In Dehra Dun there lives a man who has surrendered himself and his life to the Devi — Goddess Kali in his case, and through her, to serving people. He’s an ex-army man, and very realistic and rational, but for approximately six hours three times a week, this man who once dedicated his life to the nation dedicated himself to a practice which rationalists would decry. His fingers are rough and pock marked and well they might be, pricked as they have been countless times with needles, because every morning, Panditji as he is called, offers a drop of his blood to Goddess Kali.
He then loses himself in mystic veneration of the Devi. He has been doing so for many decades now. In return, he has been granted a boon —a boon that draws a long line of people holding a handful of rice to his home. He has no charges, though a paltry Rs 1 or 2 must accompany the rice as an offering for the Devi. The people themselves don’t have to queue up. It’s the handkerchiefs containing the handful of rice which has remained under their pillows overnight which are put in queue, with the people seeking an audience sitting on the floor in a circle around a medium sized black stone idol of Kali.
Panditjee goes into a trance and correctly divines what is in the mind of the person to whom the handerkerchief and rice belong, and provides him or her with the answers. Then he moves onto the next handkerchief and so it continues till late in the afternoon, when he calls a halt and comes out of his trance. “The source of my power”, he explained, “lies in tapping esoteric, divine forces. It’s far more complex but I’ll try and put it simply for you.
“You must be familiar with the mysticism surrounding “OM’” In the vastness of the unknown, there are energy fields. In our own brain and body, there are energy fields we’re not consciously aware of. I’ve been able, through energy generated by strict discipline to identify some of these and harness them to divine some of the things you witnessed yesterday. As for the drop of blood, it has two purposes. Firstly, it is part of the discipline I have to put myself through. Secondly, each form of energy has its own affinities. In the case of Goddess Kali and the energy she represents, its blood which forms the affinity”.
Gaining control over mystic powers, especially those conferred by a Devi, is easier than sustaining it, Panditjee disclosed. “Obviously esoteric forces are very strong. Once you’re linked to them through a trance and you’re out of your body, you can’t afford to make a mistake, otherwise you often have to pay with your life. It’s a bit like going to the moon in your specially devised space suit. Take it off, and you won’t be able to survive in that atmosphere.
“Chances are that I’ll make a mistake one day and not be able to come out of a trance or suffer in some other way, but then this is my way of contributing towards improving the lives of fellow beings. In any case, having been a soldier once, I’ve made my peace with what you call death long ago. When death comes, not even my special relationship with Goddess Kali will be able to save me”. Panditjee did make a mistake and death came but ironically, instead of striking him it struck his son who was in the prime of youth.
“I can’t put into words what losing my son because of no fault of his but my own mistake did to me. The soldier in me just snapped and it is something I will regret foreever”, Panditjee confided in a choked voice. He argued with Goddess Kali who appeared before him. “Why did you take my son when I had made a mistake?” and heartbroken, he stopped worshipping Goddess Kali. Naturally, his trance sessions stopped too and he remained unmoved despite pleadings from countless people.
Then the Goddess appeared before him again. “You are gaining nothing from doing nothing. Neither is anybody else gaining anything from you. You made one mistake and lost your son. Now you are making another mistake by turning your face away from your duty. Do you think your beloved son is at peace knowing that you’re not helping people you could help because you’re grieving for him like an ordinary person?”
This set Panditjee thinking. It took a long while and a tremendous effort of will but he resumed his Devi worship and his trance sessions much to the relief of people. All over India, it is the combination of the powers of the Devi and her revelations during a trance which seem to be an irresistible draw.