Untouchability/ Impurity

The idea of unaccountability has always been part of Hindu culture but it also changed the way everything changed over time. If we look at real idea of unaccountability then it is completely karma based and anyone can become untouchable or impure by doing certain karma at anytime in their lives but at present certain communities are considered 24 hours untouchable. The best examples in my city are the people who work at cremation sites.There is so huge discrimination against them that the community doesn’t seem to have any hope. Even they don’t consider themselves as someone who can even dream of changing their lives.

I still remember when I worked with CBC a few years ago on a documentary project which was about filming a young Doam (the caste of people who work at the cremation grounds) whose father was still involved in the cremation ground but the son was either studying computers or working at a multinational company and at one moment we thought that it was impossible to find someone in such condition because no family had ever sent their kids to the school. Anyways, something magic happened and we found an amazing person for our episode, in fact it was the best story of the series.

Something really in interesting happened with me last night which made me write this story and really made me think if there is any impact of education on Indian society or not? Are we still stuck with that crazy system of unaccountability/ impurity / discrimination of the basis of somebody’s caste? And the worse thing is that nobody wants to think about the real idea and just want to go with the present system. One of my friend’s father died yesterday and I went to the cremation ground with my two friends who are my age graduate living in so called educated Indian city.

Both of my friends were really concerned about getting touched by anyone at the cremation ground because it would have made them impure or untouchable. The idea of impurity associated with cremation says that whoever participates in the funeral becomes impure until they have taken a bath again. They were planning to keep a distance from all of the family members, even my friend. They warned me also to not get touched by anyone but I did not know how to make it happen. I was going to my friend father’s funeral and I knew that at least I was going to hug him or touch him to show my sorrow and support in this difficult time.

Anyways, I arrived at the cremation ground and saw my friend standing alone and looking at his father’s funeral. That feeling of seeing my friend was so strong to me that I could not stop myself by going close to him. My other friend’s, who were concerned about getting touched, also came with me. I was talking with my friend and suddenly I noticed that two other friends who had come with me were gone now. They were standing kind of 20 meters away from me. Suddenly the friend who father had died started crying and now I could not stop myself by putting my hand over his shoulder. We were standing like this for a while and then I went to my other friends and we returned back home.

But the most interesting experience for me when I started my motorbike to drive back home. It was the same motorbike I had used to reach at the cremation ground with two other friends but now they did not want to ride it. We were three on one motorbike with me being the driver and my other friends were asking each other to sit on the bike first so that they don’t touch me. Anyways, they also came on my bike and we all drove back together. The next day one of those friends came to me and said that he had to change his clothes and take a bath before entering in home only because I touched someone at the cremation ground and they got touched by me.

I thought about it a lot and was wondering if this idea of impurity is more important than showing your support to a friend who is facing a death of a family member? Anyways, I think I just did not do anything wrong, in fact I did not do anything, it was just my human feeling which made me touch that friend. I also want to respect traditions but definitely can’t compromise with my social duties.

untouchables in India

Casteism has always been a big issue in India. It was started with the idea of organizing the society and was very successful and nice but people changed this system as per their need and benefit. The real casteism worked this way: caste of a person was decided by his profession and not by the parents caste but now it is decided by what caste parents come from. In the past everybody was free to change their caste only by changing their profession but now it is just not possible at all. Once you are born Bramhin, you stay Bramhin forever.

This system was that all the castes had their work like Kshtriyas were the warriors or king, Bramhins were the learned people who studied religion and teach it to others and Vaishyas were the business class people… but this system changed completely with the first kingdom in India. Actually as per the real casteism the king was supposed to be only and only from the Kshtriya caste or the Kshatriya were the only one who could become a king.  I like this system and I don’t think there was anything bad about it but our kings and higher caste people made it really worse.

The kings were worried that if their sons would not be interested in becoming a soldier and started to learn religion then the society would not accept them as their king because if they would study religion then they would become Bramhin hence they changed the system and said that the caste of a person would be decided by their parents caste and not by their profession means son of a Kshtriys would stay Kshtriya forever which meant no threat of loosing the power for them.

I am also born Bramhin but my profession is entirely different and I should not be treated as a Bramhin in the society but people treat me as a Bramhin all the time. It doesn’t offends me, in fact I enjoy it because there are a lot of benefits of belonging to a higher caste in India. But when I think of those people who come from lower caste, it really offends me and I don’t like it at all. There are so many people who are born in a lower caste family but have changed their life completely by getting education or having a job but people still treat them as a lower caste person.

