Monday, October 14, 2013

History of the 3 Types of Buri Nazar (Kann Drishti or Evil Eye) and Its Place in Modern Society

Buri nazar is the Punjabi term meaning "Evil Eye." Most of us know what this is but do we understand its significance and the thought process behind it? Why is it important now that modern techonology has advanced, along with our minds and understanding of the universe.

Historically, buri nazar was the term applied to the perceived ability to cause injury or death through black magic, negative energy, etc. The concept is rooted in the fear of envy (ironically one of the '7 deadly sins in Christianity). If we think about this in the context of ancient life, it's easy to understand why people would feel that way. Given the religious doctrines in history and the demand for people to treat each other respectfully, it's easy to see why there would need to be a label placed on negativity that had no place in a productive society.

Throughout time it has been proven by many types of science that negative forces do adversely affect people. One example would be how you are treated in life. If you are constantly told you're worthless, you don't matter, you should die then you could eventually begin to believe this. Thus the evil eye has done it's work on you and can cause physical harm. Even doctors will tell you that keeping a positive spirit promotes healing. You literally invite bad health or death by drowning in your own sorry. If others enable you to drown or look at you like you're not doing well, that affects you in small ways that add up.

Take a look at your average celebrity. They are worshipped by people from all walks of life but also have haters. So when something bad happens, the haters often find joy in watching their suffering. One could say the suffering is a result of the evil eye the haters cast to begin with.

While the evil eye belief is prevalent in India, many other cultures also believe in it - 186 cultures to be exact! One example from the non-desi world, in Judaism it's called "ayin ha-ra."

One of the studies I read on this specifically attributed the "environment for envy" to rich people who have things and the poor people who do not.  Hence the poor people look upon the rich people and envy all the perceived good things in the rich person's life. This invites negative energy. In all 186 cultures that believe in the evil eye, there was found to be a connection to an imbalance of wealth. It makes sense to me as I know from personal experience. I was told not to wear my gold out of the house, cover my ears when I wore my gold earrings so no one would snatch them and if I left anything uncovered that might be envied, my MIL put a black dot behind my ear to ward off the evil eye. A custom I felt helped us bond.

I couldn't help but relate to this document (the first one on the list) as it talked about communities who most adhered to the evil-eye beliefs being pastoral and agricultural. In past times it was the farmers who owned all the land and the priests who made all the money (though I would think priests would have more to be hated for than just wealth considering they openly reprimand those who do 'evil.') In Punjab there is still the underlying concept that farmers are the ones owning the big houses and lots of land (something seen as wealth because of the price of real estate these days). More men from villages are believed to be sent abroad and sending wealth back home. Obviously agriculture is no longer a lucrative business like it used to be, but I see where the tradition comes from.

In my own life I have noticed the evil eye work on many occasions. In India, if your friends and family scoff at your weight, you being not eating as much or engaging in dieting to stop the negative attention. This type of thing happens everywhere. It's prevalent in areas of our life that we're not even aware of. Like the concept of keeping up with the Jones'. You want what others have and you push yourself to try and get it so you can be as good as you perceive them to be. This causes injury to you. It may also cause them to stop doing some things so they can avoid this kind of negative attention from you. This makes them less productive and affects their lives.

It's a filter effect. In all of time there's been no way to stop it. People have always envied others. They've always felt cheated for not being equal, not having what others have. And I do believe it always comes from wealth. A poor villager is much less inclined to be jealous of his neighbor who had 1 more tomato than he had but let that neighbor win the lottery and the perceptions change. The evil eye comes about when the imbalance of wealth becomes to great for the watcher (not receiver) to bear.

Of course, being jealous of wealth is not the only reason for someone to give you the evil eye. They could be just as envious of your societal status, your children, your beauty, your car, your happiness. It is the power of thought and speech that causes suffering. This is something I think many of us still understand today. Words hurt. Bad thoughts (about yourself) damage you. If someone says negative things to you or changes your way of thinking to the negative then you have suffered the evil eye.

According to The Evil Eye Store, someone could unintentionally bring the evil eye upon you by looking at you wrong. They could intentionally bring the evil eye upon you by purposely giving you an evil stare or words. The third type is hidden evil and is said to be the most deadly. According to legend, this evil eye saw all the wickedness in the world.

What are your thoughts on the evil eye?
How do your Indian in-laws feel about the evil eye?


Recommended Reading:
Boris Gershman, American University;  The Economic Origins of the Evil Eye Belief
My Jewish Journal: Evil Eye in Judaism
Gallup Pakistan:  Views on Evil Eye & Magic; 3 out of 4 Believe in Both or at least in One of Them
Divine Brahmanda: How to Take Away Kann Drishti or Buri Nazar or Evil Eye
Lucky Charm USA: What is the Evil Eye?

