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Graha Roga: Psychiatric Disorders of Children

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Graha roga is one of the elite branches of Ashtanga Ayurveda i.e. 8 branches of Ayurveda learning. These are set of disorders which are caused due to unusual and unknown causes. Graha means spirits or demons or supernatural powers. In an era wherein it is difficult to believe in something supernatural causing these diseases, they can be equated with idiopathic disorders (caused by unknown and unseen microorganisms) or psychiatric disorders.

Graharogas have also been mentioned as ‘Bala Grahas’. Bala means child. Grahas are found to afflict the children more than the adults and hence this specification. But we also have a branch called Bala Chikitsa i.e. Ayurveda pediatrics and childcare. The graha disorders are explained in this section too. Apart from this, Graha is also a branch of Ayurveda wherein graha disorders are explained including their treatment. This gives us a clue that these graha disorders can also afflict adults and when they afflict the children they will be called as bala graha. We also learn from the context of ‘Unmada’ (mental disorders) that certain grahas cause unmada. They are called as bhutonmada. Therefore, grahas can equally afflict adults as they do in the children but due to the tender age, the children are more susceptible to become victims of graha disorders.
Read – Child Afflicted With Revati Graha And Shushkarevati Graha

Concept of Graha Rogas

How did they probably come into existence?
There are many diseases which can neither be diagnosed nor named. Even today we have such problems. In ancient days the problem of diagnosing and naming many diseases, especially those manifested in the children and infants would have been very difficult. The causes for such disorders too could not be identified. The affliction of unknown forces i.e. grahas would have been imagined, identified, named and mentioned in these situations. Master P.V. Sharma writes that all those diseases of the children which could not be named are classified under graha disorders.

Graha means to catch, to hold or make someone captive. Some unknown forces (unseen, supernatural, microscopic) enter the body of children from outside and destroy their health, as if catching hold of the child and child’s health in their clasp. These forces are called as graha. They are not visible to the physical eyes but their entry into the body can be known by inference, knowledge and experience on the basis of the symptoms and diseases they cause. Even in the modern days we cannot see many organisms like bacteria and virus entering one’s body. Their infection or affliction can be known by the symptoms and disease they cause. Or they can be identified by many kinds of diagnostic tests.
Read – Roga, Rogi Pareeksha: Examination Of Disease And Patient

Classification of Grahas

Master Charaka has not mentioned grahas afflicting the children separately. He has given description of Grahonmada i.e. insanity caused by the Grahas. This can be considered as explanation of grahas from Master Charaka’s point of view.

Master Sushruta has enumerated 9 grahas. They are –

  1. Skanda Graha
  2. Skandapasmara
  3. Shakuni Graha
  4. Revati Graha
  5. Putana Graha
  6. Andhaputana
  7. Shitaputana
  8. Mukhamandika
  9. Naigameya / Naigamesha Graha
    Read – Skanda Graha and Skandapasmara Graha Afflicting Children

Master Vagbhata has enumerated 12 grahas. They are –

Sl NoMale GrahasFemale Grahas
1SkandaShakuni graham
2VishakaPutana graham
4Shva grahamAdrshtiputana
5Pitru GrahaMukhamandika
6 Revati Graha
7 Shushka Revati Graha

Among these Grahas, Master Vagbhata has considered Skandagraha as the most important one.

Master Kashyapa has enumerated 20 grahas. They are –

  1. Varuni Graha
  2. Revati Graha
  3. Brahmani Graha
  4. Kumari Graha
  5. Bahuputrika Graha
  6. Shushka Graha
  7. Shashti Graha
  8. Yamikaa Graha
  9. Dharani Graha
  10. Mukhamandika Graha
  11. Mata Graha
  12. Shitavati Graha
  13. Kandu Graha
  14. Putana Graha
  15. Nirunchika Graha
  16. Rodani Graha
  17. Bhutamata Graha
  18. Lokamaataamahi Graha
  19. Sharanya Graha
  20. Punyakirti Graha

Among these Grahas, Master Kashyapa has considered Revati Graha as the most important one. He tells that in spite of having similar potency and strength like that of other grahas, Revati doesn’t come under one’s control. Even Gods worship this graha and this graham has many names by which it will be called.
Read – Child Seized By Pitru And Shakuni Graha – Symptoms, Treatment

According to Balatantra written by Ravana there are 12 grahas. They are –

  1. Nanda Graha
  2. Sunanda Graha
  3. Putana Graha
  4. Mukhamandika Graha
  5. Katuputana Graha
  6. Shakunika Graha
  7. Shushka Revati Graha
  8. Aryaka Graha
  9. Svastimatruka Graha
  10. Nirutamatruka Graha
  11. Pilipichchika Graha
  12. Kamukamatruka Graha

These grahas have strange way of afflicting the child in the mentioned chronology. They afflict the child on 1st day, 1st month or 1st year. They afflict the child on 2nd day, 2nd month or 2nd year. In this way they afflict the child until 12 years of age.

