FOOTNOTE TO “THE PISACHA-DANCERS”
[The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 5, February, 1882, pp. 119-120]
[A description is given by S. Râmaswamier* of the unfortunate victims of obsession and some of the methods of exorcising the pisâchas or evil spirits are enumerated. Mention is made of the fact that, after a person’s death, his kindred offer sacrifice in the shape of rice-balls, calling upon the name of the departed spirit. “No educated person would for a moment think that the spirit of the deceased hears him, or—less than all—can taste the food so offered. It is done simply as a duty to the memory of the dead . . . .” To this H. P. B. appends the following footnote:]
In Christian Russia the same custom of offering rice to the dead prevails throughout the Empire. For six weeks after the death of a person, dishes full of rice with a wax taper stuck in the middle of it are sent at regular periods to the parish church or laid on the tomb of the defunct. There, with the rice placed near, a mass is said for the rest of the departed soul in order that it should not become a bhûta, a restless wandering soul in the earth region—the latter being considered the greatest misfortune. In Roman Catholic countries it is the same thought or fear of the soul’s torments at being earth-bound that underlies the ceremony of the Feast of the Dead held throughout Christendom on the 2nd of November.
* [A high-caste Brâhmana, whose strictly orthodox family was closely connected with the High Priest of Travancore. He was a chela of one of the Masters in the early days of the Movement.—Compiler.]