When a soul leaves for the other world, does it mean a complete communication cut off with earthly links? Or is it a partial or temporary cut off?  When in the other world, can a soul keep tabs on earthly happenings? In a recent column, I had quoted albeit in a different context, Barry Lam, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College, New York, Humanities-Writ Large fellow at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, and host and producer of philosophy podcasts: “…we allow such power to those who are no longer around to know about the world, and who cannot be harmed or benefited any longer from such spending…The dead are not around to complain…” But is that really so?

There is the case, which I’ve written about earlier, of a man who had became impotent and couldn’t regain potency despite treatment from reputed allopathic, homeopathic, ayurvedic, unani and Tibetan medicine doctors. He then turned to astrological and tantric remedies. One of these was to draw a certain diagram with certain ingredients on paper, using the bone of a dead person as a pen, and then ‘wear’ the diagram as a charm.

However, the impotent man’s chance came when his brother died.  When he, along with other relatives, went to collect the ashes for immersion on the fourth day after his brother was cremated, he surreptitiously pocketed a bone, assuaging his conscience with the thought that his dead brother wouldn’t mind if a piece of one of his charred bones was used for a worthwhile cause like enabling a living brother to regain his potency. But this logic obviously didn’t appeal to the dead brother. In fact, it infuriated him and his spirit beat his impotent brother black and blue and ordered him to immerse the bone forthwith in a river, otherwise he would kill him.

To cut an absorbing but long story short, the responsibility of ensuring that the dead brother’s bone was consigned to a river with the required rites by a learned priest fell on me. The dead brother’s soul must have found peace after the ‘bone rituals’ were performed because he didn’t trouble his wayward brother ever again. Clearly, what happened on earth to a part of his body which had been consumed by flames and was no longer of any use to him in the world from which he had departed or in the other astral world to which he was headed  mattered to the dead brother’s soul. There is the case of an ageing father who had a cherished wish: to remain alive till his youngest son got married. Sadly, his wish remained unfulfilled and he died before a suitable match could be found for his son. But the father’s soul bided time and returned to earth a few days before his son’s wedding and participated in the pre wedding festivities, all the wedding ceremonies and the post wedding ceremonies as well. Many people saw him, including several who didn’t know that he was dead. His wish remained unfulfilled in his life-time but it was fulfilled after his death. Evidently, he or someone was keeping tabs on events on earth which accounted for his presence at his son’s wedding.

My father was very fond of greenery of all kinds and was exceptionally attached to his orchard on which he and my mother had planted every single tree with their own hands, including some rare trees like a rose flavoured litchi tree. It was his and my mother’s wish that after they passed away, the orchard should be retained as it was and not be converted into high rise buildings. So strong was my father’s  attachment and concern for the orchard that after his death, seconds before an orchard contractor rang my door bell, my father appeared before me and warned me that the contractor would try and cheat me and told me in which drawer to find the papers to nail him. Significantly, I hadn’t known that the contractor would be visiting me or would try and cheat me, but my father, supposedly “ no longer around”, had not only known, but took preventive action.An old retainer of the erstwhile Maharaja of Tehri Garwhal, now a part of Uttarakhand, had narrated to us a fascinating story of how a long dead royal family member had intervened to prevent his dismissal on false allegations made by another jealous retainer. There are many, many more instances which seem to indicate with certainty that an intriguing variety of communication links exist between the world of the living and the other world, bordering at times on a hotline. However, it seems to be a one-way hotline, because usually it’s those in the other world who are acutely aware of what’s happening on earth while the living usually have little or no clue about what’s happening in the other world.In the iconic White House in the United States, more than one luminary, including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, has reported either seeing or meeting American President Abraham Lincoln’s ghost. According to accounts, the on-off Lincoln sightings become more frequent during times when the nation is facing some kind of grave or sensitive situation. Instances of departed souls appearing at times of distress on earth or of great happiness in their family have been documented in all countries on innumerable occasions.

Severing links from earth is obviously governed by many factors and has many complex dimensions which are not fully understood in the living world. To assert or believe that those who have crossed to the other world “are no longer around to know about the world” and cannot be harmed or benefited any longer by what happens in the world from which they have departed can be fallacious. To be fair, when Lam wrote “we allow such power to those who are no longer around to know about the world, and who cannot be harmed or benefited any longer from such spending…”,  it was largely in the context of material wealth.But the incidents cited above and numerous others relate more to feelings and matters at the micro level. There are a few instances of those who have moved to the other world expressing explicit disinterest in earthly matters since they are no longer a part of earth and have no desire to be disturbed by people or happenings on earth. But the majority of instances on record emphasise that those who have left the living world often still care about it. And that caring, as in the case of the Tehri Garwhal royal, often transcends their own self or interest or their “unfinished business” on earth or unfulfilled wishes.

 

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