Within Balinese Hinduism, “demons” are commonly referred to as butas, kalas, or butakalas. Tourists tend to find demons to be some of the more intriguing of the Balinese Hindu figures. Unfortunately, demons tend to also be some of the most difficult of the Balinese Hindu figures for tourists to interpret. One reason for this is that many of Bali’s tourists tend to have a preconceived notion that “demons” are automatically “evil spirits”. Within Balinese Hinduism, demons represent “spirits” and there are demons that the Balinese believe are primarily “evil” in nature. For example, as previously mentioned, Rangda is commonly considered to be the rather mischievous incarnation of Dewi Durga. However, within Balinese Hinduism, demons, like Gods and Goddesses, are believed to be capable of embodying universal dualities or paradoxes. Therefore, even a demon like Rangda is not entirely evil in nature. In fact, the Balinese sometimes leave offerings to Rangda with the hope of enticing her to protect their village against evil spirits.
Another reason why tourists often have a difficult time interpreting Balinese Hindu demons, has to do with the fact that there are many forms of Balinese Hindu demons. In general, demons are believed to be figures that are intermediate, in terms of power, to animals (which includes humans) and Gods or Goddesses. Sometimes tourists make the mistake of interpreting this as meaning that Balinese Hindu demons are not related to humans, Gods, or Goddesses. It is important for tourists to keep in mind that Balinese Hinduism incorporates aspects of Animism. Therefore, demons are sometimes analogous to the spirits of deceased animals (both human and non-human). These animal spirits are believed to be capable of wandering the Earth and even inhabiting objects. However, historically, as aspects of Animism and Hinduism came together to form Balinese Hinduism, demons also became an important symbol of the Balinese Hindu belief in reincarnation. In other words, in addition to being Earth bound spirits, demons also came to represent spirits that, through the reincarnation process , achieved semi-unification with the divine. However, it is also important to keep in that within Balinese Hinduism, it is ultimately the divine that embodies everything within the universe and even determines whether or not a person is worthy of being reincarnated in a higher form. Therefore, there are also Balinese Hindu demons, like Rangda, that represent incarnations of a God or Goddess. In their demonic form, Gods and Goddesses are free to move about the Earth and directly interact with humans. They can perform kind deeds for humans that have been good or they can punish humans that have been bad. Similarly, a demon like Rangda, as Queen of the Witches, is capable of protecting or punishing lower demons. Finally, it is important to remember that Dewa Wisnu is beleived to have special powers that allow him to incarnate beyong the realms of the demons. Dewa Wisnu is believed to be capable of incarnating as an Avatar (God-Man).