Actually there is no problem with rich people who come from lower caste. If they have money then they are treated as a king. And at least nobody can say anything bad about their in front of themselves. All the problems are with poor people, all the rules are made for them. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is the best example. She is a Dalit woman and Dalits are still considered as untouchables in most part of India but no problem for her. She is one of the most powerful woman of India and many big people touch her feet. She rules India.

There are also so many misconceptions about Dalits and untouchables. In fact, nobody is untouchable all the time and everybody becomes untouchable some times by doing certain things. I have worked with so many untouchable caste people and believe me they are in terrible condition. Usually they stay together in a group and are not allowed to use common services for common people like common hand pumps, wells and ponds etc… sometimes they are not allowed even in the schools. There are so many beautiful laws to protect them and to provide them equal rights, in fact, extra rights but it is not practiced in reality and they have problems all over India.

There is a Hindu caste called Doam and their traditional job is help people cremating the dead bodies. I worked with them three years ago and learnt a lot about them. These people are seriously discriminated against in the society. It is really tough for them to get admission in the school or get mixed in the society. They are also considered untouchable. Nobody takes anything touched by them. Working with them raised a lot of questions to me and I decided to learn about it. I did some research and found that there is conecpt of unaccountability in Hindusim but it nowhere close to the concept we have now at present.

In reality anyone can become untouchable by doing certain things like by participating in a funeral and then they can become touchable again by taking a bath and that’s all. But since the Domes work at cremation place they are considered untouchable all the time which is just not right. By rule, they should be considered untouchable only during the time they work at cremation place but once they are done from their work and take a bath they become touchable again and should be treated as any other person in the society.

Whenever anyone participates in any funeral, they take a bath in the river before entering in their home. Nobody shakes hands with them or touches them because they are untouchable that time. I have also become untouchable so many times. I don’t understand why people don’t understand it or question it that how come a domes are untouchable all the time. I read an article yesterday (24/09/10) in a news paper called Amar Ujala about a dog who was declared untouchable by his owner only because he ate a Roti given by a woman who was a Dalit.

Actually what happened is that the dog owner was a Yadav means Vaishya. His dog was just outside the home when a Dalit woman offered him a roti. The owner saw this  and became angry on the woman only because she offered her roti to the dog. He declared that his dog was untouchable. A meeting was called by the Panchayat where they decided that the dog was really untouchable after eating the roti of a Dalit woman and they decided that the woman has to keep the dog from now and pay Rs. 15,000 as penalty to the dog owner.

How come this poor woman could afford Rs. 15,000 penalty, I don’t know what to say about it. This is really crazy and cruel. The most shocking thing about this issue was that this decision was given by the Panchayat which is a government body and has a lot of legal and social powers. How come they can make such decisions? These crazy people did not even think about Lord Ram’s life when he ate leftover food given by Sabri who belonged to an untouchable caste or allowed a Mallah (boat rower caste) to touch his feet.They should have thought about it if they make the decisions based on religious rules.

Finally the woman went to the police station and instead of taking any action against the Panchayat and that crazy dog owner, the police officers asked that woman why did she feed the dog. They did not register her complaint.Then she went to the DIG and same response there also, her complaint was not registered. Finally she went to the DSP SC (schedule caste)/ST (schedule tribe) and only then her complain was registered and I have heard that investigation is going on now. I am cent percent sure that they would not take any action either against the dog owner or the Panchayat.

Maybe they would just end this matter by creating pressure on the woman or by doing something. And I know that they will even these small steps only because media is involved now otherwise they would have just kicked this woman out of the DIG office as well. Such incidents always questions me if I am part of the same 21st century India we proudly talk about? Is it the same India which is becoming one of the super powers of world? Is it the same India which is the fastest growing economy of the world? Is the same India of the Lord Rama who ate leftover food of Sabri?

Times of India also reported this news.

Scanned article of Amar Ujala Hindi newspaper. 24/09/10

Kashmir

I returned from a trip to Jammu & Kashmir state a few days ago. Although my trip was not successful because  the police stopped us from entering into Kashmir valley due to the bad weather and violence there but I was not regret as I got to talk with the locals and Indian Army about the biggest social issue of India: Kashmir and tension between Hindus and Muslims. I wanted to go to Amarnath temple which is one of the holiest places on planet for Hindus.  I had been to Kashmir before about ten years ago and that time was the beginning of good times in Kashmir valley.

When I was Srinagar ten years ago, I did not see any violence and people seemed so happy. I had talked with locals that time also and they seemed so welcoming and were happy that tourists had started to come to the valley again and terrorism was getting defeated. The income of Kashmir valley is completely dependent on tourism but whenever there is any tension between India and Pakistan, the tourism collapses completely in Kashmir. We arrived Jammu by train and hired a taxi for Pahalgam which is the base camp for pilgrims going to Amarnath.

We left the hotel around 10 o’clock and were so excited for the trip but police stopped us saying that the weather was bad in Kashmir valley that nobody was allowed to move further. My taxi driver said that sometimes police just stop people for nothing and suggested to us that talk with them. We asked J&K police and they told us to wait and contact them later. I saw an Army check-post near where we were stopped and saw a few pilgrims going inside their office and thought that I should also talk with them.

We went to the army office and explained our situation to them. We were told by our driver to tell that we did not want to go to Amarnath but that we wanted to go to Katra, another pilgrimage about 40 kms from Jammu. We told the army guy that we wanted to go to Katra but the police were stopping us from going there and he said that he would have helped us if we had any connection with the army means any of my relative or someone whom I knew working in the army. I have relatives working for the Indian Army but I did not want to delay the process by calling them and asking them to talk with this army officer so I told him that I did not know anyone working for the army.

The army officer told us that in this case he could not help us. He asked me where I was from and fortunately he was also from a city near Varanasi and after knowing this he became more friendly to me. I asked him if there was any way to go and he told me that it is neither his nor Indian Army style to suggest or accept a bribe but if we really wanted to know how J&K police work then we should offer the police a bribe of Rs. 500 and then the police would let us move. He said that he knew that police do such things but he would not go to the the police and talk for us because the army hates J&K police because they do such things.

I was surprised to hear that such thing was going on in J&K also but I was happy that now at least we had a way to reach our destination.We went to a police and offered him for bribe and he agreed to let us go by taking Rs. 300 per taxi. Unfortunately when we were giving him the money, one other police officer saw us and got really violent and this officer who had agreed to take bribe also changed and got angry on us. Finally we were in the line again. I was just walking here and there and saw one army guy standing alone and thought just to talk with him about his job.

I went to him and we started talking and he told me something that really shocked me. He said that J&K state is not in India anymore, even he did not know where it was. He said that army is there to protect people and that’s all. He told me that we should also just go to the pilgrimage and enjoy our journey. He was seriously angry at J&K police. He said that if the army leaves the state only for one day then the J&K police will sell the whole state and people living outside of J&K state will not be able to enter J&K by the very next day.

He said that J&K police are completely corrupt and they are one of the biggest reasons of terrorism in the state. I had also heard similar things several times before and after seeing that they agreed to let us go only by taking Rs. 300, I believed that army guy. We were asked to go back to Jammu after waiting for ten hours. The police told us to come the next day at 4 am. We went back to the hotel and again came back at 4 am but were stopped again and were asked to get in the line. While we were in the line, I saw a young guy who looked local to me so I thought to talk with him.

I asked him where was he from and he told me from a village near Anantnag which made me excited because I often read and hear about terrorist activities around Anantnag area. I asked him if he was a student and he said that he could go to the school because of the poor condition of his family and had been selling hot water to the pilgrims going to Amarnath. After talking for a while with him I asked him something which surprised him and he felt uncomfortable answering my question. I asked him if he had ever seen any terrorist and after hearing my question, I could easily see by his facial expression that he was uncomfortable.

First he told me that he had never ever seen any terrorist but I knew that he was hiding something so I kept talking to him and told him that I was a general tourist and was just curious about the situation and finally he told me something that really blasted my mind. He said that terrorists often come to his village and stay with the locals. Locals do not want to host them but they can not do anything either. If they inform army about it then they will be killed someday for sure so it is their compulsion to host terrorists and help them in achieving their goals.

