My uncle Gouri Shankar was a very dare devil person to go even to the places where ghosts were living with their family for a pretty long time more than five hundred years or so. How he became so courageous was a mystery. But a time came when that mystery was broken into pieces and everyone came to know that he had learnt some mantras to bind his body with it before approaching the ghostly areas. It was well known to everybody once the body was bound with the mantra, no ghost could harm, couldn’t touch even. People believed so.
Early in the morning we used to leave our beds and left for the field to play football. There was a very good football ground in Gobindpur, my village and the senior players used to play and practice every evening.
GFC was known to one and all for excellent performance in the football maches in the district and the state as well.
We were well aware of the information, the dates, the days and the time too when our seniors didn’t play in the evening. We preferred to play that day/date in the evening. Football play in the evening is considered the most appropriate time. So we utilized the ground for our purposes.
I kept watch on my uncle and his movement and whereabouts.
I very often noticed and found his bed was vacant, only was covered with pillows properly with long bed sheet thereon. I never minded. But curiosity compelled me to know where he went so early in the morning alone. Those days in 1958 when I was merely 13 years old and I was reading in class IX in Gobindpur High School. I used to read mostly detective books and as such I wanted to become captain Hamid one of the famous characters in the detective books of Ibne Safi B.A. Those were the days when such books were available for merely Rs.2/3 or so. There was a big library known as Vani Mandir in the first floor and my class friend Kali Shaw was the librarian. A statue of The Goddess of learning was installed in the ground floor every year on the eve of Basant Panchmi and the students of the locality used to worship her with sheer love, respect and enthusiasm.
The library contained a large collection of books of different subjects and categories. I got a golden opportunity to read books free of cost. Though there was strict rule to issue one book at a time to a member but Kali Shaw issued me two books at a time one in my name and another in his name.
BN Gupta popularly known as Bhola Babu was an efficient and wise man. Due to his extra ordinary quality and ability he was closely associated to the Dy. Commissioner of Dhanbad. He was very near and dear to him.
So our library was granted some aids also regularly to buy books that enriched it beside it enriched the knowledge of the people too.
So far as I remember the then Dy. Commissioner of Dhanbad was very fond of English books and very often used to visit AH Wheeler & Co. book stall in the second platform of Dhanbad Station. I also used to go there to buy some books of my choice in Hindi as well as in English. I saw DC Saheb selecting only English books himself. He had had body guard and orderly with him all the time.
The people of the district and nearby places had donated those books on the call of the then Deputy Commissioner and the Head Clerk, BN Gopta, the resident of my village. The parents were against us reading of any books other that what were prescribed in the curriculum. At the prime age of youth some books of Kushwaha Kant and Pyarelal Awara were very interesting for us to read. These books were rarely available but Kali Shaw kept for me. We made up our mind to collect money and then to buy them secretly.
I read some detective books in English too from the library and buying from the station as well. I did so for a pretty long time. I liked to read Sarat Da’s Srikant, Devdas, Grihda, bankim Babu’s Anand Math, Prem Chand’s Godan, Nirmala, short stories – Pus Ki Raat, Kafan, Panch Parmeshwar etc. Renu’s Maila Aanchal, Dhanjal rinjal, Tisri Kasam etc. In English “The old Man and the Sea” by Earnest Hemingway influenced my life to a great extent. As you like, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, As you like it by William Shakespeare enriched my knowledge of English language and literature. The short stories of Chekhov, O Henri, Maupassant etc. were my favourites.
I buy some of good monthly magazines – Sarika, Navneet, Kadambini, Sarita, Manohar Kahaaniyan, Dharmyug, Filmfare etc. for myself and for Ayodhya Babu. My friend was a business man and bought the Awaj, the Aryavart and the Indian Nation. I read them as and when I happened to see him regularly in his floor mill.
I followed my uncle one day and found him entering the house of Hargori Shaw. I was more surprised than ever as to how my uncle came in contact with the veteran Tantric.
I knew all about my uncle’s regular visit to him and concluded that he had become his disciple and learning mantras to bind his body and also to persuade ghosts. Hargori Shaw was so popular in the village that as and when people used to see him for some tantric vidya. His popularity spread all around when he spent the whole night alone in the funeral ghat of Khudia River where at midnight ghosts along with some women quite — ? – with brooms in their hands used to dancing and rejoicing the moment like anything. Those were the days the people were believing it and the same time very afraid of going there with the fall of day.
As my uncle was a vagabond, no control over him and even my grandmother was afraid of him particularly when he threatened her that if she said anything against what he did, he would have no way out but to flee away from the house and then she would have to repent over whole life.
