The six-month course at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in the city of Banaras will begin in January. According to BBC reports, the course to treat ghost possession will be led by the faculty of Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu system of medicine and healing. One of the university’s deans told the IANS news agency that a separate unit of Bhoot Vidya (Ghost Studies) had been established at the university.
“Bhoot Vidya is primarily concerned with psychosomatic disorders, diseases caused by unknown reasons and mental or psychological illnesses,” said Yamini Bhushan Tripathi, dean of the Ayurveda faculty.
He added that the university is the first in the country to teach such a course that would teach doctors about Ayurvedic remedies to treat ghost-related diseases . Ayurvedic therapies generally include herbal medications, dietary changes, massages, breathing and other forms of exercise. According to a 2016 study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (Nimhans), almost 14% of Indians suffer from mental illness.
And in 2017, WHO estimated that 20% of Indians could suffer depression at some point in their lives. However, there are fewer than 4,000 mental health professionals in a country of 1.3 billion people and aware of these issues. In addition, due to widespread social stigma, few seek help or professional attention and many Indians, especially in areas and poorer areas, visit shamans and sorcerers in the hope that they will help them cure their illnesses.
Controversy in social networks regarding the official course to treat ghost possession
The news that Banaras Hindu University, administered by the Indian government, will begin a Bhoot Vidya course has been questioned on social networks by some who pointed out that medicine and rehabilitation were more appropriate methods to treat mental problems. It is for this reason that the university has been forced to clarify that, instead of treating spiritual possession, the course is intended for psychosomatic or psychological disorders using the traditional system of Indian medicine Ayurveda. Dr. Yamini Bhushan Tripathi said the course will teach Ayurvedic remedies to treat ghost-related ailments. But this did not prevent several students from complaining that the course had used a confusing name to describe something much less important.
“Bhoot Vidya is nothing more than the Ayurvedic treatment of psychosomatic disorders, a legitimate field of modern medicine,” said one of the university’s students. “Only the name could be better.”
The Indian journalist Bhuvan Bagga interviewed Dr. Tripathi himself, who clarified that the course will not cover spiritual possession.
“So I just talked to Professor Yamani Bhushan Tripathi,” Bagga tweeted. “He is dean of the department and this is how he described it: Bhoot Vigyan is not related to ghosts. It is an inappropriate name and is misunderstood by society and the media. ”
Although it seems that the course is not focused on the spirit world, it is curious that ghosts are suggested as the cause of unexplained ailments. Although another controversial point is the use of Ayurveda. It is a form of traditional Indian medicine that tries to treat a variety of diseases that include supplements, herbs, exercise, and diet modification. The system was established thousands of years ago, but its validity is currently questioned. The Indian Medical Association has described the practice as “pseudoscience.”
It is interesting to see how the existence of ghosts continues to be a topic of debate, in addition to the fact that this course opens the possibility that some mental illnesses have another cause beyond what we can understand and explain.
What do you think about the course of ghostly possession? Do you think Ayurveda can help treat this “spiritual disease”?