In the supernatural world, there are many examples of ghosts who have stayed on earth for a brief period and then left for the other world on their own or have been induced or forced to leave.  But there are also innumerable instances of punishment, revenge or evil or negative thinking persisting even in a ghostly state. How is it possible that a particular house or village or area is still haunted by the spirits of people dead for centuries?

Essentially, from all available indications, spirits seem to be ageless. There have been and are many cases of spirits who have stayed with a family or in a place or an area generation after generation, with each generation giving the same description of the apparitions, right down to the minutest detail. In some cases, depending on the circumstances, the supernatural phenomenon takes place specifically at a fixed time and lasts only for a fixed period, while in other cases its duration varies.

 In several cases, where intense feelings of unfairness are involved, ghosts have been known to take revenge ranging from taking a life to harassing people to ensuring ruin for a particular person or family or place or an entire area. This second form of harassment and sometimes ‘possessing’ a person is quite common. Ghosts have also been known to make young girls  and sometimes even middle-aged people ‘prisoners’ and force them to carry out repugnant acts.

 Why does this supernatural phenomena happen ?  As is well known, the intensity levels of a departed  soul become greatly heightened if something untoward has happened shortly before or at the time of death or if some cherished or deeply moving task was left unfulfilled. There are innumerable cases where dead persons, agonised by what occurred to them at the time of death, continue to revisit the scene where the injustice happened.  Call it revenge, call it justice — the fact remains that the dead people’s spirits are driven by overpowering compulsions which enable these disembodied spirits to stay on earth in some form or the other on a mission to avenge their deaths.

Take for instance, the case of  the ‘tap-tapping’ father-in-law who was cheated by his own son. Though we haven’t given up, nothing that I or others have tried has worked so far to liberate the father-in-law. Tap, tap, tap. The knocking is not loud, but its imperious nevertheless, and to this day  Chandrakanta and other family members clutch on to each other and retreat into the darkest corner of their home.

 In several cases, where intense feelings of unfairness are involved, ghosts have been known to take revenge.

They know that whether they open the door or not, or whether they change their place of stay is immaterial. The gaunt, hunched figure of her father-in-law — dead for many, many years — will enter anyway, waving his stick at will, and screaming in a high pitched voice, “Where is that bastard, because he is no son of mine. No son of mine would cheat his own father, no son of mine would steal his father’s machine. Where is the machine…?” This is an occurrence which is repeated regularly, and it is a replay of a sequence that took place during the father-in-law’s lifetime.

In incident after incident, the ‘last activity, last place, last setting’ links are undeniable and strong and point to clear imprinting on space, time and much more.  In supernatural terms, this is called the  ‘time warp-imprinting’ theory. Often, these ‘imprintings’ on space and time are played out on earth at the date on which they had actually occurred. For instance, when I was studying in college in Delhi, I happened to occupy a hostel room in which a girl had committed suicide many years earlier.

I didn’t know this at that time, but one night I heard a terrible storm building up outside, the tinkling of curtain bells and then saw, in great detail a girl committing suicide by hanging herself from the hook for a ceiling fan. In the morning, I discovered that there had been no storm at all at night, but two old hostel cooks told me about the girl’s suicide,  how there had been a storm on the suicide night, and how the entire atmosphere and sequence is recreated in that room year after year.

Driving away ghosts who have occupied a particular place, room or house over a long period of time is a most difficult proposition, particularly so if they happen to be “evil” . But do ghosts actually commit crimes, and if so, what is the nature of the crimes they commit? Yes, ghosts do commit crimes. They generally take two forms. One, ghosts have been known to frighten humans to death. Often, in such instances, the human dies out of sheer shock at seeing a “spook” materialise in a terrifying form, which was the intention of the ghost in the first place. If the person has proved to be stout of heart or knowledgeable about ghostly ways, there have been many instances where the ghost attempted to strangle or fling the person to death. Baba, the late caretaker at the dargah of Moluddin Chisti on Malcha Marg in New Delhi, was often attacked by ‘evil’ ghosts who wanted to kill him. Once, he was ascending the few steps to the dargah and I was just a few feet behind him, when suddenly, he was flung to the ground with great force and became unconscious. Later, he told me that a ghost — and he was able to identify him — had sneaked up, caught hold of his neck  and hurled him to the ground in an attempt to kill him. I too have luckily escaped from the designs and clutches of evil ghosts — so far. Is there no way, I am often asked, particularly by victimised people, of keeping evil spirits at bay or getting rid  of them ? The answer is both “yes” and “no”. It all depends on the circumstances. ‘Conventional’ remedies like keeping a light burning, carrying a piece of leather, or wearing a ring made of iron, burning chillies, etc, work in certain cases, but are ineffectual in others, especially cases of ‘mass’ or multiple hauntings. But you can protect yourself through the use of mantras, strong prayers, protective amulets. The final answer seems to lie in a combination of your mental and spiritual strength and the protection you receive — often unknowingly — from your guardian spirit or guardian deity or other  “good” ghosts  and from Lady Luck who together provide you with the means to escape from harm.

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