Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
Existence of Ghost
Does anything like ghost exist? Is it merely a hallucination? It appears to be a ‘representative personality’ of the unfinished agenda of the dead. They are trapped in between earth and heaven. Whether it truly exists or not the belief is very strong. There have been practices to cause possession of evil spirit on someone and also to remove such possession. This is all done through a person called exorcist. Saintly persons too help remove this evil. Appayya Dikshitar cured the witchcraft played by one Thathacharya on the Queen of Vellore King Chinnabomma. I, personally, do not believe or subscribe to such thoughts. If one is of strong mind and has his regular prayers [communication with God] such things would not have any impact at all. But at the same I do not disbelief my mother who claimed that she had seen a ghost in Quilon [Kollam] when she was staying with her aunt [her mother’s younger sister] and was around 8-9 years old. My mother has also talked about sound of ankle chain [kolusu கொலுசு] in the lane near our house at Vilathikulam at mignights. There is a bit of confusion here, though I am not as such confused! It is amusing to find the ghosts being projected to be floating in the air, of gory eyes, at times without head or legs and mostly in white dress! It is an undeniable truth that such beliefs on spirits of the dead do have a huge impact on the psyche of the living.
The Sastras say if the ceremonies [each according to their customs] are not completed properly and sincerely the Soul would have to wander as ghost [demon, devil, evil spirit, kurali, witch – menacing and awful] around without being able to reach its destined place for long, long years. This is said to affect the future progeny in the family. There is a standard [கடி kadi-boring] joke turning the ‘host’ as the ghost!
What is a spirit? Can it be called the disembodied Soul? It is an incorporeal being which has not severed its connections, remembrances of its immediate past body. A question arises. Is it good or bad? The Bible calls the spirit of God as The Holy Spirit [parisutha avi-பரிசுத்த ஆவி]. There is also the evil spirit.
Spirit – Mentally ill
It is only a thin line of difference between mentally ill and the one possessed by a spirit. The mind of the person the Spirit possesses is conditioned by it. Can science [psychiatry] and religious practices be mixed in curing such cases? I believe religious practices do help, if practiced by a truly spiritual person, in almost all cases of discomfort; not only in the cases of mentally challenged. Statistically such phenomenon could be rare and might even remain unexplained in medical terms! I had an opportunity to cooperate with a psychiatrist, an MA student from Kanyakumari, then working in the mental hospital, Ahmedabad. Initially he was skeptical. As our cooperation went on for some time he did gain confidence in me. I would not claim the result was extraordinary; but it did help ascertain and pinpoint the problem area. Why not some kind of mix-matching be applied? Why stick to only one thought if other systems too can provide comfort and relief?
Spiritual and Ritual
Possibly in the prehistoric times, the rituals and worship have been meant only for such a spirit of the departed Soul. This is how perhaps the word ‘spiritual’ has come about! Possibly, this kind of rituals, as civilization evolved, came to be applied for many other Godly, ungodly and other activities of society.
நெஞ்சு பொறுக்கு தில்லையே இந்த நிலை கெட்ட மனிதரை நினைந்துவிட்டால்
அஞ்சியஞ்சி சாவார் இவர் அஞ்சாத பொருளில்லை அவனியிலே
வஞ்சனைப் பேய்கள் என்பார் இந்த மரத்தில் என்பார் அந்த குளத்தில் என்பார்
துஞ்சுது முகட்டில் என்பார் மிகத் துயர்ப்படுவார் எண்ணிப் பயப்படுவார்
மந்திரவாதி என்பார் சொன்ன மாத்திரத்திலே மனக்கிலி பிடிப்பார்
யந்திர சூனியங்கள் இன்னும் எத்தனை ஆயிரம் இவர் துயர்கள்
சாத்திரங்கள் ஒன்றும் காணார் பொய் சாத்திரப் பேய்கள் சொல்லும் வார்த்தை நம்பியே
Bharathi’s heart bleeds, boils and he is unable to bear the foolhardiness and superstition of the people in regard to their fear for thousands of things. That includes the ghosts lying at that tree or at that pond or dozing at roof, about jugglers doing tricks, black magic. He calls the hypocritical ‘sastras’ as ghosts!
