Usually, when a person dies, his or her dead body is cremated or buried or disposed off in accordance with the concerned family’s traditions, but the soul or spirit survives and moves onto the astral world. It is only when there is a problem that the spirit becomes what we call a ghost and stays earth bound, creating a supernatural phenomenon. “Possession” of a living being by a spirit or spirits is part of this supernatural phonemenon. But how can that happen in the case of something that is non-living like a car, bus, motorcycle, etc ? Yet there are cases where a particular vehicle or object is “possessed”.
Cases of “possessed” vehicles — ghost cars, buses, etc — happen because they were very closely linked with the person who died and in most cases, were in some way also the cause for the person’s death. In fact, it is the strong link between a person and an inanimate non-living object that is the key to ’possessed’ vehicles. The dead person’s ‘atma’ or soul becomes inseparably linked with the concerned vehicle. Moreover, usually, the person and the vehicle involved meet a violent end, as in an accident. And because the two were together at the moment of death, they appear together after death too.
A Nepali boy named Sidh Lal used to work for us and his father, Been Bahadur, died in an accident at a chauraha or cross-roads while cycling to work. The cycle was later repaired and then the family discovered that every night, someone would attempt to take the cycle out and they realised it was Been Bahadur. The family pundit advised them to start using the cycle and Sidh Lal began cycling to work but was shocked to discover that the cycle insisted on going its own way towards the “chauraha” where the accident happened. Sidh Lal narrowly escaped death though he was injured at the same spot where his father had met his end. Nowadays, you’ll find many videos and accounts of “possessed” or haunted vehicles, especially ghost cars on the internet. However, question marks surround how real they are. But here are two well documented cases from long ago. In London, there was the case of the Ghost Bus. “I was turning the corner and saw a bus tearing towards me,’’ a motorist testified before the police. “The lights of the top and bottom deck, and the headlights were full on but I could see no sign of crew or passengers. I yanked my steering wheel hard over, and mounted the pavement, scraping the roadside wall. The bus just vanished.”
Hundreds of other motorists complained of being forced off the road by a phantom bus careening round the corner from St. Mark’s Road into Cambridge Gardens, near the Ladbroke Grove underground station. After one fatal accident, the local coroner took evidence of the apparition and discovered that dozens of local residents claimed to have seen the spectral double-decker. Eventually the local council straightened the road there, and there were no more reports of the ghostly red bus.
Hundreds of other motorists complained of being forced off the road by a phantom bus careening round the corner from St. Mark’s Road into Cambridge Gardens, near the Ladbroke Grove underground station.
In 1963, the country’s first Grand Prix took place in Japan, in which fancied driver Masao Asano was killed in a car crash. The number of his car was 42, which in translation is related to the Japanese word shingu — “to die”. Thereafter, the number 42 was banned from car racing in Japan. But a few years later, at the country’s Second Grand Prix, time keepers were amazed that a mysterious car number 42 had completed at least 8 out of the race circuits 24 laps. Everyone was convinced the ghost car was driven by Masao Asano and special prayers were performed for him.
The supernatural isn’t just limited to cars, buses and motorcycles. For example, occasionally, visitors at the Gujral’s house — they were our family friends — would notice a frail old lady turning a spinning wheel, but assuming she was a relative, they seldom paid more than fleeting attention. The old lady was in fact a relative — she was the elder Gujral’s grandmother — and she had been dead for more than two decades. But her attachment to the spinning wheel was so strong that almost every evening, her spirit continued to turn it. Sometimes, she could be sighted sitting at the wheel. At other times, just the wheel could be heard turning.
Then there was the fascinating case of the stick that walked and talked about which I wrote a few years ago. It seemed like an Arabian Nights tale or an Alice in Wonderland episode, but it happened. Briefly, the stick found abandoned in a park and brought home by a family member, would stand up on its own, begin ‘walking’, stop, and begin talking — at any rate, a voice seemed to speak from inside the stick. “Now that you’ve brought me home, you must help me…” It transpired that the stick had belonged to an old man who when passing the park had felt unwell and later died. By some quirk, the dead man’s soul got entrapped in his walking stick, which he had been clutching before his death and which had been his faithful companion for many decades. “We pray of you, free us both”, the voice in the stick implored the transfixed family.
For almost a whole week, the family and the walking stick were engaged in a battle of wills. The family didn’t want to get involved. The walking stick refused to give up and took to jumping onto their beds when they were asleep, beseeching them, took to following them around their house. After consulting a couple of priests, it was decided that freedom for all — the owner of the stick and the stick included — could be effected only by cremating the walking stick after performing certain mukti (deliverance) rites. And so, in a bizarre ritual one January, the stick was carried to the Yamuna. Amidst the chanting of Vedic hymns and the strange fragrance of incense mingling with a foetid smell from the heavily polluted river, the stick was consigned to the flames. Some rationalists, ghost-busters and others often apply the ‘time warp’ theory to explain ghostly appearances and happenings. The stick gave them a ‘stick warp’ to ponder over.