In our daily life the influence of the visitors who come
to our house is felt not only in their presence but remains
even after they have left. In the chair on which they have
sat, the room in which they have been, the hall in which
they have walked a finer person can sense it, though not,
of course, everybody.
Once, on a journey, I had taken a room at Kandy in Ceylon,
and during the hours of my meditation in the evening, whilst
I was engaged in the sacred practices, I felt very restless
and disturbed, and could not fix my mind on my meditation
for a single moment. I became cross with myself, and went
to bed, but my uneasiness increased. Then I got up and felt
I must look in the cupboards. I did not know why I was doing
so. I think perhaps my inner self wanted to guide me to
the reason for such an unusual experience. I found there,
to my surprise, a bunch of black hair, looking as if some
woman had collected her combings for a long time. I spent
a bad night, and in the morning the first thing I did was
to ask the landlady who had occupied this room before me.
She said, 'Sir, don't remind me of her. The thought of her
makes me feel ill. A woman lived here for sometime. She
never paid me my rent. She called me bad names, fought with
the men, and quarreled every single day, driving away all
my other tenants. Now my heart is at rest since she has
left this house.' I said, 'What a shame that you gave me
such a room to stay in.' She said, 'Sir, I gave you that
room on purpose, because you seem from your looks to be
a godly man, so that I was sure that this room would be
purified by your good influence.' I had no answer for her
but a smile.
If the influence of the living is such, how much greater
is the influence of the dead in those places where they
have lived and been happy, to which they are attached, and
from which death has forcibly taken them! The remembrance
of their home keeps them in the home in which they lived
or in the field in which they worked, and in the clubs in
which they enjoyed life, and in the houses of the friends
to whom they are drawn.
If the spirit, during his life, has been interested in
good dishes, after his death wherever there is a good dish
he will always be there. If all his life he has been fond
of whisky, after his death he will be at the bar where there
Spirits are also attracted to their graves and to the
crematorium by the love of the body which they had thought
was their only self, but which in fact was merely the instrument
of experience. In fact there is not one inch of space, whether
on land or on the water, free from the influence of spirits.
A person who has been very fond of a certain society,
of the society of his friends, his parents, his brothers
and sisters, will long to be in that society.
The spirits that are desperately attached to this plane,
and especially those among them that have but lately left
it, manifest to the view as apparitions, or else by knocking
at the door, by rapping on the tables and chairs, by lifting
and removing objects, and by speaking. Their voices vibrate
in the spheres and become audible to some of us. Sometimes
one hears singing and shouting, and sometimes dancing on
the top floor, or fighting going on among them. Some spirits
appear to the living without any clothes, some with their
legs and feet twisted outward. The former is owing to their
lust, also to the misery they went through in life; the
latter is due to a life passed in the thought of duality,
and because they have gone astray in life, not having kept
to the thought of unity; their body itself then demonstrates
I had my first experience of the spirits when a boy.
One night I awoke in the middle of the night feeling a wish
to look out of the window into our courtyard at the beautiful
moonlight shining there. I went to the window, and looking
out I saw some way off a man of saintly appearance, clothed
in a long white robe, with long snow-white hair and beard.
I saw him as plainly as in full daylight. I was amazed at
the sight of him, wondering how it had been possible for
him to enter our courtyard, all the doors being locked.
But for his saintly appearance I might have supposed him
to be a thief, but the nearer he came the taller he grew.
At each step his height increased, until I could no longer
see his head, and as he came forward his figure became a
mist, until at last he was like a shadow, and in a moment
he vanished from my sight. My hair stood on end and I was
completely overcome by bewilderment.
The next morning when I told my family what I had seen,
they tried to make nothing of it in order to keep me from
superstitious beliefs, but others told me that they too
had often seen this phantom appearing in this quarter. This
taught me that spirits are attached to those places in which
they are interested, just as we are, and they are constantly
drawn to the places of their interest. Their form is not
solid but ethereal, and can expand. This phantom which I
saw was that of a Pir who lived in the well in our
After a few years of these first experiences I was trying
to forget and disbelieve this impression, fearing that it
might lead me towards superstitions. But one day, happening
to arrive at our country cottage in the middle of the night,
I found on our land a huge person at a distance of three
yards from me, making a sign that he wished to wrestle with
me in the way that Indians do, who give a challenge by slapping
their thighs and crossing and slapping their arms. I did
not for one moment take him to be a man. I at once thought
that he was a spirit. At first I was terrified, comparing
my size and strength with this gigantic spirit. But I had
heard that the spirits swallow the fearful, so although
I did not know the art of wrestling, I determined to fight
with him, and I advanced, quite prepared to give him a blow.
