SONGSOPTOK: It seems that fear is the most important primal instinct in the animal world. The two main manifestations of fear in the human society is centered around two entities: God(s) and Demons. We somehow learn to fear ghosts and spirits at a very early age and remain marked by that fear later in life. What is your personal experience? When did you start fearing ghosts and for what reasons?

ALPANA: I was brought up in a  large family with eleven members ,we use to hear ghost stories from grandma, our  house was also surrounded by big trees like neem, (azardicta indica), bel (aegelmarmelos) etc but we were, specially me, was not very much afraid of ghosts as we knew somehow that these ghosts remain only in her stories and in the story books we read when grew up older..

SONGSOPTOK: Very often adults try to control the tantrums of children by threatening them with ghosts and spirits. Do you remember any such incident when you were very young? In your opinion, do such methods have a permanently negative effect on children? In what way?

ALPANA: Yes, surely all those tantrums give deep negative impression on young  child’s mind and remains for long time unless child later proactively strives to remove these negative impressions or adults couch them as those are mere stories . I have seen a boy in our family  who used to listen horrible ghost stories in his childhood , he is now adult but he has not be able to overcome his fear of malevolent ghosts. He still   sees or fears ghosts supposedly present in every nook and corner of the same house in which we were grown up without any fear .Perhaps the fear has embedded in sub conscious .It  has become very difficult to remove this negative impression.

SONGSOPTOK: Not only do we frighten children with ghosts, we often entertain them with ghost stories. When children learn to read, grown-ups often try to incite them to get into the habit of reading by buying ghost stories. What do you think of this practice?

ALPANA: In my opinion   children could read ghost stories as  one of the many variants of stories  but one should be actively discouraged from  buying to reading too   many of them .It is also  important to introduce them that a child should see as means of entertainment only.

SOPTOK: Adolescence is normally the period when we start asking questions about different things. Did you start asking questions about the existence of ghosts? Will you share the details with us?

ALPANA: At the age of 14 or 15   my uncle whom I was very much attached died.  For the first time I saw the person who was so jovial only few days back lie lifeless in front of me. I remember, pondering for the first time - is it the end of everything?  I remembered   someone had told me about soul, heaven, hell existed. Relatives who had come for mourning, they were also talking about soul. For the first time I wanted to   know about soul   and soon on the day of last rites ( Shraddh) I could know  from Geeta chanting that soul is everlasting, never ceases to exist. This gave me a thought of   gaining more knowledge on life after death. I started asking about soul to people whom I thought knowledgeable on such matter.

SONGSOPTOK: A lot of people claim to have direct experience of ghosts or other inexplicable phenomena. Do you have any such experience to share with us? Or experiences of people you know?

ALPANA: No I don’t have any such experience myself but I have heard an incident from a monk of   Ramakrishna Math, Belur, who was present  in hospital as an attendant of his   Guru ,  then president of Ramakrishna Math, when the  senior monk  was terminally ill.  According to him: “ after suffering for few days one evening  the attending doctors declared my Gurudev dead  and slowly they left the room. I was alone in the room , instantly I could see the room filled with  bright light, glowing but soothing, suddenly  many people (looked like angels) arrived from nowhere with unknown flowers having wonderful fragrance, started paying their respect with their flowers , my Gurudevs face was also glowing with faint smile on his lips,  the scene  kept me in trance, for how long I stayed mesmerized   that I do not know , when I came to my senses I saw slowly senior monks of the order are entering the room and paying their respect to my Gurudev. I was so   captivated by the incident I saw just before anyone entered the room that I forgot to pay my pranams to my Guru. Though I was the only person present at that moment of passing away of my Guru, after coming out from trance, I became the last person to pay pranam.  This narration by the monk is my only paranormal experience through him.  

GSOPTOK: It is true that most of us like reading or watching films about ghosts, spirits or mysterious phenomena. Do you enjoy these things too? Can you think of a specific story or a film that really thrilled you? Do you have any favorite writers of this genre?

ALPANA: I never like very much   to see such stories of films which give goose bump. But in the adolescence stage I remember The story “Monkey’s paw” by W.W..Jacob scared me till my bone. Now   I like to study serious  writings on life after death .To me   these are best explained in our scriptures like Chhondogyo Upanishad,  kathoupnishad or Katha Upanishad,  Geeta,Garuda puran etc . According to theses scriptures human beings are bonded by karma .People born in this world to do karma when it is completed they leave this physical earth and   reaches to the   realm in  the heaven according to their   karma.  Stages  of karma is along story so don’t want to go into it.   

SONGSOPTOK: Many of us think that science still has to go a long way to explain everything that we experience on earth. Science has enlightened us about a lot of things, but there are certain areas that can be considered as the twilight zone – the breeding place for the uncanny and the preternatural. What are your thoughts about this?

