There have been many cases of children from
the age when they can first talk saying that they can remember
They talk about another house, other parents and families
and about how they died. Sometimes they become so unhappy
that their parents arrange for them to go to the place where
they say they lived before. In many cases they are able
to identify their previous relatives. Usually the memories
start to fade by the time the child is 6 or 7.
The Shanti Devi Case
At the age of four in 1930 in Delhi, India, Shanti Devi
began to mention certain details about clothes, food, people,
incidents, places which surprised her parents. She mentioned
the following which were later verified to be true. She:
• said she was Lugdi who used to live
in Muttra, 128 kilometers away
• spoke some words in the dialect of that area without
having learned it
• claimed to have given birth to a son and died ten
days later, events which it was later found did happen to
• when taken to Muttra recognized her husband of her
former life, Kedar Nath, and spoke of many things they did
• was able to identify with accuracy a number of landmarks
where she used in live in the previous life in Muttra
• was able to correctly state how the furniture was
placed when she used to live there in her home
• knew that in her former life where she had hidden
150 rupees in an underground corner of a room for safe keeping
in the house. The husband of the previous life, Kedar Nath,
confirmed that although the money was not there he had found
• correctly identified Lugdi's former parents from
a large crowd.
A committee of well respected people from
the town was organized to investigate her claim. It included
a well-known politician, a lawyer and a managing director
of a newspaper. The committee was more than satisfied that
Shanti knew things that she could not have obtained knowledge
about by cheating, fraud or in any illegitimate way. None
of the members of the committee knew Shanti or had any connection
with her in any way whatsoever.
The case became internationally known and
attracted the attention of many, many sociologists and writers.
For example, in the 1950s a Swedish writer, Sture Lonnerstrand,
traveled to India to meet Shanti Devi and to continue to
investigate for himself the documented facts. He too came
to the conclusion that the Shanti Devi case is a foolproof
case for reincarnation (Reincarnation International, Jan.
1994 No 1 Lon) and see
5th Dimension documentary which
features Shanti Devi's story.
The James Linegar Case A young American boy remembers his past life as
an American fighter pilot fighting the Japanese During World
Dr Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry
at the University of Virginia Medical School, spent many
years investigating claims by children that they could remember
a past life. He interviewed over four thousand children
from the United States, England, Thailand, Burma, Turkey,
Lebanon, Canada, India and other places, who claimed that
they could remember a number of incidents from a past life.
He checked documents, letters, autopsy records, birth and
death certificates, hospital records, photographs, newspaper
reports and the like.
The case of Imad Elawar
In Lebanon, Dr Ian Stevenson went unannounced
into a Druse village and asked the villagers if they knew
of any cases where children talked of past lives. He was
referred—again without any prior warning—to
the home of five-year-old Imad Elawar. Since the age of
one Imad had been talking all the time about a former life
in a village twenty-five miles away.
At age one his first words had been the
names 'Jamileh' and 'Mahmoud'; at the age of two he had
stopped a stranger in the street identified him as a former
Stevenson interviewed the child and the
parents and recorded over fifty-seven separate claims about
his former life. When Stevenson went with the boy and his
father to the other village to investigate the boy's claims
it took them several days to locate the boy's former house.
No contact with the relatives had been made before the visit.
• Imad was able to make thirteen correct
statements and identifications about his former life including
photographs of himself and his brother
• he recognized photographs of his former uncle, Mahmoud,
and his former mistress, a prostitute named Jamileh
• he was able to point out details of where he had
kept his rifle—a secret known only to his mother—and
of how his bed had been arranged during his last illness
• he stopped a stranger and had a long talk with him
about their experiences together in their army service.
In all Stevenson calculates that of the
fifty-seven claims Imad had made about his former life,
fifty-one could be verified (Stevenson 1978).
The case of Marta Lorenz
Another very convincing case investigated
by Dr Stevenson was the Brazilian case of Marta Lorenz,
who at the age of one year recognized a friend of her parents
with the words 'Hello, Papa.' At around two she began talking
about details of a previous life as her mother's best friend,
the daughter of the family friend she had recognized. Many
of these details were not known to the child's mother but
were later confirmed by several different people.
She remembered one hundred and twenty separate
and unrelated details about her previous life as Maria de
Olivero, including details of what Maria had told her best
friend (Marta’s mother) immediately before she died—that
she would try to be reborn as her best friend's daughter
and that as soon as she was old enough would relate many
details of her former life (Stevenson 1974).
Sri Lankan Children who remember past lives
Stevenson found that in cases of violent
death the child may show a birthmark where he was knifed,
shot or whatever caused his death.
An example of one of Dr Stevenson's birthmark
cases is that of Ravi Shankar. He recalled being horrifically
decapitated as a child by a relative who was hoping that
he would inherit the child's father's wealth. The reborn
child was found to have a birthmark encircling his neck.
When his claim was investigated it was found that the person
he claimed to have been, did in fact die by decapitation.
A second case involves a child in Turkey
who recalled being a robber who when about to be captured
by the police had committed suicide, shooting himself with
a rifle by placing the muzzle against his right underside
of the chin. The child who claimed to remember his life
was born with a very distinct mark under his chin. On further
investigation, he was found to have another birthmark on
top of his head exactly where the bullet would have exited.
When Dr Stevenson was investigating this particular case
in Turkey, an old man informed Stevenson that he remembered
the incident and testified as to the condition of the shot
Dr Jim B. Tucker, M.D.,of the Division
of Perceptual Studies Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral
Sciences University of Virginia became Dr Stephenson's assistant.
In this video he talks about how he was convinced by the
evidence and wrote the book Life
Dr Stephenson found the following were true
of most of the cases he investigated:
• age when the memories appear—usually
between two and four
• age when memory fades—almost always between
five and eight
• child behaves like an adult
• claims the new body feels strange
• vivid events are remembered
• a large percentage of the cases remember a violent
• children show fear of objects connected with previous
• when children visit their previous home they can
point out changes
• often the mother or someone else in the family can
remember a dream in which they were told that the coming
child was a reincarnation.
• the mothers began to like strange foods during their
pregnancy which were the same as the foods liked by the
person in the previous life.
• the child has skills not taught or learned
• some have birthmarks or deformities in the same
place as a previous life injury.
In order to show that reincarnation cases occur in European
cultures where fewer people believe in reincarnation Dr
Ian Stevenson wrote his last book European
Cases of the Reincarnation Type (2003) This book
focuses on 40 different reincarnation research case studies
in a Western setting. The book describes behaviors or statements
made by individuals, most frequently during childhood, that
would be completely foreign to their upbringing or genetic
factors. For example, David Llewellyn, born in England in
1970, possessed a significant knowledge of Jewish religious
and dietary customs and also experienced nightmares and
phobias with themes of concentration camps.
Dr Robert Almeder, Philosophy professor
Georgia State University talks about the implications of
Dt Stevenson's work.
Tom Shroder, interviewed
here on 5/1/1999, was an editor for the Washington Post
who investigated Dr. Ian Stevenson's work as a skeptic by
traveling with him on two research expeditions. Committed
as he was to the journalistic ideal of objectivity, he had
to admit he was convinced that the findings were genuine.