It was mere coincidence that that Hargori Shaw came and sat on the small chouki beside me. He asked my friend who was looking after his floor mill to grind the wheat first and give him as he had to go sharp to nearby village where a man was attacked by some ghost and the man was so strong and stout that he was out of control by the villagers.
“Let me grind my friend’s wheat first, then I will do yours.” my friend said to him.
He looked and stared at me with burning eyes and I too with making my faces that I was not afraid of him and his mantra.
He wanted me to forego my turn and allow him in fear to grind his floor earlier than me.
My friend heard our conversation and hinted me not to be harsh against Hargori Babu, better allow him to get the floor. I kept mum and my friend ground his wheat on priority basis and gave his bag. My uncle addressed Hargori Babu as uncle. I addressed him as Hargori Dada. Hargori Dada was very popular due to his peculiar personality. He was of about 45 years old, strong and stout, a big head with big eyes and flatted nose, dense beard and moustache, hairs on upper ears, thick neck. The hairs on the head was long but tied properly in knots.
As I came to know he had no family. He had an elder brother who rarely lived with him.
Both brothers had landed property in the distant village where his elder brother used to live most of the time with his family. There were different stories the elderly people very often said and shared for the sake of excitement or entertainment. Some people said that Hargori Dada at 17 came in contact with a tantric of Kamru – Kamkhya , Assam and so much more influenced than ever that he left home and returned after a long period. During the period of stay in Kamru – Kamkhya he learnt so many magic, tantra- mantra etc.
One story that drew my attention is that the women were so versed in magical feat that they could convert the handsome men into sheep in day and at night converted them into men and for what I came to know when I became young enough to understand all such things.
I heard people saying, “Don’t quarrel with Hargoriya, otherwise, if he is displeased or annoyed, he will convert into sheep. He is Kamru-Kamkhya returned.”
Jokingly or seriously some people pointed it out in jealousy that he was already married in childhood and brought his wife on return from Kamru-Kamkhya. One midnight, when he was gossiping with his wife, he tested his mantra to convert her into a sheep. No sooner did he sprinkle magical water over his wife’s head than she changed into a sheep. He tried to convert the sheep into a woman but in vain. He became so nervous that finding no way out, he took the sheep to his guru to Assam to change it into a woman but unfortunately his guru was not traced out in spite of searching so many places. He handed over the sheep to a woman whom he trusted and requested her to see his guru to convert the sheep into a woman and if it was done, immediately to inform him over trunk call or drop a postcard.
After a few years Hargori Dada came to know that his guru took the sheep away with him and what happened after that none intimated him. Since then Hargori Dada led a lonely life. He was quite aloof or cut off from the worldliness. He cursed himself and his guru too.
Nobody was knowing what job he was doing and how he was earning his bread.
One thing was crystal clear that people of Gobindpur were paying him due respect and also extending assistance in need.
My uncle came to know that I had seen him talking to Hargori Dada.
He threatened me for dire consequences if I disclosed it to his mother. Consequently I kept mum over that issue.
My uncle was married at early age. His Sasural was at Pradhankhanta nearly 3 miles from our house. There was a kachcha narrow road from Gobindpur to Baliapur via Pradhankhanta. Just after 2 miles from Gobindpur there is village namely Jagdish and at the lowest level of the road there is a Joriya following from the Dhangi Mountain. Above the Joriya (A small river alike) a huge area is covered with rocky land inside which the elderly people state that there is big dwelling place for the ghosts who live there with their family for a pretty long time happily. Normally they come out any time in the evening and at midnight.
After 6 years my uncle brought my aunt from Pradhankhanta. It is termed as Gouna or Diviragaman in Bihar and UP custom or tradition or culture.
My aunt’s father was a very rough and tough man by nature. After three days my aunt’s brother came and took her with him.
My grandmother sent my uncle many a time to bring his wife but his Sasurji turned down his request every time, the reason best known to him.
My uncle went to his Sasural to see my aunt every now and then on bicycle in the morning and coming back before the Sun set.
But one day his father-in-law was out of station, so he stayed there in Sasural for a longer period late in the evening. Here in our house my grandmother was worried about my uncle and was coming out of the house off and on to see anxiously whether her son had come. She sent Bisna our servant to go to Pradhankhanta and to find out as to why he was late in returning.
Bisna left on bicycle as ordered by my grandmother immediately. After an hour at dark night I saw my uncle hanging under the arms of mussel men and coming back but in a furious state of mind.
I noticed his legs and hands were tied up tightly by strong rope. My uncle was trying to get rid of the tie but in vain.
My grandmother was stunned to find his son in such an unexpected state. My uncle was abusing all in filthy language.
Hari Singh, a muscleman of my grandmother’ parents, turned his face and said to my grandmother the whole story in brief.
