abhicāra

(‘black magic,’ ‘exorcism,’ ‘exorcistical act’)

abhicārakarma

In the eternal quest for happiness, peace and pleasure, man is often compelled to counteract the various forces and powers that thwart this quest. When common or natural remedies available to him fail to bring the desired result, he naturally turns towards uncommon and supernatural remedies. Attempts at enlisting the help of the supernatural, be it a fierce deity, a ghost or a disembodied spirit, are a common feature of all cultures. Hinduism seems to be no exception to this. The rites of abhicāra, though occasionally mentioned in the Ṛgveda, are found in abundance in the last of the Vedas, the Atharvaveda as also the subsidiary works based on it like the Āṅgirasa Kalpasūtras and the Kauśika Kalpasūtras. These rites pertain to a wide variety of subjects ranging from curing serious ailments, inflicting injury on enemies and rivals, winning the love of the beloved, to securing long life and prosperity. For instance, if a woman ties a particular root on her body with appropriate mantras, the mind of her husband is attracted only towards her and not towards her co-wives. A person harassed by enemies can perform certain rites by which spirits called kṛtyās will come to his help in overcoming them. Persons suffering from incurable diseases are advised to wear certain amulets like mūlamaṇi, duly consecrated.

See also ATHARVAVEDA.