I’ve heard people recounting tales of various occult or mystical experiences they’ve had in their life – mostly tales of spirits & ghosts and a few otherworldly experiences. I too have a mystical experience to share, which I used to have during my early adulthood which, however, got discontinued by the time I reached my late twenties.

I don’t know how to put it, but sometimes, all of a sudden I used to feel that the moment which had just passed was, in fact, a repetition – a moment which I had experienced before; a moment with absolutely no significance – just a random fleeting moment. For example, suppose I’m sitting on a chair and I need to go out of the room and therefore I proceed to adjust my slipper lying beside my feet to wear them. As I adjust my slippers with one of my feet, I suddenly realize that I had lived this very moment before and the whole situation was being repeated with everything around, living or non-living beings, just about everything.

The frequency of such occurrences were random with no fixed pattern. However, over a period of time, the intensity of such occurrences increased and, instead of the moment that had just passed, I started to see the future moment, again a fleeting one, just a fraction of a second before the same actually occurred.

I vividly remember one such instance. It was when I was at my Uncle’s place and we were watching some play on TV. In the relevant part of the play, a man was sitting in his living room reading some magazine or newspaper. Just then his daughter comes down from upstairs, approaches his father from behind and lovingly puts her arms around his neck and says something; and just a moment before the dialogue was delivered, I knew what she was going to say, word for word, just a fraction of moment before.

I guessed I might have seen this part of the play in “Saptahiki” a weekly telecast on Doordarshan which highlighted the upcoming programmes on television during the week ahead. I, however, knew I was guessing just for the sake of it, as it was just not the dialogue that I was aware of beforehand but, the situation as a whole around me – the persons, the room we were in, the furniture, their placement, the play on television – just about everything. The entire moment was being repeated and I was aware of it just an iota of a moment in advance. Also I was quite sure not to have seen that play, or for that matter any part of it, before. Yet to be doubly sure, I asked my cousin whether this scene was shown in the Saptahiki last Saturday and, as I’d expected, she said ‘no’. I really wondered how then I knew what the girl in the play was going to say to her father exactly word for word.

Another instance I remember is, when I visited my uncle’s house one evening after work. The family members were busy glancing through some photographs which were of the recent Jammu trip of my elder cousin. One of the photographs caught my eye where this cousin of mine along with his friends was taking bath in a stream. I struck me that I had seen that photograph before so I asked my cousin (sister) whether the same was an old one. Saying no she said they all belong to the same trip. There was no reason to doubt that as I could see the set of friends were same as in other photographs. I certainly couldn’t have seen the photograph before. Then why it looked so familiar, I wondered.

I had shared my experiences with a few of my family members and close friends and I observed that the persons who had this experience ever, took no time to understand what I was trying to put across; for others, however, it was difficult to get the picture and invariably they all connected this experience to ‘premonition’ which was not the case. I don’t know when it all stopped but I do not recall having experienced such a phenomenon again after my marriage in my late twenties.

Years later, when I discussed the phenomenon with my teenage daughter, she immediately recognized that and asked me to read about déjà vu – a French term which literally means ‘already seen’.

Wikipedia says “Déjà vu is a feeling of familiarity and déjà vécu (the feeling of having “already lived through” something) is a feeling of recollection. Scientific approaches reject the explanation of déjà vu as “precognition” or “prophecy,” but rather explain it as an anomaly of memory, since despite the strong sense of recollection, the time, place, and practical context of the “previous” experience are uncertain or believed to be impossible”.

It further says that there are two types of déjà vu – pathological and non-pathological and that “the pathological déjà vu usually associated with epilepsy or that, when unusually prolonged or frequent, or associated with other symptoms such as hallucinations, may be an indicator of neurological or psychiatric illness, and the non-pathological type characteristic of healthy people, about two-thirds of whom have had déjà vu experiences.”

I read a few more articles on this complex phenomenon and found that there are many different theories to déjà vu which, as per psychoanalysts, could occur with or without medical conditions. According to some psychiatric therapist déjà vu is caused by some sort of disparity in the mind that causes it to take the ‘present’ for the ‘past’; while few others relate the phenomenon to the past life experience.

Whatever may be the truth, the bottom line is – while the natural human tendency is to reason out everything, there are things which are beyond human perception and sometimes better be kept secret.