An Encounter with Supernatural by Nalinaksha Mutsuddi SignUp
An Encounter with Supernatural
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I remained ‘an odd man out’ always: never believed in any hocus-pocus as supernatural power. My world consists of natural things as I perceive or recognize them. Devastating earthquake, calamitous cyclones, destructive floods are all natural phenomena. None of this can be termed as supernatural. Yet there are various stories of supernatural type in all the scriptures. Even now some of us claim to have witnessed such things happening with many at lower level or in smaller scale in their practical life. But upon investigation it fails to retain its credibility. They seem to be cooked up – not intentional though --and unreal. Mostly because they never had the will and patience to verify it – due mainly overwhelming propensity to believing.


There was a moment in my life I was caught off guard. It was in 1976 when I was on an expedition of sort in the northern areas of Himachal Pradesh beyond Rohtang pass. I had been to Keylong, the district head quarter of Lahaul and Spiti. From Keylong I went to Kaza, head quarter if Spiti via Kunjum pass. Kaza is located at a height of 13,000 ft. above sea level. There is a famous Kee Gompa  about eight km from Kaza. Gompa means  temple of Mahayani Buddhists of the area. The fame of the temple attracts tourists from India and abroad. Most of the visitors are spiritually oriented. I wanted to visit the temple for its name and fame as a tourist only – I’m otherwise very curious -- not driven by any spiritual quest.


I met a friend at Keylong, an S.D.O. in the State Electricity Board. Knowing my intention of visiting the Gompa he volunteered to take me in his jeep to Kaza. Otherwise I was supposed to go by the creaking public transport swinging up and down roller-coaster like along the serpentine road in the chilly, hilly terrain.


Instead of starting in the morning my friend, Mr. Verma suggested to go in the afternoon after he finished his job at the electricity board for a visit to Kee gompa.


Accordingly we started at 3 pm in the afternoon. After moving a few meters the jeep conked out. Then Mr. Verma took the jeep of Block Development officer. Kaza is a small town with very few populations.  And the employees in the offices – which are very few -- do not have much work except literally swatting flies. So the B.D.O. also got tagged on. We four including the driver moved on to face another break down moving only a few meters after. For Verma it became a prestige issue now -- he was determined to take me to the Gompa at any cost. Next the Executive Engineer’s jeep was roped in along with its owner. This time we could hardly make another one km to face the third breakdown. The last officer left out in the god forsaken place was Additional Deputy Commissioner. Lahaul & Spiti district had two Deputy Commissioners – regular one stationed at Keylong and the additional at Kaza. Our last hope was latched on to his vehicle. Now including the driver we became a team of six members squeezed sardine like in the Mahindra & Mahindra jeep. This time we could cover about another two km to meet with massive gearbox failure. And I could hear my heart thumping furiously, because it was a very uncommon event.


I got down in utter bewilderment, immediately not knowing what to do. A terrible storm was raging inside me. With my knowledge of probability in mathematics it seemed to be a total impossibility for four running jeeps going out of order in quick succession within a span of less than an hour. How it could be? Definitely it was a supernatural phenomenon. Why did it happen? To induce a non-believer into believing. Clearly some unseen hand was bent upon to teach me a lesson, I thought.

I didn’t think others thought the way I thought. It was well past four in the evening in September in the lap of Himalayan foot hills. They proposed resuming the journey next day after fixing the jeeps. All their persuasions proved futile in the face of my cussed intransigence. I was adamant as a rock. A tremendous feeling of revolt and resolve raising its determined head within me.  I must defy this supernatural power right now, come what may. On the other hand a spooky discomfiture was making a paralyzing descent down my spine. For a moment I was perplexed to the point of losing consciousness. Within moments I was in my elements again. Now I have to straddle the path alone at that unusual time, because the sun would soon dive behind the ridge beyond, plunging the mountainous desert into darkness. I was ready for any eventuality including death or whatever. In the unknown dark night I had to cover still thirteen km to and fro at least. With my breast shaking I took the decision knowing fully well of my young wife eagerly waiting for me at home with two little kids of three and five.


I bade good bye to my friends and walked on. Soon it began raining. My suspicion got doubly confirmed – the invisible hand was bent upon intensifying pressure on me. In those days I used to be too susceptible to cold. Getting wet in the cold weather would surely bring pneumonia and – my imagination went wild -- the obvious culmination to death without any treatment. But my mood of defiance grew stronger. A voice was rising in me “I must go under any circumstances”. Luckily I saw a carton of horlicks lying among the P.W.D labourers working on the road side. With their permission I took the carton and covered my head with the hope of at least saving my head from getting drenched.


When I reached at the foot of the Gompa visibility grew dimmer. Yet I could see a Lama from above the Gompa waving his hand pointing the way to climb up to a stranded visitor.


At last I made it to the top. Seeing me hungry and tired the Lama offered me ‘sattu’. I had never seen sattu in my life, far from eating it ever. The Lama washed his hands with soap and took some powder in a plate, poured water and kneaded it and lo a nice snack was ready. It tasted fabulous to me.


I passed around the Gompa constituting of many small close knit buildings built around the main in a beehive like manner. Many of the additions were done over a course of time. In a big room many Lamas assembled and were chanting some exotic mantras in unison. I was not allowed to enter or to take any snap.  They requested me to pass the night there in the well furnished guest house. I was told many foreigners also comfortably make use of the guest rooms. But I declined the offer and made my way back in pitch dark night to the anxiously waiting friend in the rest house at Kaza.


Nothing untoward happened. But I spent more than five hours in apprehension of meeting with something unexpected and inconceivable every moment. Was not all this suffering due to my preconceived notion of the existence of so-called supernatural power? All nothing but useless imagination? In retrospect I could brag loudly of having met a supernatural power had I abandoned the trip in the first place. And of course, with the addition of many more colours in it.


Are not all the spooky stories born out of unverified incidents of wild imaginations?

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Dear Ashby,

I met you earlier in the "identity' article. I find you are a believer and very learned man in things -- subtle and spiritual. And, I am a non-believer. That day, I was shaken to the core, and got totally confused what to do. Only rebellion  in me prodded  me to undertake the supposed to be risky journey. To my good luck it turned out to be satisfactory. I heard many firsthand version of weird events. It may be 'fantasy with impunity' or 'wild imagination' I don't know, but, people in general do believe in such things.

Thanks for your erudite comments.


07/04/2010 10:27 AM

Comment The thing that strikes me about events attributed to supernatural powers is their subtlety. Subtlety is alternatively defined as that quality of phenomenon you describe in your last line as the 'incident(s) of wild imagination'.   Though there is the evidence of effects, the breakdown of four jeeps in succession in your account, the causitive factor is both invisible and inexplicable -  then is relegated to the realm of fantasy with impunity, since the said cause makes no effort at vindicating its presence, as say, raising the jeep four feet off the ground.   We have here the evidence of subtlety - everything weird occurs as though to enable it to be discounted as an inexplicable natural phenomenon.  We discount the fact the supernatural possesses such cunning.  There is not excluded, however, the response of the subtle mind which sees it clearly as evidence of the supernatural - but when expressed is stamped out in the fashion subtle events owe their definition to - as 'incidents of wild imagination'.

R D Ashby
07/03/2010 07:41 AM

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