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24 Jan

Clairvoyance: The Discerning Communications with the Dead made by Healthcliff and Justice Krishna Iyer- Anu AS

Clairvoyance: The Discerning Communications with the Dead made by Healthcliff and Justice Krishna Iyer

Anu AS

(Assistant Professor, Don Bosco Arts and Science College, Angadikadavu)


Who is that third who always walks beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together,

But when I look ahead up white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

-But who is that on the other side of you?

 (The Waste Land- 360-366)

Eliot, in the above lines, was inspired by a story that came from one of the expeditions to Antarctica that happened in Eliot's time. The story is about how the explorers, caught in the freezing cold, were constantly hallucinating that there was one extra person, a third in their group. So when the speaker of the poem asks "Who is the third who walks always beside you?" it could suggest that Christ is still present in people's lives today, but people do not have the spiritual insight to see him with naked eyes nor to recognize him. Does it have anything to do with Clairvoyance?

When Hamlet said, “Look, there it comes”, did he see his father? Hamlet’s communication with his son, the prince, is not a myth or mendacious felony, but is a fragment of actual story probably aesthetically exaggerated. Apparition can be real presence in a relative sense. The ghost of old Hamlet appears to young Hamlet “Pale as his shirt” with a look so “piteous in purport/As if he had been loosed out of hell/ to speak of horrors” appears to Ophelia in her closet. (Garber 41)

Is there Life after Death? Is death a wall or a door? Is it the ultimate end or is survival a fact with proof? Is communication with deceased persons a phenomenon testimonially established? I have read somewhere that Thomas Alva Edison who was the master brain behind thousands of inventions including telegraph, had the curious desire to invent a telephone to communicate with the dead but was himself overtaken by death. Jesus is not dead, he is very well alive; nor John nor Paul nor Mohammed, at times we have seen them all. “The Soul is immortal’’ says Plato. A vast investigation has gone into the subject of life beyond Death, of survival of disembodied being even after death and Life – Death- Life continuum as the reality. “Death kills the mortal frame but the subtle, astral, aural envelopment may not perish.” (Iyer 70)

The Bhagavad Gita stresses on the incarnation, discarnation and re-incarnation of human spirit which do not die. Philosophers down the ages have speculated on Life in its larger and deeper meaning. The Upanishads, the Socratic dialogues, the sayings of Budha and Mahavira down to Aurobindo- Savithri reflect on this theme de profundis.

What is the phenomenon of death? A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. A subject which concerns common people and thinking intellectuals is about what happens to a human being on death. Perception is the only source of knowledge and what is not perceived has no validity. It is in this jungle of conflicting views and assertions that we get lost. The object of this paper is not to wander amidst philosophical bewilderment or wonder at the evolutionary process of the first living cell and the supra-mental human. We confine ourselves to a matter- of –fact understanding of life in its common material meaning, of death in its medical and material understanding and of survival based on tangible evidence. In our world of Jet planes and atomic reactors, there still remains much to be identified. Life and Death live together and, in a sense are even complementary to each other. Death kills the mortal frame but the subtle, astral envelopment may not perish. “Death can either refer to the events whereby a life ends, or to the condition or state of affairs of its being.” (Luper 48)

In ‘discarnate’ form, does the human in subtle dimension, speak, hear and see?

Sarah Wilson Estep says, yes on the basis of post –Raudive experiments a startling account of which is given in her book Voices of Eternity. Voices on tapes that shouldn’t be there, voices that claim to be of the dead, voices that anyone can hear- these are discussed and a plethora of instances given compels one to give fair surmise of truth and benefit of doubt. Raudive himself , by then dead , speaks to Sarah.(Iyer V R 115)

Raymond Moody made a spirit-history by his impressive book Life after Life published in 1975. Dr. Kubler –Ross, working in the same field, corroborated Moody. The next marvel was Raudive’s voice wonders. And beyond that came Dr. Moody’s surpassing visionary discovery of experiencing visual presence and communication with departed persons. He describes in his book how to perform this incredible feast. Part of the blurb of his book reads:

By experimenting with such facilitators as mirrors, crystals and specially designed chambers, Dr. Moody created an environment in which many unbiased, intelligent women and men have achieved amazing success in calling forth visions. Here are their own descriptions, recorded immediately afterward, of what they saw, heard and felt during moments of precious closeness that left them confident they had been in the actual presence of their dead ones.( Iyer 117)

