The history of the Indian woman Shanti Devi (1926-1987) still remains one of the most reliable and studied cases of reincarnation.
In the 1930s, she began to claim to remember details of her past life when she was known as Lugdi Devi.
When Shanti was merely 4-5 years old, her parents noticed that she used to talk about her husband and children.
She started claiming that the home where she lived was not her real home and that her parents were not her real parents.
At first, her parents ignored all this.
Discouraged by her parents, she ran away from home at age six, trying to reach Mathura but did not succeed.
The child calmly explained to her mother that her husband’s name was Kedarnath and that she lived with him in the city of Mathura.
She described the house in which they lived in detail and stated that she had a son, who still lives there with his father.
Interviewed by her teacher and headmaster, she used words from the Mathura dialect and said that her husband was a cloth merchant.
Shanti Devi told that not only was she married but that she died ten days after having given birth to a son.
The parents worried about their child’s mental state turned to a doctor for help.
The doctor hoped that when she will meet him, the girl would begin to deny, or at least refuse to repeat everything.
To his surprise, little Shanti Devi sat down in a large chair in the doctor’s office, folding her hands on her lap like an adult, and repeated everything that she had told her parents.
That little girl even mentioned three distinctive features of her husband.
She said that her husband wore reading glasses, had a wart on the left cheek, and was a fair-skinned man.
Among other things, she said that she died nine years earlier, ten days after having given birth to a son,
The stunned doctor began to ask her about pregnancy and the child answered everything exactly, which surprised the doctor.
She clearly illuminated the mental and physical sensations of the excruciating state of pregnancy, which, of course, she could not experience.
By the time she was seven years old, half a dozen doctors had interviewed her, and they were all utterly amazed.
When Shanti was eight years old, her cousin Professor Kishen Chand decided to look for Kedarnath.
He located a merchant by that name in Mathura who had lost his wife, Lugdi Devi, who died ten days after having given birth to a son
A letter was sent to Kedarnath, who thought of that as a trap and asked his cousin to see her as he used to visit Kedarnath, when Lugdi was alive.
Kedarnath’s cousin, under the pretext of a business conversation with Shanti’s father, arranged to meet him at his house.
Upon seeing Kedarnath’s Cousin on her doorstep, she screamed with joy.
Mother, this is my husband’s cousin! He also lived in Mathura not very far from us.
The guest told Shanti Devi’s parents that he was a cousin of Kedarnath from Muttra, whose wife, Lugdi Devi, had actually died ten days after having given birth to a son.
Pandit Kanjimal, the cousin of Kedarnath, sent him a letter and asked him to come and meet Shanti Devi.
Kedar Nath did come along with his and Lugdi Devi’s son and his present wife.
Kedar Nath was however posed as the elder brother of himself but Shanti Devi recognized him immediately and also his son Navneet Lal and even pointed out to her mother the fair color of Kedar Nath and the wart on his left cheek.
Shanti Devi tried to take her son in her arms, although they were almost the same height and age.
She hugged him and called him affectionate names.
Kedar Nath asked Shanti Devi how did she become pregnant even when she was unable to get up because of arthritis.
To this Shanti Devi explained the entire process of intercourse to Kedar Nath.
As she knew several details of Kedar Nath’s life with his wife, he was soon convinced that Shanti Devi was indeed the reincarnation of Lugdi Devi.
Investigation of the case of shanti devi
The case was brought to the attention of Mahatma Gandhi who set up a commission to investigate; a report was published in 1936.
Gandhi appointed 15 prominent people including parliamentarians, media members, and national leaders for investigating the case.
Shanti Devi narrated everything that happened till her death after childbirth and that included the complicated surgical procedures she underwent.
The researchers were left absolutely stunned by the detailed narration unable to figure out how a little girl like her would even know about such complicated surgical procedures.
The commission traveled with Shanti Devi to Mathura, arriving on 15 November 1935.
These 15 people took Shanti Devi to Mathura.
On the station, she was shown a stranger from Mathura and was asked if she could recognize him.
She immediately touched his feet and recognized him as her husband’s elder brother, who he actually was.
Moreover, she spoke to them in the local dialect, and not in the Hindi, which she spoke in Delhi.
When asked if she could show the way to the house where she allegedly lived, Shanti replied that she would try, although the girl, of course, had never been to Mathura before.
The visitors and the greeters settled in two carriages and drove off.
Shanti Devi showed them the way.
Once or twice she seemed to get lost, but after thinking a little, in the end she chose the right path and drove the company straight to the house she recognized.
“Here it is, this house,”.
“But now it is painted white, and then it was yellow”.
On reaching home, Shanti Devi immediately recognized her father-in-law in the midst of a crowd.
Shanti Devi told that in her past life she had buried some money in a particular location in her house in Mathura.
Shanti Devi took the party to the second floor and showed them a spot where they found a flower pot but no money.
The girl, however, insisted that the money was there.
Kedarnath later confessed that he had taken out the money after Lugdi’s death.
At Lugdi Devi’s mother’s house, a member of the commission asked Shanti if she had noticed any changes during this time.
Shanti immediately pointed out the place where the well had once been.
Now the well was covered with boards.
The commission’s report concluded that Shanti Devi was indeed the reincarnation of Lugdi Devi.
Even, the Scientists noted that they did not find any evidence of deception or trickery.
Unfortunately, her husband and children did not accept her.
She learned to live in the present, as Shanti Devi.
She did not marry and never had children.
In 1986, she was interviewed by Ian Stevenson and K.S. Rawat in which she also narrated 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 her death on 27 December 1987.