This is a story about Gandhiji's presence as told to me by my father's friend. Apparently a well-known author of Allahabad used to write all sorts of stories in local newspapers about Gandhiji's "sex experiments". Gandhiji felt that probably the author had not understood these experiments and so he informed my father's friend that he would be happy to meet the author and clear his misunderstandings. Word was therefore sent to the author and a 30-minute meeting was set up in Delhi. The author prepared a detailed four-page questionnaire about Gandhiji's sex experiments and set off to see him. Gandhiji inquired about the well-being of the author and his family and suggested that he should write on Raja Harishchandra and other great Hindu mythological figures! Half an hour slipped by in such small talk. After my father's friend and the author came out of the meeting, the friend asked him why he did not ask those questions he had so carefully prepared. To this the author confessed that he could not bring himself to ask them in Gandhiji's presence!
There are similar stories about how Albert Einstein's presence inspired silent reverence in his audiences, even in usually raucous university surroundings.
I believe that presence or aura is a radiation of thought that a human being emits and is felt by everybody who encounters that person. A person's presence could either be evil, spiritual or simply pleasant and it is determined by the individual's thoughts, his/her mind. It cannot be transmitted by any known technological means. The day we will be able to project or transmit "presence" to large distances through our technology will be the day when man-machine interface will vanish.
"One can create a 'presence' by developing a calm mind. Calmness of mind comes from internal security, which is an outcome of spirituality. "
However, in order to truly feel a person's presence, an observer needs a certain amount of sensitivity. The mind is both a receiver and broadcaster of strong thoughts and it is these thoughts that allow it to feel a presence. Some people are born with the gift of a sensitive mind. Others can cultivate this quality by meditation and thinking deeply. As the brain becomes powerful it also becomes sensitive. This is a quality that lots of yogis possess.
Nevertheless, a sensitive mind is sometimes a curse because it can get distracted easily by any strong thought that it perceives. It requires a great will power to ward off influence from a powerful mind. Even Swami Vivekananda found himself in some distress when he came in the presence of evil human beings.
We also sometimes work ourselves up into a state of awe towards some people (generally well-known personalities), and become blind to their flaws. This awe is sensed by the recipients who get an added boost to their energy levels from this.
However a genuine feeling of warmth, love, kindness and humility can only be felt when in presence of a great soul. Thus if all of us follow our basic gut feelings and come in contact with such souls then we should be thankful for our luck. Such people's friendship should be cultivated and cherished.
Lots of times it is said that a great guru possessed with a great soul takes all the ills and worries of a disciple to himself/herself. If this was true then it would be a great burden on the guru.
A simpler answer could be that a great guru either through touch or "wirelessly" removes the knots in the brain of the disciple. Then the disciple himself or herself is able to resolve internal problems.
This happened many times with Shri Ramakrishna when he would touch a disciple and the veil of doubt and ignorance in the disciple's mind would be lifted. Similar stories exist about other great souls with powerful minds like Vivekananda, Raman Maharishi etc. who just by their presence removed the knots in the disciple's mind. That is probably called the presence of great soul.
This doubt removal can also be achieved by words. The spoken word is a much simpler and easier way to reach a number of people. That has been an ancient Indian tradition of Pravachan.
It is not necessary that only so called "god men" or well-known figures have a presence. Quite a number of times one can find such a presence in ordinary people. In fact sometimes well-known persons are very troubled. Their stakes in power, position or money are very high and higher the stakes are, higher is their insecurity. This is then reflected in their "presence".
One can create a "presence" by developing a calm mind. Calmness of mind comes from internal security, which is an outcome of spirituality. A person who is in peace with himself or herself can radiate a tremendous calmness. This radiation of thought helps create calmness in most people who come in contact with such souls.