If I was asked to choose an investigator to look into some inexplicable paranormal phenomenon – from a pool that included maybe a clinical psychologist, a quantum physicist, a neuroscientist, a mathematician, and a lawyer – who do you think I would choose?
The lawyer, as long as he or she had trial experience.
Why? Because they know the importance of evidence, and the importance of how it is recorded and the order in which it is collected and presented. This is not always true of scientists and other experts.
Here we have the case of Jagdish Chandra, born March 4, 1923 in the city of Bareilly, India, who at the age of three began talking of a life he had lived 500 kms away in the city of Benares.
In his book, Cases of the Reincarnation Type – vol 1 – Ten Cases in India, psychiatrist Ian Stevenson says this is one of the best authenticated of all reincarnation cases. Why? Because Jagdish’s father – K. K. N. Sahay – was a lawyer.
Understanding the importance of evidence, and interested in what his 3 yr old son was saying, Sahay wrote down what Jagdish said over the course of 5 days, then got his statements published in a national newspaper, requesting that readers verify anything they could.
In the newspaper, Sahay explained how it all started. His wife was seriously ill, and he was staying home to be with her. At one point little Jagdish suggested that they get a car to take her to a hospital. When his father asked where they should get it from:
He said that I should get his car. I asked him where his car was. He replied that it was at the house of Babuji. I …asked him [who Babuji] was, and in reply he said that [Babuji] lived at Benares, and was his father.
Sahay told readers of the many things his son had described, including a detailed description of Babuji’s house, with a large gate, a sitting room, a broad marble floor, an underground room with an safe fixed in one wall, and a courtyard where Babuji brought people to drink bhang. He described two cars that his father owned, and a carriage pulled by a pair of horses.
Sahay received several replies that identified a man in Benares, Babu Pandey, who matched the described father.
Benares is a famous destination for pilgrims who come to bathe in the Ganges. Babu Pandey, a Brahmin by caste, was a ‘panda’ – a supervisor of a ‘bathing ghat’ at the river, someone who looked after the ghat piers and assisted bathing pilgrims. This ‘assistance’ often included extortion of ‘gifts’ from the pilgrims. The panda’s assistants – “goondas” (Stevenson says this word is often translated as ‘bouncers’) would beat up those who resisted.
Pandey had a son, Jai Gopal, who at age 10 had died in 1922, the year before Jagdish was born. This is apparently who Jagdish claimed to be, though he never used Jai’s name.
Sahay published further letters in the newspaper describing ongoing developments re his son’s statements. Before he took Jagdish to Benares, he also arranged for the statements to be recorded before a court magistrate (Stevenson provides a condensed version of the transcript).
The trip to Benares was quite an event. They needed a police escort because a crowd of a thousand followed them.
Jagdish correctly identified the house, but when they found 35 men inside waiting for them, he got upset and refused to answer questions.
On another quieter day they went to Pandey’s ghat and Jagdish bathed happily in the Ganges, even though, because of the monsoon, the water was flowing strongly. Jagdish had never seen a river before, but he behaved, said his father, as “as if he and the river were old friends”.
Babu Pandey was originally interested in Jagdish, but eventually Jagdish said something that alarmed him.
For one day, after talking about the goondas at the house (Jagdish called them ‘soldiers’) he said his father Babuji had killed a pilgrim and stuffed him down a well.
Apparently afraid that the local police might hear of this and begin making inquiries, Pandy refused to talk to anyone from then on.
Jagdish correctly remembered many things, and identified many people associated with Jai Gopal. Sometimes he missed the mark a bit. For example, Pandey hadn’t owned any cars, but he frequently rented cars and drove around town in them with Jai beside him. Jagdish remembered a favorite red car and told how he complained if the red car didn’t show up. He even claimed to remember his own funeral, something not usually encountered with these children.
But my favorite scene is one where Jagdish was rolling around on the ground one day, and, when asked what he was doing, said he was “wrestling”.
Stevenson determined that there was a wrestling ring at the Benares house where Pandey and the goondahs wrestled. They warmed up for bouts by rolling on the ground.
Just think of it – little Jagdish rolling about, “wrestling”, and saying all these things he should not be able to say, defying with his unexpected words our whole modern view of reality, challenging the belief of many scientists that they are closing in on a “theory of everything” when, apparently, such a theory will leave much unexplained.
All the known laws of physics, and none of the scientific theories founded on them so far, can explain little Jagdish Chandra.