பேய் அரசாண்டால் பிணம் தின்னும் சாத்திரங்கள்
If Ghosts were to rule the corpse would eat the sacred scriptures [Draupadi says this in the Panchali Sapatham by Bharathi]
STORIES on ghost
Abraham Lincoln was the American President, who was shot dead in the White House. His spirit is said to be walking around in the White House even these days! Avvaiyar, the great Thamizh poetess, comes across such an evil spirit during her sojourn and releases it from the bondage. Govinda Dikshitar was minister for Thanjavur Nayaka Kings. While supervising the construction of one of the temples he saw on the tower a dead person who was earlier a construction worker in the very site. He was surprised to have glimpsed at the dead and questioned him. The dead replied that after his death he has been taken into the services of Kingdom of Lord Yama and he was a Yamakinkaran now! His mission was to take the life of the chief [‘sthapathi’ ஸ்தபதி] architect the next day morning when the consecration ceremony is to take place! Kamal a muslim Doctor from Cochin travels down from Cochin to Salem in Tamilnadu. On the way, during midnight, his car tire got punctured and there appeared to be no scope of getting it done at that odd hour. As he was brooding over it an old muslim person by name Shafi Ahmed comes to him and offers to help. The old man takes him to a nearby hut, calls upon a young man Saleem to get the tire done and takes the doctor to his house where his daughter, Meherunnisa, chants Quaran and offers food to the doctor. After all this he is dropped back at the car which is supposed to have been repaired. The car does not start! He tries to look around for the hut but loses his track. He sleeps over in the car and early in the morning he finds some agriculturists moving around. He seeks their help to find the hut. The reply was stunning. “So you also got around to those ghosts, is it”? ‘Kurali’ [குறளி]: [a short wicked shrew, a dwarf demon]. My brother-in-law’s [Rohini’s eldest brother Jayaraman] friend Christopher’s story is interesting. Though a Christian, his father would go to the burial ground throw grains calling the spirits and a lot of ‘kuralis’ would come and pick the grains even as they float when thrown! I had a school-class mate Murugesan. His father was an expert in what is known as “kurali viththai” [குறளி வித்தை – ledgerdemain, juggler’s tricks] trickery played by kurali, the evil spirit. He has demonstrated to us some of them. He had small little dolls called kuralis in his house. He would place a full packet of cigarettes one over the other in a vertical fashion and they would stand erect! He would light a match stick far away from it and the top most cigarette would catch fire! I was dressed down by my mother for having gone there and seen it. On 20th of January 2013 as I was surfing the TV I came across a program on ‘spirit’ in National Geographic Channel. Before I could catch the details, the program got over. The little I could gather was that there is a cave and pond in some part of Africa where the spirits of the dead takes shelter, alternating between the cave and pond. There is a Negro lady who could communicate with those spirits. Even to reach there others have to undergo a ritual by this lady. I saw her spitting on the head of the two persons who were interviewing her and who were being taken to the cave and pond. Saint Raghavendra Swami, was a saint of the Madhwa philosophy. On his taking up sannyasa his wife Saraswathi committed suicide, turned a ghost and the ghost came to witness the coronation ceremony of Swami Raghavendra. Swami sensed her presence as a ghost. He sprinkled holy water on the ghost, granted her last wish to witness the coronation and also relieved her of the bondage of cycle of births and deaths. On my maternal grandfather Ramanathan, his in-laws themselves let loose witchcraft and black magic which caused diarrhea which could not be cured with any kind of medicines. Finally he came to my father at Thiruchendur and my father called upon the priest, called ‘pothi’ who, through his mantra and tantra powers, removed the witchcraft and black magic played on him. In the year 1989 or so myself and Rohini were travelling by bus to Thiruvannamalai from Bangalore. On the way a group of people physically lifted a woman and put her in the bus and they also boarded. It was such a difficult job for all those men and women to hold her and make her sit in the bus. She appeared to have been ‘possessed’, which later they confirmed. On the road, even if at a long distance, any temple is found the lady would get totally out of control! Otherwise it was a little easier for them to hold her. Generally such possessed persons seem to have extraordinary physical force, powers.
Practices and Proverbs:
In villages they use ‘neem leaves’ [வேப்பிலை] to calm down or chase away the spirit! Neem leaves are used to be carried with pregnant ladies when they travel so that no such evil spirit comes near them! Also the tamarind tree is associated with the residence of evil spirit. There are also places called ‘ghost house’, haunted house, place. There are proverbs connected with ghost. பேய்க்கு வாழ்க்கைப்பட்டால் புளியமரத்தில் ஏற வேண்டியதுதான். If you are married to a ghost you have no option but to climb the tamarind tree. தாய்க் கண்ணோ பேய்க் கண்ணோ. Even a mother’s eye on her own child could turn an evil eye. பெண் என்றால் பேயும் இரங்கும் Even Ghost shows mercy on women – Did someone say women are not treated well? Ghosts are ready! When the way is totally blocked and no further movement is possible we call it as ‘dead end’. When we are awfully tired we say ‘dead tired’.
Adi Sankaracharya prays thus in Subrahmanya Bhujangam [to Lord Subrahmanya at Thiruchendur] in the 25th sloka: Let cruel diseases and effects of witchcraft, black magic be cured, Oh Lord, with your ‘vibhuti’ [sacred ash].
அபஸ்மார குஷ்டக்ஷயார்ச: ப்ரமேஹ ஜ்வரோந்மாத குல்மாதிரோகா மஹாந்த:
பிஸாசாஸ்ச சர்வே பவத்பத்ரபூதிம் விலோக்ய க்ஷணாத் தாரகாரே த்ரவந்தே
Balandevarayan Swamigal, a devotee of Lord Subrahmanya, in his work Kandasashti Kavacham, states about these evil spirits and appeals to Lord to save the devotee from them. கொள்ளிவாய் பேய்கள் [fire spitting demon], குறளை பேய்கள், பில்லி [witchcraft], சூன்யம் [black magic]. One such kind of spirit is called ‘brahmahathi’ ப்ரஹ்ம ஹத்தி [one who has murdered a Brahmin] There is one in the Thiruvidaimaruthur Temple one is not supposed to exit through the east gate where the ‘brahmahathi’ is supposed to be waiting to catch!
There are enough and more cine movies on evil spirits [or the dead who have had an impact on one’s psyche]. To recall a few of them: Omen [English], Psycho [English] Kanchana [Thamizh], Talash [Hindi].
To believe it or not: These are true life incidents and are not stories. That some of it looks ‘impossible to believe’ and lacks total authenticity does not make it a fiction or even less interesting. They are truths stranger than fiction!