Was it tantra-mantra, psychotic disorder, moksha pursuit gone wrong, hypnotism, paranormal activity or the killer No 11IJ While cops, psychologists, para-psychologists, canine behaviourists and even acharyas are on the job to unravel the truth behind the shocking Burari mass suicide, SANGEETA YADAV talks to experts to verify all the theories
False possession theory
A certified paranormal investigator and demonologist Sarbajeet Mohanty, co-founder of the Parapsychology and Investigations Research Society, asserts that there was nothing paranormal in the Burari case and that it was a mass murder planned by lalit Bhatia, also known as Chundawat, on the pretext of everyone in the family attaining moksha.
“According to metaphysics, an energy force can affect one person at a time, not all the 11 as in the Burari case. The family was manipulated by a person and not a spirit. That person is lalit Bhatia. He went through two traumatic experiences — one, when he lost his voice after an accident, and second, when his father Gopaldas, passed away six months later. He was in trauma, started hallucinating and turned delusional. A father commanding such a heinous act is meaningless from even a para-psychological and occult point of view,” Mohanty insists.
Para-psychologist Dr Rahul Kumar feels it is a case of false possession. “There are two kinds of possessions — true and false possession. False possession is when you want your family to believe that you are possessed and seek their attention. There are cases of people in shock, imitating a dead person. A delusional lalit claimed that he can see his late father who communicated to him that by doing barh puja, his voice would return which incidentally happened a few years later,” Kumar says.
Strong disbelief theory
It was a miracle when lalit got his voice back. To top it all, he sounded like his late father Gopaldas. This made the family believe that the dead father’s spirit had entered lalit’s body and through him he was telling them to do various things to attain moksha.
Second, lalit’s niece Priyanka (33), who had recently got engaged, was a manglik. The family did a puja as suggested by lalit so that they found a suitable boy for her. Other miracles included the children topping at school.
“Due to these reasons, the Bhatia family developed a strong belief system. Everyone agreed with lalit and started following him. They thought there was a guardian angel who would help them attain moksha,” Kumar opines.
Nowhere in lalit’s diary is suicide mentioned. It says: “Antim samay mein, aakhri ichha ki purti ke waqt, aasman hilega, dharti kaapegi. Uss waqt, tum ghabrana mat, mantron ka jaap badha dena. Mein aakar utaar (from the noose) loonga. (In your final hours, while your last wish is fulfilled, the sky will open and the earth will shake, don’t panic but start chanting the mantra loudly. I will come to save all of you).”
But no such thing happened. “It was a delusional ritual gone wrong. They believed the father’s spirit would save them from hanging,” Kumar says.
Power of suggestion
In psychology, there is a concept of power of suggestion which is like hypnotism. This, too, could have controlled the Bhatia family and commanded them to commit mass suicide. “In the power of suggestion, people become receptive to whatever is suggested to them. They lose the power to question the commands. This is how 90 per cent of the people follow faith-healing, a process of manipulating thoughts,” Siddharth Bantwal, paranormal researcher with the Indian Paranormal Society, says.
British illusionist and mentalist Darren Brown has done extensive research on the power of suggestion. A lot of people have been benefitted by it but if it is used in a wrong way, tragedies like the Bhatia family case can happen. “The power of suggestion can go against you. In the Burari case, more than the influence of any outsider, there was something that took place within the family which they didn’t reason out, question or think about,” Bantwal opines.
The power of questioning can also be controlled if people have strong beliefs. “If you question them, they will either turn hostile or not appreciate it. This could be one of the reasons why none of the members revealed it to anyone. Because of strong belief, the subconscious got the controlling power,” Bantwal adds.
Near death experience
It’s possible that the Bhatias were experimenting with near death experience which went wrong. “People experiment with NDE to see what it feels like when the soul exits the body. In the Bhatia case, it all went wrong. What they were doing was an occult practice because they tried to conjure the late father’s energy and summon him. Everything was related to pain, suffering, death and salvation,” Bantwal says.
Theory of Moksha
In pursuit of moksha or salvation, people renounce the world. But the Bhatia family opted for an easy way out and that costed 11 lives. As per Acharya Jyoti Vardhan Sahni, the Bhatias may have been misguided on attaining moksha and would have opted for wrong religious practises to get united with the late Gopaldas.
“Moksha is all about attaining salvation by breaking free from the chain of rebirth and uniting with God. It takes years and is difficult to achieve. You get into intense meditation, abandon worldly pleasures and desires and even fast for months. Yes, Peepal (barh) is considered as an auspicious tree as Mahatma Buddh attained enlightenment by meditating under that. But the barh puja which the Bhatia family did was all wrong. No puja says you have to hang yourself like the roots of the barh tree. In lalit’s diary, he mentions that four spirits were residing in the house asking to be freed. In moksha, this is never the motive,” Sahni says.
Kumar points out, “It is said that when you attain moksha, your spirit exits the body from the head and not from any of the nine holes — two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, one mouth, the anus and the genitals. That’s why, perhaps, the Bhatias closed their eyes, mouth, nose and ears with dupattas, forcing their soul to come out from the head.”
Astrologically, Sahni speculates that since July is considered inauspicious to start anything good, it is a perfect time for the tantriks. “Jupiter (Brhahaspati) and Saturn (Shani) are revolving in a reverse direction which is also called retrograde movement that affects the health, prosperity and well-being of a lot of people and brings in natural and man-made disasters leading to many deaths. One should never take an important decision or start something big or new in this month. The second big factor is both solar eclipse and full moon are falling on July 13 and 27, the effect of which has already been activated since June and remains for a month. This activates the ketu grah for moksha and is considered perfect time to attain salvation through tantra -mantra.
“There is a connect with No. 7 as the deaths took place in the seventh month and ketu resides in the 7th house. Feeding the black dog (Bhatia family’s dog Jackie in this case) signifies important in ketu dosha and is done for moksha,” Sahni tells you.
Theory of 11
Eleven people committing mass suicide, 11 pipes being installed in a weird way on the walls, 11 iron meshes from which their bodies were found hanging and 11 diaries written by lalit Bhatia. Indeed, No. 11 is a significant clue. As per Shani, 11 is a recurring digit number and any recurring digit has a bigger role in paranormal or spiritualism. “Everything was 11 and a recurring 11 holds significance in spiritual and paranormal contexts. A vastu connect could be there too,” he says.
“The Bhatias agreed to be a part of this wrong practise. The brother got the pipes installed on the pretext that this would exhale the gas created by the plywood shop downstairs. It is weird that you have such a big house and not a single window. But spirits don’t travel through pipes. It is energy that moves freely through walls,” Kumar says.
Theory of Auto Writing
lalit started journaling his experiences in 2007. Paranormal experts feel that he could be doing automatic writing. “He claimed that whatever he jotted down was what his late father communicated to him. Para-psychology says the jottings happen because of sub-conscious thoughts. You believe the pen starts writing automatically. People believe it is a communiqué by the spirit but it is their subconscious thoughts that get jotted. Auto writing is a subject experts have often debunked,” Bantwal says.
Shared Psychotic Disorder
The director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), Nimesh Desai, says the Burari suicide could be a case of induced or shared psychotic disorder coupled with rigid spiritual beliefs.
“lalit was suffering from mental illness which was neglected. He had induced or shared psychotic disorder in which a psychotic person can induce one or more family members into psychotic behaviour and delusion. This disorder is common among people living in close proximity and relationships. It affected the other 10 Bhatia members because they were bonded and followed rigid religious practices.
“With a psychological autopsy, or the reconstruction of the psychological state of the deceased on the basis of claims by relatives, neighbours and others, one can confirm the mindset of the deceased. But here the difficulty is that it is not just about one individual, there are 11 and no family member is alive so the reconstruction will be limited,” Desai says.
President, Heart Care Foundation of India Dr KK Aggarwal agrees: “People can be brainwashed to commit mass suicide. In such cases, the mind is in an extremely parasympathetic or relaxed mind which becomes a suggestive mind, one which is more receptive to accept and act on the others’ suggestions. An emotional person is more receptive and more suggestible.”
Theory of Canine Intuition
The only survivor in the case is the dog Jackie who was found chained on the terrace.
Amrut Hiranya, a certified canine psychologist, says, “As per dog psychology, if a canine notices any paranormal presence or if there is impending death, dogs know it first and they bark, howl or whine. Had there been paranormal activity, Jackie would have been hyperactive, would have bitten the possessed person and other dogs in the locality would have cried with him. But Jackie’s behaviour was normal. I don’t believe there was any spirits around,” Hiranya adds.
Jackie is a pitbull-Indian mixed breed which is not submissive. If the dog is brought back to the same house, he might be able to help the canine behaviourist and the cops.
“But this has to be done with the specialised canine behaviourist and videographer. Jackie might take you to corners of the house which sleuths may have neglected,” Hiranya says.