When psychiatrist Ian Stevenson first began investigating children who speak of past lives in India, a magistrate contacted him and suggested that Stevenson come to his jurisdiction, where the murder rate was unusually high. Stevenson did, and found many cases there.
For some reason, murder and/or premature death are often associated with these strange children. Another clue for anyone who wants to research this phenomenon.
In the case of Bishen Chand Kapoor, born Feb 7, 1921 in the north of India, both of these are present.
We owe the history of his case to lawyer K.K.N Sahay. Intrigued by his own little son’s experience (see my post re Jagdish Chandra), Sahay began looking for others. He produced a thorough study of Bishen Chand.
When Bishen was only 10 mths old his parents heard him struggling to say a word, which sounded to them like ‘pilvit’ or ‘pilibit’, but they didn’t connect this with anything.
Then when he was 4 years-old they were on a train and the conductor announced that they were approaching the town of Pilibhit. Bishen declared that he had to get off because “I used to live here”. They refused to let him get up and he cried all the way home.
Bishen had already begun to disturb his parents with talk of a past life. Here are some excerpts from the report of K.K.N. Sahay, as provided by Stevenson:
The parents were afraid and tried to hide these strange facts. There is a superstition that such children do not live long and the sooner they forget the better for them.
…….. [Bishen] said he was unmarried. He said his neighbor was …. Sunder Lal, who had a green gate, a sword, and a gun, and had nautch [dancing] parties in the courtyard of his house. He described his own house as a double story building with separate apartments for ladies and gentlemen. He described singing parties and feasts which were frequently held at his house. He also described his great fondness for wine, rohu fish, and nautch girls. He said he had studied up to the Class VI in the Government School near the river and knew Urdu, Hindi, and English. He described a thakurdwara [shrine room] in his house ….
Bishen was the son of a lowly railway clerk, but he was describing the life of Laxmi Narain, the son of a ‘zamindar’ – a tax collector and large landowner.
Stevenson says almost all of his statements that were verifiable turned out to be true.
Laxmi had money, an education, a job in the railway, and lived a playboy-type life. Among other stories about him, he had an ongoing affair with a beautiful prostitute, Padma. One day when he was approaching her residence, he met another man coming out. He immediately took a gun from his servant and shot him. Accused of murder, he went into hiding.
That may not sound endearing, but Laxmi was known as a happy, generous man. He cared about the poor, and he was well liked by those who knew him.
He got away with the murder, though it is not known how. Bishen’s brother and sister reported that, as a boy, Bishen told the story of the murder with pride. He boasted that the influence of the family had enabled him (as Laxmi) to escape punishment.
His sister said that at that time little Bishen talked about his past life almost every day. He had a lot to say.
For example, Laxmi Narain was believed to have hidden a cache of gold coins somewhere before he died (apparently not uncommon in wealthy Indian families – banks were not trusted). When Bishen was asked about it, he identified a room in the now abandoned and dilapidated Narain house where the money would be found, and a search there subsequently found gold coins buried under the floor.
Laxmi Narain died prematurely at age 32, of a lung disease that he suffered for about five months – two years before Bishen was born. Both murder and pre-mature death.
But how is it that a little boy from a poor family could talk about rich homes, nautch girl parties, expensive prostitutes, hidden caches of money, and murder?
A favorite answer of debunkers is that it is all lies.
In 40+ years of accident/injury investigation, I dealt with thousands of liars myself, some of them very skilled, and I can tell you that Stevenson understood lying. He knew how to expose it, and how to document it, which he did with regularity.
In his introduction to the book, he details his investigation methods. They are impressive. I wish I had had access to his method when I was starting out. For example, he discusses the nature and differences between ‘comprehensive’ liars, ‘obligatory’ liars, and ‘facultative’ liars. In the insurance industry, only a few of us learned these distinctions, and then only through trial and error.
Stevenson points out that the liars he encountered included many people who were trying to deny that the children said what they said.
Because the families of these children are often accused of lying, even in India, he pointed out that this makes little sense here:
[Bishen Chand] when a small boy, showed the habits and attitudes of a spoiled, rich young man, and, in addition, of one belonging to a caste different from that of his family. He expected them to adapt their ways to his rather than that he should adjust to them. His father tolerated his alien behavior and gradually guided his son toward important modifications. But I cannot imagine any motive his parents could have for promoting the sort of attitudes that Bishen Chand showed as a child. Or can someone seriously suppose that [his father] wanted to hear his son boast of a murder he had committed and scoff at his family for their poverty?
Accusations of lying re paranormal phenomena are the last resort of those who don’t like the evidence they are confronted with.
By the way, the reason that Stevenson refused to investigate the many reports of past lives made by adults (far more common and easy to find), was that as a psychiatrist he knew how difficult it is for grown men and women to stick to the facts. Investigate automobile accidents like I did and you will quickly find out what he meant.
Stevenson saw that the statements of small children which are subsequently verified to have been facts, form a rock solid foundation of evidence for something that cries out for more research.