The dark side of spirituality

I-was-like-a-boy-playing-on-a-sea-shore

It was around the late 80’s. I was about 8-9 years old, playing in the front yard of my house, when I saw a frightening figure standing at our gate. He seemed to fit the description of an Aughad/Aghori, an ancient sect of Indian ascetics, who worship Shiva, but also indulge in the darker side or the left hand path of Tantra (there’s a lot of information about them in Wikipedia, in case you are curious). I had read about them and also heard some creepy tales about them from my mother. But I never imagined, seeing one such person in reality would be so scary. He said something to me and blew his conch (these people tend to carry a conch with them), but I didn’t care to hear; all I did was run inside and hurriedly tell my mother about the strange visitor. She peeped through the window and confirmed my suspicion that he was indeed an Aughad. He seemed to know we were watching and bellowed “mother, give me food” and no, it was not a request, nor begging, it sounded more like an order.

My mother happens to be a very religious lady. She had a rule that anyone who is hungry and comes to our house asking for food should always be given some, whether they are sadhus (ascetics), beggars or even animals (yes, cows and dogs wandering down the streets, is a common sight in India). Sometimes she will give uncooked food and sometimes cooked food (if there’s some available in our kitchen); at other times, however, she would even ask the person to wait, while she prepares something quickly and then feeds them. Over time she has relaxed her “give food to all” policy because of the increasing occurrences of crimes associated with thugs dressed as ascetics or beggars. Notwithstanding, her own commitments, there’s one particularly unspoken rule, that applies to an Aughad/Aghori  – try to avoid them as a plague, but if they do accost you and ask for something – give it, if it’s feasible, or apologize humbly if you can’t; but NEVER treat them badly because you never know what they can do to you. That could be something extremely good if they are pleased or extremely bad if they are unhappy with your behavior.

In this case, we had some cooked vegetables in our kitchen and my mother asked him to wait outside the gate, while she cooked some Indian bread quickly. He was ok with that and simply squat on the ground, made himself comfortable, and started humming something. Although my mother had strictly ordered me to stay away from him, I placed myself somewhere I would not be seen and observed his behavior keenly. He didn’t seem to be interested in anything other than himself. Later, when my mother gave him the food he ate it delightfully and even asked (or ordered) for some more, a couple of times, until he felt full. He seemed pleased.

Then my mother asked him whether he would like some flour and lentils to cook later and he nodded his head. He took the lentils in the red cloth he was carrying and asked my mother to drop the flour in a small metal bucket, he held in his hand. Then he did a strange thing:

He asked my mother to spread her palm. I looked carefully as he took a pinch of flour, which my mother had put in his bucket, and dropped it on the palm of my mother’s hand. She stood staring at it, but before she could ask anything, he said “close your palm” and then after a couple of seconds he said “open it”. And hey presto, there was a clove in place of flour in my mother’s hand. All this happened before my eyes. I saw myself – there was nothing other than a pinch of flour on my mother’s palm, before she closed her fist, but after she opened it there was no flour and instead a clove! I thought it must be a very cool magic trick because things like these don’t happen in reality. He must have been trying to impress us, but if that was the case he should have done this trick before asking (or ordering) for food. In that case, who knows, my mother would have given him some money too. But he didn’t ask for money, or anything else – just food, and once he got that, he did his trick and simply left without another word. Generally ascetics give lots of verbal blessings when you give something to them. He didn’t, he just did – whatever it was, and left. Very strange! But you know what’s even stranger. The clove which materialized in my mother’s hand didn’t seem to be a normal one.

My mother had always been apprehensive of Aughads and their ways. She was not sure whether that clove was a blessing or some black magic (cloves have been used a lot in those sort of things), but still she didn’t throw it away. “What if it’s really a blessing?, she said. So she wrapped it in a piece of paper and kept in on the farthest corner, at the top of the cupboard, in our living room. One day, I just remembered the clove and un-wrapped to see it again. To my utmost astonishment, I noticed that the clove had a different shape compared to the one we originally put there. It had become very long and thin. I showed it to my mother who also very surprised. No one, in my family had replaced the clove (I was the youngest one in my family and even my elder sisters were not so fond of playing pranks, especially in such cases). My mother told me to wrap it again and place it where it was kept. A couple of days later I checked again. This time it had been reduced to a very small size but thicker. Next time-it was again thin and long but slightly curved. This clove changed shapes so many times, sometimes within a single day, that we started thinking it must certainly be some kind of black magic. We had only began considering to throw it away, when, one day it wasn’t there. The paper wrapping was simply empty. None of us had thrown the clove away. It had simply disappeared! Whatever, it was, probably, we’ll never know, but till this date (and I have even Googled it) I have never heard of cloves changing shapes.

If you find this incident weird, then I totally agree. But if you think that it’s a figment of my imagination or I’m trying to support a cult or something, then I would humbly disagree. What I have written is a personal life experience that has baffled me time and again. But I know that there are weirder things that exist in this world. Some of the spiritual experiences I’ll be writing about, which, although have nothing to do with the darker side of spirituality, will still be highly unusual. Lots of people who practice meditation or people who have had experiences related to Kundalini awakening may have already experienced similar things. If you Google “Kundalini awakening symptoms”, you’ll find many of them listed on several websites. There’s a lot of hocus – pocus going around in the name of Kundalini, on the internet, but there are still some reliable websites. However, I found that the books by Swami Sivananda and Swami Yogananda are much more accurate (I would suggest that you check out the following link, which has some very useful information on Kundalini, meditation, and Yoga –  http://minerva.ufpel.edu.br/~campani/Kundalini.pdf ).

P.S.

I would also like to clarify that this post does not attempt to glorify or promote any dark practices related to spirituality. On the contrary, I highly condemn them. I would also like to emphasize that Kundalini is not a trivia or minor force to reckon with. One should always practice safe, ethical and tested techniques, learnt through reliable sources. However, in case you were disturbed by the things I wrote about, I would like to apologize and also humbly request that you may ignore my posts and blog or un-follow my blog, in case you are already following.

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7 thoughts on “The dark side of spirituality

  1. I hope the coin was not an aluminium one…because when mercuric chloride solution is applied to an aluminium coin and held in hand for a few seconds …the coins turns hot and produces ash depending upon the amount of mercuric chloride applied….But since, you mentioned that the coin completely converted into ash, this scenario of fraud may be highly unlikely cos it takes a few minutes to convert a coin fully into ash….besides aluminium coins have not been in circulation in India for a long time…

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  2. What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I too, had a similar experience when I was in India. A muni I met at a house in Varanasi on the Ganges put a coin in my hand and asked me to hold on to it with a closed fist, and said that he would be with me soon (he was talking to someone else while I waited). Thinking there would have to be some kind of hocus-pocus involved, I looked the coin over and took in every detail before enclosing it in my hand. As I waited, the coin became hotter and hotter until I felt like dropping it, but I held on determinedly despite the discomfort Eventually the muni came to me and said “Now open your fist”. When I opened my fist there was only ash in my palm. I said, “Will you teach me how to do that?” and he said “Sure. Come back tomorrow.” When I came back the next day, he was nowhere to be found, and no one had ever seen or heard of him.
    Durga Ma

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    1. I’m not sure myself. If something significant (good or bad) had happened, I would have remembered. But nothing of that sort happened. I think there is a reference to yogis having the power to change objects into different objects, in Yogananda’s ‘An autobiography of a Yogi’ (i’m not sure though). The thing that intrigued me more was the changing shape of the clove and then it’s disappearance. 🙂

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