The question of possession by vital beings has been sensationalized to such an extent in modern society, with an entire genre of motion pictures depicting such things in an extreme way, that it is difficult to have a serious discussion and review of whatever reality underlies these sensational tales. It is also true that in some cases, people were accused of being possessed, not because of actual possession, but due to desire, greed, fear, or other motives of individuals in a position to press the claim. The Salem Witch trials, in Salem, Massachusetts, represents such a misguided approach to the subject. The ‘Holy Inquisition” conducted by the Catholic Church, also distorted the question of possession based on motives of power, greed and control. These things tend to undermine the credibility of reports of true possession as we confuse the misguided and sensational reports and events with actual underlying reality that can be seen or documented.

In this light, the Mother details experience she had in relation to cases of possession. It should be noted that not everyone who acts in an unpredictable or even seemingly irrational way can be described as possessed. There are numerous potential causes of extreme unorthodox behavior that cannot be chalked up to this cause. In modern society we have to add the widespread use of psychotropic drugs as another potential cause of uncontrolled behavioral manifestations. The underlying causes and the question of possible possession are not always mutually exclusive. Drugs, neuro-chemical imbalances, physical injury or trauma of various sorts, including psychological trauma, may evidence similar behaviors as possession, but this does not exclude the possibility of their masking a case of possession or opening the door to it. Careful study and review must be undertaken to do an accurate differential diagnosis with potentially multiple layers of involvement to bring about the manifested behavior suspected of being cases of possession.

A disciple asks: “Are mentally deranged people possessed?”

The Mother answers: “Yes, unless there is a physical lesion, a defect in the formation or an accident, a congestion. In all other cases it is always a possession. The proof of it is that if a person is brought to you who is altogether mentally deranged, if he has a lesion, he cannot be cured, while if there is no physical lesion, if it is a possession, then one can cure him. Unfortunately these things happen only to people who like them; there must be in the being much ambition, vanity, combined with much stupidity and a terrible pride — it is on such things that those beings play. I have known cases like that, of persons who were partially possessed, and I succeeded in freeing them from the beings who possessed them. Naturally they felt some relief, a kind of ease for a time, but it did not last long; almost immediately it wore off and they thought: ‘Now I have become quite an ordinary creature, whereas before I was an exceptional being!’ They used to feel within them an exceptional power, even if it was a power to do evil, and they were satisfied with it. So what did they do? They called back with all their force the power they had lost! Of course, the being that had been destroyed could not come back, but as these beings exist in thousands it was replaced by another. I have seen this happen three times consecutively in a case, so much so that in the end I had to tell the person: ‘I am tired, get rid of it yourself, I am no longer interested!’ “

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 5 Occult Forces, pp. 116-117

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast located at
He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
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More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press