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Sat Nam,

I used to experience the EXACT same thing your brother is going through, for years. That includes my mother, bless her, doing weird superstitious things to me. I agree with both responses above, and want to add a comment about this to the above.

I'll go in order as you've asked.

  • From what I have seen in a typical Punjabi extended family, people do "black magic" because they are insecure, and often due to the tradition that exists in the pinds (villages) in India. My mother lived in Delhi for a little while and Hoshiarpur in Punjab, where her neighbors were Hindus. Women pass along these things, irregardless of religion. It makes them feel safe. And, yes, that comes from lack of trust or disinterest in their relationship with the Guru, or primal fear that makes them reach for anything. As for "does it work?", there is evil out there, and for those who truly devote themselves to it, sure, they can "conjure" up something nasty. But it works both ways. If you BELIEVE something will hurt you, and are weak, you will suffer pain from that fear. Your father doing these things is shaking your brother up because it rocks his sense of security (I am assuming he is very young). I freaked out when my mom slipped an iron pan of water under my bed. I have always believed that Guru ji and Waheguru take care of us, and that they permeate existence. The duality of it was what created the frustration.

  • Your brother's grades are lowering probably due to a sense of fear and confusion combined with the hassles of living. I remember my "dark period" happened when I went to 9th grade and changed schools. I had such a primal, sheer terror about meeting people, which progressed to terrors in the dark, that I nearly failed an entire grade (in honors courses, too!). It's not because he is "haunted" or anything, but he has developed anxiety from all of the stress. That means that a neurotransmitter in his brain has become imbalanced. For that, he needs to muster up the courage to calm himself. I did the whole psychologist/psychiatrist thing, but what worked for me in the end was meditation, deep breathing and self-counseling. Talk to him about his fears, and be his best friend in this (as my dad was for me). Have him deepen his relationship with God. It's not the "magic", trust me.

Because of how ingrained this "wives tale" is in our culture, it is not going to be easy to eradicate. Honestly, it's a last resort type of thing. My mother did those things in response to my panic attacks and night terrors and illness, because it made her feel secure, like she could help me the way it has probably been done to her by her mother. I don't blame her, nor do I look down upon her. I understand it for what it is. BUT, you should approach your dad in the same way, by telling him firmly that these things don't do anything, and are causing his sons headache. His concentration needs to be on how he can help his son and your brother regain his foothold in life. But don't yell at him or go into some rant. Listen to his reasons and go from there.

Be there for your brother. I can remember how I felt almost vividly, even though it's been 5 years. This is not a result of black magic, but maybe something else. Consider health, as well. It was the news of a massacre in Canada and watching the grief on a loved one's face upon hearing the news that sent me into this dark spiral. All it takes is one second to reveal an underlying deficiency or pit in one's psyche, that needs to be worked on.

May God and Guru bless you and your family to understanding and peace.