A professor from the Vidyapeetha came with Ganga jal -- water from the holy river Ganga -- to do shuddhi, or purification for a patient in coma and then offered a Mahamrityunjay Mantra prayer on the patient’s behalf at a temple in the Vidyapeetha premises.
Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital is now trying a novel way to treat its patients. The doctors whisper a mantra to heal brain injury afflicted patients, the Mahamrityunjay Mantra. The chanting of this ancient Vedic mantra is believed to ward off untimely death.
This treatment is not only being encouraged by the hospital but is actually on clinical with the government sanctioned funds. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has sanctioned funds for this project.
According to The Caravan, Dr Ashok Kumar proposed a pilot study in 2014, on the “role of intercessory prayer in determining the outcome after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (STBI).” Intercessory prayers are those that are said on the behalf of somebody else.
STBI is caused by external trauma to the head, such as from a fall, a car crash or any other hard blow to the head, that would disrupt the blood flow of the brain. The mantra in question is said to “heal any injury”.
The report said that in order to carry out this study, Kumar applied to ICMR for a research fellowship. The ICMR is the apex body in India for the formulation and promotion of biomedical research and is overseen by the Union Health Ministry.
In March 2016, the ICMR approved the fellowship, and sanctioned ₹28,000 per month for the study. The funds were awarded for one year starting October 2016, and then renewed for the next two years.
Kumar had initially presented the project at AIIMS, where he was then employed. However, the proposal was rejected and Kumar was told by the ethics committee at AIIMS that his project was rejected because it had an “unscientific” basis.
“In ancient India, when soldiers got injured in war, this mantra was used to revive them. There are lots of studies among Christians that people with breast cancer and cardiovascular disease who go to the church have improved outcomes. Hindu civilisation is more ancient than Christianity and the aim of this project is to prove that there is scientific basis to Hindu belief,” Kumar was quoted as saying by The Caravan.
Even though the results of this project, which ran from October 2016 to April 2019, are still being compiled, Kumar seems very confident. Kumar claimed that “patients for whom intercessory prayer was done showed a dramatic improvement in the Glasgow coma scale and the functional independent measure. The functional independence measure is an indicator of patient disability.”
However, Dr Ajay Choudhary, the head of the neurology department at the RML hospital and Kumar’s project guide, was more cautious in his comments about the study. “The preliminary results don’t emphatically indicate that intercessory prayer helped, but till the final results are in, it cannot be ruled out,” he said to The Caravan.
The research was highly assumption-based and conditional. The prayers needed to commence within 24 hours of the injury, and the patient needed to be on a score between 4 and 8 on the Glasgow scale -- in other words, a state of severe coma. The project also required the mantra to be chanted 1.25 lakh times within a period of seven days.
Although Kumar’s research took a very small sample of 40 people, he was willing to conduct a study again with a larger sample.