Do Ghosts Exist? Swami Vivekananda Answers a Disciple’s Query (Part 2)

by Pulkit Mathur, The Spiritual Bee

READ PART 1 HERE: Do Ghosts Exist or Is Seeing Ghosts a Sign of Delusion?

“In man and God;
In ghosts, wraiths, spirits, and so forth;
In Devas, beasts, birds, insects, and in worms;
This Prema (God’s love) dwells in the heart of them all.”
— Swami Vivekananda explaining how all living beings arise from One Consciousness called God, whose very nature is Ananda i.e. bliss or love. Thus love lies at the core of all.

The following exchange between Swami Vivekananda (Swamiji) and his disciple occurred two or three days after Swamiji returned back to Calcutta from visiting Kashmir in the year 1898.

Disciple: “Sir, these ghosts and departed spirits we hear about – which the Shastras (holy books) also amply corroborate – are all these true or not?”

Swami Vivekananda: “Certainly they are true. Whatever you don’t see, are they all false for that? Beyond your sight, millions of universes are revolving at great distances. Because you do not see them, are they non-existent for that?

But then, do not put your mind on these subjects of ghosts and spirits. Your mental attitude towards them should be one of indifference. You duty is to realise the Atman (soul) within this body. When you realise the Atman, ghosts and spirits will be your slaves.”

Disciple: “But sir, I think that, if one sees them, it strengthens one’s belief in the hereafter, and dispels all doubts about it.”

Swami Vivekananda: “You are heroes; do you mean to say that even you shall have to strengthen your belief in the hereafter by seeing ghosts and spirits!

You have read so many sciences and scriptures – have mastered so many secrets of this infinite universe – even with such knowledge, you have to acquire the knowledge of the Atman (soul) by seeing ghosts and spirits! What a shame!”

Disciple: “Well, sir, have you ever seen ghosts and spirits?”

Swamiji narrated that a certain deceased relative of his used to come to him as a disembodied spirit. Sometimes it used to bring him information about distant events. But on verification, some of its information was not found to be correct.

Afterwards at a certain place of pilgrimage Swamiji prayed for it mentally, wishing it might be released – since then he did not see it again.

The disciple then questioned Swamiji if Shraddha (prayers for the dead) or other obsequial ceremonies appeased the departed spirits in any way.

Swamiji replied, “That is not impossible.” On the disciple’s asking for the grounds of that belief Swamiji said, “I will explain the subject to you at length someday. There are irrefutable arguments to prove that the Shraddha ceremony appeases the departed beings. Today I don’t feel well. I shall explain it to you another day.”

But the disciple did not get another opportunity to ask that question to Swamiji.

Source: The above conversation with Swami Vivekananda was noted down by his disciple Sharat Chandra Chakravarty in his diary. It has been translated from Bengali into English and presented in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 7.

“In spite of his reluctance to accept easy conclusions, however, the Swami (Vivekananda) became convinced, in the course of years, of the occasional return of persons from the dead.

“I have several times in my life seen ghosts,” he said once, with great deliberateness, “and once, in the week after the death of Sri Ramakrishna, I saw a luminous ghost (of Sri Ramakrishna).”
Sister Nivedita recounting her conversation with Swami Vivekananda, in her book The Master as I Saw Him (Free Book)

Other Posts in the “Ghosts” Series:

Part 1 – Is Seeing Ghosts a Sign of Delusion? – Do Ghosts actually exist, or was Swami Vivekananda just deluding himself? This post examines the answer.

Conversation With Ghosts – An intriguing incident during which Swami Vivekananda spoke with the spirits of those who had committed suicide.

The Ghost Tamer Whom Swami Vivekananda Transformed With a Mere Touch – Swami Vivekananda transforms a man with occult powers over ghosts, into a spiritual person with a tremendous desire to see God.

The Mysterious Pelting of Stones Which Disturbed Swami Brahmananda – Two incidents from the life of Swami Brahmananda, in which a distressed spirit and a luminous saint employ some unusual means to catch his attention.

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