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Myths and Superstition about Epilepsy: A Study from North India


Active member
There is a thread about Porva Janma Karma and Disease. To me it is superstition. And we miss an opportunity to treat a curable disease.

Epilepsy is a treatable chronic neurological disorder which is often linked to supernatural activities, due to lack of knowledge and awareness among the common people. The beliefs that outbreak of epilepsy as an unnatural or supernatural activities can be most frequently seen in rural population. One cannot say that the perception of urban populace is different from that of rural populace, but yes, they do differ at some extent.
Knowledge, superstition, and myth toward epilepsy in North India.
This is a questionnaire-based study (12 questions) conducted in neurology outpatient department of Banaras Hindu University, visited by more than hundreds of people from different province of northern India. This survey was also conducted in nearby areas of holy city Varanasi. People belonging to different socioeconomic background and educational level were surveyed to know their view regarding epilepsy.
In this survey conducted by our team, we came to the truth that urban population do consider epilepsy as an unnatural phenomenon and adopted different treatment tactics as given in this article.
There is the urgent need of creating awareness among the common people through different means such as newspaper, television, organizing health camps, and training local health practitioners for epilepsy management.

India is a large south Asian country with billions of people belonging to different caste and creed with different social and cultural background and socioeconomic class. Here, people have different views, beliefs, perception, and knowledge about different situations. One of the major problems which are being discussed in this article is related to the knowledge, awareness, and beliefs of people regarding epilepsy. Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic noncommunicable brain disorders characterized by recurrent seizures, sometimes followed by unconsciousness and involuntary bowel and bladder movement. It can be treated either by medicine or by surgery.

According to World Health organization, around 0.5% of the world is bearing the burden of the disease. More than 85% of epilepsy cases are reported in low-income countries like India. About 95% of the epileptic patients are not able to get the adequate treatment either due to the lack of medical facilities or due to the unawareness about the disease treatment as quoted by Times of India, New Delhi edition. Poor availability of antiepileptic drugs may also be one of the factors of disease remaining untreated. Epilepsy has been a part of social stigma in India because of which people are stuck to superstitious beliefs. They would rather prefer approaching faith healer, shamans’, black magic practitioners, and exorcists instead of an expert physician/neurophysician.

Although the facility of modern medicine is available almost in every part of the country, only 60% of the patients from urban areas and 10% patients from the rural areas approach clinicians for their treatment, and rest of the patients undergoes spiritual and witchcraft practices. Some people adopt both medical and spiritual mode of treatment, and by doing this, they achieve mental satisfaction as they believe that spiritualism acts as a booster. Epilepsy is considered as a curse of bad evils, and thus, the epileptic patients are abandoned and discriminated from the society.

Epileptic patients and their families undergo pressure of social fear, misunderstanding, social discrimination and dishonor, disturbed personal and professional life. The major factor driving superstitious beliefs regarding epilepsy are illiteracy, low standard of life, socioeconomic backwardness, treatment gap, religious dogma ruling the mind of the people, and lack of proper medical facilities.

There is a thread about Porva Janma Karma and Disease. To me it is superstition.

I find contradiction in your posts.

On various occasions you have described yourselves as a believer of "Brahman" and as an "advaitin". The notion of Brahman is a concept of advaita. The concept of advaita is one becomes a brahman when one realizes himself as brahman, which happens when you attain true knowledge about self and go past maya and avidya (ignorance). The cause of "nitya samsaram" (continuous birth and death) is, accumulation of past karmas.

In numerous posts, especially on rituals, astrology etc. you have mocked at people seeking help from God or Almighty or the Highest Power (by whatever name IT be called) and have questioned the claim of getting relief by doing parihArams because of theory of karma operating. You have also not so subtly hinted that praying God to get something is akin to begging.

If karma theory is valid, then it goes without saying that one has to square off at least a portion of bad karmas of the past lives by suffering in the present life and one form of suffering is through ailments and diseases. In various tit bits of other posts you call suffering due to diseases caused or presumed to be caused due to purva karma as "superstition".

How, then in your opinion, does one get rid of the past karmas ?

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