest. It tells the story of Nada, a professor of Sanskrit, who finds herself face to face with the vetala, the subject of her life-long study.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gray, David B. (n.d.). 'Skull Imagery and Skull Magic in the Yogini Tantras'. Santa Clara University. Source: [1] (accessed: Tuesday February 2, 2010), [2] (accessed: July 26, 2017)


  • Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola