FOOTNOTES TO “LAKSHMIBAI”
[The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 4, January, 1882, p. 100]
[This purports to be an authentic story of a bhûta. The narrator’s aunt became ill and rapidly grew worse until little hope of her recovery remained. On the day prior to her death she told her sister that she felt she would live only a day or two, and expressed her desire to be removed before her death to some other place, because, she said, “everyone who had died in the room became a bhût,” and she wanted to avoid such a terrible fate. On the next day she died in that room, no one having remembered the wish she had expressed. Six months later a sister-in-law of the narrator was seized with violent trembling and her body became burning hot. Conjecturing that an evil spirit had taken possession of her, her mother-in-law questioned her to ascertain who that spirit was; the ghost introduced itself as Lakshmibai, the aunt who had died. The narrative concludes with the query whether the soul of Lakshmibai
remained earthbound by her anxiety to be removed from the sick room which she believed to be a place where an escaping soul was apt to become a bhûta. H. P. B. makes the following comments:]
[Bhûta] A ghost, an earthbound spirit or “Elementary.” We give room to this interesting story, in order to show the Western Spiritualists, once more and again, that, while believing in the possibility of returning “spirits,” the Hindus fear and detest them, giving them the epithet of “devils” instead of “departed angels,” and considering such a return in each case as a curse to be avoided and removed as soon as possible.
The ghost’s assertions through her medium, prove nothing in this case. The lady so possessed knew as much of the deceased as the rest of the family. It might have been any spook for all the narrator knows, who personated Lakshmibai, and the correct answers were no test at all.
[“The ghost replied that she had to suffer in consequence of the idea of her not being removed from the sick room, forcibly striking her and preying on her mind at the time of death.”]
This again may lead one to suspect (and we now speak from the standpoint of Eastern Occultism) that it was the dying woman’s last thought, the idée fixe (the intensity of which makes of living people monomaniacs, and spreads for an indefinite time its magnetic unhealthy influence after the brain which generated it had long time ceased to exist)—that idea that had so long worried her dying mind, namely that she was going to become a bhûta unless removed—that infected also the mind of her relative. A man dies of a contagious disease; months after his death, aye, years a bit of clothing, an object touched by him during his sickness, may communicate the disease to a person more physiologically sensitive than the persons around him, and while having no effect upon the latter. And why should not an idea, a thought, exercise the same influence? Thought is no less material nor objective than the imponderable and mysterious germs of various infectious diseases the causes of which are such a puzzle for science. Since the mind of a living person can so influence another mind, that the former can force the latter to think and believe whatever
it will—in short, to psychologize another mind, so can the thought of a person already dead. Once generated and sent out, that thought will live upon its own energy. It has become independent of the brain and mind which gave it birth. So long as its concentrated energy remains undissipated, it can act as a potential influence when brought into contact with the living brain and nervous system of a person susceptibly predisposed. The unhealthy action thus provoked may lead the sensitive into a temporary insanity of self-delusion that quite clouds the sense of his own individuality. The morbid action thus once set up, the whole floating group of the dead man’s thoughts rushes into the sensitive’s brain, and he can give what seems test after test of the presence of the deceased and convince the predisposed investigator that the individuality of the control, “guide,” or communicating intelligence is thoroughly established.