84000 Glossary of Terms

Our trilingual glossary combining entries from all of our publications into one useful resource, giving translations and definitions of thousands of terms, people, places, and texts from the Buddhist canon.

ཤ་ཟ། | Glossary of Terms

    ཤ་ཟ།

    sha za

    piśāca

  • Term
Publications: 27

A class of nonhuman beings that, like several other classes of nonhuman beings, take spontaneous birth. Ranking below rākṣasas, they are less powerful and more akin to pretas. They are said to dwell in impure and perilous places, where they feed on impure things, including flesh. This could account for the name piśāca, which possibly derives from √piś, to carve or chop meat, as reflected also in the Tibetan sha za, “meat eater.” They are often described as having an unpleasant appearance, and at times they appear with animal bodies. Some possess the ability to enter the dead bodies of humans, thereby becoming so-called vetāla, to touch whom is fatal.