Reincarnate Me, Please
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Reincarnate Me, Please

"Either he [Dr. Stevenson] is making a colossal mistake or he will be known as the Galileo of the 20th century." is what Dr. Harold Lief stated in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

Probably the most respected collection of data that seems to provide scientific proof that reincarnation is real is the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson. Instead of relying on hypnosis to verify that an individual has had a previous life, he instead chose to collect thousands of cases of children who spontaneously (without hypnosis) remember a past life. Dr. Ian Stevenson uses this approach because spontaneous past life memories in a child can be investigated using scientific protocols. Hypnosis, while useful in researching into past lives, is less reliable from a purely scientific perspective. In order to collect his data, Dr. Stevenson methodically documents the child's statements of a previous life. Then he identifies the deceased person the child remembers being and verifies the facts of the deceased person's life that match the child's memory. He even matches birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records. His strict methods systematically rule out all possible "normal" explanations for the child's memories.

With more than 3000 cases in his files, Dr. Stevenson has provided scientific documentation of past life memories of children from around the world. He is a person with credentials without mistakes. His profession is a medical doctor, but he devoted the last forty years of his life to research of paranormal phenomena. Before he worked as a head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, and after that as a Director of the Division of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia.

Since late sixties Dr. Stevenson has documented cases in India, Africa, United States and elsewhere in which young children, especially between the age of 3 and 5, (chances for young people to remember their past lives are higher because their mind is not polluted with everyday problems) staggered their parents with accurate details about the people they claim to have been. Some of these children have recognised their former homes and neighbourhoods as well as their living relatives and friends. They often ended their lives in violent deaths and not rarely their birthmarks resemble scars that correspond to wounds that caused their death. Dr. Stevenson studies are meticulously objective and methodological. The former chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Washington in Seattle, noted, Herbert S. Ripley, noted, "We are lucky to have someone of his ability and high integrity investigating this controversial area."

After a period of 7 years as a chief psychiatrist at the hospital of the University of Virginia when Stevenson authored many papers in professional journals, he decided to abandon psychiatry to devote himself entirely to research into psychic phenomena and reincarnation. This event took place at 1964. Between 1966 and 1971, Stevenson covered an average of 55,000 miles a year, often making return visits and interviewing as many as 25 witnesses for a single case.

In his research Stevenson saw the defects of most evidence from adult cases. Focusing on the memories of very young children, he concluded that one might distinguish between "imaged" and "behavioral" memories. Although a child might have no conscious memories (imaged memories) from a former life, his interests, aptitudes, and phobias (behavioral memories) might have been formed by experiences he or she had forgotten. Maybe reincarnation was able to elucidate traits of the human personality that other theories could not elucidate.

As a hardworking man, Stevenson got the reputation of a hardworking and intensely private person as well as secretly shy. He was concerned with accumulating, clarifying, and classifying evidence than with jumping into conclusions. The main reason that spurred him into another approach can be given with this quotation:

"I had become dissatisfied, you see, with the methods that had been developed in psychiatry for helping people. Orthodox theory conceives human personality as the product of a person's genetic material inherited from his ancestors through his parents, and the modifying influences of his prenatal and postnatal environment. But I found that some cases cannot be satisfactorily explained by genetics, environmental influences, or a combination of these. I am speaking of such things as early childhood phobias, about uncanny abilities that seem to develop spontaneously, of children convinced that they are the wrong sex, congenital deformities, differences between one-egg twins, and even such matters as irrational food preferences" Stevenson stated and that was the principal reason why he devoted himself to explanation of above-mentioned problems with reincarnation.

While some musicians, for instance, inherited their talent from their fathers or grandfathers, there are cases when well-known musicians have no family background whatsoever. Some of these famous musicians were even discouraged by their parents in their careers. There are ample cases when children possess talents, inborn skills, likes, dislikes and even genius in their young age(I remember there was a case recently in Croatia when young child who had never learned foreign language went into a coma and when he woke up he started talking German language fluently and he totally forgot Croatian language) and if we accept the possibility of reincarnation, we can entertain the idea that these children are demonstrating these features as a result of previous experience.

Stevenson even dares to argue that the fact when children reject their own parents at their young age results from unhappy experiences in their previous lives. As far as the fact of congenital malformations is concerned, such as deformed limbs, fingers, toes he claims that these are as a result of violent death and those limbs were violently removed during the killing.

