Exotic tribes in Hinduism are those tribes which have been mystified and talked of as being some supernatural creatures different than humans. But a simple analysis of Purans, Mahabharat and Valmiki Ramayan makes it clear that these tribes were indeed human beings but were outside the Vedic corpus and hence got mystified. The Exotics Tribes include Rakshasas, Yakshas, Kinnaras, Naga,Gandharvas, Apsaras, Kiratas, Kimpurushas,etc. I am posting about them one by one.
He was the one who married Havirbhu, the daughter of Kardama Rishi. Although he was a rishi and the very part of Vedic system of Saptarshis, his descendants Rakshas and Yakshas passed on as non-Vedic people and his genealogy is quite unknown. The problem arises there.
Till date we assume that Pulastya rishi was grand-father of Ravana. But actually Pulastya was almost 86 generations before him. The in-between genealogies are missing. We don't find any Pulastya descendant to be a composer of Rigveda.
This also proves a major point. That exotic tribes and the Vedic people belonged to the same set of population but had a difference of cultures.
There are only a few members of Pulastya family who are known. This family has passed into so much oblation that only 5 Puranas talk of his family.The other members known of this family are Rishi Vishrava, father of Ravana and Kuber, the half brother of Ravana.
Valmiki Ramayan is a major source of what was happening during the era of Ravana. We are told by the Valmiki Ramayan that Ravana's father was Vishrava and from him and Kaikesi, Ravana was born. This Vishrava rishi was born from Pulastya himself ( Who was 85 generations before him). The mother of Vishrava was none but the daughter of king Trinavindu, the king of Vaishali. So we imply that Pulastya was 85 generations before his son Vishrava and Pulastya's wife, Trinavindu's daughter was 16 generations before him. Isn't it dubious?
Actually, it isn't..There has been a mistake of comprehension by Valmiki ( Although the rest of Valmiki Ramayan is still the most authentic version of Ramayan). And that mistake is partial. The Purans escalated the confusion more.
Let me tell the story which Valmiki Ramayan tells of Vishrava's birth from Pulastya -
It says that once Pulastya rishi was meditating in his ashrama where Naga, Gandharva girls were playing. Trinavindu's daughter was also there. Pulastya rishi had given a curse that whichever girl looks at him will become pregnant. Trinavindu's daughter did not know this and became pregnant, as a result Trinavindu gave his daughter to Pulastya himself as a wife. Their son was Vishrava. ( Valmiki Ramayan 7-2)
NOTE- Valmiki Ramayan does not give the name of Trinavindu's daughter.
Now the thing to comprehend is that this Pulastya rishi contemporary to Trinavindu king was a remote descendant of the actual Pulastya rishi and was carrying a common patronymic name 'Pulastya'. This story holds some ground that Pulastya married Trinavindu's daughter, but if we see the Valmiki Ramayan confuses the son of this couple to be Vishrava rishi. The reasons are thus-
- The genealogy of Pulastya is not known much but only the fact that Ravana and Vishrava belonged to Pulastya's family line was known.
- As also, only one story regarding a Pualstya rishi was known i.e the Trinavindu story which we say earlier.
- The father of Vishrava rishi was a rishi belonging to the Pulastya family line but confused to be this Pulastya rishi of Trinavindu's times.
This all resulted in placing Vishrava in Ramayanic times and his father and mother some 16 generation before him. So who was his mother actually if Trinavindu's daughter was not his mother?
Here comes another confusion of names done by Puranas-
Now Vishrava's wife was Ilavila from whom Kubera was born. The story of Trinavindu's daughter and Pulastya discussed earlier was for Pulastya rishi from whom Vishrava was born. But this story was confused to be of Vishrava himself and the Purans state that Vishrava married the daughter of Trinavindu and Kubera was born to them. This is not correct since this will place Kubera 15 generations earlier to his brother and contemporary Ravana.So we have two contradictions with Valmiki Ramayan saying Pulastya rishi married Trinavindu's daughter while the Purans say Vishrava married Trinavindu's daughter.
