“Warding off the evil eye” is a common belief and practice in many cultures and traditions. There are different rituals done by different people in order to achieve this. The rituals can be as simple as placing a black-dot on the cheek of the person to be protected from the ‘evil eye’ to as complex as an elaborate lamp-waving ceremony. To start off with, what is the ‘evil eye’ or Drishti (actually Duradrishti but is often shortened while speaking) as it is termed in Sanskrit and many Indian languages?
I shall come to that in due course.
But this much I shall say now that the concept is not unique to India. The "evil eye" is also known in Arabic as ʿayn al-ḥasūd (عين الحسود), in Hebrew as ʿayn ha-rʿa (עין הרע), in Turkish and Hindi as Nazar, in Greek as "το μάτι," in Spanish as mal de ojo and in Italian as malocchio. However, this concept does seem to be largely Asian in origin. At this point, I feel it would be best to start the narrative of an eye-opening and very interesting episode in my life with regards to this Duradrishti.
It was early in the June of 2009. As I was playing shuttle badminton and I jumped up to hit a smash, I landed wrongly and very hard on my right foot. My right ankle twisted badly and the next moment, I was not able to stand. However, it was the middle of a game which was poised very delicately between victory and defeat. The adrenaline rush in my blood was so high that it acted as a pain-killer for a while till I won a narrow victory. I was so happy. Somehow, an optimum amount of pain seems to bring out the best in sportspersons and today, I had an experience of the same.
However, as I lay down to sleep at night, the pain in my ankle became unbearable. I was all alone in the room that night and my room-mate and colleague was busy working on some audio files in the Radiosai studios at Prasanthi Nilayam. I desperately wanted to go to sleep because sleep has its own magical way of killing pain. But the pain was so terrible that it kept me awake almost for the whole night. I did not wake up the next day morning for I hardly slept to say that I woke up! Even as the clock struck 7am, I called up another colleague of mine and requested him to take me to the hospital.
Thus, on the morning of 8th June, 2009, I was taken to the orthopedic department of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi.
Doctor’s advice and Swami’s ‘advice’
I do not like to visit a doctor unless absolutely necessary (or I need to get an exemption from some activity that I don’t like!). Most of the times, I consult my Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) within my heart and proceed according to the reply I get. But this was an occasion where the pain was so much that I desperately wanted some relief.
The doctor, Dr.Prakash, ordered an X-ray. He looked at it and said,
“You are lucky! There are no fractures as far as I can see. But the fall has been pretty bad and unless you give your ankle absolute rest, it is not going to heal. So, I would suggest putting your foot in a cast for at least 4 weeks. That should give it ample rest to heal.”
I agreed to whatever he said and happily accepted a painkiller that he prescribed. I returned by afternoon to my room with my right ankle placed neatly in a cast. That same afternoon, as I slept after lunch, I had a dream.
In the dream, Swami was going to different places and I was going behind Him everywhere. My leg was in the cast but I did not allow that to hamper my movements. However, Swami was constantly avoiding me and I did not understand why. The dream ended on this unsatisfactory note.
I woke up, trying to make out what the dream might have meant because I am convinced that Swami coming in dreams are His own volition and those dreams are always true. However, as hard I tried, I could not make out what exactly the dream meant. I just felt that maybe Swami did not want to see me with my leg in a cast. And therefore, I decided, I would not allow Him to see me in a cast during the evening darshan sessions. That, I thought, was His advice to me.
Though I would sit on the steps stretching out my right leg, just as Swami came for darshan I would fold it and sit as though nothing was wrong with my leg. Since there were no events, programmes or festivals scheduled, I would not be required to do photography in the mandir. Thus, I thought, I would easily pass 4 weeks without Swami seeing my cast.
The ‘evil-eye’ theory
I was successful in keeping my Plaster of Paris cast as a secret from Swami. (Well, those who have known Baba know that nothing is ever a secret from Him! But, I got the satisfaction of keeping Him in the dark because He was keeping me in the dark about His knowledge of my injury!) I could not, however, keep everyone else in the dark about it. Many people noticed that I walked with a crutch and that I had my right leg in a cast.
