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Some facts about ghosts

1. Do ghosts have a gender i.e. are they male or female?

Ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) do not have a physical body. Hence in this perspective there is no gender. But on the basis of the appearance of their subtle form and psychological characteristics, they are differentiated into male and female forms. For example, the female goblin (haḍal), Jākhin and witch (chetkin) are females, whereas subtle-sorcerers (māntrik) are generally male. When ghosts materialise the apparent form is most influenced by the appearance and sex of their immediate prior birth. That is, if the ghost was a female in the human form, it would materialise as a female. Higher order ghosts like subtle-sorcerers have the ability to assume a form as per their liking. Subtle-sorcerers are ghosts with very high spiritual power comparable to the spiritual powers of Saints. In order to acquire such levels of spiritual powers, a subtle-sorcerer needs to perform intense spiritual practice with single-minded focus and rational thinking. As the qualities of single-mindedness and rational thinking are more male related characteristics, subtle-sorcerers generally take up a male form.

2. What is the lifespan of a ghost (demon, devil, negative energy, etc.)? 

In the case of humans, the term ‘lifespan’ means the period between their birth and death. In the case of ghosts, this would signify the period between the subtle bodies becoming ghosts to their eventual rebirth on Earth. Thus the lifespan of ghosts is varied. In the case of inferior order ghosts, existing in the Nether Region (Bhuvarlok), it could be anywhere around 50-400 years. Ghosts that have been relegated to the deeper rungs of Hell (Pātāl) and who are instrumental in doing wide-scale harm to humanity can remain as ghosts for thousands of years.

Ghosts can be released out of this state depending on the following:

1. General Rule

On completion of the suffering that they are destined to face in the various regions of Hell and the Nether region for their demerits.

2. For ghosts with a spiritual level less than 30%

In the spiritual realm, the only way to get out of that region and the suffering associated with it is by doing spiritual practice. Ghosts of a spiritual level below 30% are most unlikely to do spiritual practice in the subtle region to help themselves spiritually. These types of ghosts include our ancestors who have passed away and who have little to no spiritual strength. They typically would go to the Nether region or some region of Hell. The reason that they cannot do spiritual practice in these regions is because while on Earth they were not habituated to do any spiritual practice. As a result, when they pass over, without the knowhow and the requisite tools for spiritual practice, they again are unlikely to do any spiritual practice to help themselves in these regions.

The deeper the rung of Hell that they go to, the greater is the suffering. As they cannot help themselves spiritually, they try and call out to their family members on Earth to do something for them. The language that they generally communicate through is the language of pain. By inflicting pain on the descendent on Earth, they hope that their descendant will stop and look at a spiritual way to overcome their problems. Eventually the descendant does stop and ask someone who can see into the subtle realm. Thereby the descendants get to know that the chronic problems that they are facing in life are due to their ancestors. They are then advised to do some specific spiritual ritual or remedy for their ancestors. By doing this specific spiritual remedy, the descendants on Earth achieve the following:

  • Insulate themselves from ancestral problems
  • Help their ancestors by giving them the necessary spiritual boost to move towards a better sub-region in the subtle regions and burn any give-and-take accounts they may have with their ancestors. This spiritual practice helps liberate them from their ghost type of existence and allows them to be reborn on Earth faster to complete their give-and-take accounts and to take up spiritual practice.

3. For ghosts with a spiritual level higher than 30%

Ghosts of a spiritual level higher than 30% generally have been exposed to some type of regular spiritual practice when on Earth. As a result, they can do some spiritual practice in the subtle planes of existence after death. However, there are a number of factors that can affect their ability to do sustained spiritual practice. These factors include various worldly desires. For example, if a person has desires of varying intensity for food, alcohol or sex, then they involve themselves in pursuing these things through possessing a person.
As a result, they can get easily distracted from doing spiritual practice and are unable to help themselves and also earn further demerits. Moreover ghosts of a higher level such as subtle-sorcerers can take advantage of desires and worldly attachments of the lower ghosts. The subtle-sorcerers control the lower ghost through these desires by forcing them into doing evil deeds in return for fulfillment of desires provided by them.
It also depends on the motivation of the subtle body (i.e. of the ghost) to do spiritual practice. A subtle body at a lower spiritual level but with high motivation may do better spiritual practice than a subtle body at a higher spiritual level but with lower motivation. Thus it is very important to make a strong impression about spiritual practice in the subconscious mind when alive.
Spiritual practice done for the purpose of realising God is a guaranteed way of accessing a higher level of protection from God and reducing one’s desires and attachments. It is also the only way of reducing the lifespan as a ghost.

