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 are 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?

UTPALBeing a younger member of a large family with four other siblings living in small houses, I never ‘saw’ a ghost or did experience the existence of any spirit. I however remember being afraid at night while crossing over the small courtyard between the kitchen and the bedroom of our first house, where I lived up to the age of five years, as there was no electricity then in that neighbourhood.  Kerosene lanterns were used at night, but those lamps used to cast long shadows of their metallic rims which appeared to be ghostly apparitions. I then used to get goose-pimples.  Later, we had shifted to a new house in another locality of our small township where there was electricity and the fear was gone. Though my conscious mind does not believe in ghosts, I still get similar goose bumps sometimes for a moment or two when I am startled by an unexplained sound, etc. mostly in the darkness of night.

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?

UTPAL:  No. I was more or less a well-behaved child and I do not remember any such incident when my parents had threatened me of ghosts.  However, I vividly remember my other elder juvenile siblings trying to frighten me of the so-called ghosts, which they said roam around in the darkness at night.  But I also remember my mother assuring me that there were no such things called ghosts.  Yes, I believe that frightening infants of ghosts and spirits might negatively impact their psyche. Most children however are expected to overcome this fright as they analyze this with their ‘adult mind’ while growing up, but for some children, it remains lodged deep in their subconscious mind and adversely affect their personality.

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?

UTPALI have not thought much on this subject.  But, off hand, I think that fear of something unknown is inherent in the subconscious human mind and that both trying to justify oneself through scientific explanation and to be afraid of the unknown should continue to be there, side by side, to make life interesting.  Human intellect should continue to be influenced by science, but the human subconscious should continue to be apprehensive of something unknown and also an invisible but benevolent divine force.  Ghost stories should however not be forced on children. If they want to read them, they should not be discouraged either. 

SONGSOPTOK: 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?

UTPAL: Yes, but not about ghosts, but about spirits and souls.  I had asked people about these but failed to get satisfactory answers. I have looked for books about the plight of human souls after death. I found the religious explanation a bit strange.  I have a collection of few books to be studied again more scrupulously. I am seized with this intriguing mystery even now. I have formed an opinion since my adolescent days but also understood that this is to be found out by myself as very few people actually know or want to know about these matters. 

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?

UTPAL:  No.  I have no such personal experience. I have also never come across anybody who has direct experience of any such inexplicable phenomenon.  There have been people who had described such phenomena, but those appeared to me to be only hearsay.

SONGSOPTOK: 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?

UTPAL: No.  I do not enjoy such films. The only ghost film I have seen is ‘Exorcist’, that too way back in 1977 or 1978. I actually detest such films. This is probably because I think that such films try to arouse the ingrained subconscious fear of the human psyche. I also avoid reading normal ghost stories.  But I do read books which describe the secret paranormal powers of some yogis such as levitation, clairaudience, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, teleportation, bilocation, etc.

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?

UTPAL: Of course science, as per its current development, has its limitation.  But I think that as science develops further, the horizon of the twilight zone would also diminish proportionately.  I also believe that modern science would evolve to such an extent as to accept the so-called paranormal yogic science. I believe that there are other dimensions of life and existence which we normally cannot see, hear or even imagine.

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?

UTPAL: I believe in the existence of soul. I also believe that the body and the soul are two different entities and the soul is indestructible as has been propounded in Hindu and Buddhist religious texts.  It is true that very few people who have an abiding faith in the yogic methods and practise one of these secret kriyas for a reasonably long period of time get confirmation of their conviction. All the others continue to oscillate between belief and doubt.

SONGSOPTOK: Almost all societies believe that the entities that exist 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?

UTPAL:  I believe that there is only one entity which is all powerful and the rest are only agents of that all powerful Divine Being.  I do not believe that the souls of the dead are immensely powerful. They are only ignorant parts of the all powerful Supreme Divine, which is the whole. The human soul is ignorant of its origin until it achieves complete samadhi.

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?

UTPAL: As I have already stated, I think that science would someday evolve to that extent to encompass and accept the so-called paranormal yogic powers.  Thus the existence of the spirits would be acknowledged. It would be rewarding for the mankind. Human minds would also evolve to have new feelings and emotions.  I, however, doubt whether the mysticism of the all powerful Supreme Divine would ever be fully uncovered by science.  I am also very much apprehensive whether humankind would exist that long as the advancements and experimentations of science would also bring forth various calamities in the form of new diseases because of strains of pathogens (virus, bacteria, etc.), tampering with human genes, etc.  Besides there are also chances of annihilation of the mankind through a world war.

UTPAL AICHI has retired from government service about two years back.  He is obsessed with identifying injustice meted out to the less fortunate souls.  He tries in his humble way to expose the fraud and the self-styled flamboyant pseudo-heroes of yore and try to restore due honour to the real heroes.

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



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