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Ayurveda > Bhut-vidya

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

 This branch of ashtang ayurved namely bhut-vidya, (psychology and psychiatry) deals mainly with imbalance of the mind, diseases resulting from that and treatment for the same.

Ayurvedic sages were of the opinion that psychological and neurological disorders are caused by notorious supernatural powers (bhuta.) Bhut-khet, pretatma, samandh, pishachcha, vetal (evil spirits, devils, ghosts, etc.) are different terminologies used to name these powers. All these are considered superhuman and known to create trouble. They are spirits of unfortunate people who die without achieving their aim in life. These dead people try to fulfill their wishes and wills through the bodies and minds of mentally weak people. People suffering from psychological disorders are vehicles of these inhuman superpowers on earth.

Different sanhitas have interpreted the word bhuta in different ways. Some say that bhuta can be good or bad. They just want to complete their lifespan through human vehicles and this is their explanation for psychic conditions. Some say that these wreaking powers capture human beings to fulfill their incomplete desires and wishes and that the irrelevant behavior of a psychologically disturbed person is a result of this phenomenon. Others say that people under the influence of bhuta (bad spirits) can do all that is normally beyond their control and capacity. Still others say that the sins which one might have committed in one’s last birth trouble one in one’s present birth. Overall, the belief was that these superpowers are not visible to the human eye and that they can rule human beings as they wish.

In short, bhut-vidya is the science that deals with causes and ill effects that are more mental than physical. It deals with powers that are not visible to the human eye and thus prescribes that the patient needs a devrishi or a mantrik (person who knows how to deal with these superpowers) to be able to escape from them. Thus bhut-vidya deals with all sorts of problems that have no direct physical explanation in terms of dosh (basic body constituents), dhatu (body tissues) or mala (body wastes). Bhut-vidya deals with all illnesses that suggest a disturbance in the human mind. There are many factors that control our mind and if this control is hampered or lost, a person starts behaving in a way that cannot be accepted socially. His/her actions go beyond the control of society. Treatment for all these problems that are faced by the diseased and his/her social circle come under this specialized branch of bhut-vidya.

In the era of ayurved, Indians believed in the good and bad effects of the graha (planets), the tare (stars), the rashichakra (zodiac), the grahan (eclipse) and the sankramana (movement of the sun from one rashi (zodiac month) to another. In addition, grahadasha (misfortune), grahapeeda (trouble caused by unpropitious stars) and amavasya-pournima (new moon-full moon) were also considered to be factors influencing mental disorders.

Naturally, treatment for all these problems was aimed at pleasing the bad spirits. Sacrificing a rooster or a goat to satisfy angry devils, offering ornaments to the Gods and prarthana-mantra pathan-pooja -shanti (prayers and ritual performances) were prescribed in the treatment. Yadnya {fumigation performed by using samidha (small sticks of disinfectant plants or trees)} and house warming were socially accepted forms of treatment for psychiatric problems. This was done to improve the atmosphere around the psychologically disturbed person.

To summarize, bhut-vidya deals with psychological and psychiatric problems. Mental disturbances were considered to be the result of the anger of inhuman superpowers and treatment for curing the patient was aimed at satisfying these superpowers.



Ayurvedic Milestones
Ayurvedic Thought
 Vaat, Pitta, Kafa, Dosh
 Dhatu, Mala, Fire
Pathology - Ama
 Ashtang Ayurved
 Agad Tantra
 Kaumar Bhrutya Tantra
 Shalya Tantra
 Shalakya tantra

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Academic References
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