Master Harita has enumerated 8 grahas. They are –

  1. Lohita
  2. Revati
  3. Vaayasi
  4. Kumari
  5. Shakuni
  6. Shivaa
  7. Urdhwakeshi
  8. Senaa

According to master Harita these grahas afflict the child from 1st to 8th day in that order.
There are 9 grahas mentioned in Bhavaprakasha and 12 grahas mentioned in Yogaratnakara treatise.
Read – Naigamesha and Shwa Graha Afflicting Children

Causes for affliction by the Grahas

Graha has 3 aims with which they affect the children. They can be taken as causes of bala graha. They may also be applicable for adults. They are –

हिंसारत्यर्चनाकाङ्क्षा ग्रहग्रहणकारणम्॥अ.हृ.उ.३/३२॥

Himsa – Grahas attack to impart pain or torture to the child. It becomes severe if the strength, endurance and immunity of the person is low and if the person is sensitive to small amounts of hardships. It is also common in people who fear a lot about small and trivial things. Weak body and weak mind are susceptible environments for grahas to attack and bother a person.
Rati – Grahas also attack for sexual pleasure.
Archana – Grahas also attack with an intention of getting worshipped. We can also understand archana in terms of ‘intention of getting nourished’.

Other causative factors

  • Consumption of incompatible and unwholesome things and not following the restrictions and contradictions by the mother (of the child) or wet nurse
  • Keeping untidy
  • Violating the auspicious rituals mentioned in classics and treatises
  • Scaring, scolding, beating, punishing or making the child to laugh in an inappropriate way

The above said factors predispose the child to hire graha disorders. In the above said circumstances the grahas would take an opportunity to invade the children and causes various types of diseases and trouble the child. They will also draw attention of the family members of the child and compel them to worship them.
Read – Unmada-Insanity: Ayurvedic Understanding And Management

Other conditions which predispose the child to graha disorders
It is said that the grahas are appointed by Lord Rudra. They are always hungry for receiving sacrifices and worship. They are waiting for an opportunity to enter the body of a child / adult and hence are opportunistic in nature. Whenever they find a physical or mental deformity in the child, they immediately invade the child. The grahas can attack the child under below said circumstances –

  • When the child is angry, scared or mentally disturbed
  • When the child is roaming around in a lonely or deserted place
  • When the child has worn clothes, garland or flowers which have been used by others
  • When the child has been brought up by a wet-nurse who is ill-conducted / wicked or with bad behavior
  • When the child is too untidy
  • When the child is crying or irritated beyond limits

In the above said conditions the grahas suddenly afflict the child when slept or awoke.
First they take the form of scary animal or bird like bear, owl or wild cat, scare the children and later afflict them. They often afflict during the junction periods of a day i.e. junction between day and noon, noon and evening, evening and night etc or during parva tithis i.e. 8th day, 14th day, full moon or new moon day.
Read – Symptoms That Hint Towards Different Diseases In Babies

Premonitory symptoms of Graharoga

The child will constantly weep and suffer from fever before showing up the entire symptoms of graha affliction.

Generalized symptoms of Graha disease

  • Utrasa – frighten
  • Jrmbha – yawning
  • Bhru kshepa – twitching of eyebrows
  • Dinata – weakness / helplessness
  • Phena srava – dribbling of saliva from the mouth
  • Urdhwa drshti – upward gaze
  • Oshta danta damsha – biting of lips and teeth
  • Prajagara – sleeplessness
  • Rodanam – weeping
  • Kujanam – indistinct sounds from the throat
  • Stanya vidveshi – aversion towards breast milk / feeding
  • Swara vaikrutam – deformities / hoarsness of voice
  • Vilekhanam – scratching / biting self or wet nurse

Other symptoms include (Yoga Ratnakara Balaroga – 14) –

  • The child looks irritated in a moment and the very next moment starts getting scared and cries
  • Swelling of body parts
  • Diarrhea
  • Smell of flesh and blood emitted from the body parts (smell of fish, insects etc – Sushruta)
  • Loss of interest in the foods (the foods which used to please, doesn’t please anymore)
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of consciousness

Apart from these the signs and symptoms of every specific type of graha shall be considered while diagnosing and treating the specific types.
Read – Your Child Does Not Eat Well? Causes, Ayurveda Solutions

Treatment of graha afflictions

Graha afflictions / disorders shall be treated after having known that they fall into the ‘treatable’ category.