4. Grace of a Saint

Sometimes ghosts get out of their state of being a ghost if they obtain the grace of Saints by serving them, doing penance, begging for mercy, etc.
These are possible ways that a ghost may attain momentum towards a better region in the subtle plane and relief from their ghostly existence. However at a practical level, it is extremely rare for it to actually happen. The reasons as we explained above are:

  • Their tendency to get distracted from doing any spiritual practice due to their desires or the severity of suffering in the negative subtle regions.
  • The descendents are ignorant to the root cause of the chronic problems that they face, which is due to their ancestors. Hence the descendents do not do any spiritual remedy or ritual for the ancestors.
  • Because of intense desires they can fall into the subtle-sorcerer’s hands.

Even though they may have been comparatively less evil when they first attained the ghost form, with the passage of time, they can go from bad to worse. The reasons for this are that they go into a negative vortex trying to fulfill their desires and thus earn more demerits. They continue to be stuck in this state until either they finish their punishment for their evil deeds or increase their spiritual level so as to move on. Thus the life span of ghosts may run into hundreds of years as they get stuck for centuries due to their desires, ego, evil deeds and lack of spiritual practice.
In the case of higher order ghosts in the various regions of Hell, their lifespan is anywhere from hundreds of thousands of years or until the end of the Universe. This is because of the severity of their evil deeds, evil impressions, and their high ego. As a result, they keep moving progressively into the downward regions of Hell with almost no hope for liberation from those regions.

3. Do ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) grow and age with time just like animals and trees? 

Humans possess a mortal body which is born, grows, ages and then dies. Growth and aging are thus functions of the physical body. As ghosts do not have a physical body, these characteristics of a physical body are inapplicable to them.
The growth of ghosts refers to an increase in their spiritual power, i.e. their black energy or their ability to fight with Divine/positive powers.

4. From where do ghosts get their energy or power? 

Ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) of a higher spiritual level usually have hundreds of years of spiritual practice behind them. They get their energy from their spiritual practice. But since all acts of ghosts are evil, with every act their spiritual energy is depleted. Especially when they come up against a sāttvik influence, a lot of their energy is lost. In such instances, they withdraw and take up a spiritual practice like meditation or they make use of mantras to gain spiritual energy or power. In most cases, lower level ghosts are like puppets in the hands of higher-level ghosts who command them to execute a number of tasks on their behalf. Sometimes a lower order ghost may lack the requisite energy to worry people or possess them to fulfill their desires. In this case, higher-level ghosts provide them with energy to perform these tasks and in return control them even further.

5. Do ghosts possess intelligence? 

The intellect of normal human beings is directed towards accomplishing various tasks in the world to satisfy them at physical, psychological and spiritual levels. The human intellect has an inherent discriminatory element that guides the person about what is right and what is wrong, and also what is to be pursued and what is to be abandoned.
When we pass on and if we become ghosts, we tend to lose this discriminatory intelligence. The reason for this is that as subtle bodies, the main body is the mental body, which is full of desires. The intellect is then used single-mindedly to fulfill these desires. This is unlike on Earth, where the intellect is used for a variety of things, physical activity included such as earning a living, etc.
As a ghost becomes obsessed with fulfilling their desires or troubling others, their intellect is directed completely in this direction itself. The intellect is totally ego-based and restricted to acquiring power. The ghosts in the Nether Region due to their lesser desires have some semblance of human intelligence. The ghosts and middle rung subtle-sorcerers from the various regions of Hell (i.e. from the 1st region of Hell to the 4th) are progressively more and more like robots in the hands of superior subtle-sorcerers.
Superior subtle-sorcerers have spiritual strength/powers comparable to Saints and have access to higher, Universal and Absolute knowledge.

6. Can ghosts exist/survive in the earth, water or fire? 

Yes, ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) can exist or survive in all these areas. This is because ghosts being subtle bodies, i.e. without physical bodies, are unaffected by earth, water or fire.
However ghosts of a lower order like the common ghost or those who have just entered the ghost order fear water or fire, based on the lingering impressions from their human life. This soon passes away as other ghosts educate them about their new status.

7. Do ghosts ever sleep or rest? 

As there is no physical body there is no requirement for sleep and rest like humans. In fact, ghosts are very restless creatures – they indulge perpetually in either troubling others, satisfying their desires or doing spiritual practice to obtain energy to trouble others. Please note that though theoretically ghosts above the spiritual level of 30% can undertake spiritual practice, in reality only ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) of a higher order and spiritual level are in a position to undertake spiritual practice such that they can gain energy from it.

8. Do ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) have a family life? 

The concept of family life is only relevant to inferior level ghosts. For example, the subtle bodies of departed ancestors belonging to a particular family on the earth plane flock together. Beyond this there is no family life, especially in the context as understood in the paradigm of humankind.

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