A three year old girl living in Sri Lanka asked her mother an odd question in 1990. The girl's name was Pumima Ekanayake, and she asked her mother whether car drivers who kill pedestrians are bad people. The question turned out to be important, because in a few months Pumima claimed to be able to remember details of a previous life. In this life she was an incense seller, who got about town on a bicycle-until one day she was struck by a car and killed. Pumima recalled 'floating about' for a bit, before she was born into a new body. I think this is interesting because Pumima's description of the life before life was very similar to the one in the Two Souls-One Body, Iris/Lucia series I did in December.
Pumima Ekanyake's story is anything but an isolated case. All across Asia, in countries like India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma, there has been a great increase in the number of children claiming to remember past lives. The number of these cases has reached such a level, that finally some in the scientific community are taking an interest in these cases. Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychologist from the University of Virginia, became deeply involved in the subject of children who had past-life memories. Stevenson's investigations into these cases began in the 1960s in India. He encountered many children there who exhibited past-life memories. In some of what I think are his most interesting cases,(that I hope to post here in between other things, along with other stories about reincarnation), the children's bodies had strange birthmarks that coincided with the area of an injury in the claimed previous life. Dr. Stevenson became convinced of the reality of reincarnation, and published a major work in 1974, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, that is still wide quoted and studied today.
In one of these cases, a young girl named Swarnlata talked of having been a married woman named Biya Pithak, who had lived in a nearby town in a distinctive house. One of Dr. Stevenson's colleagues interviewed Swarnlata later in which she gave over fifty details about Biya's life that were later verified. Swarnlata was taken to the town where Biya had lived. During the visit to this town Swarnlata not only recognized her own house(Biya's house), but also some members of Biya's family. Dr. Stevenson had offered this as one of his 'best evidence' cases for reincarnation. Different investigators and psychologists were not so sure.
In recent years psychologists have studied children with past-life memories. They have tried to quantify this phenomenom and also tried to see if there were any 'rational' explanations for these cases. Their studies have shown that children claiming to have past-life memories are indeed mostly in nations and communities that have a large Hindu and Buddhist following. However, isolated cases occur all over the world from Australia to Zimbabwe. In a typical case the child will begin to 'remember' scenes from their past-life at around three years of age. These memories, if that is indeed what they are stop at around about five years of age. During this small window of time that the child remembers things from an apparent past-life, they will describe family scenes many times and very vividly remember the manner of their death in the previous life, which is almost always violent in nature-anything from an accident to being murdered. Some other details that are remembered are what the town, city or houses they lived in were like and some, as in Pumima's case, remember what job they held.
Psychological profiling of the children shows them to be prone to attention-seeking, daydreaming and they often describe themselves in the third person. (Remember Bob Dole anybody?:-) Many of these children have similar psychological profiles to people who suffer from dissociative syndromes, such as multiple-personality disorder (MPD). People who suffer from MPD are able to create very real fantasy worlds and very different personalities. This disorder is sometimes caused by extreme abuse when one is a child. Some psychologists then suppose that children with overactive imaginations are having memories of their 'past-lives' 'nurtured' by parents whose religion has a belief in reincarnation. I think in some cases this is exactly what happens. A child with an overactive imagination (I think it is good in some ways to have an overactive imagination) is 'led on' by parents and the story continues to grow. There is a famous case from England in the 1960s in which twin girls claimed to remember details about the lives of their elder sisters who had died years previously. The Pollock twins case, as it was known, was debunked when it came to light that the father was a fanatical believer in reincarnation. The father of the twins had told people they were the incarnations of their sisters before they were even born! It is now thought that the father had unknowingly 'taught' the girls to remember the lives of their dead sisters.
I do think that psychology can explain many aspects of the past-life recalls of children. An example of this would be why it so often happens in families that believe in reincarnation. However, as Dr. Stevenson also questions, I do not see how psychological explanations can fit all of the facts involved. The children provide facts about their previous lives such as names, dates, addresses, how they died and many other smaller details that can be and have been verified. Sometimes it is the smaller details that once verified are the most fascinating to me. This is because the smaller details are often not known by anyone outside of the family the child claims to have lived his or her previous life in. Some researchers have offered extra-sensory perception as a mechanism for this to be happening. I am not totally averse to this idea, but it is every bit as mysterious as the reincarnation explanation, if not moreso. Dr. Ian Stevenson is not wavering and is adamant in his thinking about the children's cases: "My conclusion so far is that reincarnation is not the only explanation for these cases but that it is the best explanation for me." I hope anyone reading this has enjoyed these last segments. I hope to continue having posts about reincarnation, UFOs and other paranormal phenomena as time goes on. I am looking forward to starting the next series because it is about a subject that was discussed in the posts about the Belmez Faces. Thanks again so very much for the thoughtful and intelligent comments I have been getting! Peace and be well to anyone stopping by!