So many vampires are cursed souls, condemned to wander the Earth hunting for blood. In so many cases, it isn’t even their fault or their choice. In the case of the Bhuta of the mythology of India, these poor souls suffered an untimely, usually violent death, and are forever cursed to an afterlife as a ghoul that wanders through the night attacking the living that they encounter.
This is a vampire that inspires as much pity as terror, I should think. When a person is murdered or commits suicide, they could become a bhuta spirit. Or if they suffer from some sort of mental illness or if they are disfigured or physically disabled in some way, they may become a bhuta after they die.
In their ghostly form they appear as a ball of light or as a flickering misty figure that does not have a shadow. They may also transform themselves into owls or bats. This is why in much Indian mythology it is a bad omen to hear an owl’s hoot in the night, and may be a death omen.
Like the vetala and many other vampires of Indian mythology, this spirit can inhabit or possess and reanimate dead bodies in order to use them as a vessel with which to attack the living. These ghostly vampires don’t have shadows, and this is part of the mythology surrounding them. It’s part of a reason why they can not settle on this earth or rest in peace. And it’s also a good way to detect one. If someone doesn’t have a shadow, they are actually a corpse being possessed by a bhuta spirit and it’s time to run away.
The bhuta is a night spirit and generally lives like a ghoul. They usually wander around in graveyards or other places of death and devastation and feed on corpses. When they attack the living, the victim will become severely sick and will usually die. They rarely possess the living, they generally just feed on them using a reanimated corpse. The bhuta can never rest on the ground though, so it’s easy enough to prevent an attack. Just lay flat on the ground and they can’t touch you.
There are some who give offerings to the bhuta and provide them with food and general safety. In this way they prevent bhuta attacks.