If you are powerful in life, do you remain powerful after death, a heavy weight Indian poilitician in failing health asked me recently. Powerful in what way, I queried. Let me put it another way, he clarified, is there any link between a person’s power levels in life and the supernatural and can that person wield power in the supernatural world or an afterlife? Well it all depends, on what kind of power you possess while on earth and how you’ve used it. There is, for instance, a very thin dividing line between yoga which involves awakening of the chakras and the kundalini and the supernatural. This awakening gives the successful yoga practitioner, amongst other things, the power to transcend “worlds” and in an advanced state, to converse if need be with departed souls or roohs living in the astral or spirit world or even to travel crossing barriers of time and space.
Ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts describe advanced yogic techniques and meditation with which practitioners can influence not only their body, but also manipulate the elements of nature. Many yogic and tantric kriyas release tremendous energy—I once saw a dog who strayed into the area where a Baba near Haridwar was doing his kriyas react at first as if struck by lightening and then become paralysed—totally unable to move. After completing his kriyas, the Baba restored the dog to its normal state but it still took the dog considerable time to move its limbs—so powerful is the kriya force. This is partly the reason why there are strict do’s and don’ts in yoga. Tantric kriyas too are very powerful.
Genuine yogis—these days there are many undeserving claimants—are also able to understand the key connections between life on earth and an afterlife and imbibe and share the lessons thereof. I’ve written earlier about a well known yogi who explained during an interactive session, “When a person’s pranic body is in full vibrance and it breaks, this person’s presence will be felt much more than the presence of a person who has left after a certain age. That is why people believe that those who die in accidents or suicide become ghosts—it is not so, everybody does. It is just that this presence is more felt… Now when you say spirits or ghosts, they still have a body, but it is in a subtler form. They are still physical; that is why sometimes some people can still see and feel them. If they were totally non-physical, you wouldn’t see them or feel them. There is a physical dimension to them—a very subtle physical dimension.”
The case of the mummy of Ghuen is fascinating. Ghuen is a small, remote high altitude village—10000 feet above sea level—in picturesque Spiti in India. The mummy is believed to be that of a Tibetan monk, 45 year old Sangha Tenzin, a monk of the Gelugapa order, who secretly practiced Dzogchen—the highest form of meditation. Locals relate that the monk sacrificed himself to save the villagers from scorpions. Some say he sacrificed himself to restore Ghuen’s prosperity which nosedived after new trade routes opened between India and Tibet. The official version is that the mummy was discovered by the Indo Tibetan Border Police while doing road work. But some locals say that in 1975, an earthquake cracked opened an old tomb containing the mummified body of monk Sangha Tenzin. In 2004, the local police excavated the tomb.
Unlike the Egyptians who used embalming and other chemical procedures for mummification of the dead, Tibetans followed a natural mummification process while a person was still alive, described as “a technique which is extremely difficult and unique” but too long to detail here. Less than thirty of such mummified monks have been found around the world.
Carbon dating has pinpointed monk Sangha Tenzin’s mummification to 1475, more than 500 years ago. Victor Mair, a consulting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, has been quoted as saying, “The mummy is remarkably well preserved for its age. Its skin is unbroken. There is hair on the head as well”. According to Mair it is partly to do with the extreme cold and dry air of the region, and partly to do with the meditation rituals that ancient high monks practiced to get rid of a public menace.
“Slow starvation in the last few months of his life had reduced the body fat and shrunk parts of the body that would have been liable for putrefaction. The mummy also did not collapse and disintegrate because of a jute restrainer, which runs around the mummy’s neck and passes between the thighs. It kept the monk in an upright position and enabled him to focus on his meditation. If he relaxed, the restrainer knot would have tightened around his neck, cutting off oxygen supply and suffocating him… It was essentially to keep him in good posture,” Mair concluded.
I knew a Babaji in Dehra Dun who had been a yoga teacher in his earlier years. He was able to leave his body at will, visit the higher realms and return to his body. He chose his own time of death, informed his followers, blessed them, retired into his room and instructed that he should not be disturbed and the door to his room should be opened after half an hour. When the door was opened, Babaji was found lying peacefully on the ground—lifeless. But his spirit form still gives darshan to me and some of his followers and I consult him whenever a particularly difficult case comes before me. In my perception, I told the heavy weight politician seeking insights or perhaps some assurance about power in the afterlife, Babaji was a very powerful force in life and remains so after death because of the manner in which he uses that power for the larger good. In the final analysis, how you wield the power you possess is immensely important both in life and after life and is the true determinant of how powerful you are or can be after death.