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Jacolliot, Louis - Occult Science in India - 11 Fakirs The Phantom of Karli



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Jacolliot, Louis - Occult Science in India



About four years after this, I was travelling in the province of Aurungabad, on a visit to the subterranean temple of Karli, having come through Madras, Bellary, and Bedjapour.

These celebrated crypts, which are excavated from the living rock, are all situated within the area bounded by the Mahratta Hills, where are also found all the other monuments of this character that India possesses, as, for instance, Ellora, Elephanta, Rosah, etc.

According to E. Roberts, these hills, which all terminate in wide plateaux, were protected, at one time, by fortresses, which made this place a formidable line of defence against the Arabs and Mussulmans, which proved effectual for more than five centuries.

The ruins of citadels are still standing upon the steep road leading to Karli.

The entrance to the caves is situated about three hundred feet above the bottom of the hill, and the only access is by a rough and narrow path, which is more like the bed of a torrent than a practicable road.

The path leads to a terrace or platform, partly artificial, and cut in the rock, or built of fragments of rock taken from the inside.

It is about a hundred feet wide, and forms a square worthy of the magnificence of the interior of the temple.

At the left of the portico stands a massive column, supporting, upon its capital, three lions so disfigured by the hand of time that they can with difficulty be recognized at all. This column is covered with inscriptions that are now illegible.

Penetrating into the interior, I stood at the threshold of a spacious vestibule, the entire length of which, measuring about a hundred and sixty feet, is covered with arabesques and sculptured figures of animals and men. On either side of the entrance stood three elephants of colossal size, with their drivers upon their necks and their houdahs upon their backs, in which, with great boldness, the unknown artist had fashioned a multitude of persons. The arched vault is sustained by two rows of pillars, each of which is also surmounted by an elephant, bearing upon his back a man and woman, in the form of cariatides, who seem to bend beneath the enormous weight they bear.

The interior is imposing but dismal, and it is impossible to find one's way in the prevailing darkness.

This grand underground crypt is a celebrated place of resort for pilgrims, and crowds of Fakirs are often met with, who have come from all parts of India, to perform their devotions in the Cave of Evocations.

Others live permanently in the neighborhood of the temple, where they spend the whole of their time in corporeal mortifications and mental contemplation,. sitting, day and night, in front of two blazing fires, which are constantly fed by the attendants, who wear a band upon their mouth to prevent inhaling the slightest impurity, and eat nothing but a few grains of cooked rice, which they moisten with water filtered through a piece of linen cloth. They gradually arrive at a state of emaciation bordering closely upon death. Their moral strength is soon impaired, and when this protracted suicide has brought them to death's door, they have long been in such a state of intellectual and physical decrepitude that they hardly seem to be alive.

All Fakirs who strive to attain the highest transformations in the superior spheres have to undergo these terrible mortifications.

One was pointed out to me who had arrived some months ago from Cape Comorin, and who, sitting between two fires, in order, no doubt, to hasten the decomposition of his physical organs, had already arrived at a state of almost complete insensibility. Imagine my astonishment when, from a deep scar running across the whole upper part of his skull, I thought I, recognized the Fakir of Trivanderam.

Approaching and addressing him in that beautiful Southern language in which he so much liked to converse, I asked him if he remembered the Franguy of Benares.

His almost lifeless eyes seemed to blaze up for a moment, and I heard him murmur the two Sanscrit words, which I had seen in phosphorescent letters on the evening of our last sitting:

Divyavapour gatwâ,

meaning, "I have clothed myself with a fluidic (fluidique) body."

That was the only sign of recognition that I was able to obtain. He was known to the Hindus in the neighborhood as Karli Sava, or the Karli Phantom.

So, decrepitude and imbecility appear to be the final end of all Hindu transformed Fakirs.


In conclusion, we can only repeat the words of our preface:

"It is not our office to decide, either for or against, the belief in spirits, whether mediating or inspiring."

Our aim is merely to give an account of the philosophical and spiritualistic tenets of the Brahmins, as well as of the external phenomena and manifestations which are, according to them, the means whereby the Pitris, or ancestral shades, demonstrate their existence and communicate with men.

All ancient religions, and even Christianity itself, acknowledge the existence of extraordinary beings, who have a special part to perform in the continuous movement of creation. All teach that man, upon laying aside his present earthly envelope, enters the superior world in the state of a spirit.

The constant perfectibility of the soul, and the spiritual life—that is their common philosophical idea.

As for the phenomena and manifestations, which are claimed to be supernatural, we also find them to be an outgrowth of this belief, both in the temples of India, Chaldea, and Egypt, and in the catacombs to which the early Christians fled for shelter.

We refrain from making any positive statement as to the possibility or not of the extraordinary phenomena performed by the Fakirs, as we have described them, which some attribute to the adroitest imposture and others to occult intervention, but leave the reader to judge for himself.



The source of the experience


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