“One who is overpowered by ignorance mistakes a thing for what is not: It is the absence of discrimination that causes one to mistake a snake for a rope, and great dangers overtake him when he seizes it through that wrong action. Hence, listen, my friend, it is the mistaking of transitory things that constitutes real bondage”
~Adi Shankaracharya (c.500bce), Vivekachudamani, 138
There are several classes of entities in the higher sub-astral, astral, sub-causal and causal worlds in the sattvika, sattvika-rajasika, rajasika, rahasika-tamasika and tamasika-worlds and their own sub-categories (thus 25 in total of each world), plus also the detailed “Lokas” given in the Hindu system that correlate with the chakras within these, which are the entities called by ‘Aliens’, ‘Ghosts’, ‘Demons’, ‘Gods’ and such by humans in their limited knowledge.
On this, Jainism and Buddhism have done much better than Hinduism, basing on Samkhya logic, that the so-called Devas, Gandharvas, Daityas etc. are not focused upon as supernatural in the sphere of religion, but rather as bound beings like humans, merely of higher and lower classes; coexistent temporal beings also as humans are to birds, to ants and trees etc. all possessing souls, in the Cosmic order, rather than aids or helpers. Only in later times as noted, some came to earth, were seen by people and misinterpreted as divinities in the supernatural theme!
Jainist cosmology has it’s place here, but must be interpreted in a more metaphoric or symbolic light to be fully understood.
Rakshasas or demons actually comes from ‘Raksha’ meaning ‘To protect’, as they are the old order of being from previous Manvataras that still try and assert the old-way Orthodoxy of the Priesthood, such as Tvashtar, Vritra, Daksha, Vishwarupa etc. that represent the manifest world and avritti-shakti. They are the old Brahmin classes that opposed to formation of the new sattvika Arya peoples that split from them at the end of the last Ice-Age and the start of the Vaivasvata Manu reign when he sailed North. They remain in their more subtle bodies and even causal bodies and have sinister purposes to assert the Old-World Rule and domination and thus assume human form with ease, becoming the ‘Brahmarakshasa’ that antagonised the Arya Rajas and Rishis in Vaivasvata’s early reign, bringing down the avatars.
Like Ghosts or Bhutas, they residual imprints remains on the canvas of the Prakriti, even though their Consciousness itself is not always there. As we have the akashic library* or ethereal library from which all memories of all are stored and in Yogic samyama we can access the streams of knowledge, so also such remain and can manifest themselves, especially due to various external phenomenon that opens a ‘pothole’ between the subtle or astral and physical, as planetary conjunctions, alignments, transits of signs, eclipse and Nakshatras etc. Higher Causal spiritual beings can also manifest their influences by such also, as noted in the Hindu Panchanga for such purposes as a more detailed approach to take advantage of these higher descents.
[*This is all due to Mahat, which is the Cosmic Intellect that imprints things and stores them on the lower Prakriti or manifestation. It is alike a Gigantic storehouse of Information.
On this, the great Yogi, Sri Aurobindo in his “Letters on Yoga” in section on Rebirth has stated the following re so-called ghosts:
“It is said that it takes three years on the whole to get clear away from the zone of communicability with the earth – though there may be cases of slower or quicker passage. The psychic world does not communicate with earth – at any rate, not in that way. And the ghost or spirit who turns up at seances is not the psychic being. What comes through the medium is a mixture of the medium’s subconscient (using subconscient in the ordinary, not in the yogic sense) and that of the sitters, vital sheaths left by the departed or perhaps occupied or used by some spirit or some vital being, the departed himself in his vital sheath or else something assumed for the occasion (but it is the vital part that communicates), elementals, spirits of the lowest vital physical world near earth, etc., etc. A horrible confusion for the most part – a hotch-potch of all sorts of things coming through a medium of “astral” grey light and shadow. Many communicants seem to be people who have just gone across into a subtle world where they feel surrounded by an improved edition of the earthly life and think that that is the real and definitive other world after earth – but it is a mere optimistic prolongation of the ideas and images and associations of the human plane. Hence the next world as depicted by the spiritualist “guides” and other seance communicants.” (P.459)
1. An actual contact with the soul of a human being in its subtle body and transcribed to our mind by the appearance of an image or the hearing of a voice.