It was Vedanarayan sir who accosted me one day when I was walking (read as hobbling) back after Darshan. He told me,
“Aravind, I don’t know whether you will believe me or not but this injury of your’s is because of Drishti. The evil-eye has been cast on you and it would be a good idea if you have a bath after mixing rock-salt in warm water.”
This might be a good place to stop and tell the readers about the concept of the evil-eye.
The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. The term also refers to the power attributed to certain persons of inflicting injury or bad luck by such an envious or ill-wishing look. The evil eye is usually given to others who remain unaware. (This is from Wikipedia)
Whenever a person does well - academically, professionally, artistically or in any other way - there are people who always regard him/her with jealousy, envy and sometimes hatred too. These vicious qualities are like acid. They harm the vessel in which they are stored, no doubt, but they also damage the vessel on to which they are cast! And so, when a person is subject to intense jealousy, envy, hatred or malice he/she suffers a small ‘negative’ - an injury, an unwarranted criticism, monetary loss etc. In order to ensure that such a negative does not happen, people do some ‘negative’ voluntarily - putting a small black mark, bathing in rock-salt water etc. (This is my understanding).
Dhristi is not a concept borrowed from superstitions, science explains it as the flow of negativity that affects the person or object towards which it is directed. Dhrishti Parihaaram is a measure to ward off the evil, cast by an evil eye. The remedy also depends upon the source from which the negative energy has been produced whether it is a product of witchcraft or black magic. (read all you need about the evil-eye in a well-rounded article by ‘Maddy’.)
This concept of the evil eye also warns one against showing off and being proud. It teaches one to be humble and not take the spotlight and shine it too much on to oneself. (It is a known fact in the world today that every celebrity pays a huge price for fame- from stealth pictures being taken to privacy invasion and stalking!) The evil-eye concept trains one to acknowledge that there is a greater power which is operating through every individual and therefore, there is nothing ‘great’ about an individual per say. He/she is simply an instrument of that great power (God/ Atma/ Spirit/ Energy). This understanding also forms the basis of humility for what is there for one to feel proud about?
Vedanarayan sir is someone whom I respect immensely. And so, when he told this to me, it set me thinking. However, after a while, I thought that different people perceive different things in different ways. This was his perception and I need not take it too seriously. Even as I was thinking thus, I was accosted by another of my teachers.
Prof.Bhagya is someone I admire a lot for his undying love of Swami and his strict adherence to His word. He tapped me on my shoulder and said,
“If you don’t mind Aravind, can I tell you something?”
“Definitely sir! Please go ahead...”
“I have a feeling that there are many who look at you with jealousy. This leg fracture of yours (he did not know that there was no fracture) is because of some evil eye I feel. Take some precaution against it.”
A strange decision is taken
Now, I was freaked! This could not be coincidence - two people whom I respect coming and telling me the same thing in quick succession. I hurried back to the studio and locked myself in my chamber. I sat there, talking to the Swami in my heart as to what I was to make of this and what action I had to take.
In the meanwhile, I came to know that from June 18th to June 21st, there were programmes scheduled in the mandir and I would have to photograph the events. How was I going to do it if my right leg was stuck in a cast? They say that tough circumstances need tough decisions. And I indeed made that decision.
To a normal reader, the decision might seem erratic, crazy and absolutely non-scientific. But a person who has known God will know that God is beyond reason. The heart rules over the head in such situations.
And thus, I plunged ahead into my crazy decision. I told the Swami in my heart,
“Swami, the doctor has advised me to have a cast for 4 weeks. But, in a few days time, I have to shoot a major event and programmes in mandir. How will I do that with my foot in a cast and without you seeing it (as I thought you expressed in my dream)? And now, I do not think it is a coincidence that two respected people have advised me against Drishti. So, what am suffering from is not a ‘medical’ problem but of an ‘ill-wishing look’. So, I think, I will go to the hospital and get my cast removed. Do you approve?”
