Division of Personality Studies, University
of Virginia
In 1968 the Department of Psychiatry at the University of
Virginia established a new Division of Parapsychology to develop
a broad program of investigation into various aspects of the
paranormal. It was given its initial impetus by the longstanding
interest in survival of death, specifically in the form of reincarnation,
by Ian Stevenson, a member of the faculty, who was
placed in charge of the new structure. Stevenson, noted for his
scientific approach to the evidence for reincarnation, had previously
won recognition for his essay ‘‘The Evidence for Survival
from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations’’(1961),
and had previously pursued the research leading to his monumental
book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966). As
head of the division he continued his investigations of reincarnation
cases and also conducted studies in telepathy.
More recently, following Stevenson’s retirement, the division
has been absorbed into the Division of Personality Studies,
and research on the paranormal deemphasized. Address: Division
of Personality Studies, Department of Behavioral Medicine
& Psychiatry, Box 152, Medical Center, University of Virginia,
Charlottesville, VA 22908.
Stevenson, Ian. Cases of the Reincarnation Type. 4 vols. Charlottesville:
University of Virginia Press, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983.
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Division of Personality Studies, University of . . .
The div of ancient Persia, pronounced ‘‘deo, deu,’’ or
‘‘dive,’’ is thought to be equivalent to the European devil of the
Middle Ages. In the romances of Persia divs are represented as
male and female, but the male divs are considered the more
dangerous. It is from their character, personified in a supposed
chief, that the devil is portrayed with his well-known attributes.
The male divs, according to the legends of Persia, were entrusted
with the government of the world for 7,000 years anterior
to the creation of Adam, and they were succeeded by the
female divs or peris, who under their chief, Gian ben Gian,
ruled another 2,000 years. The dominion of the peris was terminated
by Eblis (the devil of the Koran) who had been created
from the elements of fire, and whose abode was previously with
the angels.
Eblis or ‘‘Haris,’’ as he was also called, became the leader of
the rebellious angels when they were commanded to pay homage
to the first created man. Joined by the whole race of genii,
the male and female divs, that he had formerly subjugated, he
was, like them, deprived of grace. Eblis and his immediate followers
were condemned to suffer for a long period in the infernal
regions, but the remainder were allowed to wander over the
earth, a constant source of misery to themselves and to the
human race.
Divs were supposed to assume various forms, especially that
of the serpent, and in the drawings annexed to the Persian romances
they are represented much as our own devils, ogres,
and giants, in the tales of the Middle Ages. The writers of later
times, both Arabian and Persian, localized the abode of these
evil genii in the mountain Kaf. Their capital was Ahermanabad,
the abode of Aherman their chief, who is identified with
the Ahremanes of the Manicheans, that remarkable sect said to
have borrowed their doctrines from Zoroaster.
The distinction of sex is a remarkable characteristic of the
divs, and its evil results in a system of diabolic superstition may
be read in the stories of the Ephialtae and Hyphialtae, or nightmare.
Possibly the same in origin as the Persian divs, are the devas
or daivres of the Hindus, who are said to inhabit a world called,
after them, Deva-Loka. There is a brief account of them in N.
E. Kindersley’s Specimens of Hindoo Literature (1794):
‘‘The daivers perpetually recur in their romances, and other
literary works, and are represented as possessing not only material
bodies, but as being subject to human frailties. Those
saints and heroes who may not as yet be considered worthy of
the paradises of Shivven or of Veeshnoo, are represented as inhabiting
the Daiver-Logum (or Sorgum). These daivers are in
number no less than three hundred and thirty million. The
principal are—I. ‘Daivuntren’ or ‘Indiren’ their king; to whom
report is made of all that happens among them. His court of
audience is so capacious as to contain not only the numerous
daivers, but also the prophets, attendants, etc. They are represented
in the mythological romances of the Hindoos, as having
been engaged in bloody wars, and with various success against
the giants (Assoores). The family of Daivuntren consists of his
wife ‘Inderaunee,’ and his son ‘Seedera-budderen’ (born from
a cow), who records the actions of men, by which they are finally
to be judged. II. The attendants or companions of these daivers
are—1. The ‘Kinnarer,’ who sing and play on musical instruments.
2. ‘Dumbarim Nardir,’ who also perform on a species
of drum. 3. ‘Kimprusher,’ who wait on the daivers are represented
with the wings and fair countenances of angels. 4.
‘Kunda-gaindoorer,’ similar winged beings who execute the
mandates of Veeshnoo. 5. ‘Paunner,’ a species of jugglers, who
amuse the daivers with snake dancing, etc. 6. ‘Viddiaser,’ their
bards, who are acquainted with all arts and sciences, and entertain
them with their histories and discourses. 7. ‘Tsettee,’ who
attend them in their aerial journeys. 8. ‘Kanuanader,’ or ‘Dovdanks,’
messengers, who conduct the votaries of Veeshnoo and
Shivven to their respective paradises, and the wicked to hell
(Narekah), of which ‘Eemen’ is sovereign. III. The third class of
daivergoel, daivers, or genii, are the eight keepers of the eight
sides of the world, literally signified by their general name of
‘Aushtatikcu-Pauligaur;‘ they are—1. ‘Indiren,’ who is no other
than Daivuntren, named above. 2. ‘Augne-Baugauven,’ the god
of fire. 3. ‘Eemen,’ king of death and the infernal regions. 4.
‘Nerudee,’ the element of earth represented under the figure
of a giant. 5. ‘Vaivoo,’ god of air and winds. 6. ‘Varoonen,’ god
of clouds and rain. 7. ‘Gooberen,’ god of riches. 8. ‘Essaunien,’
or Shivven himself, in one of his 1,008 appearances on earth.’’
To these principal daivers, Kindersley adds without sufficient
reason the ‘‘Reeshees’’ of the Hindoos, and their tutelary
god of virtue, ‘‘Derma-Daive.’’
For the true oriental doctrine of these evil genii the ZendAvesta
may be consulted; it associates the idea of evil more especially
with the peris or female divs, contrary to the later romances
of the Arab world. This anomaly reappears in our own
fairy tales, the same characters that at times are invested with
the most malignant attributes, being often described as having
sylphlike grace and beauty.