He said that when terrorists stay at his place, they sleep with his sister and he can not do anything to stop them. He started to cry saying this and I was also really sad and shocked to hear this true story. How is this possible? He told me another story of his very good friend who once hosted a group of 3 terrorists in his house. The same day army did routine checking and showed up at his house. They knocked on the door, came in and asked for ID of all the family members. Everyone had an ID but these three new guests did not have any ID because they were terrorists.

He told me that one army guy was inside the house doing his business and rest of the army people were outside the home. As the army guy asked for the ID card of one of these terrorists, the other ones started to fire on the army guy and killed him and started to fire on other the army officers standing outside the house. The army also responded and blew up the whole house. All three terrorists along with the family members were killed which became a huge issue and people came on the road and started protesting against the army. I don’t know what could have been the right decision, either to blow up the house or wait and see who was terrorist and who was not.

Once I asked my driver about what Kashmiri people want and I was surprised to hear his answer that Kashmiri people want neither India nor Pakistan and instead they want to be an independent state. I do not know how this thinking came because if they become an independent state then they will have to start from beginning which means poverty and so many other problems for a really long time. I think it is a much more practical choice for Kashmiri people to be with India rather than being an independent state or go with Pakistan because we have more money, we are developing faster than Pakistan and there is more security and opportunities in India.

When I asked my driver about tension between Hindus and Muslims and terrorism in Kashmir Valley, he did not want to agree with this fact that there is any terrorism or tension between Hindus and Muslims at all in Kashmir Valley. He said that the Indian Army and politicians are responsible for all the problems in Kashmir Valley. He said that the Indian Army kills innocent people of Kashmir for nothing which obviously I didn’t believe but he was seriously angry with our army and politicians. I also hate politicians but I don’t believe that the army kills innocent people.

My driver blamed America for all the problems and tension in this whole world. He said that Barack Obama, George Bush and other American politicians should be brought on the road and should be killed by beating with shoes because they want to rule the world and make people fight. I couldn’t talk with many locals but whomever I talked with was very angry with Indian Army, Indian politicians and America. I do not understand where this America stands between our problems. I think it is terrorist organizations, politicians and crazy religious groups that make us fight and create tensions, not America.

I could not make it to Amarnath but my two other friends went to Amarnath only a few days before I left Varanasi and they were able to reach the temple as the weather was nice when they arrived. They also told me shocking stories. My one friend Sonu told me that once they were stuck in a traffic jam near Sringar city and were just standing on the road when they saw three young kids, hardly 10-12 years old, passing by. Sonu called them because he just wanted to talk with them. Sonu asked them what they were doing on the highway and these young kids said something that shocked Sonu and his other friends traveling with him.

Instead of replying they asked Sonu what he was doing there. Their wordings were “Why do you come here? Do you come here to pray to the ice (Shivalingam in Amarnath temple is naturally formed of ice)? It’s not any God, it’s ice only which melts by heat and you should not come here to Kashmir as it is my land, not yours, you fucking Indians”. Sonu got angry and scared both at the same time. I wonder how much poison was there in that kid’s blood. Kashmir is the biggest issue and the biggest reason of tension between Hindus and Muslims in India and I always thought that Muslims wanted to stay with India but such things make me think about the issue again.

Sonu said that locals of Kashmir valley were throwing stones on vehicles of pilgrims going to Amarnath and that his taxi was also attacked. He saw over 200 cars with broken window glasses. People were throwing stones on the vehicles and were asking pilgrims and tourists to go back from Kashmir which sounds really scary. I would not like to go to such place where people welcome me by throwing stones on my vehicle. It is a really bad situation for innocent people of Kashmir because it is they themselves whose lives are most affected.

I don’t know what will be the future like of Kashmir Valley but one thing is very sure that if such condition continues in the future also, people of Kashmir will face serious problems and it will take them a really long time to make the situation better again. After hearing all these true stories and spending four days in J&K state, I really felt sad and questioned myself if I was really somewhere which was part of India. How can an Indian citizen call me an Indian visiting their land? I don’t know what happened that made people think that they are not Indian; but if this is the case, then what we are fighting for?

Are we fighting for a piece of land or we are fighting for the rights of people of Kashmir? So many questions and actually I don’t even know if I have any rights to question about the issues of Kashmir because it seems like the people of Kashmir want something else but I am an Indian and I feel like questioning each and every thing going on in India and my personal feeling is that Kashmir is part of India. I hope some day terrorism will be defeated and people of Kashmir will find wealth and a green life but for the time being my friends and I have decided that we will not go to Kashmir Valley again until this terrorism problem is solved and people welcome the pilgrims and tourists again with the idea of Atithi Devo Bhav. अतिथि देवो भव. Peace.

