Thursday, January 10, 2008

Do ghosts exist? (view from Sanathana dharma)

Some one sent me a question from Fanbox if I believe in the existance of ghosts.

I said no, but was shoked to find that nearly 98% of the respondants believe that ghosts do exist.

This made me look into Vedantha to know what it says about ghosts.

If it is said that a 'haunted' person is one
in whose body another soul has entered,
then this is not acceptable to Vedanta.

There is only one body with one soul.
Another soul can not enter
nor co-exist with the original inhabitant of the body.

But there is another soul in the body,
a Super soul in addition to the existing soul in the body.
This is known as
Paramathman, God, yOgheshwaran, Brahman etc.

As told in the previous blog,
in another circumstance too,
another soul may come to reside in the body.
That is
only in the body of a woman when she is pregnant,
as the 5th oblation
in the course of Panchagni vidhya.
Another soul exists in a woman's body
only for the sake of getting a body and birth.

Apart from this I have hardly found any reference to existance of
another soul,
by way of "possessing" or 'haunting" a person.

But in reality we come to see or hear bizzaire instances of
some soul possessing some one's body.

This can be best understood
in a 'really' scientific way,
which has been explained in the book entitled,
"The wisdom the Ancients"
written by the Tibetan monk, Lobsang Rampa.

Our physical body consists of an aural sheath and an etheric double.
The etheric double is the alter self of a person which records everything
including mannerisms
of the person.

The Vedantic equivalent of this is
the Kshooshma shareera, which is the resultant of
the impressions of the 5 senses of the person.

According to Brahma sutras the impression / or acquired impressions
of the 5 senses in one birth is carried by the soul when it leaves the body.

But a manifestation of it in astral level is left behind.

In my opinion,
the 'pinda shareeram' that is said to be destroyed
in the death ceremonies of the Hindu fold,
refers to this only.

On the day of Sa-pindee,
this pinda shareeram,
or etheric double is compeltely destroyed,
so that the soul is completely devoid of that shareeram
which had existed when the person was alive
and which he can not leave behind,
nor could he take along with him
in his journey to the other world.

Thus the etheric double
(please read the book by Rampa as mentioned above
to get a complete understanding about this)
which is popularly known as ghost
is completely destroyed
in the death ceremonies of the Hindus.

When this pinda shareeram or the ethric double is not destroyed,
it will have to take a natural course of
gradually getting dissipated,
which may run into decades or even centuries,
depending upon the the strength of
the aspirations and impressions of the person when he lived.

It is to be remembered
that such haunting is not done by
those who upon death had recieved 'removal of pinda shareeram'
in ritualistic way of manthras.

It is also to be noted, when such 'ghosts' are sighted
or found to be haunting someone,
the removal of the same had happened
with a set of ritualistic manthras /
some rituals of 'appeasement' of the dead one.

The destruction of this 'body'
does not take place in the case of other religionsists.
The incidenece and therefore belief in ghosts
is high in those groups
who bury the dead
and do nothing to remove / destroy the etheric double.

But our system of Sanathana dharma,
the Truly Universal Dharma
takes care of these persons too (whose pinda shareeram is un-destroyed)
by ordaining all those of this Dharma
doing sharaadha kaaryam
to do the ceremony to those people also who have not been given shraadha!

From Vedantha and Vedaanga Jyothisha.

Veadntha recognises only 4 types of shareeram /deham,
dhiryak (animal) and

It also recognises only 4 types of birth only.

garbha-agathi :-
Those having a mix of punya and paapa are born in garbha-agathi

Yaamya gathi :-
Those who are to experience the effects of paapa alone are
born in Yaamya gathi.

Those who are to experience the effects of
punya alone are born in Dhoomaathi-gathi.

Archirathi-gathi :-
Those who are entitled to
attain paramapadam go by Archirathi-gathi.

The earth we live in is said to support only garbha gathi.
That means,
the beings born in this earth experience the mix of paapa and punya.

If it be said that the birth of ghosts or paishasha is to live-off its paapam,
then it would be born in yaamya gathi
and not in this world.

Thus the existance of ghost as it is believed is a normal form (of tranformation, may be)
can not experience the result of any paapa or punya,
(therefore can not exist in this earth of garbha gathi)
and it can not ensoul another body already having a soul.

The ethric double explanation by Rampa
and the pinda shareeram as told in our system
offres a better explanation.

Another system of Thought that I wish to look into is

Vedic Astrology which describes the nature of birth and its causes.

This also does not support the theory
that the dead person (or his ghost)
is capable of haunting a living person,
or such a ghost has existance in this world.

But it does talk about curse of the Spirits, also known as prEthas.
Here prEtha or spirit is not mentioned as a dead person haunting some one living.
But the details of the PrEtha- shaapa (curse of the spirit)
support the explanation for ghosts (pinda shreeram not destroyed)
as I have mentioned above.

According to Brihat Parashara Hora Shasthra (BPHS),
when a person after his death is not given the Shraddha ceremony,
'prEtha shaapa'
occurs on account of it
and it will afflict the descendants of the person
for whom shraddha (death ceremony) is not done.