AllALPANA:religions in All religions in the world believe in presence of soul which is immortal but   Hindu scriptures have done detailed research on this subject long ago which are very nicely described in Puarans. Scientist never believed in the existence of soul or after life. But now scientists have started doing research on this subject and found evidences of afterlife (for example they have found that the weight of a human body decreases by   just after death. Many CCTV’s have captured some cloud like thing escaping from dead body immediately after death,). Now scientists are taking much interest in this subject with the help of new gadgets but to prove it has to go long way. Serious research is also going on reincarnation after finding numerous evidences from people having previous birth. Story of reincarnation Manika from Kerala was much in news.  

SONGSOPTOK: We find it difficult to accept that nothing remains after death, which often leads us to imagine the supernatural. We are naturally attracted to what lies beyond the known everyday world. What is your opinion about this? Do you think that everything ends with death? Or is it because since we don’t really know that we oscillate between belief and doubt?

ALPANA:religions Educationally   I have   science background yet I have strong belief in soul and after life because  I am born in a Hindu family, so from childhood  I know that human body decays but the soul is immortal. So I have a strong belief on afterlife. This is described nicely in Geeta soul is immortal, neither   it is born nor it dies only leaves the body and starts another journey toward heaven rests there for a while and born again to finish his/her karma. I am a voracious reader and I have read numerous books of different religions, found same thought put forward everywhere so I have a strong belief death is never the end of life. There is no doubt about it. Not long ago when Monks could talk to the departed soul who asked help from them.(Sri  Ramakrishna Paramhans, Swami Vijoy Krishna Goswami , LahiriMahashaya and many more).  Yearning for reading  made me  read numerous books of different religions and have found tantamount thoughts on the immortality of soul. Hence for me, this is conviction not an oscillation between belief and disbelief.

SONGSOPTOK: Almost all societies believe that the entities that exists in the realms that are beyond our understanding and our sensory perceptions possess an immense amount of power. But the capacity of humans is limited. So why does humans believe that the souls of the dead are immensely powerful? What, according to you, is the reason for this?

ALPANA: As human we are programmed to give greater weight age to our sensory perceptions. But death challenges our ability to perceive the beyond, the journey of the dead which begins with death leaving behind the living. It is something that we can’t experience vicariously. After studying the book “ Laws of Sprit World”  I don’t think the entities   acquire immense power just after leaving physical body. They reach to their realms according to their karma and then guided by the higher souls present in that realm. ( It is nicely describe the book “ Laws of spirit world” by Khorshed Bhavnagri )

SONGSOPTOK: As we grow more and more dependent on science and technology, it is possible that our belief in the supernatural will grow weaker with time. In that sense ghosts and other entities are likely to have a very dark future indeed. But wouldn’t that deprive us of a whole range of feelings and emotions? Wouldn’t we become poorer in our sensations? What is your opinion?

ALPANA:Fear is one Reply: Fear is one of the important emotions that  will and should remain in human mind which will make a person inquisitive towards unknown. Unike other emotions fear can also be thrilling and  so it should be loved and sought by almost  all. So ghost as an element of our literature and are here to stay.
The child dwells into his karmic experiences and the parent in their inexperience refers to the supernatural in the hope of “taming” the child .Parents only blatedly discover that they must struggle to know the one begot. Invoking ghosts may deride as inappropriate in case of parenting but it destined to be part of the struggle.

 I also feel the fear of unknown can fuel a journey of discovery. I don’t see any interest in supernatural or paranormal act. Despite my science focused education and several years of teaching and remaining in company of professors of other science faculty I have recurrent realization –science didn’t answer  each and every of my queries nor gave me the peace of mind for which I craved for. 

 Now a days people, mostly young generation, are becoming more and more technology dependant, more and more growing lust for worldly attraction, they are becoming almost like robots. Emotion, feelings are dyeing out.  Their lust for getting what they want increase by leaps and bound but emotion, feelings are decreasing at the same proportion. I feel when each and every lust is satiated, saturated with getting everything they want then their  quest for ABSOLTE  is  triggered.

India is a country where physical luxury is still a distant dream for commoner. But amongst the privileged whether here or in west, having achieved highest amount of physical luxury, get fed up with physical entertainment and scientific explanations. At this point they start asking question “Who am I”? “Why have I come to this world”? Their quest for REAL enkindle, though in nascent state.  .People are becoming interested in meditation, Yoga , introspection, self examination and every other method to get little peace of mind selling their Ferrari.  It is from there the urge and the journey to explore and engage with the unknown begins.

ALPANA GHOSE: Was born in a town in Bihar, Did her post graduation in Chemistry from  Patna University, and PhD in polymer Chemistry from Ranchi University then she taught in Ranchi Women’s College and retired as Head of the Department of Chemistry.  Other than her subject Chemistry, reading and writing  are her most favorite hobbies. Published many books ( both in English and Bengali).

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen



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