Prabhu’s death and superstition

My friend Prabhu died last month because of colon cancer. His death did some serious damage to my life as he was one of my best friends. He was already up anything and everything. I really miss him a lot. I was talking about his death with my two friends- Babu and Rahul. Babu is a graduate in science and Rahul is graduate in arts. Babu was preparing to study in London to both of them are educated and have lived in the city for their whole lives. All of my friends and everyone else who knew Prabhu, knew that he died of colon cancer but Rahul and Babu told me something that shocked me.

They said that one of the biggest reasons of Prabhu’s death was his motorbike which he had bought an year ago. They said that Prabhu’s Saturn was not supporting him and buying anything made of iron is really dangerous for someone whose Saturn is not happy with them. They said that Prabhu made four mistakes: he bought a motorbike, he bought his bike on Saturday, he chose black color for his motorbike and he did not let others drive it. According to Babu and Rahul black color is anti-Saturn color so buying a black motorbike was a serious mistake done by Prabhu.

Prabhu was in love with his motorbike and would not give it to others, not even to his family members and Rahul and Babu think that if he would have given his bike to other people, then it would have decreased the bad affect of Saturn and he would have been able to fight with colon cancer. After hearing this crazy idea I was wondering what could be worse idea than this about such a disease which we really ne to understand. India is changing, our food is changing, life style is changing and I know that such diseases like cancer is going to increase a lot in India and we really need to know what it is but relating cancer to the motorbike?

I often hear about how people mix animal fat with oil and butter, how old potatoes are washed with acid to give them a new look or just how more people eat meat products and I am sure none of these things are good for health. Prabhu’s doctors said that he got cancer because of too much deep friend and spicy food. Prabhu also told me once that he did not eat his luch within past seven years. He had a Kachaudi (deep fried food) shop and he used eat 10-12 Kachaudis with really spicy vegetables every morning and then did not eat anything for the whole day.

Prabhu admitted that he used to use burnt oil to prepare Kachaudi. He ate this crazy food continuously for seven years. His dinner was also usually roti with spicy vegetables. He had hardly eaten lentils for 10-15 times within past seven years. He had serious constipation problem for years but he never saw a doctor for this problem. He used to chew betel and tobacco a lot and I think all these things caused him colon cancer not his black motorbike which he bought on Saturday and would not let others drive it. Sometimes I feel like India is changing because of its young blood but when I see people like Rahul and Babu, it seems like it will still take years for this young Indian blood to be purified and pure that will create a healthy India with healthy mind.

Project for the guide training program

After completing the classroom teaching and orientation tour, now I am supposed to do field work for two months in my local town. I wanted to choose the subject LGBT tourism because nobody has done it before in India and it was a good opportunity for me to relate my NGO and the research I have done about LGBT society in India with this project. I was so excited for it but finally I had to cancel my plan because a few of my friends and other people advised me not to do my project on LGBT tourism.

They said when a professor interviews someone, everything depends on his mood. If the professor likes the project then green signal otherwise red for sure. It doesn’t matter what is written in the project and since LGBT tourism is a new concept in India and most of the people are against it, maybe the professor would not like it. I also found it true because I have seen how against people are against LBGT society in India so I decided to work on ecotourism. I wanted to promote rock paintings and waterfalls of Mirzapur district. I did some research online and found that nobody was selling the tour of Mirzapur which seems like an ideal place for ecotourism.

Two days before I was supposed to inform the institute about my project I read a news article online that three foreigners were robbed at a very famous waterfall of Mirzapur. A few parts of Mirzapur district are known as a Naxalite affected area and this was the only concern I had in my mind and after reading this article I realized that if I promote such a destination where there is no security, it will be really bad. Now I had only one option to do my project which was Benares itself which I did not want to do. All of the guides who have done their project on Benares before wrote about heritage, culture and mythology and I was really not interested in those.

I know that tourists are not same as they used to be ten or fifteen years before. I have noticed that tourists do not want to hear much only about history. They like to hear about society, social issues and politics more than art and history. So I chose the subject Benares but my topic is “Benares: A Place for Everyone”. I want to write about diversity. My professor also liked this subject. She said that nobody had written about it before and it seems more interesting than the history of Benares.

