Supernatural Confessions: To the uninitiated, these rites of fire and unfamiliar chanting would come across as something that is out of this world - and perhaps in a literal sense, it is - but for devotees of the faith and for Guru Murali this cleansing ritual is a monthly affair. Tales of black magic and supernatural exploits are topics that are as common to him as a banker talking to each other about the financial market. We fear what we do not know. In this report, Jane recounts her experience attending a fire ritual ceremony, also known as the Agnihotra.
Report by Jane Franklin
On Sunday 24th March 2019, the Supernatural Confessions team was invited to witness a Hindu ‘fire-cleansing’ ceremony conducted by Guru Murali of Om Mahesh Spiritual Alchemy. Guru Murali as we learned that evening is the only practising master of Aghori Vedic Hinduism in Singapore. The Aghori are a small group of ascetic shiva sadhus who command great reverence from Indian rural populations, as they are supposed to possess healing powers gained through their intensely eremitic rites and practices of renunciation and tápasya. A full fledged Aghori sadhus would have trouble living in modern society. Their traditional rites involve sitting on the cremated remains of the dead and eating the flesh of corpses. Aghori sadhus are often misunderstood because of these practices. As morbid as it sounds, these practices have nothing malevolent about them. Guru Murali who is married with two children is learned in the ways of the Aghori but is not able to realistically practice its traditions in Singapore.
The address that we were given pointed us to Zi Zheng Gong Temple (15 Lor 21A Geylang). Initially I found it odd that a Hindu ritual was being held in a Ji Gong Toaist Temple. Eugene felt the same but he was more inclined to just go with the flow without much question.
I got my answer soon after we arrived and came face to face with an all-black Ganesha statue hidden in the corner. Guru Murali then explained that Hinduism and Buddhism/Taoism shared many similar practices and that particular form of Ganesha was worshipped to clear effects of ‘black magic’ and ‘cleanse and restore positive aura’.
When we had finished setting up our filming equipment, we were amazed at the sudden crowd we had found ourselves amongst. Guru Murali and his helpers took their place in front of a sacred fire. Agnihotra is an ancient fire ceremony originating from the sacred Vedic Hindu texts. This healing fire ceremony is considered one of the highest Vedic rituals where specially trained priests place offerings of ghee and grains into the fire while reciting Sanskrit mantras to invoke blessings of health and abundance. Sanskrit is an ancient language of vibration. The belief is that we can make changes in the atmosphere with Sanskrit mantras and fire prepared with specific organic substances.
It was not long after a series of chanting that Guru Murali had entered a trance-like state. We were told that during the exorcism/cleansing ceremony, the Guru would go into a state of trance which is when a certain Hindu deity that is already within him is brought out to act through his body. The bubbly man we had seen just hours earlier was no longer present. What sat in front of us an intimidating version of Guru Murali in his full divine incantation, swaying back and forth while he chain-smoked cigars. Devotees took turns to seek his blessings
Recounting my experience last night, there were two incidences that left a vivid imprint on my mind. A young woman had come to see Guru Murali citing that she was mentally disturbed, seeing apparitions and suspected she was a victim black magic. Was she the target of a jealous lover’s wrath or was she simply suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after a life-changing mishap? She was only 21 years old but has been admitted to the asylum twice. Not wanting to go down that route again, she’s looking towards spiritual cleansing as an option. During the tedious ritual that involved tying black ‘holy strings’ on 9 points of her body, followed by chanting and evoking of mantras and discarding the strings in the sacred fire, she was told that she had black magic done on her by an old lover to keep her close. She had been cleansed and rid of all traces of black magic in the ceremony.
Next in line was a young man who had purchased some poorly consecrated amulets from an online seller. He and his family started facing severe disturbances from the day he brought home the amulets . Had he invited something sinister into his home? He came to Guru Murali helpless, and desperate to be rid of them. Guru Murali recited several powerful incantations and held the amulets over the sacred fire before telling the young man to dispose of them into the sea. We later came to know that Guru Murali had first asked the entities residing in the amulets for forgiveness on his devotee’s behalf and then sent them away, telling them that they did not belong in our realm.
The sacred fire seemed like a zillion sparks dancing in perfect disharmony, the glowing embers leaped and twirled in a fiery dance and the wall of intense heat threatened to melt my contact lenses away. It baffled me how Guru Murali sat in front of the sacred fire for 3 hours, completely unfazed, sometimes even passing his bare hands through the incandescent flames.
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