Literally meaning in Latin, “entering the flesh again,” reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the soul or spirit can begin a new life in a new body after death. This is the central belief in the Hindu religion.
Reincarnation is also a common belief of several different ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar and is also found in many tribal societies around the world in places like Australia, East Asia, Siberia and South America.
One of the most famous and chilling recorded accounts of reincarnation is the case of Shanti Devi, an Indian girl born in 1926. In the 1930s, when she was a little girl growing up in Delhi, India, Shanti began claiming to remember the details of a past life.
According to accounts, when she was four years old, Shanti told her parents that her real home was in Mathura, where her husband lived, about 90 miles from their home. She claimed that she was married and had died ten days after giving birth.
When interviewed at school, Shanti claimed that her husband was a merchant named Kedar Nath. The headmaster of the school located a merchant by that name in Mathura who had lost his wife, Lugdi Devi, nine years earlier, ten days after giving birth to their son.
Kedar Nath traveled to Delhi to meet Shanti, where she immediately recognized him and Lugdi Devi’s son. Since she knew several details about Kedar Nath’s life with his wife, he was soon convinced that Shanti Devi was the reincarnation of his wife, Lugdi Devi.
When Mahatma Gandhi heard about the case, he met with the child and set up a commission to investigate. The commission traveled with Shanti Devi to Mathura, arriving on November 15, 1935.
In Mathura, she recognized several family members, including the grandfather of Lugdi Devi. After the trip to Mathura, the commission’s report concluded that Shanti Devi was, in fact, the reincarnation of Lugdi Devi.
Shanti Devi told her story again in 1986 when she was interviewed by Ian Stevenson and K.S. Rawat. In the interview, she also told of her near-death experiences when Lugdi Devi died.
K.S. Rawat continued his investigations in 1987, and the last interview took place only four days before Shanti’s death on December 27, 1987.
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