Shanti Devi

The case of Shanti Devi (1926 – 1987) is a well-known and thoroughly investigated case of reincarnation where the past life was remembered, discovered and verified. She had previously been Lugdi Devi (1902 – 1925), a young married woman who had died after giving birth.

Shanti was born in Delhi, India. As a child she was discourage from talking about her previous life by her parents. So, frustrated, aged just six, she ran away to try to reach the city of Mathura (some 145 Km away) where she had previously lived with her husband.

Once back at home, she told a teacher that she was married and had died ten days after having given birth to a baby boy. When she was interviewed by her teacher and the headmaster, she stated that her husband was a Merchant called Kedar Nath. Also, during the interview, she used words from the Mathura dialect. The headmaster conducted some research and was able to locate a merchant by that name in Mathura who had indeed lost his wife, Lugdi Devi, nine years earlier, ten days after having given birth to a son.

Later, Kedar Nath travelled to Delhi and, pretending to be his own brother, visited Shanti. But she immediately recognised him and their son. It became clear that she knew several personal details about their life together and so he quickly became convinced that Shanti Devi was indeed the reincarnation of his wife, Lugdi Devi.

The case came to the attention of Mahatma Gandhi (Indian Leader) who set up a commission to investigate. The commission travelled with Shanti Devi to Mathura, in November 1935. There she recognised several more family members, including the grandfather of Lugdi Devi. During this visit she also discovered that her former husband had not kept a number of promises he had made to her on her deathbed. The commission’s report, published in 1936, concluded that Shanti Devi was indeed the reincarnation of Lugdi Devi.

In 1986 the case was also investigated by Dr Ian Stevenson, the founder and director of the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) which is a research unit of the Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences of the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine in the United States. He said: “I also interviewed Shanti Devi, her father, and other pertinent witnesses, including Kedar Nath, the husband claimed in her previous life. My research indicates that she made at least 24 statements of her memories that matched the verified facts”.

A one – time critic, Sture Lonnerstrand (Swedish Author), when he heard of this case, travelled from Sweden to India to expose the ‘fake’. However, having investigated wrote, “This is the only fully explained and proven case of reincarnation there has been”. He went on to write the book I Have Lived Before: The True Story of the Reincarnation of Shanti Dev, published initially in Swedish in 1994. The Society for Psychical Research have a more detailed account of Shanti Devi on their Psi Encyclopaedia website.

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