(ORDO NEWS) — When she was only four years old, Shanti Devi began telling her parents eerie details about her former life in a city 75 miles from her birthplace, which she had never been to.
Religion and philosophy have long debated the possibility of souls, but it was the claims of a little girl named Shanti Devi from Delhi, India, in the 1930s that became a pretty convincing argument for reincarnation.
Soon after she learned to speak, Devi began telling her parents stories about her past life in a city that neither she nor her parents had ever been to.
Simple events evoked memories of that life, such as food reminding her of meals she had enjoyed in earlier times, or while dressing, she would tell her mother about the clothes she had worn before.
Devi eventually informed her parents that her former name was Lugdi and that she died shortly after the birth of her son in October 1925. She added eerie details about her labor pains and the surgeries she had undergone.
Such facts, it seemed, could not invent even the most inventive child.
When she gave her ex-husband’s name, Devi’s family was shocked to learn that he was still alive and living exactly where Devi said she was from. Between them there was a historical meeting that even science could not explain.
Memories of Shanti Devi as Lugdi
Shanti Devi was born on December 11, 1926 and seemed to be a perfectly normal child until, at the age of about four, she began to talk about her past life in the city of Mathura, located almost 75 miles away.
Devi recalled all the shops and streets of the city with amazing detail. She also began talking about her husband, a merchant, whom she refused to name until she was nine years old. But she told her parents that he was fair-skinned, had a wart on his left cheek, and wore reading glasses.
Despite the unusual concreteness of her memories, Devi’s parents treated her memories as mere childishness. But when Devi revealed that her husband’s name was Pandit Kedarnath Chaube, sometimes referred to as Kedar Nath, a family friend decided to find out if there was any truth in her words.
A friend sent a letter to a merchant named Kedar Nath in Mathura to inquire about Devi’s unusual memories. To his friend’s surprise, Nath wrote back, confirming all the details. Nath also agreed to send a relative to Devi’s house to assess the situation.
To test her knowledge, a relative was first brought to Devi and introduced as her husband. Devi was not fooled and said no, this is her husband’s cousin.
Shocked, Nath and the child he had with Lugdi, now ten years old, entered the house themselves. Seeing them, Devi burst into tears.
Nath asked permission to speak to Devi himself and, by his own admission, claimed that her every answer to his questions was absolutely accurate.
“He found the answers perfectly correct and was moved to tears!” Read the story of the investigator who dealt with this case in 1937. “As if his dead wife spoke.”
Shanti spent several days with Kedar Nath and his son before they had to return to Mathura. Saddened by their departure, she begged her parents to let her make the trip to her former home.
She promised that she could lead them straight to her old house, and perhaps to further convince them, she explained that she had a box of money buried there.
Devi’s parents agreed – although given that the story had caught the attention of Mahatma Gandhi, they hardly had a choice. A famous Indian leader set up a commission to investigate this amazing case, and in November 1935, a dozen investigators joined Devi and her parents on a three-hour train ride to Mathura.
Her return to Mathura
As one of the investigators recalled: “Leaving the station … the girl was put in the front seat, and our car drove ahead of everyone else. The necessary precautions were taken so that not a single pedestrian would give way. The driver was ordered to follow the route indicated only girl, not caring where he goes.”
Of course, Devi had no problem directing the group to her former home, as she claimed. Along the way, she noted various streets that hadn’t been paved before and buildings that didn’t exist during her previous life. The driver confirmed the correctness of these observations.
While touring the house with Kedar Nath, one of the members of the commission asked about the buried treasure she mentioned. Shanti Devi quickly ran upstairs and went straight to the corner of the room, claiming that the box was hidden under the floorboard. Kedar Nath opened the floorboard and indeed found a small chest. It was empty.
Shocked, Shanti Devi started to look inside the hole, being sure that the money was there. Then Kedar Nath admitted that he took the money after the death of his wife.
Devi’s reunion tour of Mathura continued at her former parents’ home. “She not only recognized him, but was able to identify her former ‘father’ and ‘mother’ in a crowd of more than 50 people,” wrote one investigator. “The girl hugged her ‘parents’, who wept bitterly at the sight of her.”
Although she wished to stay longer in Mathura, Devi’s current parents and the investigators soon went back to Delhi. In their report, the commission found “no rational explanation” for what they witnessed.
Her experience in the afterlife
Devi was not only able to remember her former life, but also seemed to find an explanation for the afterlife. In 1936 and 1939 she recounted her experiences of death to both skeptics and hypnotists.
She claimed that at the time of her death, she became dizzy and “deep darkness” enveloped her, and then a flash of light showed four men in yellow underwear in front of her.
“All four seemed like teenagers, their appearance and clothes were very bright,” she once said while under hypnosis. “They put me in a bowl and carried me away.”
According to Devi, she saw the Hindu god Krishna, who showed each person a record of his good and bad deeds on earth and told what would happen to him next.
Then, according to Devi, she was taken to a golden staircase, from which she could see the river, “clean and transparent, like milk.” She said she saw souls there, and they were like flames in lamps.
Years later, in 1958, she gave an interview in one of the newspapers. At that time, Shanti Devi was 32 years old and never married. She lived a quiet, spiritual life in Delhi.
She also said that she planned to create an organization “dedicated to the idea of living our lives in accordance with the dictates of the inner voice.”
Shanti Devi passed away in 1987 at the age of 61. However, her story lives on thanks to a book written by Swedish writer Sture Lonnerstrand in 1994, which was translated into English in 1998.
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