19 y.o. Sarabjeet Mohanty, the world's youngest certified Demonologist, spoke to us about spirits and the supernatural on All Hallows' Eve.
Most guys who investigate paranormal activity will tell you that before they started off, they didn’t believe in ghosts. But not Sarbajeet Mohanty, who at 19 claims to be the world’s youngest certified Demonologist. He’s also a clairvoyant and spiritual healer and one of the founders of the Indian Paranormal Team, a group that conducts paranormal investigations.
Want to research a ghost? Fancy some exorcism? How about past life regression or reiki? Mohanty’s team of 18 is spread across the country, from five cities in Odisha to Mumbai, Pune and Haridwar. It’s the people in urban areas who most often call them in to investigate ‘happenings’. The group’s acclaim appears to be growing. They now have associations with Eidolon Paranormal in Australia, North London Paranormal Investigations in the UK and the European Paranormal Activity Society.
For a kid who was once so afraid of the dark that he’d get his mum to stand outside every time he went to the loo, nothing scares him anymore. Except maybe stray dogs, he says. Now an engineering student based in Bhubaneswar, Mohanty says he entered the field of paranormal investigations to find out why people feared things like the dark. In 2013, he met Akshai Sthalekar online, with whom he co-founded the Indian Paranormal Team.
After a few newspaper interviews, international collaborations, a foreign radio show and a local TV appearance, his skeptical friends are beginning to change their minds. Anyway, he adds, it’s a unique field – so the criticism is entirely expected. We asked him about all the cool gadgets in his arsenal that he uses to investigate things that go bump in the night.
Do you have a standard toolkit that you take with you on your investigations?
Yeah. We use a minimum of 6-7 special devices to do things such as detect and record the voices of the dead, detect electromagnetic fluctuations, capture images and so on. Our EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorder captures infrasonic sounds – voices that normal humans can’t hear.
EchoVox is a mobile app used by many reputed paranormal investigators and is like an EVP recorder, but the difference is that it gives answers in real time. You don’t need to plug it into a computer and play back the recording to hear the voices.
Then there’s the cell sensor, which detects electromagnetic fluctuation (and the electromagnetic pen, which is a portable version of this) and the sound detector, which is not used by paranormal investigators, but we use it to check if there were any voices other than ours in a recording.
We also use motion sensors, the kind used for security reasons…
…like in your average burglar alarm system?
Yes. And having a camera next to it helps us see what caused the movement. We also use laser grids…
…like in spy movies, where there’s a thief trying to steal a jewel?
It forms a dotted grid that triggers an alarm. We use a camera along with it to check what triggered it, because very tiny things like insects can also set it off.
We have one more device called the temperature gun. It throws out a beam of infrared laser light to get the temperature of a place. Whenever a ghost or spirit is manifesting, the temperature of the area will be less than what’s around it. This is the reason why you might suddenly feel cold when you think there’s a ghost.
Though another explanation for the feeling is the adrenaline rush created by fear. But yes, if you are not scared and there seems to be no other reason then it could be that the ghost or spirit is trying to manifest.
Isn’t all of this equipment very expensive?
The problem is that in India no one makes such paranormal devices, so we have to import them from the US or Europe, and it burns a hole in our pockets to spend such a big amount on these devices. The cell sensor I was telling you about costs nearly Rs 8,000, and around Rs 12,000 once you add shipping charges. That’ the most expensive item we own.
A full spectrum camera, which captures images in the infrared belt, costs around Rs 30-40,000. A thermal camera is around Rs 60-70,000. We try to manage with the resources we can. Our cameraman uses a regular DSLR.
So is all this machinery worth anything in the field? Which of it has been the most useful in detecting a presence?
The cell sensor and our electromagnetic pen. The EchoVox is also useful, even if you have nothing else, for getting an intelligent reply.
What have you used on recent expeditions?
I was in Manali a couple of weeks ago. Since I didn’t want to risk being stopped during a security check, the only thing I was carrying was my mobile phone with the EchoVox app. We went to the Hidimba Temple, which has a history of several thousand years.
Actually, I’m a bit sensitive to energy. And when everyone was sightseeing I felt some heaviness. You generally don’t feel heaviness unless there is less ventilation or a room has been kept closed for a long time. But this was an airy, open room. So yes, I conducted an EchoVox session and got some intelligent replies.
So you heard the ghost? What did you hear in reply?
Usually we ask questions like, why are you here, what is your name, can you see us... You have to talk to them in the most respectful way. In the temple, I asked in Hindi, “What is your name? I’m holding the EchoVox, please come to it and say your name.”
The answer was I got was, “Laksh.”
When I asked the question again, I didn’t get any reply. I said, “If you are here, if you can see me, give me a sign.” It sounded like a British woman trying to speak Hindi, it said, “No, there are problems.”
I asked if the ghost could tell me my name. It said, “Dead.”
Oh shit! And what did you say to that?
I said, “Sorry, you got my name wrong.” (Laughs)
Don’t you ever get spooked?
No, investigators like us react like a small child does to getting toffee. All interactions are evidence of their presence, and how much proof you can collect is helpful to the paranormal community. Even getting punched or injured by an evil entity – even then we take it purely as evidence.
Have you ever taken one for the team?
Yeah, on my first investigation – I was investigating a local cemetery. I was trying to ask questions and provoke them into appearing. I said, “Agar aap me dum hai, toh mujhe chhoo ke dikhaiye.”
Instead of chhoona, I got a punch in the area between my chest and my tummy!
For a moment, I didn’t think it was the ghost and I ignored it, assuming it was a digestion problem. But the pain was still there even after I went home. I told this to our co-founder, Akshai, he practices spirituality. He told me the most possible reason for the pain was an attack.
After putting all the information together, I came to the conclusion that on my first investigation, I was attacked by a spirit. Because I didn’t take any protection before going…
What do you mean, ‘protection’?
Our team is a blend of spirituality and science. Keeping spirituality as our base, we try to prove spiritual things scientifically. If we are going to war, and we do not take our protection shields… there are chances of getting injured.
So what is a protection shield?
In the spiritual world, there is a term called white light. The white light is like divine light. What we need to do is invoke the white light to protect you and imagine that it is covering you from head to toe. And then you can go for investigation or solving cases.
Considering you go on expeditions with sophisticated equipment, do you feel like the Ghostbusters? Do you like the movie?
(Laughs) Yeah, I’ve seen it, it’s pretty funny, and people do relate our kind of work to that movie. The devices they were using were like, a shotgun that they were using to capture ghosts, hahaha…
But no, we do not relate to that movie ourselves. Because what we do is really serious stuff. It’s not like, we just stand with our devices, try to communicate with the spirits.
We do not know with whom we are trying to communicate. After even so many years of research – I know people who have been researching this subject for 30 years, even 50 years – there is still no proper theory on the topic.
There is a difference between ghost hunters and paranormal investigators. There are many who think they are paranormal investigators, when really they’re just ghost hunters. The latter is someone who doesn’t research or keep track of activities during an investigation. He just wants to say, “Haan, I saw that ghost” or “I saw that apparition, yes that house is haunted.” But a paranormal investigator goes and does everything in a proper way and tracks evidence to further the paranormal community.