The reason I have chosen this subject is because Benares seems to have amazing diversity. I don’t really know if it is true or not but maybe it is the most diverse city of India. I want to write about how this one city is a very important place for Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians. I know that there are not many Christians in the town but there are few very old churches which I can write about. I want to write about how the reputation of the city for dying has changed to a city of life.

Benares has always been famous as the best place to die for Hindus but now we have huge a number of migrants from other districts who come here to live. People come to Benares to have a job and survive. It’s a new thing going on in Benares and it is an interesting thing for me. I can write about a lot of things but I don’t really know how much I want to write and how much would I be able to write or how much would I be able put my thinking in my project report but I am excited for it.

Behavior of ghosts in villages

I have always been interested in the people who feel like they are affected by bhoots (ghosts) and destroy their lives going to some baba or exorcists to get rid of the ghosts. I have always wanted to hear more about ghosts by people who say that they are somehow affected by ghosts or have seen the ghosts or whatever and finally I got the opportunity of meeting few people who feel that they have ghosts inside their bodies and destroying their life. I was in my village a few days ago to attend my cousin’s wedding. I used to talk to him and my other cousin about stories of ghosts in his village and they had told me several things which were very interesting to me.

They had told me about a place where people, who think that they have ghosts in their body, go to get rid of the ghosts. After attending the wedding I asked my cousin to take me to this place which was about 5 Kms from my village. We headed there, crossed a lot of narrow paths, saw beautiful village life and finally we were at this place where people go to get rid of their ghosts. It was a tomb of some Muslim Baba who had died several years ago but people believe that this Baba had some super-natural power to fight with ghosts and he can still help even after his death.

There were two tombs- a small one and a big one. We went to the small one first. I was told that Thursday is a special day for that place and more people come that day; I don’t know why Thursday but it has something to do with the baba’s life. It was Friday that day so I was hoping to not see many people there. But after reaching there I was shocked to see that about 30 families had built a temporary house there to stay for long time. I looked through all those houses and saw that there was no stove or a bed or anything that I use in daily life. They cook food outside and sleep under the sky.

They needed that temporary house only in case of rain or something. I walked around that tomb and a few things seemed like a disaster to me. I saw three people locked up with a chain and this chain was locked to a tree. I just went near one person who was locked up and sat near him. There was one other guy sitting over there and he asked me to come to him and he invited �me to sit with him. I did not know how to ask him what was going on but fortunately he started explaining what I wanted to know.

His first statement was that he was in a lot of trouble because of the ghosts. I asked him why he was there and he said that he had come there with his brother. I asked him who was his brother and then he indicated towards that person locked to the tree. I asked him what had happened to him and he said that he used to work in Mumbai as a tailor and that his brother used to work at a factory in Ludhiana. One day his sister-in-law called him and said that her husband had some problem. He would not come home, would do strange activities, make strange noise etc…

His condition sounded like he was suffering from ghosts to his brother and he told his sister-in-law to bring his brother to their village immediately. This person living in Mumbai left his job and came to take care of his brother at his village. I asked him how he knew that his brother had some ghosts in his body and he said that he also had some supernatural powers and had been involved in this kind of work so he knew it. After coming to the village they took this possessed person to the tomb. The possessed person did not want to stay there and would always try to run away from there and that is why they decided to lock him to a tree.

He said that his brother had several different kinds of ghosts. One of them was the ghost of an Aghori, one of them was a Chamar, and one of them was some other caste ghost. I asked him how he knew this and he said that he already had some idea because of the activities the possessed person used to do like he used drink his own urine it which seemed like an Aghori’s doings, he used to spit in his own food and tear-off his clothes which seemed like a Chamar’s actions to him. This was the first indication to him that he should believe that his brother had several different kinds of ghosts.

But the thing that confirmed it to him about it was his talk with the baba whose tomb was there. At this time I was walking away from that affected person and we were about 20 meters away from the tomb when he said that the baba had told him that his brother was possessed by ghosts. I really did not understand which baba was he talking about because I knew that Baba had died several years ago. I asked him again whom did he talk with and he indicated towards that tomb and I thought that he was talking about one of the few people who were sitting there.

