There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your pilosophy.
- Hamlet (1.5.166-7), Hamlet to Horatio
The above lines are from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet in which Hamlet tells his skeptical friend Horatio about seeing his late father’s spirit.
Those who claim to be rationalists and with a scientific bent of mind may with a whiff of their hand dismiss the existence of spirits. They may think that with the end of physical death, life comes to a full stop halt.
There are others who may think that the soul may live on after physical death. Spiritualists believe that if the soul has had an unfulfilled mission he may linger on in the earthly realm, choosing a specific place to lurk on thereby haunting it.
Of all places, it is generally graveyards which have been associated with most hauntings. World literature has innumerable tales concerning eerie happenings in graveyards. Romantic and gothic author Edgar Allan Poe had penned these lines in verse:
‘Thy soul shall find itself alone
'Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry.
Into thine hour of secrecy.’
In the short story The Fall of the House of the Usher Poe writes of the young Madeline who was buried with rosy cheeks rising from her tomb on a stormy night, entering the room of her brother, falling on him to result in both of them landing on the floor as corpses.
In Wuthering Heights, the novelist Emily Bronte ends her novel with the lines, "I lingered round them, under that benign sky, watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."
In the above lines she is referring to the spirits of the lovers Cathy and Heathcliff who could only be united only after death and the spirits of whom can be cited traversing the rugged moors together.
In real life too, people have claimed to sense hauntings in graveyards. That includes your favourite TV actors. Avinesh Rekhi who is currently in Color’sMadhubala recalls an unexplainable sinister incident which happened when he was a hostelite in Class IX. He says, “At 4pm, I would go for running practice. I was a slow runner. Others were running ahead of me. I heard strange noises which were emanating from the graveyard nearby. Later, I heard that the graveyard was haunted.”
It seems that Avinesh has a sixth sense for spirits. His second spooky experience was when he was returning from Shimla. Novelist Rudyard Kipling had written, "Nearly every other station (in India) owns a ghost. There are said to be two at Shimla,” in My Own True Ghost Story. Ghost hunters staunchly believe that Shimla doesn’t have just two but multiple ghosts lurking about giving it the tag of a ‘ghost town’.
Avinesh narrates a blood curdling incident. “I was returning from Shimla with a politician friend. It was night time and a funeral pyre was lit. My friend was in charge of that area. He called out to the 15 to 20 people assembled at the funeral that no corpse should be cremated at night. As he felt that nobody could hear him he threw stones into the lake below hoping that they would hear him. The funeral continued. The next morning when we returned to the same place, we saw that there was no land whatsoever in the venue where the funeral is being held. I wasn’t intoxicated the previous night. At that time I didn’t drink. Nor were we hallucinating.”
The fire God Agni in Hinduism is thought to consume the physical body to create its place in heaven in preparation for transmigration. If the cremation isn’t done properly it is believed by some to make the soul disturbed and thereby to haunt venues. It may be that the funeral continues to run ceaselessly in this venue in the outskirts of the ghost town on Shimla.
It is not just houses and graveyards that may be haunted. Psychics believe that a seemingly innocuous doll may also be possessed by an evil spirit or a departed earthly soul. When Chandni Bhagwanani who plays Amita in Sony TV’s Amita Ka Amit like any other soft toy loving girl was happy to receive a sweet red teddy bear for a birthday gift on her 18th birthday. She narrates her horrific incident, “I was asleep with the teddy by my side. In my sleep it seemed as if someone was brushing my hair. Initially, I thought it was my mother. I asked her as to why she was combing my hair. She said that she wasn’t doing so. It was night time and my father was away from the house. I felt quite scared. Then I saw the shadow of a teddy bear on my wall which was singing Happy Birthday to me. I was terrified. I switched on all the lights and kept the teddy outside the house.”
Chandni had parted with the teddy without any delay. The 1984 horror film The Devil’s Gift shows a cymbal banging monkey doll possessed by an evil spirit killing living creatures from flies, plants to human being after it enters a household as a gift. Maybe this teddy would have caused death and destruction in Chandni’s house too in the same way the monkey doll had done. A psychic after all explained to her, “A child had drowned in a lake beside my house. A senior citizen who is a spiritualist told me that the deceased child’s spirit had entered the teddy as he was attracted to the toy. Since that day, I don’t like teddy bears anymore.”
In The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, we hear of the spirit of a headless horseman who lost his head by a cannon ball in a battle; riding atop a phantom white mare. Ruchi Savarn who plays Devika in Sahara One’s Ghar Aaja Pardesi insists that she saw a white mare which was actually a ghost. It was sans a rider though.
It isn’t just human beings who can become ghosts. Animals like human beings have souls too. They too can live on after death in the form of spirits and are reported to possess the same characteristics they did when they were alive.
She says, “I was acting in Life OK’s Hum Ne Li Hai… Shapath with Alok Narula. After a pack up late at night we were returning from Madh Island by road. We suddenly saw a beautiful white horse. It was so beautiful that we kept on looking on at it. It disappeared as uncannily just as it had appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly the driver wasn’t able to see it anymore in the rear view mirror. At one moment the horse was there and then at the next moment it was nowhere to be seen.”
Amrapali Gupta who plays Tanveer in Zee TV’s Qubool Hai claims that she was possessed by a demonic spirit. This spirit had turned the sweet and demure actress violent. Narrating her plight, she says, “I was shooting the pilot of a TV show which my husband Yash Sinha was making. We were shooting in a bungalow. It was late at night between 2.45am and 3am. I felt as if someone jumped on the terrace. The Assistant Director pulled me back. I felt dizzy and went back to my room. I started beating up and throwing shoes at a junior artiste. My husband’s driver realised that I was possessed by a ghost. He gave me water to drink. I vomited thrice. I then felt fine. Some thought that maybe I was suffering from high blood pressure and hence was acting like that. The driver knew that this was simply possession by a spirit.”
Yes, there are evil spirits but thank goodness there are also guardian angels. So fear not as divine supernatural beings are to save you when a sinister spirit may want to throw you into a pit of destruction.
Farhan Khan who plays Manav in Sony TV’s Chhanchhan was born long before a full term pregnancy. In fact he had completed barely six and a half months in his mother’s womb when he had tumbled forth into this world.
Rationalists may think that it was just advanced medical science and doctors who had saved a prematurely born baby. Farhan however has another interpretation.
He says, “I am a miracle child who went through many frightening accidents in life but survived all of them. From Class 7 to Class 12, I would meet with gruesome accidents on one particular date at the same timing every year. My parents then consulted a spiritual guru who asked me to sit on the floor with him. He said that he would not be able to help me if both of us sat on a higher level like a bed. The guru informed me that my ancestors who were my well wishers were saving me from these accidents which were actually meant to otherwise kill me.”
I had broken my collar bone while participating in the National Games in Jaipur. Different bones in my bodies have been broken. I have 38 stitches on my face of which 18 stitches are on my eyebrows. Though I was in a lot of pain during the accidents, I never ever cried. My mother was continuously praying that I be delivered from this curse. Her prayers were finally answered, thank goodness!”
When you feel that you have been accosted by a ghost or spirit, chant a prayer as it may be the best remedy. After all God Almighty is there to hear and answer your prayers. His grace can deliver you from evil!