"Children we have studied often act as if they had been transferred without warning from an adult's body into a baby's. When one of our Turkish children began to speak, almost the first thing he said was, "What am I doing here? I was at the port." Later on, he described details in the life of a dockworker who had fallen asleep in the hold of a ship. A heavy oil drum had fallen on him and killed him instantly. Cases like this remind me of a woman who had a stroke while playing bridge. When she came around several days later, her first words were, "What's trumps?"

There is another one, in fact very interesting case out of 3000 cases that Dr Stevenson collected. It is sweet Swarnlata Story,

"The story of Swarnlata is characteristic of Stevenson's cases: the young girl's memories began when she was 3, she gave enough information to enable Stevenson to locate the family of the deceased person she remembered (the case was "solved"), and she gave more than 50 specific facts that were verified. But Swarnlata's case was also different from most because her memories did not fade. And this is a sweet case, characterized by love and happy memories rather than by violent death and struggles between castes and families, like in so many other cases.

Swarnlata Mishra was born to an intellectual and prosperous family in Pradesh in India in 1948. When she was just three years old and travelling with her father past the town of Katni more than 100 miles from her home, she suddenly pointed and asked the driver to turn down a road to "my house", and suggested they could get a better cup of tea there than they could on the road.

Soon after, she related more details of her life in Katni, all of which were written down by her father. She said her name was Biya Pathak, and that she had two sons. She gave details of the house: it was white with black doors fitted with iron bars; four rooms were stuccoed, but other parts were less finished; the front floor was of stone slabs. She located the house in Zhurkutia, a district of Katni; behind the house was a girl's school, in front was a railway line, and lime furnaces were visible from the house. She added that the family had a motor car (a very rare item in India in the 1950's, and especially before Swarnlata was born). Swarnlata said Biya died of a "pain in her throat", and was treated by Dr. S. C. Bhabrat in Jabalpur. She also remembered an incident at a wedding when she and a friend had difficulty finding a latrine.

In the spring of 1959, when Swarnlata was 10 years old, news of the case reached Professor Sri H. N. Banerjee, an Indian researcher of paranormal phenomenon and colleague of Stevenson. Banerjee took the notes her father made and travelled to Katni to determine if Swarnlata's memories could be verified.

Using nothing more than the description that Swarnlata had given, he found the house--despite the house having been enlarged and improved since 1939 when Biya died. It belonged to the Pathak's (a common name in India), a wealthy, prominent family, with extensive business interests. The lime furnaces were on land adjoining the property; the girls school was 100 yards behind the Pathak's property, but not visible from the front.

He interviewed the family and verified everything Swarnlata had said. Biya Pathak had died in 1939 leaving behind a grieving husband, two young sons, and many younger brothers. These Pathaks had never heard of the Mishra family, who lived a hundred miles away; the Mishra's had no knowledge of the Pathak family.

The next scene in this story sounds like a plot from Agatha Christie but is all true, extracted from the Stevenson's tabulations in Swarnlata's published case. In the summer of 1959, Biya's husband, son, and eldest brother journeyed to the town of Chhatarpur, the town where Swarnlata now lived, to test Swarnlata's memory. They did not reveal their identities or purpose to others in the town but enlisted nine townsmen to accompany them to the Mishar home, where they arrived unannounced.

Swarnlata immediately recognized her brother and called him "Babu", Biya's pet name for him. Stevenson gives only the barest facts, but I can imagine the emotions ran high at this point. Imagine how Babu felt to be recognized immediately by his dead sister reborn.

Ten-year-old Swarnlata went around the room looking at each man in turn; some she identified as men she knew from her town, some were strangers to her. Then she came to Sri Chintamini Pandey, Biya's husband. Swarnlata lowered her eyes, looked bashful--as Hindu wives do in the presence of their husbands--and spoke his name. Stevenson says nothing of Sri Pandey's reaction at finding his wife after twenty years

Swarnlata also correctly identified her son from her past life, Murli, who was 13 years old when Biya died. But Murli schemed to mislead her, and "for almost twenty-four hours insisted against her objections that he was not Murli, but someone else." Murli had also brought along a friend and tried to mislead Swarnlata once again by insisting he was Naresh, Biya's other son, who was about the same age as this friend. Swarnlata insisted just as strongly that he was a stranger.

Finally, Swarnlata reminded Sri Pandey that he had purloined 1200 rupees Biya kept in a box. Sri Pandey admitted to the truth of this private fact that only he and his wife had known. "....(there is a continuation of the article)


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