2. A mental formation stamped by the thoughts and feelings of a departed human being on the atmosphere of a place or locality, wandering about there or repeating itself, till that formation either exhausts itself or is dissolved by one means or another. This is the explanation of such phenomena as the haunted house in which the scenes attending or surrounding or preceding a murder are repeated over and over again and many other similar phenomena.
3. A being of the lower vital planes who has assumed the discarded vital sheath of a departed human being or a fragment of his vital personality and appears and acts in the form and perhaps with the surface thoughts and memories of that person.
4. A being of the lower vital plane who by the medium of a living human being or by some other means or agency is able to materialise itself sufficiently so as to appear and act in a visible form or speak with an audible voice or, without so appearing, to move about material things, e.g., furniture or to materialise objects or to shift them from place to place. This accounts for what are called poltergeists, phenomena of stone-throwing, tree-inhabiting Bhutas, and other well-known phenomena.
5. Apparitions which are the formations of one’s own mind and take to the senses an objective appearance. 6. Temporary possession of people by vital beings who sometimes pretend to be departed relatives etc. 7. Thought-images of themselves projected, often by people at the moment of death, which appear at that time or a few hours afterwards to their friends or relatives. You will see that in only one of these cases, the first, can a soul be posited and there no difficulty arises.” (p.460)
The Prakriti thus stores memory upon it’s canvas of subtle imprints or the ‘samskaras’ of all happenings in the world since time began in this current creation of all beings – thus infinite – hence even older civilisations on the gross-manifest plane can now be accessed on the psychic-level of the subtle Prakriti, having their existence there, as also ghosts – the stored memories of past human beings, especially more powerful ones who leave a deeper and strong mark or imprint upon Prakriti, just as turmeric stains a white clothe more than other substances that easily wash out after being washed. The wash here, represents the death of the individual or culture – which is why Asuric ones have a strong imprint since they left behind ruins; the more Devic or Hindu sought to cremate the dead and also leave fewer ruins for such purposes of leaving a lesser imprint on the Prakriti by which was not given power (by memory) to reassert itself, but rather, buried, destroyed and forgotten.
As noted, the Mahat is like the Cosmic Computer if we like, that guides all and stores all memories – or rather, causes them to be stored, like on a HDD of a Computer and thus imprints them on the canvas of the lower manifest nature or Prakriti due to the rajasika force (creative impulse) and imprints it due to the tamasika-shakti or force – the “stain-causing” effect of residue on the Prakriti as memories, thoughts etc.
In Yoga, we can access them however, but not in the ordinary state, and this requires the sattvika-sattvika level of Chitta (i.e. 100th state or Atmajnana) alone to accomplish fully or properly, not in the mundane sense.
We also should never dismiss the creative power of the mind and it’s ability to project. When we understand the mind along five lines – Kshipta (Restless), Vikshipta (Confused, Distracted), Mudha (Deluded), Ekagra (Single-focused) and Niruddha (Negated, Calmed), we can understand how such false assertions come about also, as also due to certain effects of foods, herbs, alcohol, drugs etc., such as science of Ayurveda states in the Samhitas. As Meats, especially Pork and Beef being tamasika to the mind and thus impairing buddhi function, allowing the mind to project (vikshipta is also a projecting power) incorrect assumptions due to the covering of tamas or avritti-shakti, of which the result is the mithya – false appearance! Such can also remain when several minds have the same view – i.e. one man tells another a house is haunted. He tells another, and another and it becomes a legend or rather an urban-legend or tale, which by the collective vikshepa-shakti of several minds, produces such a result in the ethers, due to this, which also impacts others, being planted (as a seed of ignorance) in the tamasika or stagnating gross Prakriti manifestation.
In so-called haunted houses, such phenomena still remains as the residual energies of stronger personalities whose imprint remains as a greater stain on Prakriti, and as their energies are not cleared properly, remain there as these stored memories, which manifest – and can even attract several lower Asuric entities with subtle bodies from the netherworlds which use them for their own nefarious purposes of scaring humans, an immature and Vitally weak and hence nervous beings. The Asura derives power from which – feeding off fears, terror and destruction, which is it’s ‘Ojas’ or vitality behind them, as is tamas (darkness). Even of the human mind and psyche when it falls into such tamasic states. entertaining fears, negative thoughts and such, these lower entities manifest themselves, feed it and feed off it for their own strength like Vitalistic animals that kill others in order to sustain their own base desires and impulses!
