There’s no space in the world for spirits to inhabit, declared a sub heading in the UK Independent last year. Ghosts definitely aren’t real because the biggest science experiment in the world would have found them by now, according to TV Professor Brian Cox, said the main article by Andrew Griffin. It was asserted in a special edition of the professor’s podcast “The Infinite Monkey Cage” which focused on the paranormal  that CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, disproved the existence of ghosts.

“People have wondered for perhaps as long as life itself whether people’s spirits can live on in the world once their body dies. But Professor Cox says that they definitely don’t, since CERN’s Large Hadron Collider or LHC would have stumbled across one,” wrote Griffin. It was explained that the LHC is the biggest particle accelerator ever built. The project has seen a number of things, identifying how particles decay and picking up hints that there could be new and unknown particles. But it hasn’t yet found even a sliver of proof that there is anything that could make up a ghost.

If ghosts existed, then they would need to be made purely of energy, since by their very definition they can’t be made of matter. But if they were made only of energy, they would quickly dissipate, because the second law of thermodynamics proposes that energy is always lost to heat. The only way that they would be able to avoid that would be to have an incoming source of their own spooky energy. But there is nothing to account for that in the standard model of physics or anything we’ve seen in the particle accelerator, elaborated Professor Cox.

Each one of Professor Cox’s assertions have been dismissed in equally assertive terms by those who have seen or encountered ghosts and experienced many other manifestations of ghostly activities. The particle accelerator or the standard model of physics may not have been able to identify or account for “an incoming source of their own spooky energy” but it is well known that each variety of ghosts have their own time honoured ways, chronicled down the ages in great detail, of renewing their energy. The Spiritual Science Research Foundation explains broadly that since ghosts are made up of the Absolute Air Principle or Vāyutattva, one cannot see them without subtle-vision. “They can create a centre for themselves in living and non-living objects. By centre we mean a place where they store their black energy. The centre acts as an entry point and a point of receiving or transmitting their black energy.”

It is also well known that most ghosts are “territorial”. Like human beings, ghosts feel comfortable in a particular area or place, such as a particular house, forest, tree, road and so on partly because their frequencies correspond to that area. Usually, they have lived in that particular place during their lifetimes and were unable to move on to the other world or chose not to move on.  According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, “the dead were supposed to remain in their own land and were not expected to cross back over to the world of the living.”

But most hauntings, especially centuries old hauntings happen when a soul doesn’t or can’t move on due to various reasons. Amongst others, the Ancient History Encyclopedia cites the oft quoted example of Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan. “The dead… are believed to still reside at Bhangarh Fort and there are reports in the present day by people claiming to hear spectral voices, disembodied laughter by the old bathing pool, footsteps, who also say they have seen lights moving in the city and have even seen the spirit of Princess Ratnavi herself.”

One night, around 10 p.m., I was sitting with a caretaker on the cemented platform in the forest flanking Malcha Marg in New Delhi, outside the dargah of Khwaja Moiluddin Chisti, said to be a contemporary of  Nizamuddin Aulia. It was dark, with only the light from a half moon providing illumination. I was facing the path when suddenly I saw clearly two figures emerge from the darkness. They were both dressed in black and were walking fast towards us. All thoughts that they are late night visitors—devotees in trouble—were banished when I realised that they were walking on air, about a foot above the ground.

The caretaker had been narrating a story, but seeing my attention fixed on the path, he turned, saw the figures and fortunately reacted swiftly. “Go”, he said in a commanding tone, “it is not yet time for you”. The figures vanished in a jiffy but left me uneasy. After all, here we were, just the caretaker and me, in the middle of a forest which is supposed to have at least four hundred centuries old graves in it. The dargah itself had the graves of six “pirs” at that time. Two more have now become part of the precincts, and ironically, one of them is of the caretaker with whom I was sitting that night.

in the forest around the dargah, there is a wide variety of spirits. Sometimes, you can see them. At other times, you can hear them. And often, you can smell them. When a certain “variety” of these spirits gets close to you, there is a definitive smell which makes you feel somewhat sick and dizzy and you know immediately that you’re not dealing with a good spirit. At times some of these spirits can deviously change shape. On full moon nights, one often glimpses “jannats” or helpful spirits doing the rounds of the dargah, protecting it from evil spirits. But once in a while, an evil spirit does manage to sneak through and when that happens, it becomes very difficult to evict the intruder.

Obviously, substantiating that there’s no space in the world for spirits to inhabit is a tough proposition. Of course, its true that increasing commercialised urbanisation and the resultant dwindling of old buildings, forests and other isolated open spaces traditionally occupied by ghosts is posing adjustments problems for them. But its also true that earth bound ghosts are devising their own ghostly ways of retaining their primacy despite changing circumstances. The fact is that its still as easy as its always been for ghosts to say ‘boo’ to humans. But not that easy at this stage at any rate for humans, never mind if they’re highly qualified professors or scientists, to say ‘boo’ to ghosts and assert that they or other supernatural phenomena don’t exist.

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