Is there a scientific basis for rebirth? Indian forensic scientist Vikram Raj Singh Chauhan is trying to prove reincarnation is real. He has presented his findings at the National Conference of Forensic Scientists in India.
Chauhan has discovered a six-year-old boy named Taranjijt Singh who says he remembers his previous life. According to his parents, he’s been talking about this since he was two years old and used to run away from home. The boy knew the village he lived in during his former life, as well as his and his father’s names. He knew the name of the school he attended as well. On September 10, 1992, he was riding his bike home when he was hit by a motor scooter. He received head injuries and died the next day.
His present father, Ranjit Singh, says as the boy became more and more insistent, so he and his wife went to the village where he claimed to have lived in the past. At first, they couldn’t find anyone who resembled the descriptions of his former parents. Then someone told him to go to another nearby village, where they met a teacher at the local school who confirmed the story of the motor scooter accident. They found out where the boy had lived and went there to meet the parents.
When they told the family their story, Ranjit Singh mentioned that his son claimed the books he was carrying when the accident occurred had gotten blood on them. He also described how much money he had in his wallet. When the woman heard this, she began to cry and said she had saved the blood-stain books and the money in memory of her dead child. Taranjit Singh’s parents and siblings from his former life soon came to his new home to meet him. The boy recognized a wedding picture his former parents brought with him.
At first, Vikram Chauhan refused to believe this story but he eventually became curious and decided to investigate. He visited both villages and found the boy and both sets of parents repeated the same story. He spoke to a shopkeeper who told him that the boy had owed him the money that was in his wallet when he was hit, and was probably bringing it to him to pay for a notebook he’d gotten on credit.
Chauhan took samples of both boys’ handwriting and compared them. He found they were identical. It’s a basic tenet of forensic science that no two handwriting styles can be identical, because each person’s handwriting has specific characteristics. Experts can usually spot even expertly forged handwriting. A person’s handwriting style is dictated by individual personality traits. Chauhan’s theory is that if the soul is transferred from one person to another, then the mind – and thus the handwriting – will remain the same. A number of other forensic experts examined the handwriting samples and agreed they were identical.
“I have some scientific basis to claim rebirth is possible”, says Chauhan, “but I wish to do more research on the subject and am closely monitoring the development of the child.” Singh’s former parents wanted him to move back with them, but his current family still claims him, even though they are poor. Chauhan says, “In his present birth, Taranjit has never gone to school as he belongs to a poor family, but yet when I told him to write the English and Punjabi alphabet, he wrote them correctly.”
The above is just one of thousands of cases on reincarnation.
June 22, 2002 by Jupinderjit Singh
In August 1972, in Saradhana village I of Pali district, Rajasthan, Radha was born with a birthmark on her forehead. It looked like an old injury that had healed. From the day she uttered her first words and learnt how to talk, she insisted that her name was Sohani and that she belonged to Jhadali village, also in Pali.
It was the stark winter of December 1971 when Sohani, 15-year-old girl went to visit her maternal aunt’s village, fell while cutting fodder, hurt her head and died.
A few days later, Sohani’s aunt Phundi dreamt that Sohani was returning to their family -this time as the daughter of Juri (Phundi’s relative) who lived in Saradhana.
It all started with Radha not getting enough vegetables to eat. Records say that Radha threatened her mother that she would go back to her other home if she was not given that extra helping.
Her mother laughed it away. As time passed Radha made more references to her life in Jhaladi and how she had died. Things came to a head when she told her mother that she had also lived as a bird -Kamedi -before her birth as Radha! The idea of rebirth is as old as humanity. The Rig Veda describes how, after the five elements have been destroyed, the soul remains and transcends into a new body. Almost all religions -Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism -believe in rebirth. In the 21st century, this belief has also got a scientific perspective. Unfortunately, the history of scientific evidence of reincarnation is young. It dates back to some 300 years, during Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir’s reign. The details of the case are in a book Khulasa Tarikh written by Munshi Subhan Rai.
In the 40th year of Aurangzeb’s reign, village headman Rawat Sukha Ram of Bakr village was attacked by a rival. He succumbed to the injuries he suffered on his back and at the base of his ear. A few months later, a son was born to Sukha Ram’s son-in-law, Ram Das. The baby had birth marks (injury markers on his back and base of the ear). Soon, news spread that Sukha Ram had been reborn. Ram Das gave information of his past life, the address and other details.
The news reached the emperor. Ram Das was summoned to court and what he said satisfied the emperor. Though there is no mention of how the emperor verified the details, two things stood out significantly. It is something that has been universally seen and studied across the globe in all reincarnation cases where the subjects have remembered their past -violent death and birthmarks. And this is where science steps in.