This is why various energy-readings and phenomena such as telekinesis is also found in such with stronger imprints remaining for this reason. The mind is also powerful that by suggestion alone, it can manifest such by itself, which remain known in Yoga as the ‘siddhis’ or mystic powers of the mind – such as become even more apparent in the subtle or astral and causal type bodies, which have a deeper access to such powers due to the removal of the stagnating energy that causes them to be dormant in more gross-physical bodies under the Avidyamaya influence and sphere. It is also why humans find such phenomena strange and fail to understand it properly – they either spiritualise it or get carried away by the scientific side of it, which affords still not detailed or final explanation of such happenings! Nor can they prevent them for such reasons.
And all this remains – imprinted on the canvas of Prakriti, which requires to be cleared by the higher Descent, in order for them to be gone completely and their influences to no longer plague this lower earthly realm – or others! This is why ancients and even higher Devas have their forms of Yajnas to clear these negative ‘turmeric prints’ on the canvas, so that the rajasika and tamasika stains no longer remain to cause havoc or impede sadhana or the natural course of creation and soul-evolution itself.
Such is also what Shankaracharya meant by the mithya behind the satya in the mundane sense also, outside Vedanta. A man hears a noise, see’s shapes due to clouds, reflections, light etc. and thus jumps to the (mithya) conclusion he has seen a ghost (bhuta). But all is due to the bhutas as in the play of the elemental forces of nature alone. Realising this, he realises the truth (satyam) behind his delusions. This is the snake (false appearance) and rope (reality and explanation behind it).
Here, avritti and vikshepa shaktis are spoken of with regards to the mind itself, possessing such by which to delude itself and make the mithya alone appear. As such, ghosts, demons and such do not exist – the world is real however, but Brahman pervades it as the clay makes the pot and is the essence behind it, yet both remain separate.
The belief in ghosts, demons and such supernatural phenomena of the human mind is due to the avritti and vikshepa shaktis that creates the moha (delusion) and hence mithya or false appearance of things in superstition that are in reality not there, such as again, the rope that appears as a snake. This is due to rajas and tamas in the mind at all levels, except sattvika-sattvika Buddhi level of the mind: Sattvika-sattvika Buddhi – Clarity: Knows that appearances of ghosts and such are due to avritti + vikshepa shakti creating moha beholding things as mithya. In this state, all is seen as Satyam, and the false reality is negated. It is the eye of Jnani here – his discriminating fire (vivekagni) is clear.
Sattvika-rajasika Buddhi – Slightly disturbed: Here the mind see’s things with slight rajas, and thus thinks that maybe ghosts are real. It is perhaps possible to such a mind.
Rajasika Buddhi – Disturbed: Here the mind believes that ghosts is real and remains under the vikshepa shakti of the mind due to Maya. He thinks he see’s such visions and that they are real and dwells in mithya alone and cannot realise satya as his mind is so rajasika.
Rajasika-tamasika Buddhi – Disturbed and delusional: Here the mind or intellect not only believes what he see’s, but gets bewildered by them and makes it start affecting him. He not only believes he has seen a ghost, but becomes unnecessarily frightened of it due to the avarana-shakti etc.
Tamasika – Delusional: This is the non-functional buddhi that has been enveloped by avarana-shakti to such a degree due to the rajasika-tamasika associations that not only is he affected by the mithya appearance of the “rope” which he see’s as a snake, but comes under severe psychological afflictions such as anxiety and then eventual insanity (unmada) due to this hysteria, all produced from a mere false-appearance due to the strength of vikshepa-shakti alone. Possession is a classic case of this in a severe level, due to self-hypnosis in the tamasika level of mithya, which can become a very serious condition!
In Tamasika stage, only healing can be done when he sharpens buddhi and realises the ghost is a fantasy – a play of shapes alone, as the snake is nothing but a rope he mistook and became unnecessarily frightened of it! One should also contemplate Brahman behind all as pervading all as the “blue flame within the fire” – the inner-Pervader of all as consciousness, and thus all as but Brahman in disguise alone, where one, seeing Brahman in all fears nothing, knowing him to be all alone!
Generally however, even Epilepsy (Apasmara) and such convulsions are the reality behind so-called forms of possession, as also Udmada (Insanity), due to, as the Ayurvedic Samhitas state, excesses of rajas and tamas in the mind, which must be eliminated; genetic factors and excesses of doshas (meaning “possessed by doshas”). For example, one who is said to be possessed by such and such an entity is actually symbolic for their gunic correlation as the Samhitas state as per the mind, or the doshic imbalance or excesses of Vata, Pitta or Kapha etc. in their various locations – due to biological imbalances not due to supernatural phenomena as such – except those such as externalnclimatic factors – lightening, rain, wind, dust, sun etc. which can, due to over-exposure, cause diseases of all kinds, physical and mental or even psycho-physical as per science of Ayurveda. None of this has to do with any entities of higher or lower worlds as such!
