Shri Shivaram Barve from a Village in Dicholi often writes on various topics in the daily ‘Navaprabha’. In one of his recent articles he has raised a question, ‘can telepathy exist?’ The curiosity and the quest of knowledge of this gentleman are admirable. Telepathy is considered to be one of the so called miraculous, supernatural powers; something divine and beyond mundane human abilities. Human beings all along believed that there are people who possess supernatural powers and can perceive things and phenomena inapprehensible to common people. They can describe or draw pictures of things not seen by them. This is called clairvoyance; knowing in advance what is going to happen in future is called premonition; e.g. seeing the death of a dear one in advance; knowing exactly what a person is thinking although he is far away is called telepathy and moving or bending things from a distance is called psycho kinesis.
People are much interested in hearing about those who claim such supernatural powers. Even scientists are interested in the study and investigation into the claims of supernatural powers. However it was found that those who claimed that their studies confirmed the existence of supernatural powers were not beyond doubt. There were many flaws and errors in their investigations and experiments. Deeper and more detailed investigations proved their claims to be false. All investigations made by many scientists, in laboratories all over the world have failed to provide any decisive evidence to prove the existence of any supernatural powers of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP).ESPtherefore is not recognized as a branch of psychology. In every period of history of every culture, claims of contacts between people faraway from each others being established throughESPcan be found. (Dr. Vartak from Pune is one such example. Not only does he claim to establish contact throughESP, but he also claims of being able to visit various planets in Sookshma Deha -the ethereal body or the sentient soul.) These claims are supposed to be matters of religious chants and occult sciences. They, therefore, were not paid much attention.
It was in the latter half of the 19th century that attention first was drawn toESP. InEnglandthe Society for Psychical Research was established in 1882. This was followed by the American Society of Psychical Research established in 1887. Many other countries too were interested in the investigation of this phenomenon and established their own institutions wherein reputed scientists participated in the research work. Some universities too undertook research in this field in support of these institutions. However all these efforts could not produce any conclusive evidence for the existence ofESP.
In order to study Telepathy as a science a specific method of study and research needed to be developed. Many methods were invented and used. But the one invented by the Psychiatrist Rhine is now used as a standard method. This method consists of cards like playing cards. A set is made up of 25 cards. Every card has one of the signs-square, star, cross, circle and line. This sign is printed on the card in black ink in thick and large size.
One of the persons giving this test, say A, sits in one room. The other person, B, who sends messages to A, sits in another room. It is ensured that these two will not be able to communicate with each other in any way. The person B is shown some cards and is supposed to convey to A what card he has. The number of cards A correctly recognizes is counted at the end. For the test of Clairvoyance the cards are kept on the table so that the signs on the cards are not seen. The person claiming clairvoyance is asked to tell the order of the sings on the cards. In the test for cognition, the person is expected to tell in what order the cards will get arranged after shuffling. But he has to predict the order before shuffling. Finally the results of the tests are compared and tallied. The results failed to prove the existence ofESPand the claims of Telepathy, Clairvoyance or Cognition were proved to be false.
Many books are written to prove the existence ofESPdescribing innumerable incidents for evidence. They take it for granted thatESPexists and extol the supernatural powers possessed by those people who make a claim to such powers. But experts have raised many doubts regarding the authenticity of the happenings and personalities described in these books.
Translated by Suman Oak