“Usually, the information about a subject reaches me through a personal communication or a media report. It is important that the investigator reaches his subject as soon as possible in order to get a first-hand account of the details without them being distorted. Children are shy with strangers. It is better to make the child comfortable before you start talking to him about his past life,” Dr Kirti Swaroop Rawat, director of International Centre for Reincarnation and Survival Researches, Indore, says.
Dr Rawat has been studying rebirth cases for over 40 years. His research has taken him all over India, he has recorded over 500 cases of which he has personally investigated over 250. For him, the case of Sunita Khandelwal is of prime importance. “This case is significant. First, it belongs to a rare group of cases in which what the subject said was recorded prior to any attempt of verification. Second, the families of the subject and that of the previous birth were residing at a distance of just 480 km. Third, Sunita did not give any specific family names or addresses yet what she said was correct. Fourth, Sunita has a birthmark at the exact spot where she was fatally injured in her past life,” Dr Rawat tells you.
Sunita was born at Laxmangarh in Rajasthan on September 20, 1969. The case was first studied by Dr HN Banerjee (an Indian researcher of paranormal phenomenon) on December 17, 1974. He immediately contacted Sunita’s parents and recorded 17 statements Sunita made with regard to her past life in Kota. Each time Dr Banerjee would visit Sunita, she had only one request -“take me to Kota.”
Though Dr Banerjee was against it, he finally relented. On reaching Kota, she took her present birth parents and Dr Banerjee to the shop owned by her previous father who confirmed all the statements that Sunita had made.
However, she failed to recognise her brothers or her mother. What was surprising was that she recognised everyone in an old photograph and pointed out the spot from where she had fallen and died. Sunita has a large birthmark on the right side of her head corresponding to exactly where Shakuntala got injured when she fell from the balcony of her parent’s house and died.
“I studied her case in 1986 and again in 1997. I was told that some personality traits in Sunita were like Shakuntala’s. Her brother Ram Babu Khandelwal told me in April 1997 that Shakuntala’s family treat Sunita as their own and would invite her to all the functions and celebrations in their family. He also told me that Shakuntala’s parents had once offered a huge sum in exchange for Sunita but his parents had declined the offer,” Dr Rawat recounts.
While there are many who would negate such claims, those involved feel that it is divine intervention and that they are a part of God’s miracle on Earth.
Does this mean that people who believe in reincarnation are superstitious? According to Dr VRS Chauhan, Chief Forensic Investigator of Patiala Bureau of Identification, it all depends on individuals. People who believe in the Bhagvad Gita and The Bible have a strong belief in reincarnation. “No doubt Hinduism and Christianity believe in rebirth and the men of science are against it but, the persons with whom the cases of rebirth occur know the truth. These people are least bothered about what others have to say or whether they believe in rebirth. I am a Science student and initially refused to believe in reincarnation. It was sheer curiosity that I decided to investigate a case of rebirth by using scientific methods. I was amazed with the results,” Dr Chauhan says.
Dr Chauhan’s investigation of reincarnation cases has used all the tools used in forensic science to link the criminal to the act of crime -like traces of blood, saliva, other body fluids, hair, handwriting, fingerprints, footwear and tyre impressions, explosives, poisons, blood and urine etc.
However, it was sheer chance that the forensic scientist came across a strange case of rebirth. “In 2002, I came to know that a six-year-old from Alluna Miana village near Payal tehsil of Ludhiana was claiming that he remembered his previous life. The boy, Taranjit Singh, insisted he was Satnam Singh of Chakkchela village in Jalandhar, his father’s name was Jeet Singh, he was a student of Class IX, his school was in Nihalwal village and that he had died on September 10, 1992.
“Indeed, on that fateful day Satnam was returning home on bicycle from his school with his friend Sukhwinder when a drunk scooterist Joga Singh hit him from behind. Satnam died of head injuries the next day. Taranjit’s father Ranjit Singh told me that the boy demanded to be taken to Chakkchela when he was just a-year-and-a-half. An alarmed Singh and his friend Rajinder went to the Government school in Nihalwala to check out. A teacher confirmed Taranjit’s story,” Dr Chahaun recalls.
Singh then went to Jeet Singh’s house and narrated the entire story to him. Taranjit had also told Singh that his previous birth mother Mohinder Kaur had kept Satnam’s blood soaked books and that his wallet had Rs 30.
Kaur who was listening to all this, started crying -she had, indeed, preserved the blood soaked books and Rs 30 as the last memory of her dead son. A few days later, Taranjit’s previous life family came to meet him. He recognised all of them.
