By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Bhutagana, BhutagaNa, Bhutagana
Bhutagaṇa literally means ‘troupe of goblins’.
Bhutas are grotesque goblins who form part of the army of Rudra-Śiva.
Nīlalohita Rudra (one of the aspects of Śiva) is said to have created eleven crores of bhutas. They are generally pictured as lean figures with elongated ears eager to trouble others. They often fought the asuras or demons siding with the gods.
Being the lord of these bhutas, Śiva is often called ‘Bhutanātha,’ ‘Bhuteśa’ or ‘Bhuteśvara’. Gaṇapati and Nandikeśvara also are sometimes called by this name.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore