Self-Possessed, 12.6-12.8



Circulation of Knowledge



Early Ayus-vaidik Compendia






Early Ayus-Vaidik Compendia


pp. 537 & 573 graha-s, according to Sus`ruta

p. 537

"grahas are powerful beings who achieved ... the "eight powers" [gun.a-s (p. 573, n. 12:215)] according to their respective strength."

"unmada is caused by possession by spirits that demand sex[ual intercourse] or worship".

p. 573, n. 12:217

"See Stephens for accounts of sex[ual intercourse] with demons as an aspect of ... European ... physical interaction with demons" (2003:14)."

{Actually, such European sexual interactions with daimones were (and are, as described by Robert Bruce et al.) accomplished not in the material body, but in projected astral bodies.}

Stephens 2003 = Walter Stephens : Demon Lovers. U of Chicago Pr.

p. 537 according to Su-s`ruta, graha-s cannot entre into and control humans

"However, adds Sus`ruta, they [graha-s] do not themselves possess humans; it is their minions who do their bidding, who do the dirty work of possession, ... in a statement presumably directed at Caraka".

{The Caraka Samhita was composed in Gaud.i-speaking north Bharata, where spirit-possession is socially disapproved, and therefore the graha-s are disapproved. The Su-s`ruta Samhita was composed in D.avida-speaking south Bharata, where deity-possession is socially approved, and is ascribed to major deities, including to the same graha-s : therefore, in order to account for the unapproved nature of spirit-possession in north Bharata, any undesirable spirit-possession is ascribed by Su-s`ruta to misbehaving minions of the graha-s.}

pp. 538, 574 sattva-avajaya

p. 538

CaSu 11.54 : "Daiva[-]vyapas`raya indicates the use of mantras ..., chanting of hymns, surrender to deities, and pilgrimage.

Yukti[-]vyapas`raya indicates proper food, medicine ... .

Sattvavajaya is the holding back {'restraint' /yama/} of the mind from harmful objects."

p. 574, n. 12:221

"Neither Caraka nor Sus`ruta mentions yogic {yaugik} ... practices,

to which sattvavajaya might refer.

{Certainly, Yama ('Restraint') of the mind is a major practice in Yoga dars`ana.}

Such practices might have been expunged from these texts in a an attempt to enhance their scientific credibility. Their [ayus-vaidik authors'] empiricism {actually, materialism (greed), not "empiricism"} would have admitted observable {how is Yoga any less "observable" than supposed results from vaidik ritualism?} or inferred {!} phenomena, which to them included ... ritual, use of gemstones, etc."

{Ritual (offerings to specific deities), use of gemstones (because sacred to specific deities), and the like, are less (not more) "scientifically credible" than anything in Yoga. The reason for ayus-veda's exclusion of Yoga is that it (Yoga) can be self-performed without payment of any fees to licensed practitioners (whether vaidik ritualists or ayus-vaidik practitioners). To recommend Yoga would have been to deprive fee-greedy licensees of their fees, a result horrifying to any ayus-vaidin.}

By the same token, [spirit-]possession was admitted as a valid category".

{It is admitted "as a valid category" by ayus-vaidik practitioners simply because they collect fees for allegedly curing it. Actually, Yoga is functionally, by far, more effective (as likewise is any variety of shamanry) in curing ud-mada (madness).}

pp. 539-40 therapies concerning ud-mada, according to Caraka

p. 539

daiva-vyapa-as`raya-cikitsa : "Worshipping Is`vara ..., one becomes victorious over ... unmada. One should perform puja to Rudra's attendants [gan.a-s] called pramathas, who roam about in the world, thereby releasing them from various forms of unmada." (CaCi 6.9.89-90)

p. 540

"In ... treatments for apasmara, ... One recipe calls for ... leech excrement, ... goat's hair, donkey bone, elephant's toenail, and hair from a cow's tail (CaCi 6.10.29-40)."

pp. 540-1 sites for offering red articles to the eight varieties of graha-s, according to Su-s`ruta (SuUt 6.60.29-37)









amid cows


"pleasant room"



beside a river


" " "


dense forest

abandoned house


p. 541 repulsing bhuta-s according to the As.t.a-anga-hr.daya Uttara-sthana

"AH-Ut 6.5, titled bhuta[-]pratis.edha (repulsing bhutas) ... covers ... recipes for pills (gud.a) to ward off insanity (6.5.15-17), ... with ... mantras invoking Dvadas`a[-]bhuja (Twelve-Armed) Is`vara or Aryavalokita [Arya-avalokita] Natha, the maha[-]mayuri {'great peafowl'} mantra ..., and worship of ... Bhutes`a [Bhuta-is`a], Sthanu, and the latter's attendants, called pramatha[-]s (agitators ...)."





pp. 542-3 cures for ud-mada, according to chapter 20 of the Cakra-datta (alias dictus Cikitsa-samgraha) by Cakra-pan.i-datta (mid-11th century ChrE)






pippali (long pepper), marica (black pepper)


daru-haridra [daru-nis`a, Berberis aristata (p. 575, n. 12:230)] in naks.atra Pus.ya



neem leaves, vaca [Acorus calamus (p. 575, n. 12:231)], hingu (asafoetida), mustard seed


tvak (cinnamon), vams`a-locana ("soft extrusions at the joints of bamboo segments"), jata-mamsi [a sweet root used in havan (p. 575, n. 12:233)]



Exorcism in Contemporary Ayus-Veda


pp. 545-7 manifest combined deity-possession and spirit-possession of mainly young women at the Chottanikkara temple in the Palakkad district of Kerala

p. 545

"[spirit-] possession ritual at the Chottanikkara "Bhagavathy" temple ... about thirty kilometers east of Cochin , where ... most of the victims {possessees} were ... young women from about fifteen to about twenty-five years old. ... The women exhibited the classic symptoms of possession on having darshan of the goddess, exhibiting rhythmic rotating of the head with hair unbraided, wild body movements, shouting and thrashing about, ...

p. 546

accompanied by palpable states of exhileration, ... excitement and fascination. Similarly, their psychophysical attitude or comportment (bhava) ... is clearly liberating ... . ... the possession fits into indigenous categories of ecstasy ..., the experience is valorized, sanctified ... by the goddess. ... . This is exemplified in girls who ... engage in both sides of a dialogue, in different voices and intonations, in which the goddess and the possessing spirits argue and even fight. If the [goddess, speaking and acting through the] possessed person is deemed by the healer, family members, or ritual officiant to be ready to expell the [undesired] spirit ..., a brief ceremony is then performed. ... In it ..., the officiant drives the bhuta[-]m ... into the tree with a ... railway spike in the presence of the afflicted individual and accompanying family members, after which the victim beats her ... head on it. Thus ..., the nail {spike} has been place in a hole already drilled ... into the tree. ...

p. 547

Finally, [the ayus-vaidik practitioner] told me that these girls ... are ... abused, and ... the abuse is sexual, he said, and occurs within the family; ... thus they ... psychically ... become susceptible to [spirit-]possession,

{Evidently, the sexual behaviour within the family was demanded of the family by the goddess (and secretly approved by temple-officials), who shewed her approval of the family's incestuous behaviour by rewarding the young woman involved in the incest with "states of exhileration, ... excitement and fascination". The temple-priests, ayus-vaidik practitioners, and even the young women all were constrained (on account of a law against incest, such law having been instituted by the British Empire in defiance of local custom) to feign disapproval of the incest.}

a situation greatly exacerbated by drug addiction ... of the intoxicant, which from its description could be an opiate".

{Likewise, the administrating of doses of narcotic by her family to each young woman involved (in order to squelch any sexual inhibitions to incest on her part), was likewise demanded demanded by the goddess (and secretly approved by temple-officials).}

p. 547 daks.ina-acara substitution of plant-derived ingredients for animal-derived ingredient in ritual recipes

"the vaidyas of Kerala ... employ only some of the herbal ingredients recommended, including vaca, black pepper, asafoetida, neem leaves, and cinnamon.

They use other {i.e., vegetable} substances in the place of the animal products, including garlic, white s`ankha[-]pus.pi ["Clitoria ternatea, reported used for s`ankha[-]pus.pi in Kerala" (p. 577, n. 12:241)], and hot chili."