Known as prEtha shaapa or prEtha dosha
this can be identified in the horoscope of a person
(whose ancestors were not given shraaddha).
It is obvious that this is about non-destroyal of pinda shareera
which wanders as ghost.

A quick look at the indicators of this shaapa / dosha
as given in BPHS :-

# Saturn and Sun are in the 5th, weak Moon in the 7th,
while Rähu in lagna and Jupiter in the 12th.

# Malefic in lagna, Sun in 12th, while Mars, Saturn and Mercury in 5th, and 5th lord in 8th.

# Venus, Jupiter and Rähu in lagna, Saturn conjoins Moon, and lagna lord in 8th.

# Saturn in lagna, Rähu in 5th, Sun in 8th and Mars in 12th.

# 8th lord, Saturn and Venus in the 5th, and Jupiter in the 8th.

The propitiatory measures recommended for prEtha dosha are:

1) Performance of shraadha at Gaya, abhisheka of Rudra or KUrmadeva.
2) Donating the Deity of the same, or of a cow, silver and blue sapphire
or other items connected with Saturn should be performed.
3) Donation should be given to Brahmanas along with feeding them and offering Dakshina.


nivrutta_r said...

There is a possibility of the 'etheric' forms which is seen as a 'white, floating , translucent human like creatures' haunting a cemetery or some place of accident/death. This 'etheric theory' seems plausible as our vedantic death rituals also talk about the different parts of the physical body and soul and their ultimate union with nature and cosmos.

And stronger the 'vasanas' of the man during his life, the more difficult it is for the etheric to disintegrate. But probably through the rituals (actually the vibrations from the chants) the etheric doubles can be destroyed..again it is hypothetical.
If black magic and the chants involved in such dark practices are said to strengthen these mindless etherics, then it can also be said that vedantic ritual chants can destroy this etheric double.

Probably even our thought forms can strengthen this etheric too.. esp wen we miss the dead person and will that he/she remain near us..the etheric may get attracted to such thought forms..and well we ve heard of instances where people say that the dead ones have not actually left them.... again these are just hypothetical.

i came across this definition of the so called etheric double

ETHERIC DOUBLE is the substance existing between
the physical body and the aura. The etheric is of a bluish-grey
color, and is not substantial like flesh and bone. The etheric
can pass through a brick wall, leaving both intact.
The etheric double is the absolute counterpart of the human
flesh and blood body, but in etheric form. The stronger a
person's physical, the stronger will be the etheric. When a
person dies, and that person has had a certain gross interest in
life, his etheric double is physically very strong and he leaves
a ghost which, through habit, acts in precisely the same way
as the person did while in the physical body.
A person who has been killed by violence or in a state of
terror will have a very strong etheric indeed. People who have
died by violence will often leave a ghost which can be seen.
Frequently disembodied etheric doubles try to dissipate their
useless energy by going to seances and giving senseless

nivrutta_r said...

An after thought... What about the situation when a person is said to be possessed.. of course two souls cannot exist in a body. Here are some random hypothetical thoughts

#If we consider everything in terms of energy (agnostic thought) and consider there is low energy, high energy, good energy, bad energy...then we can consider that there is no such thing as death.. energy does not get destroyed. so the person actually exists in spite of declaring that he is dead. But that energy will decline or reduce in intensity with time. Usually this declining energy cannot do anything to us (the healthy persons as we are continuously a generating source of positive energy). But wen we are debilitated either mentally, emotionally, we stop spewing out the energy and might start imbibing energy from surrounding. And these low level energies can start diffusing into us (as our energy may be in sync with the low energy) and we may start reacting as per this new low/bad energy and this could be called as possessed.
Being possessed need not apply to 'being possessed by spirits' only .. an angry person is said to be possessed. sometimes we feel that in our right minds we would never have done a 'certain thing' and we had been 'possessed' to do such a deed...
If one feels peace at temple or in the presence of a 'tejas' person, then its becos of some good and positive energy that radiates from the place/person. Similarly, bad energy also exists and even they can influence a person. HAha..probably thats why they say 'goto temple', 'bow to venerable person' ..cos all this will ensure that we dont lose our positive energy (sort of a charm against negative ones that do exist)

# Being possessed can be a medical phenomenon called schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, from the Greek roots schizein (σχίζειν, "to split") and phrēn, phren- (φρήν, φρεν-, "mind"), is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental illness characterized by impairments in the perception or expression of reality, most commonly manifesting as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions or disorganized speech and thinking in the context of significant social or occupational dysfunction.

'Schneider's first-rank symptoms, include delusions of being controlled by an external force; the belief that thoughts are being inserted into or withdrawn from one's conscious mind; the belief that one's thoughts are being broadcast to other people; and hearing hallucinatory voices that comment on one's thoughts or actions or that have a conversation with other hallucinated voices.' (from wikipedia)

Shantosh S said...

How is the sheaths of body identified in Yoga shaastras? I believe it is three. I recently came across a book - Laws of Spirit World (dictated by real spirits) - where possibility of ghosts is mentioned. Souls who like to stay on earth after death, without wanting to go to spiritual world, may exist as ghosts. There are also detailed explanations in the book, why the soul chooses to do do and what happens due to the choice.