The mere thought of paranormal activities has always stimulated one, irrespective of being a believer or not. Walk into any of the movie theatres playing The Conjuring, and witness how shrieks, palpitations and nervous giggles mask a visceral intent to experience something beyond the mundane. Straddling the fence between truth and reality, how do you determine if a ghost really rattles the closet in the night, more so if one is an atheist?
Who better than Gaurav Tiwari, head of the Indian Paranormal Society to throw light on this vortex of life versus the non-dead: “I grew up in a family of non-believers, with a pre-conceived notion that paranormal reality doesn’t exist. It started in 2007, when I visited Deland in Florida to pursue commercial pilot training. We were five people living in the same apartment provided by our flight school. A roommate, a girl had her first paranormal experience when she saw an apparition of a young girl, and started screaming. When we learnt of it, we made fun of her. One night, I was alone in the same apartment, I heard someone whisper my name in my ear. It was so clear that I was sure I was not hallucinating.” Tiwari recalls how gradually, the activity increased in the house and how they would hear footsteps from the attic almost every night and notice the translucent apparition of a young girl at different times. “We were terrorised with the activity that was happening in the house. After a few days, we vacated the apartment out of fear and confusion,” shares the Delhi based 28-year-old.
Unlike the usual climax that takes place in the horror genre and its ilk, Tiwari’s life-turning moment had a scientific twist. “I wanted to know if ghosts exist. I searched the Internet and eventually came across the ParaNexus Association, which is America’s largest dedicated association to paranormal researchers and metaphysicians,” he informs. Since then, after meticulous study through courses such as Certified Paranormal Investigator and Certified Leading Paranormal Investigator, Tiwari decided to return to India on completion of his pilot training in 2009.
Tiwari shares, “I wanted to establish Indian Paranormal Society to eliminate fear about ghosts and spirits in the Indian society and to help people (free of cost) who were suffering with such paranormal intrusion. We also endeavour to research and understand the human condition through the scientific study of aerial, anomalous, and psychical phenomena, its reality and its effect on humanity.”
Although God always enters such equations, Tiwari begs to differ, “I believe in humanity and that every human is divine and have potential to be a God.”
Convoluting the whole equation, one wonders how possession, terror and eventually exorcism take place. Tiwari leads the way -- “Every paranormal activity has some reason to occur. It could be scientific, natural, psychological, or psychical. I am an atheist myself and do not believe in a separate existence of God. The word ‘spirit’ was taken from Latin -- ‘Spiritus’ meaning breath, which also means courage, vitality, consciousness, vigour, etc.”
Laying emphasis on how death is not the threshold to denounce existence, he stresses, “There have been several empirical evidences supporting that consciousness of people even survive their physical death. Near death experiences and shared death experiences are a few things that prove that physical death is not the end of our consciousness. The name human spirits are devoted to the consciousness of people who once lived as human beings.”
He rationally attributes all kinds of possession to a psychological condition that the person might have at that point. “If you are possessed by yourself, you cannot be possessed by anything else -- living or dead. Belief is the strongest tool gifted to human nature.” The paranormal investigator has gone onto explain that it is again belief of one person on another when exorcism is performed.
Hunting the haunted
With remnants of doubt hovering, Tiwari breaks down the mechanics of haunting through psychology. “Have you been attached to something so deeply that you cannot let it go for anything? Their consciousness is stuck on one thing. This is why there are reports of many things, place, and people in the world being haunted or attached by a spirit.”
On an optimistic note, he conveys the advancement that is happening in the field, “With the advancement of science and quantum physics, many theories are coming up in support of such. Empirical evidences suggest that we are not alone in this world but the true explanation still eludes us currently. We hear many people in the world becoming paranormal researchers as they strive to understand the bigger reality for the grand scheme of things.”
Haunted museum in india?
As in The Conjuring, Tiwari has his views about an Indian museum of haunted objects: “I have been to a few museums of haunted objects, such as Land of Awes in LA, USA. I have a fascination for haunted objects since then. I am inviting people to send me objects that trouble them or they think could be haunted. What could be better for a paranormal researcher to study and research on such objects in his own household?”
“We were investigating at a place near Gorai beach, Mumbai, in a private bungalow of a Bhojpuri film producer. He had complained that he and his entire family were terrorised by spirits of dead children. They were threatened, pushed, scratched by those spirits. However, when we began investigating we could hear children giggling around us. Suddenly, I felt a burning sensation in my hand. When I raised the sleeve, I saw dark red, long scratches on my hand. However, I had never brushed my hand against anything that could scratch my hand so bad. Eventually, we helped the family by forming a circle and evoking positive energy.”
The ghost investigator
“The first step in paranormal research is to rightly understand the spirit that lives inside us. Our investigators are then educated with courses in nature of spirits, types of haunting, metaphysics, scientific approaches, forensic anomalous evidence analysis, performing scientific paranormal investigations, spirit photography, spirit communication, dealing with clients, metaphysical hypnosis, spiritual counselling, and client counselling techniques.”