The Indian Effect
To many vampire researchers, India may well have been an original source of some vampire mystique. Throughout the millennia, Indian culture and religion has generated an enormous variety of deities, demons, and superstitious beliefs and legends, and many of the ancient vampirelike Indian entities are still alive and well in modern lore. It's possible that tales of these legendary, and often bloodthirsty demonic entities, made their way into European myth by caravan, conquest, or immigration to commingle and evolve with the lore of other regions many centuries ago.
Rakshasas and Hatu-dhana
In ancient Hinduism, the universe was divided into areas of existence, with the subterranean region serving as home to demons and evil spirits. From here were born the frightening rakshasas, fanged ogres in human form who inhabit cemeteries, from where they wander into the night to loathsomely slaughter infants and pregnant women.
The hatu-dhana, sometimes spelled yatu-dhana, are an evolutionary step below the rakshasas and are believed to ghoulishly feed on the human remains left by a rakshasa.
The goddess Kali is intrinsically linked to blood drinking in Indian lore. A famous legend of Kali describes her battle against the demon god Raktabija in which every drop of blood spilled from his body created a duplicate of him, and the battlefield soon became filled with reproductions. Kali finally destroyed the demon by sucking every last drop of blood from his body.
Bhutas and Vetalas
Still more demonic deities exist in Indian lore that display horrific vampire characteristics. The bhuta represents the spirits of the those who are insane, who were killed by sudden, accidental death, or who suffer physical defects. The bhuta inhabit ruins and cremation sites and can enter the bodies of victims to feed on corpses and even the living. They're also held responsible for droughts, crop failures, illness, and insanity — or for that matter, virtually any calamity.
The vetala, or betail, is another demonic creature that co-opts the bodies of living victims and, like many of the Indian night stalkers, delights in killing children, causing miscarriages, and driving people mad.
The sheer range and number of demonic Indian deities and spirits and the countless incarnations of them from region to region is enough to fill several books. There's no question that they've caused many hundreds of thousands of innocents in India to bolt their doors, shutter their windows, and keep candles burning well into the night.