Fourteen years have passed since a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean near Indonesia, generating a massive tsunami. In almost split seconds, it claimed more than 230,000 lives in fourteen different countries and was one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded. According to official estimates in India quoted in Wikipedia, 10,136 people were killed and hundreds of thousands rendered homeless. Today, many of the homes grieving for lost relatives and friends and their own ruined lives have recovered to a major extent, though painful memories remain. But what about the souls who were forced out of their bodies and wrenched away from their homesteads and loved ones with no prior warning in this tragedy and other similar natural disasters like the Gujarat earthquake?

Have they recovered, and if so, to what extent? Have some of them taken birth again, and if so, is the sudden ending of their last life likely to affect their current lives? Obviously, these are profound questions with profound answers, many beyond the scope of a column. For me, ever since the 2004 tsunami, every year this last week of January is memorable, because thanks to one of my spirit guides it provided a virtual sweep of fascinating insights into what happens to souls knocked out of their bodies due to large scale natural disasters and what we on earth can do for them.

Obviously, there is a virtual deluge of souls who must ascend to the astral planes after such tragedies, but doing so is not easy. As I’ve written time and again, with so many souls on the move simultaneously or within a short time of each other, there is an emergency and massive traffic jams above earth and on the highways leading to the astral planes. In a way, there is tragedy up above in the astral planes too because at such short notice, there are usually not enough “spirit” guides to minister to the large number of souls and lead them to the next world. During the 2004 tsunami for instance, they had to cope with more than 230,000 souls simultaneously! Released suddenly from their bodies, natural disaster victims are in a state of shock, unable to comprehend the fact that they have died. The presence of some of their loved ones with them makes it harder to accept that they are no longer on earth.

Like other victims of sudden death, such souls too need specialised care, but there are not enough “spirit” specialists immediately at hand to cope with the scale at which efforts are required. Neither are astral bodies ready to receive the souls. Did it mean, I recall asking my spirit guide, that there is no warning up above about an impending tragedy on earth?  It seems the beings up above—on the fourth and third planes at any rate—generally learn of what is about to happen a short while before it actually happens, so it doesn’t give them enough time to prepare for the magnitude of numbers. Gradually, of course, “spirit” volunteers move in to help the victims. What makes the task of acclimatising these “sudden death” souls to their new state more difficult is the fact that a large number of them are children or mothers grieving for children they have lost. In other words, apart from the fact that these souls were severed from their bodies suddenly and unpleasantly, their attachment to earth and earthly ties factor is very powerful and this is always a strong deterrent to a smooth transition to the other world.

A very large percentage of such souls remain under treatment in the other world for a long time. Some of those who recover faster join the spirit volunteer force. Some are reborn though usually after a relatively long interval of time, but despite the time gap the sudden death experience does affect their new incarnation. In the state of confusion that prevails after a natural disaster, some souls do not receive attention from spirit guides who have their hands full attending to a host of and it is such unguided lost souls who remain earth bound and haunt their homes or the scene of the tragedy.

In the 2004 tsunami disaster, for example, even though memorials have been built and prayer services are held regularly for the victims, in all fourteen different countries there are well documented, graphic reports of the agonised souls of victims still haunting the scene, often calling out for help or for lost loved ones.

As a well known yogi explained during an interactive session, “ When a person’s pranic body is in full vibrance and it breaks, this person’s presence will be felt much more than the presence of a person who has left after a certain age. That is why people believe that those who die in accidents or suicide become ghosts—it is not so, everybody does. It is just that this presence is more felt… Now when you say spirits or ghosts, they still have a body, but it is in a subtler form. They are still physical; that is why sometimes some people can still see and feel them. If they were totally non-physical, you wouldn’t see them or feel them. There is a physical dimension to them—a very subtle physical dimension. But they are trapped in it—they are unable to come out of it…”

Of course scientific experts and rationalists “pooh-pooh” the paranormal angle, maintaining that these “hauntings” have simple explanations—and it has nothing to do with the supernatural. Maryse Godden wrote in the UK Sun: “Joe Nickell, a senior research fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry—which promotes scientific inquiry and critical investigation of paranormal claims—believes ghosts are ‘all in the mind’… In the ‘waking dream’ state, people wake up and see a number of things—aliens, dead people, ghosts… It’s a trick of the mind when the mental image is being superimposed on the actual visual scene. So the imagined events seem very real.”Dr Nickell, dubbed the “real-life Scully” from the X-Files, added: “Ghosts have to do with people’s beliefs—people who believe in them are prone to have something happen. So when people go to a haunted place expecting to see ghosts, they often see something moving…an illusion.” For believers however, consistent “prayer energies” from people on earth rather than only on anniversaries would certainly help ease the trauma of sudden death souls and contribute to their transition to the higher realms.

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