People outside the house said, “Gourishankra ke bhut lag gayeel Ba, Jagdish ke jodiyaa men.” (The ghost has entered his body and mind of Gouri Shankar at Jagdish river.)
The news spread like jungle fire all around the village and the people of all ages, caste and community started surrounding my house to see the ghost who had entered my uncle’s body and had captured not only his whole body and mind but empowered it and saying his name and the place from where he had come. Now my uncle appeared to be very strong man and not allowing anybody to touch his body even. He was so furious like carnivorous animal that he began attacking the people who made faces to him. All such problems took place when my grandmother asked Hari Singh to untie the knots and to let him free. He was not recognising his own mother. He used filthy languages the moment she approached him and said affectionately, “ Son! my dear son! What wrong have I done that you are abusing me in front of so many people? ”
My uncle jumped upon her and caught her by her hair – knot. He wanted to throw her on the ground but Hari Singh pushed him out.
Hari Singh called Sitaram Dada who was knowing some mantra to control ghost and to sweep away from the haunted body. Sitaram Dada came and asked for some yellow mustard seeds and mustard oil. My grandmother went inside the kitchen and brought the same. Sitaram Dada recited some holy mantras and threw the seeds over my uncle’s body. My uncle caught hold of Sitaram Dada under his arms and supressing from all sides. He was also abusing, “ Madhad…! Tatric banta hai , sab — men —- denge, samjha hai kya , salaalaa!, haraamjaadaa! , haramkhor! Chal hat , aaj chod diya , mama samajhkar, agar koyee dusra hota to gardaniye machod dete.”
Sitaram Mama was trembling in fear. He said clearly to his sister, my grandmother he couldn’t control as the ghost entered Bhagna’s body appeared to be more powerful.
Then suggest somebody’s name in or out of the locality who could empower the ghost and could throw him out for ever. – said my grandmother to his brother.
“It is only Haji Sultan Khan. He is the most powerful tantric living just in Tundi Road, Lal Bazar. He does 5 times namaj regularly and lives and leads a pure and pious life. God is always with him like shadow and protects him in all that he does for humanity.” Butan Mian an associate of Hari Singh said very confidently.
Bisna! Go and bring him sharp. My grandmother said to Bisna.
Butan Mian held Bisna under his arms and said, “ Didi! Please send Sitaram Babu, only then Haji Saheb will come.”
My grandmother hinted his younger brother to run fast and bring him soon.
Sitaram Dada obeyed his elder sister. He left and brought Haji Saheb with him.
Haji Saheb marked my uncle’s mood and mentality. He asked all the people to vacate the room as any unprecedented thing could happen any time. In fear the crowd went off the place.
Haji Saheb’s grandson Abdul Sammad was my classmate and usually I visited his house for study. He was knowing me personally so he did not ask me to go out of the room.
Instead he said, “Beta! Tum palang par chadh jao, wahin se dekho.”
I did so.
He brought some water in a pot and sprinkled around his body first. Then he asked my grandmother to bring some mustard oil in a pot.
He recited some mantras several times and exhaled his breath air every time over the mustard oil.
He peeped into the eyes of my uncle and asked some questions as to why he did so. “Tell the truth otherwise I will close you in an empty bottle and throw you into the sea.” He added. The ghost sat down at his feet and said, “This man made our dwelling place impure and nasty by urinating and evacuating. We keep our dwelling place quite neat and clean and pure in all respect. We can’t tolerate a man or woman doing so, so I captured his whole body to teach him a lesson. We are ghosts but not so unkind or cruel like man that we take life. Now my very purpose is served and since you come and order me, I will leave him soon.”
Haji Saheb heard all but he caught my uncle’s hairs very tightly, caught his neck and poured the saudhik mustard oil into both his ears. My uncle cried out loudly in acute pain. He stood up and fled away. Haji Saheb warned all to let him go as far as possible. He added, “ He is to fall down when the ghost leaves him and goes out of his body and mind”. A large number of spectators followed him and at last my uncle fell down on the Grand Trunk Road and became senseless.
Haji Saheb, my grandmother and myself came to him. Haji Saheb checked his pulse and the beating of his heart too.
He said to us, “Don’t worry. Let him sleep. He will wake up himself after an hour or so. Till his sense returns, keep watch on him carefully.”
I remained there along with my grandmother till my uncle opened his eyes.
My uncle sense came back and seeing around exclaimed with surprise, “Where am I and what has happened to me?”
“Let us go home first, then I will brief you what has happened.” My grandmother said to him.
About six decades passed but still I remember the unprecedented incident that had happened in my boyhood.
Writer: Durga Prasad.
Dated 13th. August 2016, Day: Saturday.