At each step that I took forward he drew back, which naturally
gave me courage to close in upon him. He retreated until
he was against the wall. I was glad that now I had got him,
and approaching I struck him a strong blow, which, instead
of hurting the spirit, knocked my hand against the wall,
and the spirit disappeared.
The reason why the spirit appears and yet has no solid
form is that it exists in a vaporous state, and the image
seen in this vaporous form is nothing but the impression
of his former body when on earth.
Among very many different experiences I cannot forget
one which made a great impression upon my mind. I had purposely
rented a haunted house in James' Street, Secunderabad, although
my friends advised me not to, and in order to experience
any manifestations there I slept there alone with a servant.
After a few days I began to find that whenever I played
upon the vina at night, sitting on my bed, the bed
would gradually begin to move as if levitating, and to rock
to and fro. It would seem to rise for an instant some way
in to the air, but the movement was so smooth that there
was no shock. I was playing with my eyes closed, and I thought
that perhaps this was the effect of imagination under the
spell of music. This went on for some time. Then I happened
to send my vina to be repaired, and one night to
my great horror I heard a noise as if all the windows of
my house were being smashed. I got up and looked everywhere.
The window panes were unbroken, and there was no reason
to suppose that there might be anyone in the house who had
caused the noise. For three days this went on and I could
not sleep. I had no peace at night until my vina
came back. The spirits seemed to be so much interested in
my music that they rejoiced in it and showed their appreciation
by lifting me up. When the food of their soul was not given
You might ask by what power the bed was lifted. The answer
is that the finer forces are much more powerful than the
external forces. There is nothing that they cannot lift
up or carry.
There are some who master the spirits so that the spirits
bring them whatever they desire from anywhere, jewels, money,
fruits, food. The spirits can even carry a person from one
place to another. But those who work evil by the help of
a spirit, train that spirit in evil and one day the spirit
throws the bomb of evil back at them.
Sometimes spirits bring news for him who has mastered
them. From whatever distance it may be they can bring the
news in a moment of time. Sometimes the spirits go and cause
trouble to someone if they are so directed by a spiritualist
master. I have myself seen a case where the spirits would
set fire to a man's house. Sometimes his clothes would catch
fire, sometimes his papers burned, sometimes the food disappeared
from the dish in which it had been put and dirt was found
in the dish instead.
In twelve years' traveling throughout India, during which
I concerned myself with psychic research, I have met with
great and extremely expert spiritualists, who were able
to receive news in a moment from any part of the world,
and could even foretell events by the help of a seer spirit.
Muhammad Chehl, a simple, unassuming man of ordinary
appearance, our greatest spiritualist in India, showed the
most wonderful phenomena. He could disconnect railway carriages
from a train, leaving as many as he chose with the engine.
Sometimes he disconnected all the carriages when the train
was starting, leaving the engine to start alone. He never
cared to travel in any class but the third. He used often
for fun to ask the people sitting in the same railway carriage
to show him their tickets, and then he would take the tickets,
tear them up, and throw them out of the window in their
presence. Everybody was angry and wanted to fight with him.
He said to them, 'Who has taken your tickets? You have them
with you.' He said to one, 'Look in your turban,' to another,
'Look again in your pocket.' to another, 'See in your shoe,'
to another, 'Find it in your sleeve.' They were all amused
and thought him a wonderful conjurer. He said to them, 'You
may think that I hid your tickets and then put them in your
pockets by sleight-of-hand, but what do you think of this?'
And he put his hand out of the window and asked for a few
hundred tickets for Delhi, and a few hundred for Ajmer,
and a few hundred for Agra, and he asked them what other
stations they wanted. When the train reached the next station
there was great excitement. The stationmaster had just received
a telegram saying that all the tickets for those stations
had been stolen in a second and nobody knew where they had
Muhammad Chehl never produced such phenomena unless he
wanted to amuse himself. He never cared for notoriety or
money. Nothing would induce him to make a show or a trade
of his power. If he had cared to show his great power in
the Western world, he could have filled his house with bags