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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 ghost-like being from Hindu mythology. The vetala are defined as spirits inhabiting cadavers and charnel grounds. These corpses may be used as vehicles for movement (as they no longer decay while so inhabited); but a vetala may also leave the body at will. Historians have established that vetala is based on an ancient character from the state of Bengal.[1]

Gray (undated: c2009) provides a survey of chthonic charnel ground accoutrement motif such as skull imagery in the textual tradition of the Yogini tantras and discusses 'vetala' (Sanskrit).[2]

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 television shows such as Supernatural season 7 episode 11, Adventures in Babysitting, Sleepy Hollow and Jekyll & Hyde.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bane, Theresa (2012). Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 325. ISBN 978-0-7864-8894-0. OCLC 774276733. Retrieved 2018-11-28.
  2. ^ 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)