We should also examine the Sub-categories of the Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika persons, as per the Samhitas in Sushruta and Charaka (Ch. Sharira. IV.1-39), as per their “gradients” under the Gunas also, for more accuracy:
I. Sattvika Types and Sub-Types:
II. Rajasika types and Sub-types:
III. Tamasika types and Sub-types:
Sub-types of these can also be noted. For example, Pashava, the highest of the Tamasika types, relating to Pashu (Beasts) can be further classified as per the Doshas and Gunas: Pashava (Tamasika, Sattvika-Tamasika sub-type)
I. Vatika: -Goat -Goyal -Ox -Rabbit -Rat -Camel -Dog -Vulture -Crow -Donkey
II. Pittaja: -Snake -Owl -Cat -Monkey -Tiger -Bear -Mongoose
III: Kaphaja -Lion -Horse -Elephant -Cow -Bull -Eagle -Swan
The properties of each can also be looked at, as also per their sub-categories. For example, Vanaspatya also as per their own sub-types of Plants, Trees etc., such as Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika herbs (aushadhi) for example, and so forth. The Samhitas also classify the dravyas, meats of animals etc. as per these. Madanphala’s Nighantu does this further and should be studied.
Of the Sattvika-Types also of the Brahma, Indra, Varuna, these are also Kapha sub-types. Of the Gandharva andYaksha, these are also Pitta sub-types. I have classified these deities under varying forms, as per dual-doshas also. Mercury for example is Sannipata, being Tridosha, but lead by Vata, and so forth.
We can thus look at degrees of what substances can be sattvika, rajasika and tamasika for each dosha. For example: Cardamon is Sattvika for Vata, Cayenne can be Rajasika and excess Beans can be Tamasika. Hing is also Tamasika for the mind, but also Tamasika when in excess, especially for Pitta and so forth. Hing for Vata is for example, Sattvika-Rajasika – good (sattvika), but having some laxative qualities (rajasika). Depending on usage and dosage and formulas also. For example, Arishtas, Asavas and Avalehas, being sweet in nature are not good for Kapha and can aggravate it and cause disease (rajasika-tamasika). Kashayas are more sattvika for them.
Along such lines, we should examine the states of people also, as per their Mental constitutions given in Ayurveda and their likewise afflictions, due to maya (illusion) and influences of the vikshepa and avarana-shaktis upon their minds that cause them to hallucinate, see optical illusions and such phenomena that their intellect beholds as a vision of a ghost, god, demon, saint and such, which are again only due to mental or psychological imbalances.
Buddhist Psychology also mentions various factors, such as in Abhidhammatt-sangaha – 52 mental factors are noted by them, including 14 unwholesome factors or the mind. Such should be studied also, with regards to these on deeper levels, as they contain older teachings of the Samkhya and Yoga schools that were lost.
On Moha or delusion, the Buddhist Atthasalini (Book II, Part IX, Ch.1, 249) states:
” ‘Delusion’ (moha) has the characteristic of blindness or opposition to knowledge; the essence of non-penetration or the function of covering the intrinsic nature of the object; the manifestation of being opposed to right conduct or causing blindness; the proximate cause of unwise attention; and it should be regarded as the root of all akusala (unsavoury karmic acts)”.
This is also reflected in the treatment of Psychological disorders, as mentioned in the Ayurvedic text, Ashtanga Hridayam: “Purity of the indriyas (sensory organs), their objects, the buddhi (intellect), soul and mind and natural state of the bodily tissues (dhatus) are the features of a person cured of insanity” (Ashtanga Hridayam, Uttara Sthana, VI.60) Such words are also echoed in the older Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas in Ayurveda, which also speak volumes about the Mind and mental impressions, as we have discussed also in the beginning of this work as well. Deeds of the past lives have a deep effect on one’s health – so says Charaka Samhita (Sharirasthana, I.116-117), which it states that are thereby caused hence complicate and neutralise the medical approaches to healing, and can only be properly treated through negation of these karmas (of which in Yoga, practices as devotion, offerings, charity, pranayama etc. can help in).