{Such substitution would be in accordance with daks.ina-acara substitutions in the 5 makara-s of tantra (coconut for mamsa 'flesh', etc.).}

p. 549 chattan

The "pipal tree ... houses a chattan. This is ... a jangli bhuta (... jungle spirit). [p. 577, n. 12:243 : "For more on this bhuta, see Tarabout 2003."] Among the symptom of harassment by chattan are

rocks falling inexplicably on one's roof

{This was an experience by Bradford Keeney in Bali.}

or large amounts of hair found in one's food (specifically in A chattan is also explained as

"something like a yaks.a."

{i.e., a spirit inhabiting a tree}

It ... could even be protective if regularly and properly appeased, which ... is accomplished by leaving votive offerings for it at a shrine constructed beneath certain large trees. In addition, certain people ... practice chattan upasana, meaning that they are possessed by a chattan and practice chattan jadu (black magic associated with a chattan). ... In Thrissur District live several chattan mat.has or extended houses of people, mostly related, who are trained through family or lineage tradition in ritual appeasement of chattan[-]s by making offerings at their shrines."

Tarabout 2003 = Gilles Tarabout : "Witchcraft in Kerala". In :- Vidal, Tarabout, & Meyer (edd.) : Violence and Non-Violence : Some Hindu Perspectives. New Delhi : Manohar. pp. 219-54.

pp. 550-1 ud-mada & apasmara according to the Pras`na-marga

p. 550

"in ... the Pras`na[-]marga ... the unmada must be judged to be the work of obstructive spirits (badhaka[-]graha[-]sambhavah.; 12.24d)." [p. 577, n. 12:245 : "see the ... translation by Raman (1991)"]

p. 551

"the PrMa ... personifies as female graha[-]s a dozen symptoms of seizure (apasmara, 12.53-54) : S`vasana (Gasping), Malina (Dirtying), Nidra (Sleep), Jr.mbhika (Yawning), An[-]as`ana (Not Eating), Trasini {Trembling}, Mohini {Deluded}, Rodani (Weeping), Krodhani (Anger[ed]), Tapani (Excitable), S`os.ani (Dryness), and Dhvamsini (Destructress)."

"One ritual, however, deserves special praise in the PrMa : the mr.tyun~[-]jaya homa (13.36-39). ... The mantra ... (We make offerings to

Tryambaka (Rudra), the fragrant [su-gandhi], increaser of prosperity [pus.t.i-vardhana]; like a cucumber [urvaruka]

{Because cucumbers are the paradigm in Muslim law for food available without cost to the indigent traveler, there may be an implication of [in regard to "the free gift" (Epistole to the Rhomanoi 5:15)] the dictum that "The free-gift-of-God [Dosi-theos, a S^amaritan, i.e. anti-Christian, term] is aeternal life" (Epistole to the Rhomanoi 6:23.}; but (insofar as Tri-ambaka is very similar to a Christian "devil") "through Anti-Khristos (His [Diabolos's] Son)".}

from its stem, from death may I be loosened, not from immortality {or rather, "not from mortality" -- a vowel-contraction would require a circumflex} [ma'mr.'tat]) (R.[c-]V[eda] 7.59.2, T[attiriya-]S[amhita], etc.)."

{A-meretat ('Immortality') is a Zaratustrian hypostasis; so that to be "loosed from Immortality" would be to be set from from Zaratustrian hypostasization, such hypostases being reminiscent of the Valentinian (and likely any Dosithean) ones.}

Raman 1991 = Bangalore Venkata Raman : Pras`na Marga. 2 voll. Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass.

p. 577, n. 12:248 Vira-simha-avaloka {'Hero-Lion Downworld' -- a source of the cult of Avalokita-is`vara?}

"the Virasimhavaloka, composed ... possibly in Gwalior, dated 1383 [ChrE] (see Meulenbeld HIML IIA:229-230 and notes) ... purports be a jyotis`s`astra[-]karma[-]vipak[a-]ayurveda[-]prayoga, a term that appears in the colophon to each of its seventy-one chapters. It is a handbook discussing the astrology (jyotih.) and karmic causes of disease (karma-vipaka ...), and at length describes medicinal treatments for more than fifty diseases. ... The bulk of section on unmada consists of recipes for medicated ghees, powders (curn.a), and fumigants (dhupa)."