The voices are audible to our ear and we can understand them which confirm that they exist physically and independently from us, and the experiments prove that the voices can be heard by anybody with a fair sense of hearing, regardless of his or her personal views, sympathy or antipathy. They are objective entities that can be verified and examined under psycho- acoustic, physical conditions. This concurrence of Psycho-acoustic and para-normal data can hardly be brushed aside as mere coincidence; the voices must therefore be deemed to stem from a different plane of existence than our own. (Krishnaswamy 113)

This paper tries to explore the supernatural and the real, based on real life experience of Justice Krishna Iyer who made discerning communications with his wife Sarada and the communications made by Healthcliff and Catherine; characters in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

            Justice V. R Krishna Iyer, an activist Judge, an able lawyer, an astute legislator, an ardent law reformer, a dynamic Minister in government and author of innumerable books and articles pondered on Death and After. He was honoured by several coveted awards, degrees honoris causa and high distinctions. Suffices to say there is no Indian Judge till date, living or dead, on whom three doctoral thesis have been written in three different universities. The highest civilian distinction of Padma Vibhushan was conferred on him by the president of India. The most prestigious Tagore Law Lectures were delivered by him in 1999. Age did not wither him in writing Death and After. The man behind, his beliefs, his personal life, has been an enigma. "I believe that you do survive after death. And I am in the process of writing” (“Living Life King Size”).

            Justice Iyer got married in 1945 to Sarada with whom he “had a happy span of conjugal, intellectual, aesthetic, ideological, philosophical, spiritual and pubic-spirited community of interests and a hundred other common bonds.” He was so happy with her that he adds, “Rarest of rare is the marvel of matrimony when two souls, in all their finer facets, fuse into one and face the changes and challenges of the world with dynamism too deep to be ruptured and a cultural harmony that beats the sweetest symphony.” He pays glowing tributes to his wife Sarada with whom he built two lovely houses with “aesthetic attention (Gupta).

Sarada herself was a multifaceted personality like her illustrated husband who shared all his interests. She was an affectionate wife, a loving mother, enchanting individual who endured herself to all who knew her. She had not only been a concert of this great jurist, but his secretary, guru (in perfecting his virtuosity with the Veena) and a friend in need. No wonder Krishnaswamy continues to miss her even after the passage of two decades of her demise (Krishnaswamy 22).

When his wife passed away and he was left alone, everything was looked after by his wife Sarada, the only thing he knew was to call ‘Sarada…Sarada…Sarada’. He said, Now that I am alone, alone among six billion humans on earth, the past slowly ebbs away and I conclude with Lord Byron, ‘What is the worst of woes that wait an age? What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow? To view each loved one blotted from life’s page, and be alone on earth, as I am now’ (Gupta).

Iyer felt dejected because his wife was everything for him. The absence of Sarada created a vacuum in his life. He recalls:The cortege of Sarada left peacefully without the presence of her husband and reached her crematorium. Stanzas from Gitanjali, which both Krishna Iyer and Sarada enjoyed reading were recited of the national flag; a copy of Gitanjali was placed on the body of Sarada on her last journey alone before the funeral pyre was set on fire (Krishnaswamy 123).

The death of his wife, Sarada, in 1974, changed his life. And he believes in `life after death'. "May be the atheists disagree with me in this matter. But I am stating this from my own experiences. I believe that you do survive after death. And I am in the process of writing a book on this subject. That will be based on my own experiences and also on some other people's experiences too" (“Living Life King Size”).

            Has he talked to his wife after her death? "Yes, through a medium," he says, "My wife used to talk to me through Justice Gupta's wife. They had moved into our house -2 Teen Murti Marg- after my wife's death, in Delhi. My wife had warned me through Mrs.Gupta not to drive my car, as I was soon to meet with an accident. That turned out to be true. How do you explain that?" (“Living Life King Size”).

"Mrs.Gupta had never met my wife when she was alive," (“Living Life King Size”.) he clarifies. Justice Gupta had later told him that whenever Mrs.Gupta was seen talking to someone, standing alone, he knew that it was Justice Iyer's wife. Krishna Iyer has written a book named Satgamaya which is dedicated to his wife. It depicts the pain of separation after her death.