“The media splashed the story in all newspapers. I decided to investigate the matter and visited the village. In order to scientifically prove that Satnam had been reborn as Taranjit and what he said was true an idea came to me. I asked Taranjit, who was then six years old, to write in English and Punjabi which he did easily. Taranjit had till then never been to school and didn’t know how to write. I then compared the specimen writing with the writings on Satnam’s notebooks which had been kept by his family. The handwriting matched! A basic theory of forensic science is that the handwriting of two different individuals can’t be the same and if Taranjit and Satnam were two different people then their handwriting would have never match,” Dr Chauhan explains.
“I still remember that day clearly. As mothers talk, I too, asked aloud: “Tum kitne sunder ho, kahan se aaya mere pass itna sunder beta.” He immediately said he was from Chakkchela. I laughed at that and hugged him. But as he grew older, his description of his past life became more and more vivid. My husband has three children from his first wife. People would ask them what class they were in. Taranjit would immediately say he studied in Class IX! He then said his name was Satnam and that he had died in an accident. It was then that my husband decided to probe the matter,” recalls Harbans Kaur, Taranjit’s present mother. Taranjit is now 14 and he still remembers everything.
“When it was proved that my son had been reborn I felt truly blessed. I love him for what he is. He is all of 14 now and in Class IX. When he gets back from school he is quick to finish his homework and runs off to play football with his friends. He also visits the nearby temple everyday. His elder brothers and sister are extremely possessive about him. They didn’t want Taranjit’s previous birth family to come and meet him. Even now, after so many years, they are not very happy whenever Taranjit goes visiting them,” Kaur tells you. As for Taranjit, he is shy and hesitates to talk about his past life with strangers.
“Yes I remember my past life.
Yes, I died in an accident. No, I don’t know how the accident happened. No, I don’t know what happened to the man who was responsible for my death. Yes, I love both sets of parents. Both my mothers love me equally. My previous mother loves me as much now as she used to love me when I was Satnam. I visit them two-three times a year and sometimes they come to see me. But I feel torn. Sometimes I feel like living permanently with my previous birth parents, ” Taranjit tells you.
Satnam’s parents have been in a strange predicament. “I told Ranjit Singh the day he came to meet me that everything that his son Taranjit had said of Satnam was true. I am a farmer and don’t know any fancy words but, I do know one thing —he is my son. Every time I look at Taranjit, I see only Satnam. But I tell my wife that his life is with his present parents. I would love to have him live with us but that would not be fair to Taranjit’s parents. We enjoy the time we spend together when he comes visiting us. Though he is always reluctant to leave, we have to send him back. It is the right thing to do, ” Jeet Singh, Taranjit’s previous birth father says philosophically.
Taranjit’s was the first case in which handwriting assessment was used as a tool to verify rebirth, Chauhan points out. Chauhan has since then investigated 10 rebirth claims out of which he could verify only five or six through forensic science.
One can’t talk about rebirth and forget Laxmi. Her case is unique because she claims to have recalled six past lives — two of them as birds and four as humans.
She said she was once a koyal and a peacock in yet another life! “One day when Laxmi was about three, her mother caught her staring at a house. “She had very unusual expressions on her face,’ her mother Hanja told me.
‘She seemed to be lost in some other world. She told me that the house was hers and that she used to live here with her husband Shakura,’ Hanja said.
Strange as it may have sounded to Hanja at that time, the house indeed belonged to Shakura, her brother-in-law (her sister’s husband). On interrogation, Laxmi said her husband was a drunkard. They often quarrelled over this and it was during one such fight that in a fit of rage she jumped into the well. Laxmi also said that she had hidden Rs 500 under a chakki.
She also knew the place where she was buried — she said her soul hovered around the well for 10 days and then returned to the place of her burial and stayed there for six months, ” Dr Rawat says Though recalled her life with Shakura with more clarity, she could not remember her other three lives in detail. All she could say was that before she was born as Hanja’s daughter, she was born in a Brahmin family at Beawar (a town about 12 km from Lalpura). She still remembered some places and persons related to this life but could not recall their names.
She had died all of a sudden after short illness, just a few days prior to her marriage.
In her third birth, Laxmi said she was born in Ahmedabad. She did give some details but they were insufficient to trace that birth family. Interestingly, she could speak a few Gujarati words which she could not have learnt in her present birth.
Despite the fact that Laxmi claimed to remember six of her previous births, only one could be verified with facts and was found to be correct.
LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE IN TRIBUNE INDIA- http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020622/windows/main3.htm