Buradi Suicide, Superstition and Mental Health

By: Shreepal Singh

In Buradi, a suburb of Delhi, 11 persons of a single family have died a few days back. It is now almost clear from the police investigation that it was not the case of murder but they had committed suicide. Why did they commit suicide? The entire family was superstitious and

claimed one of them was in touch of the ‘soul’ of his father who had recently died. This person who claimed to be in contact of the ‘soul’ of his father was guiding his entire family on the ‘dictation’ of that ‘soul’ to do what they did. The entire sad episode would have been a deep mystery – almost impossible to crack for the police  in their investigation – but for one fortunate circumstance: the family members wrote down in registers and in detail everything that they had in  their minds !

Why did they commit suicide? They committed suicide because they were superstitious in their beliefs; because superstition is a mental illness. Now the society is struggling to search ways and means how to avoid such incidents in future.

In this context, there has come a statement of Dr. Nimesh Desai, the Director of Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences, who said that it is estimated there are 10 – 20% people in India who are suffering from the problems of mental health. It is a huge number. Other countries too are not faring any better in this matter and it is  stated by Dr. Desai that there is a still larger number of people in the U.S. who are suffering mental health problems.

What is mental illness? One who is not a normal person in his mind is suffering  some kind of mental illness. Who is normal in his mind? Any test? Yes, there is the test. The normal person is the one who takes the real ‘things’ of this world in his mind in the real way as these things in ‘reality’ are!! We live in this real world and there are real things around us and we must take them as they are. The reference point for a normal mind is the realities of this world; this real world is the calibrating – reference – point to put our mind at its correct place.

A fledgling science – parapsychology – puts this situation in a beautiful way when it allocates three categories to people: Normal; Abnormal; and Supernormal. When one’s mind is normal, it is good; when it goes down as abnormal, it is sad state requiring medical attention; and when it goes up to become supernormal, it is applauded.

Unfortunately, from the medical point of view going below or above normal state of mind is ‘mental illness’. There have been many great Yogis who were above normal and were often times looked down as mentally ill persons, like Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Sai Baba of Shridi. In fact, all great spiritual persons have been above normal, whether looked down or applauded by the ordinary folk.

Now, come to these Buradi people, who committed suicide. One of them claimed that he was in touch of his dead father. Is it ever possible to be in touch with a person who has been dead? It is a superstitious belief; it is not the reality for a ‘normal’ human being; it is a mental illness !

However, when one goes from ‘normal’ mind to ‘supernorlal’ mind, things become weired. It is a well-known fact of the Buddhist religion that Buddha, after he achieved enlightenment, went up (!) to meet her mother – long dead by then – and guided her there (where?) to become enlightened (enlightenment of the dead !!) – that is, Buddha is said to have helped her dead mother to escape from the endless cycles of life and death!

This state of one’s mind – or one’s belief – must be declared an ignorance and superstition by the modern standards of medical science, be such state of mind of the Buradi persons or of Buddha. However, Buddha escaped this judgment (of being mentally ill) because he performed many acts, which were  supernormal – or miracles – in the estimation of ordinary folks.

Then, how can one draw a line of distinction between a ‘superstition’ and  an ‘enlightenment’; how can one draw a line between the mental state of the Buradi persons and the mental state of Buddha? Drawing of such a line of distinction is very necessary, for Buddha cannot be judged a ‘mentally ill’ person notwithstanding any number of reasons given in its support by the modern medical science.

This line of distinction is the only measure, the only way, that our society – humanity – can put into place to safeguard itself against the state of mental illness – the state of mental illness into which these Buradi people had degenerated. There is a very thin line between the ‘abnormal’ mind and ‘supernormal’ mind, because none of the two is a ‘normal’ mind !!

Let us enlighten ourselves on this subject. People with normal mind remain in constant touch with the realities – material world – around them. How do they do it? They do it by habitually living in the ‘realities’ of this world; they have concerns only with these worldly realities. As normal people, they deal with these ‘realities’ as against ‘make-believe’ world of beliefs; they habitually live in the context of Time in the ‘present’ only as against living in the ‘past’ or in the ‘future’. Their buzz word is: realities; realities here; and, realities now.

Unfortunately, today the humanity is driving itself towards ‘mental illness’ – towards mental insanity – simply for the reason that people in their mental efforts of scientific research, more and more push themselves hard into the ‘make-believe’ world of hypothetical realities. This is our way of making scientific discoveries and progress. These mental hypothetical realities conceived by scientific mind are not only the ‘make-believe’ realities but they also tend to tax human mind. These ‘make-believe’ hypothetical realities taxing human mind travel from the laboratories of scientists to the class rooms of ordinary students, and thence to the ordinary people of our educated society. They are gradually taking our enture human society into its sweep.

The tense hypothetical realities are not the realities of this world; they are mentally conceived realities only; they are tense realities and tax the mind. While dealing with these make-believe realities, we humans do not ‘live’ in the present: in the present as against the future. By resorting to them, we put pressure on our mind to project ourselves into the ‘future’.

Though human mind has been pushing itself hard in this direction since the ‘age of reason’, human mind is not a dedicated tool for this purpose! It is opening the human mind to the mysteries of this universal existence, to understand which mysteries it is not designed by Nature. Uncovering of these mysteries belong to a different domain and by a different tool. Pushing this mental tool too much for the work for which it is not meant, would push humanity – by and large – towards menta illness. Medical science has still not come up of age to deal with this situation – except prescribing for leading of a simple and mental stress free life.

Now, let us see the line that distinguishes the superstition of Buradi persons and enlightenment of Buddha. The great Yogis and spiritual personalities have suffered themselves on their chosen path and learnt many  precious lessons. These lessons are always needed to be heeded by all those people who wish to put their foot on this strange ‘soul contacting’ business to avoid getting mentally ill.

Those great spiritual persons who had  labored on this strage path and suffered in consequence, have laid down certain guidelines – safety precaution – for the good of posterities.

The first and the foremost lesson among them all is: such things, like ‘attempting’ to contact with the ‘soul’ of the dead persons, are NOT meant for the worldly people – people who run shops and businesses; people whose concerns have even remotely anything to do with the attractions of this world.

If one attempts such things, then for him or her this world and its concerns should be nothing but a deadly poison! If one attempts such things, then he or she has to make a choice: Either this world or that world! The unfortunate 11 persons living in Buradi made a wrong move by embracing two antagonistic worlds – running shops and businesses and contacting ‘soul’ of dead person !! And, they suffered for their mistake. The lesson is: An ordinary normal person should remain an ordinary normal person !!

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