I was keen to know who that person was who had confirmed this for him and asked him again and he again indicated towards that tomb. I again thought that he was talking about someone else and then my cousin told me that he was talking about the baba whose tomb was there. I asked him how did he talk to the baba and he said that once you come here and pray to the baba, the baba talks to you. I just did not understand what was he talking about but I wanted to hear him more. So I asked him if the baba appeared in front of him and he said that the baba never appears in front of anyone.

The baba enters in the body of the people and talks to them through their tongues, it was crazy. He meant to say that the person asks the questions and then he himself answers it but the answer is given by baba who is sitting inside the person’s body. It was sad to see how strong their belief is about ghosts but I did not find myself brave enough to tell him that he himself had some mental problem. Well, I wanted to hear him so I kept asking him few more questions. I asked him about if he was not attacked by the ghosts because he was also involved in this fight against them and at this time he told it so loudly that ghosts have been continuously trying to attack him but since he also had some supernatural power, they could not do anything.

He said that once he was driving his bicycle, and some ghosts hit him and he fell down on the ground and broke his head. I asked him if he saw that ghost and obviously he said ‘No’. Then I asked him how can he say that it was a ghost who had hit him and his answer was that the kinds of feeling he was having was not like an accident, it was something different, it seemed like a ghost’s activity to him. After this we returned to his brother and I sat there for some more time. Now affected person’s wife came with his six month old child and started asking her husband about who had given him this ghost.

I clearly heard affected person telling someone’s name but his wife was not agree with this name. She said that the person he was talking about is not a bad person and he didn’t know how to give ghosts to others. Then affected person said that he had taken help of someone else but she was still not satisfied with this answer. She said that they will keep him locked up until he gives the right answer. It seemed to me that they had some name in their mind and they wanted to hear it through affected person’s tongue. The affected person’s brother told me that the ghost was making him tell a lie.

I asked affected person’s brother if his brother feels a bit better since he was brought here and he was so confident saying that baba had helped them a lot a now his brother feels a lot better after spending two months sitting in front of that tomb and being locked up. It was crazy, a 26-27 year old person locked up for two months. What could be worse than this? Now he started talking to me about the money and time he lost because of the ghost who had attacked his brother. He said that he left his job about two months ago and now he had no money at all, not enough even to go back to Mumbai but he still wanted to stay there and fight with ghost.

I was shocked to see the way he destroyed his, his brother’s and others’ lives. I was feeling so sad to see that six-month-old baby. Oh my God. I wanted him to feel that he must go to a doctor also and asked him if he never felt that his brother had some mental problem and he told it so proudly that he would have loved seeing a doctor if his brother had any mental problem but in fact there was no mental problem at all and his brother was attacked by ghosts. I asked him how did he know that it was not a mental problem and doctors could not help him and again the answer was same that he knew because baba had told him.

I understand what he meant to say but it was hard to believe that 21st century world is like this. I saw something that was more sad than this and it was number of children present there. I was numerous children there who had come with their families and had been living there for past few months. I was wondering how this time of their life will affect them in future, definitely they would also go to exorcists and would come to the tomb to get rid of their problems in future. The thing people see in their childhood time becomes part of their lives and these kids have been seeing their parents thinking that they have ghosts, what will happen to them in future?

After talking to this guy I wanted to talk to some other people and started walking around. I saw two other people also who were tied up to trees. I wanted to talk to their families but at that time there was no one with them, there were only few kids playing there. I saw many other people who were there to get rid of their ghosts. All of them were making strange sounds. I am sure they were telling something in Hindi but I was not able to understand it. I understood few things when they were talking about the person who had given them the ghost or about the ghost itself.

Few people people were talking about the baba. They were telling something like they had come here to take help from the baba and they knew that baba would help them. Some of them were drawing strange features on the ground, some of them were laying down on the ground and were talking to the trees, some of them were talking to the walls of the tomb, some of them were just rubbing their body on the ground and screaming loudly… It was really sad to see those mentally retired people wasting their time for nothing. I feel so sorry for the kids whom I saw there, very sad.