1. Yukti Vyapashraya Chikitsa

The ward for treating the child afflicted by graha afflictions shall be devoid of breeze, isolated and clean.
The attendants and nursing staff should not have consumed or habituated to alcohol, meat, sex and should be noble and have good conduct, virtuous and well behaved.
Ward should be cleansed and dried at least thrice daily.
The fire should always be lit in the ward in a corner meant for it.
Rakshoghna dhupa i.e. fumigation / spell / incantation which can destroy demons (unknown forces and entities) should be burnt every now and then
Auspicious flowers, leaves and seeds shall be spread out in the room and an oil-lamp should be lit
Massage should be given to the child afflicted by grahas using old ghee. The child who has been given with massage should be given bath with water processed with the below mentioned herbs –

  • Bala – Sida cordifolia
  • Nimba – Azadirachta indica
  • Tulasi – Ocimum sanctum
  • Aragwadha – Cassia fistula
  • Paribhadraka – Erythrina indica
  • Katvanga – Oroxylum indicum
  • Jambu – Syzygium cumini
  • Varuna – Crateva religiosa
  • Kattrna
  • Kapotavanka – Bacopa monnieri
  • Apamarga – Achyranthes aspera
  • Patala – Stereosperumu suaveolens
  • Madhu shigru – Moringa oleifera
  • Kakajangha – Peristrophe bicalyculata
  • Mahashveta  
  • Kapittha – Feronia limonia
  • Kshiri vrksha – latex yielding trees
  • Kadamba – Neolamarckia cadamba
  • Karanja – Pongamia pinnata
    Read – Dhoopana (Fumigation) Blends, Benefits, Procedure, Mode of Action

Dhupa (fumigation) –
Dwipyadi Dhupa – After bath, fumigation should be given with skins of cheetah, tiger, snake, lion and bear mixed with ghee.

Karanjadi Dhupa – fumigation should be given with the below said –

This fumigation is beneficial for all types of graha disorders.

Sarshapadi Dhupa – fumigation with the below mentioned herbs is also useful –

This is also useful in all kinds of graha disorders.

Ghrta – medicated ghee preparations (for oral consumption)

Anantadi Ghrta
Ghee prepared with the below mentioned is useful for all kinds of graha disorders –

  • Ananta – Hemidesmus indicus / Gardenia jasminoides
  • Seed of mango
  • Tagara – Valeriana wallichii
  • Black pepper
  • Madhura gana – herbs belonging to the group of sweet tasting herbs
  • Prshniparni – Uraria picta
  • Musta – Cyperus rotundus
  • Dashamula kwatha – decoction of dashamula
  • Milk

Paste of herbs from Ananta and Musta should be taken for preparing this medicated ghee.

Sarivadi Ghrta
Ghee prepared using the below mentioned herbs shall be used in all kinds of graha disorders for oral consumption and for massage –

Bala Roga Upachara
Once the symptoms and complications of graha afflictions have been relieved with the above said measures, the treatments mentioned in bala roga chikitsa (treatment of diseases afflicting the children) shall be implemented in graha disorders.

Note – The treatments mentioned for individual graha disorders shall be considered and implemented once specific graha disorders have been diagnosed.

Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa

Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa means divine or godly therapies. They are mainly used in treating the mental disorders and disorders of unknown origin. Graha diseases mainly afflict the mind and most grahas are unknown entities. Therefore the divine therapies fit into the protocol of treatment of graha disorders.
Read – Daiva Vyapashraya Chikitsa – Divine Therapies of Ayurveda

Sattvavajaya Chikitsa

Sattvavajaya Chikitsa includes treatments and medicines administered to conquer the imbalanced mind so as to put the mind back into a state of balance. This also includes enhancing the sattva quality of the mind and balancing the aggravated and imbalanced rajas and tamas qualities of the mind, which are responsible for all mental disorders.
Since Graha disorders afflict mind and causes imbalance in its attributes leading to many mental disorders, sattvavajaya aptly fits into the treatment protocol of these disorders.
Read – Adravyabhuta Chikitsa Non-pharmacological Treatments In Ayurveda

Other treatment options

Graha disorders can also be treated on the lines of –

  • Unmada chikitsa – treatment principles of insanity, psychoses
  • Apasmara chikitsa – treatment principles of memory disorders, epilepsy
  • Manovaha srotas dushti chikitsa – treatment of contamination of channels conducting mind impulses

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