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, in his work Death and After speaks at length about the discerning communications made between different persons. He says:

Breakthrough is an amazing electronic experiment in communication with the dead. The whole book contains fragments of such communication. The one Indian whose name I find in the book is Vivekanda. How I wish I could hear that tape. There are communications from notable persons like Tolstoy, Lenin and even Hitler and also common humans. Many of the experiments and speech content recordings cannot be rejected outright merely because of the book Breakthrough does give enough information of scientists honest efforts, with some success, at communications with the dead, not through mediums or through séances, but through electronic technology. (Iyer 113)

Like Justice Krishna Iyer, Emily Brontes’s character Healthcliff also communicated with his love, Catherine. Catherine unlike other ghosts in fiction didn’t appear to suck blood, or take revenge but to continue life after death. She communicated with Healthcliff in a room where they have memories left behind. Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, a 1847 novel has all the quintessential elements of a gothic and supernatural setting- grotesque imagery, dark and foreboding mansions and landscapes, dark stairways, stormy weather, nightmares, melancholy figures, chaos, pain and doomed love, maniacal behavior and communication with the dead. The specter of Catherine haunts the tale from the very first chapters onwards, and fittingly, this eerie apparition is what makes this novel so eternally enduring.         Bronte’s Catherine is not an apparition, but the authors’ exploration into life after death like Aldus Huxley and Arthur Canon Doyle. “The novelist’s medium is language: whatever he does, quo novelist, he does in and through language.” (Lodge xiii) The first and vivid description of supernatural beings appears to the character Mr. Lockwood when staying at the estate of Wuthering Heights. A ghostly, dark apparition of Catherine appears at his window. “The intense horror of nightmare overcame me; I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholic voice sobbed, ‘Let me in-let me in!’’’(Bronte 24).

It is clear that the central character Healthcliff is convinced of the existence of ghosts and the idea that Catherine’s spirit remains present at the Heights. On hearing Lockwood’s ordeal, Healthcliff “Got on the bed and wrenched open the lattice, bursting as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears. ‘Come in! Come in! He sobbed (Bronte 28). Her ominous presence in Healthcliff’s mind eventually manifests itself into convincing him to dig up her grave, which itself highlights another trope of the gothic- an obsession with death.

 It is known that she loves Healthcliff but chooses Edgar to marry. However her love for Healthcliff is so passionate that even after she accepted Edgar’s proposal, while she is talking to Nelly Dean about her choice she first admits that she is wrong, ‘ in my soul, in my heart , I am convinced that I am wrong’ (Bronte 56). Then, she confesses in her deep feelings:

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Healthcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly I am Healthcliff ! He’s always , always in my mind: not as a pleasure , any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don’t talk of our separation again: It is impracticable…. (Bronte 59)

A focus on the paranormal penetrates right throughout the text. In the final pages of the novel we hear accounts of ghostly sightings of Healthcliff and Catherine on the moors, “a little boy with a sheep and two lamps” sees the ghost of Catherine and Healthcliff “Country folk, if you asked them, would swear on their Bible that he walks…That old man... affirms he has seen two on ‘em…on every rainy night, since his death’’ (Bronte 356). The presence of these specters also attests to their perpetual and unconquerable love which defies even the grave.

 So it can be observed that both Justice Krishna Iyer and Healthcliff believed to possess the ability of Clairvoyance, because these two persons could communicate with their deceased dear ones. So Clairvoyance is not a myth; but it is a fact unwrapped. It’s a medium to communicate with your ancestral strings. And that medium will highlight that Death is not an end or full stop; but rather a coma (,).

Works Cited

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. London: Vintage Books, 2008. Print.

Iyer ,Krishna. Death and After. Delhi: Konark Publishers, 2003. Print.

Eliot, T S. “The Waste Land”. New York: Horace Liveright, 2011 .Print.

Garber. Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Krishnaswamy, P. Living Legend. New Delhi: Universal Law Publishing Co, 2002.Print.

Lodge, David. Language of Fiction. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print.

Luper, Steven. The Philosophy of Death. Cambridge University Press: U K, 2009. Print.

Gupta, Manju. “A sketch on life and times of an eminent Jurist”. Organisel. Sunday, August 02, 2015 . Web.10 August 2015.

“Living Life King Size”. The Hindu, Kochi Metro Plus Online. June 17, 2002. Web. 10 August 2015.


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