Did you know that according to different kinds of documentation extending way, way back in time, we are all always surrounded by shadows  or shadow people (parchayian), just as we are always accompanied by two guardian spirits (farishtas)? The problem with parchayian starts when they become active due to sleep paralysis or any other reason and there is a threat to one’s life.

Sleep paralysis is a very common medical phenomenon, with, according to one estimate, almost around 50% of people around the world affected by it. Sleep paralysis has existed since centuries around the world — in Great Britain, Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and elsewhere,  and everywhere the supernatural has always been associated with sleep paralysis and is very much a part of local cultures. In many parts in the West, because of the supernatural sightings linked with it, sleep paralysis is known as the Old Hag Syndrome. Victims often describe three different kinds of parchayian — of a man with a hat, of an old hag, and a hooded figure.

In India and in western culture and elsewhere, the supernatural element most commonly takes the form of assault from the shadow people or parchayian, which is what happened in the case of Kranti, a teacher in a school for differently abled children. At first, Kranti’s husband Sandeep assumed the assaults, in which a man with a most unpleasant expression would seat himself on Kranti’s chest and attempt to strangle her with his bare hands, were part of a nightmare. Kranti pointed out that there were always very distinct blue marks of fingers  on her throat after every such assault, but Sandeep, who didn’t believe in the supernatural, insisted on consulting a doctor, preferably a sleep specialist.

Actually, it is a fact that according to doctors, sleep paralysis is known to involve a component of hallucination in at least 20 per cent of the cases, which, they say may explain the sightings of what are called shadow people or parchayian . Incidentally, sleep paralysis in combination with hallucinations has also long been suggested as a possible explanation for reported alien abductions from outer space as well. In 2011, Dr Ashit Sheth, head, Department of Psychiatry, Bombay Hospital, had explained that even though every culture has its own supernatural explanation associated with it, the condition is not harmful to the person who experiences it.

 “It is a state of motor paralysis, and not mental illness. It happens during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. In this condition, the body is asleep but the mind is awake and conscious of the surroundings. If the victims get nightmares just as they are waking up, they get frightened and find it difficult to move or speak.” 

Medically, after falling asleep, the brain’s signal to the muscles is blocked, but the ability to open one’s eyes and look around is generally not hindered by sleep paralysis.

Medically, after falling asleep, the brain’s signal to the muscles is blocked, but the ability to open one’s eyes and look around is generally not hindered by sleep paralysis. It is a condition where people are paralysed at the onset of sleep or upon waking. So in a curious way people are mentally awake, but physically asleep and paralysed. It is a disorientating condition where the sub-conscious mid often plays many tricks and is very often accompanied by terrifying hallucinations. However, whatever sleep specialists and medical science may say, the shadow people linked with sleep disorder or whatever else are very much a dangerous reality for those who have experienced it, with many people getting killed or dying out of sheer fear of the parchayian.

 In some countries, these shadow people or parchayian are used for black magic.  In Newfoundland, the old Hag can be summoned to attack a third party, like a curse. In his 1982 book, The Terror that Comes in the Night, David J. Hufford has written that in local culture the way to call the Hag is to recite the Lord’s Prayer backwards. In India, too not only are parchayian very much a part of local cultures all over the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, they are also used for evil purposes by some tantriks.

In many parts of India, since the mind is involved as well as supernatural elements, both guidance and medicines from a doctor  or  a vaid (practitioner of indigenous medicines) and the services of a guruji or paranormal expert or someone familiar with supernatural phenomena are often combined to obtain a cure and chutkara from obstinate parchayians. In Kranti’s case, this is what worked in enabling her to  deal with the parchayi, though it hasn’t yet worked in blocking out the parchayi sightings in her terrifying nightly encounters.

 “Whether I’m suffering from sleep paralysis and persecution from parchayian or a parchayi has been put on me through black magic is not important. What’s important for me is that I should somehow be able to get rid of this horrible man whose always try to strangle me”.  We’ve advised her not to be afraid of the parchayi  but instead try and replace the ‘horrible man’ with the thought or image of God, of her guru, of a good friend or person you trust, chanting — Hanuman chalisa or whatever else is her regular protection chant. I told Kranti about a friend of mine who escaped from terrifying parchayian incidents by replacing in her minds’ eye the parchayi with images of Maa Durga and because she couldn’t speak aloud during the encounters, in her mind she kept reciting, Maa Durga, Maa Durga, Maa Durga…and slowly the parchayi melted. Now she chants Maa Durga, Maa Durga regularly as many times as she can and makes sure she doesn’t think at all of the shadow people or parchayian

Remember, in the end it will be your strength of mind that will defeat the parchayian, push them away so never be afraid. Just block them out of your mind and try not to share your experience with others whose minds are not very strong.  Most important, don’t just dismiss a case of  parchayian as “body-mind tricks” and leave it untreated. It is a chilling fact that unless parchayian are controlled in time, death is the usual result.

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