Now I decided to visit that other tomb which was about 2 Kms away from the first one. We went there and I saw the same situation there as well. But this place seemed more organized. There were few convenience stores near the tomb. I saw something really interesting that a guy who was doing strange activities and seemed like was affected from ghosts got fainted and his family made him lay down on the ground, brought a bottle of Coca-Cola and made him drink it. After drinking Coca-Cola, that person was happy again and started doing same activities again. It seems like ghosts also like Coca-Cola:)

Now I was getting late because I had to return to Varanasi the same day so I had to leave that place. I was sad and shocked about whatever I saw. After coming back to Benares I talked several people about it and most of them seemed like they also believe in ghosts. Some of them told me that there are 8.4 million different kinds of lives like trees, animals, insects …a person goes through, and being a ghost is also one of them. So they meant to say that each and every person becomes ghost some time. My one friend told me that ghosts are also like humans, some of them are bad and some of them are good.

Good ones do not disturb humans and bad one always try to do something crazy. They said that the people who are affected from ghosts have bad ghosts in their body. These ghosts enters in the body, take over the mind and make people do strange things. Sometimes ghosts don’t enter in the body, they just do strange things. My one other friend told me a story about his village where there are lots of ghosts everywhere in his village. He told me a story about one of his friends who was also affected from ghosts.

He told me that his friend lives alone in his house. He cooks only one time in the morning and eat the same food in the night as well. But every now and then ghosts piss or shit on the food he keeps for the night time so when he comes back, he has to cooks again. And when he goes to sleep, all the ghosts stick to the walls of his room, and make strange noises, abuse him, and don’t let him sleep. He told me that if you are afraid of the ghosts, then they can kill you but since his friend is not afraid, ghosts can not do anything bad for him. Ghosts abuse him and he abuses the ghosts, and everything is settled, cool.

He told me about on another story about a ghosts who smokes beedi. This ghost is in a room which has been locked for several years. This ghost start knocking the door from inside when his beedi is finished, and when people hear this knock, then bring a big packet of beedi, open the door, and put the packet inside. People say that whenever they open the door, they always find half burnt beedi thrown everywhere on the ground and it seemed like somebody has smoke those beedis. People say that since the room is always locked and there is no human inside and it means there must be some ghost who smokes all those beedis.

I read an article about ghosts in the local newspaper which talked about a English ghost living somewhere in Bihar. This ghost is of some British soldier and always wanders around his cemetery. People offer him toast with butter, coffee in a cup and plate and few cigarettes (English style, because the ghost is English) every morning and evening and if they forget about it then ghost start beating people passing over there. People say that they have seen this ghost. He looks like a British soldier who has a sword and wanders around with his horse.

They also tell the same thing that they leave the toast, coffee and other things in the morning time and when they return in the evening time, it seems to them that somebody has eaten it. Well, who would like to miss this beautiful English style breakfast, no one for sure. But it is a strong belief amongst the people that the British is eating everything. A lot of people say that a person becomes ghost if he dies unnaturally like if he commits suicide or dies in an accident etc…

Few people say that if the death sacrament is not done properly then dead person becomes ghost which doesn’t sound fair to me. Why this much dependency on others? If I die and my children do not perform death sacrament for me, then I become a ghost, not fair. I talked to Aghoris about ghosts and they told me that there could be something called ghost but usually the ghosts do not bother others. If others bother them, then they bother others. I like this idea better than being afraid of them.

I often think about ghosts because I often hear about them in my society. But to be honest I try to not be afraid of them. A lot of people are scared of going alone in the nights because they think that some ghost could appear in front of them and kill them. But I am more scared of dogs on the road who go wild in the night time or I am scared of the police who sometime do strange behavior with the people going out in the night time.

My few friends told me about flash back and I really liked this idea. But it is hard to make people believe that the ghosts that they see are not ghosts but it is all affect of flashback. I heard that sometimes something appears in front of eyes but in fact there is nothing or sometime we listen some noise but in fact there is no real noise and it is called flash back. It happens with me also sometimes. If it starts happening again and again then people should see a doctor, there is a treatment for it. But many people think that it is affect of a ghost and they go to exorcists or go to babas and destroy their own life.

I do not know how to help those people whom I saw in my village but I want to do something for them. I am thinking of making a video of the people who used to think that they had ghosts in their body and they destroyed their life by going to exorcists and got nothing. Finally they went to some doctor and got rid of their problem and show this video to the people who think that they have ghosts in their body. Maybe this could help them, or maybe make them think once about seeing a doctor, or maybe no positive result. I seriously do not know if this idea will work, but I would definitely like to do it if my resources allow me to do it.