Diagnosing Spirit-Possession


p. 578, n. 12:249 differential diagnosis of ud-mada due to spirit-possession (in Bod)

"Kakar reports ... on Tibetans ... : "If the patient is possessed by a bhuta, his eyes move downward toward the left; in the case of possession by a dakini -- a female spirit often addressed as 'Mother,' who is said to bestow esoteric knowledge and power on its devotees -- the eyes move upward toward the right" (1982:110)."

{For another variety of supernatural effect on the movement of the eyen, cf. for the two Phalguni naks.atra-s the explanation is the GP (pp. 153-4) that these are pairs of eyen, with the explication otherwise (in AR, vol. 9, facing p. 323 -- quoted in A&ACS, p. 180, Fig. 21) that of these two naks.tra, the 1st is [their movement from] "south to north" and the 2nd is [their movement from] "north to south".}

Kakar 1982 = Sudhir Kakar : Shamans, Mystics and Doctors. U of Chicago Pr.

GP = Manmatha Nath Dutt (transl.) : Garud.a Calcutta : Society for the Resuscitation of India Literature, 1908.

AR = ASIATICK RESEARCHES : Transactions of the Asiatick Society of Calcutta.

A&ACS = Hugh A. Moran & David H. Kelley : The Alphabet and the Ancient Calendar Signs. 2nd edn. Daily Pr, Palo Alto, 1970.

pp. 551-2 how ud-mada is differentially diagnosed

p. 551

"how is nija unmada (mental illness with traceable ...

p. 552

psychological origins) distinguished from agantuka unmada (mental illness ... the result of [spirit-]possession?

In the case of nija unmada, ... the cause is readily acknowledged : family problems, a death in the family, financial pressure ... . The usual problems are depression and anxiety, ... and treated accordingly.

... for diagnosing agantuka unmada ... What vaidyas is abrupt and specifically defined behavioral change."

p. 552 differential diagnosis, by blood-pulse, of ud-mada (in Pune)

if the __ artery pulse be the strongest

then the ud-mada is __




spirit-possession by a bhuta


spirit-possession by an ancestor (pitr.)

p. 552 differential diagnosis, by oil on urine, of ud-mada (in Pune)

if the drop of sesame-oil deposited on the urine flow toward the __

then the ud-mada is caused by a __


"malevolent spirit"







p. 553 prognosis, by oil on urine, of sickness (according to the Yoga-ratnakara, pp. 12-14 of the Varanasi edn, verses 1-3, 11-20, & 22)

if a drop of oil deposited on the urine __

then the disease is __



spread not

difficult to cure

float randomly on the surface


if a drop of oil deposited on the urine flow toward the __

then it indicateth __


"good health will be restored quickly"


"a fever that will subside only gradually"


"a cure is definite"


"happiness and health"


"the patient will die in one month"

southeast or southwest

"death is inevitable"


"the patient will die even if treated with the best medicines [sudha]"

if a splotch of oil deposited on the urine outline the form of a __

then it indicateth __

plough, tortoise, buffalo, beehive, headless man, arm or leg, weapon, axe, pestle or spear, arrow, mace, or trivia (junction of 3 roads)

"the patient will die even if treated with the best medicines [sudha]" "In such cases it is better to do nothing at all."

goose, duck, pond [tad.aga], waterlily, elephant, chowrie [camara], umbrella, arch, or mansion

"good health will definitely be restored"

human being or 2 skulls [mastaka-dvaya-m]

"there is possession by a bhuta [bhuta-dos.a] and bhuta[-]vidya should be applied"

if a splotch of oil deposited on the urine take the shape of a __

then the condition is due to __ (umor) aggravation







p. 578, n. 12:253 the 9 gems of the 9 planets



its gem



ruby (man.ikya)



pearl (mauktika, mukta)



red coral (pravala, vidruma)



emerald (garutmata, garud.a-udgara)



yellow topaz (



diamond (hira)



blue sapphire (indra-nila)



hessonite or onyx (go-meda)



cat's eye (vaid.urya)


Frederick M. Smith : The Self-Possessed : Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization. Columbia U Pr, NY, 2006.