Some Evil Eye Traditions You Might Find Interesting:
5 Traditional Etiquettes
Encyclopedia Britannica: Evil Eye

22 comments:

  1. In Rajasthan people will not nurse or feed their babies in front of strangers, for fear that someone will curse the milk, by looking at it with the evil eye, and make the baby sick. If it is absolutely necessary, then the bottle must be covered up, so the milk is not visible, and the mother tries to shroud herself from view. They take this very seriously, and generally only close family members and very close, trusted friends would ever be allowed to see a baby or young child drinking milk. Also the tradition of hanging chili peppers and lemons over the doorway. In Italy, there is a certain gesture that you have to make with both hands, pinky and index fingers sticking out, other fingers curled up, as you point away from yourself, to ward off the evil eye, for "scaramanzia". Italians also use a chili pepper-like horn symbol for good luck. Fascinating topic....

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  2. Yes! It is fascinating. Thanks for sharing your insight.

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  3. This article may not make sense to a lot of people, but I can totally connect with it. Negative feelings do have impact and they are bigger than the positive feeling. Your episode with your MIL also explained me the reason behind the concept of Ghoonghat in Indian and other culture :) Thanks

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  4. Thank you. That's exactly what I meant. Negative feelings affect us in tremendous ways!

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  5. I am not sure I completely understand what the evil eye is, BUT I do think there are a lot of people that take pleasure when something bad happens to people - especially like you said, celebrities.

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  6. I guess I am lucky, I grew up in a negative environment and instead of listening to everyone who told me I would never amount to anything, I toughened up and proved them all wrong. You have a choice regardless of what your environment is, you can let it beat you or you can beat it. I choose to be strong and set an example for my kids that no matter what life hands you, you can come out strong and win and that nobody can ruin it for you.

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  7. Oh I can absolutely relate to this idea. For example, if I get 20 positive comments on a blog post and one negative comment, which one do I focus on and let effect me? That's right the negative one. If I envy someone's status or material success, it goes against the idea of the world being an abundant place - I am focusing on the lack in my life and that's what I will get more of - nothing. Is this the same idea as the "evil eye"?

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  8. It's true that keeping a positive attitude helps the spirit. I think positivity attracts positivity and negativity attracts negativity.

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  9. I agree that bringing people down all of the time verbally can have an ill affect on them both emotionally, and if bad enough physically. I think that is especially true with the younger crowd (teens through young adult) who place so much merit on what others say, think, and do.

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  10. Hmm this is the first time I heard about it.. I think it will affect you only if you were affected by the "glare" or evil eye of that person.. I think words are more powerful source or negative feelings and energy.. by what person tells you, talks about you - it has those effects.

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  11. I saw a show awhile back where they discussed the evil eye.

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  12. Sometimes I think we might take the evil eye too far. I think cultures vary and what might be evil to some, but not too others.

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  13. I have figured the people are so judgmental on others is because they are not happy with themselves. Plain and simple.

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  14. This is so fascinating to me, because I am completely unfamiliar with it. But it does make me think of karma.

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  15. I know that here in Spain mothers keep a bow made of red ribbon near their newborns to keep the "Evil Eye" away.

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  16. I do not have Indian in-laws :) so I can't comment on that part because I am white. I can comment on The Evil Eye. I think if you are so consumed with envy that would cause someone to look at another person with evil eye because they want what that person has. giving someone a evil eye will not make anyone feel better. Especially the person giving the evil eye. I don't think the person will be effected in any way by someone giving another person evil eye unless there was some form of relationship between the two being friendly or other wise. we need more kind eyes in this world.

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  17. Liz @ A Nut in a NutshellFebruary 27, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Negative energy is very real and can definitely have a profound effect on people.

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  18. I an not sure about the "reality" of the evil eye, but I understand when others wish harm on others. Even good ppl have moments of envying others. {Also, why wear your jewelry if you have to cover it? No one can see how pretty it is then.}

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  19. TouristMeetsTravelerFebruary 28, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    I can't say I am a believer but I know people who really believe this.

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  20. When I was a child my grandmother gave me a stone that was supposed to protect me from evil eye. I lost it somewhere along the way but I still remember it. evil eye is definitely something that affects us stronger than we realize.

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  21. I was born and raised in the midwest and had never heard of the Evil Eye until I moved to California. There are quite a few cultures that believe in the Evil Eye and I have seen the jewelry that is worn in hopes of that it will ward off bad luck or the evil spirit.

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  22. I think focussing on positivism is the key to a happy life be it for you or for others. There will be circumstances where life throws you curve balls but even at that they are hidden positve things we can benefit from.

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