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The dwarf demon ( asura ) Apasmara under the feet of the dancing god Shiva, detail
Shiva as Nataraja - bronze from the Chola period, Tamil Nadu, 11th century. Musée Guimet , Paris

Apasmara ( Sanskrit , m., अपस्मार , apasmāra , "ignorance", mental blindness, originally: "epilepsy") is a dwarf demon ( asura ) in Indian mythology ; it is especially popular in southern India.

Hindu iconography

The Hindu iconography knows the Apasmara mainly in connection with the dancing god Shiva Nataraja , the "king of dancers". In the popular representation of the four-armed Shiva in a circle of flames, he lies under the feet of the dancer. The picture contains a complex symbolism, whereby the dance with its dynamics stands for creation as well as for destruction. In doing so, he destroys the Apasmara, the personification of delusion, mental indolence and all evil. Believers recognize in this representation the work of redemption of the divine. The mythology tells that people called Shiva for help against the demon, whereupon he came and killed the Apasmara while dancing with his left foot.

Apasmara as a disease

The original meaning of apasmara for a neurological disease, now known as epilepsy , can still be found in traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda .


Demons (cf. also Andhaka , Mahishasura , Hiranyaksha , Hiranyakashipu ) are embodiments of the aggressive or selfish, i.e. H. ultimately stupid behaviors. They disturb the divine order and the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of people.


  • Anna Dallapiccola: Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend . ISBN 0-500-51088-1
  • KK Dwivedi, RH Singh: Clinical trial of medhya rasayana drugs in apasmara . In: Holistic principles of Ayurvedic medicine, 1st Edition . Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, Varanasi 1998.
  • David Smith: The Dance of Siva: Religion, Art and Poetry in South India . (Volume 7 of Cambridge Studies in Religious Traditions), Cambridge University Press 2003, p. 207, ISBN 978-0521528658

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Representation of Apasmara in a sculpture
  2. Bala V. Manyam: Epilepsy in Ancient India . In: Epilepsia. Volume 33 Issue 3, August 4, 2005, pp. 473-475. PMID 1592022 . doi : 10.1111 / j.1528-1157.1992.tb01694.x
  3. ^ Rani Nayar: Concept of Epilepsy in Vedic Neurology. Interpretation Of Ancient Diseases With The Outlook Of Modern Neurology. ( Memento of the original from August 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / sarada-ayurveda.com