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raksasa

in Hindu mythology, a type of demon or goblin. Rakshasas have the power to change their shape at will and appear as animals, as monsters, or in the case of the female demons, as beautiful women. They are most powerful in the evening, particularly during the dark period of the new moon, but they are dispelled by the rising sun. They especially detest sacrifices and prayer. Most powerful among them is their king, the 10-headed Ravana (q.v.). Putana, a female demon, is well known for her attempt to kill the infant Krishna by offering him milk from her poisoned breast; she was, however, sucked to death by the god.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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