So this story was certainly not of Vishrava. But another implication was done by Puranas. If Vishrava married Trinavindu's daughter, and Ilavila was Vishrava's wife, by implication Ilavila becomes the daughter of Trinavindu !!!!
So after all of this confusion let me clearly tell who existed when with respect to Ramayanic era-
In the earliest times of Swayambhuva Manu, 86 generations before Ramayanic era, existed the original Pulastya Rishi whose wife was Havirbhu.Some 15 generations before Ramayanic era, we have King Trinavindu of Vaishali and a remote descendant of Pulastya, also known as Pulastya. Trinavindu married his unnamed daughter to this Pulastya and their some was also anonymous and not Vishrava.The family line of this anonymous rishi continued till 2 generations before Ramayanic era, we had Vishrava rishi in the line of Pulastya. This Vishrava married Ilavila and begot Kubera who became the king of Yakshas and also married Kaikasi from whom came Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Vibhishan and Shurpanaka. Other wives of Vishrava include Pushpotkata, Raka, Devavarnini,etc
Now something about the kingdom of Rakshasas. It is just mentioned that Rakshasas were born from the original Pulastya rishi along with Yakshas. The Rakshasas and Yakshas are mentioned to be quite inter-related along with Gandharvas. The Rakshasa kingdom is mentioned to be in Lanka from the time of Vishrava. He is said to have lived in prosperity in the kingdom of Lanka. There were other Rakshasas present in places like Kerala and other parts of South India. Among them were 3 Rakshasa brothers Malyavan, Mali and Sumali. For the sake of power, Sumali married his daughter Kaikesi to Vishrava from whom Ravana was born. [ Reference- Valmiki Ramayan Uttar Kanda]
As mentioned earlier, Vishrava had also married Ilavila from whom Kubera was born. Kubera who was a Yaksha. The Rakshasas are said to be guarding Lanka. But Ravana challenged Kubera's authority and fought a war with him and drove him out of Lanka. Kubera returned to the original place of Yaksha kingdom i.e Himalayas and Ravana started ruling in Lanka.
After Ram killed Ravana, he instituted Vibhishana as the king of Lanka.
Now someone might think that Rakshasas are some sort of Dravidian people who resided only in South India. But that is not the case since Mahabharat (Vana Parva,89) says that rishi Vishrava's ashram was on the banks of river Narmada in central India. Plus we must not forget the relations with Yakshas who majorly resided in the Himalayas. Also, the kingdom of Ghatotkacha was said to be between Gangotri and Kailasa (Mahabharat, Vana parva,144). Also, a group of Rakshasas known as Krodhavashas used to guard the kingdom of Yakshas in Himalaya as mentioned in Mahabharata ( Vana Parva 152)
The other Rakshas at Ravana's time include Durmukha, Mishrakeshi,Vajramushti, Virupaksha, Suptaghna.
Mali,Sumali and Malyavan Rakshas as mentioned earlier, were descendants of Heti and Praheti Rakshas who fought from Vritrasura's side in the Indra-Vritrasura war which happened some 65 generations before Ramayan. The genealogy goes hence- Heti + Praheti--> (Unknown generations)--> Vidyutkesh --> Sukesha--> Mali, Sumali, Malyavan--> Maricha, Subahu,Kaikesi--> Ravana
Other famous Rakshasas include
- Maricha- Who had taken the form of golden deer which Sita had told Lord Ram to bring for her in vanvas.
- Vatapi- whom Rishi Agastya had killed as mentioned in Valmiki Ramayan
- Hidimb and Hidimba- These were encountered by Bhima when they escaped the Lakshagriha
- Ghatotkacha was the son of Bhima and was killed in Mahabharata war.
Matsya Purana (202) says that one Pulastya rishi had adopted a Agastya and hence Paulastyas were also Agastyas. Also, some Vishwamitras or Kaushikas also became Rakshasas. These people hence got a name 'Brahma Rakshasas' i.e Brahmins allied to the Rakshasas.
Another interesting information is given known that among the Rakshasas, Agastyas, Kushikas and Nirrutas were active at night i.e they performed their rites in the night.