With that, I cast chits - one with a “Yes” and another with a “No” on it. When I picked with a prayer in my heart, it said,
I decided to cast away the cast within a week of it being put without having the slightest idea of the shockingly strange sequence of events about to happen the next morning.
conclusion of the episode at
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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya
firstname.lastname@example.org on December 12, 2014:
Many many thanx Aravind.nobody could really explain the significance of turning salt.I just did it the other day for my grandaidaughter not really knowing why.and then Swami directed me soon after to your article.now all makes sense.thank You Swami
Kokila Vaidyanathan on March 27, 2013:
Very interesting topic. Recently we were told to keep profile everywhere from various friends and families due to certain instances in our lives which according to them was caused by "drishti". Really waiting to know what Swami has to say about it. Waiting for the continuation on this brother. Will there be one???
lrao on November 01, 2012:
Dear brother Aravind, you are being naughty :), by keeping us in suspense. Do post.
The rock salt advice by Vedanarayan Sir is very good - not just for Drishti, but for cleaning our aura. That is indeed the basis of this age old custom of taking salt and waving it around a child (or adult) three times. They say that the salts absorb the negative energy in our aura (the 'drishti' is one form of negative energy and need not be intentional by the sender of the energy. They may not even know that they are sending out this negative energy). The rock salts thus cleanse our aura and also avoid leaking of good energy out of our aura.
Phyllis Krystal - Swami's devotee who teaches guided visualization/meditation has shown how to use a 'beach ball' a thick large ball to protect ourselves from negative energies (visualize yourself inside the ball, thus protected from outside energies). It works....
So, in brief...it is just the energy exchanges that need this type of cleansing....the 'evil eye' is only a label for it....
So now, waiting to see what our dear Swami did and said :).
Madhavi Alapty on November 01, 2012:
Thank you for sharing this article. I was always confused about this Dishti they perform in our places. I felt this since childhood at various intervals. I believed at that time. But when i came to know about SWAMI and after hearing HIM say that 'LOVE ALL SERVE ALL', how can i think that someone is giving that Dishti to me ? I then started reminding myself ' is people really that powerful? Did they have that quality to give Dishti' to others etc and stopped paying attention to that and kept myself on SWAMI always. Recently i read some books which old devotees of SWAMI written and in that they mention that SWAMI also mentioned this Dishti to them..So i am confused. At the same time, i am reading your article about Dishti and can't wait to read the whole thing so i can really understand the meaning of it. So Please post your next Part soon:-)
BV on November 01, 2012:
Please post the next part as early as soon as possible. Since i have lots of doubt on this subejct..
Jai sai ram
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on November 01, 2012:
@ Prashant and Shoba - As always, Swami's message on the evil eye too is empowering and liberating... will be up in a few hours
@ Mark - Yes! Indeed that is one way that the 'evil eye' is warded away in India. Thank you...
@Tina - Thank you for the eager anticipation... Second part will be up within 15 hours... :)
Tina on November 01, 2012:
Please post the next part real soon! Can't wait :) jai sai ram
Prasath on November 01, 2012:
Thank you for sharing your experiences. These guidance are invaluable.
Mark Aspa on November 01, 2012:
thanks Aravind for the story so far...it reminded me of a method i used to great success to counteract drishti on a friend that has already happened:
1. get your affected friend to stand still
2. hold some salt in your palm and move it around their body in circles in the air from their head to toe, 3 times clockwise and 3 times anti clockwise.
3. then rest your hands at floor level and say firmly and with faith, while both looking at Swami's photo:
'Dear Bhagavan, please take away this drishti now!'
4. throw the salt in the bin...
when troubled i always felt better after this....
shobha on October 31, 2012:
very interesting , and waiting to know what Swami had to say about the concept of "evil eye". As always Thank you for sharing these wonderful episodes. Sairam
Prashanth on October 31, 2012:
Perhaps my first job loss could be attributed to that. At that time, i could never fathom as to why it happened. Much later, i realized that there are reasons which exist beyond scientific reasoning and logic.
Shruti on October 31, 2012:
Waiting for Part -2
Maria on October 31, 2012:
Wow I can hardly wait for part 2 - pl check chapter 37 "The Savior" in Anyadha Saranam Nasthi it sure verifies my experience with demons in Brazil