Rajul Shah was born in Vinchhiya, India, in the state of Gujarat, on August 14, 1960. She would become another child who psychologist Ian Stevenson would examine in his life-long investigation of children talking about a past life.
One day when she was 2 1/2 years old, Rajul came running into her grandparents house. Asked where she had been, she replied that she had been playing with “Junagadha Jyotsna”. No one knew who she was talking about.
Another day, she was encountered walking in a circle muttering to herself. Asked what she was doing, she said she was doing Junagadh Girbhi.
The family knew of no one named Jyotsna, but there was a town called Junagadh. Asked about it, Rajul said she was from there and her name was Gita.
She continued talking like this. Her parents payed little attention, but her grandparents were very interested. Listening to her statements, they came to the conclusion that Rajul was describing another life, but one in a Hindu household, not a Jain house like theirs.
The Jain religion also accepts reincarnation. Based on Jainist beliefs, the grandparents concluded that, if ‘Gita’ had existed, she must have died at the moment of Rajul’s conception, which would put the date in late October or early November, 1959.
One of Rajul’s uncles who occasionally visited Junagadh on business paid a visit to the municipal registrar’s office in that city to search for a Gita born in that time. He found a girl named Gita who was the daughter of a man named Golkaldas Thacker and died at 2 1/2 years old on Oct 28, 1959.
The whole family then paid a visit to Junagadh. It took them several days to find the Thacker family, who, as expected, were Hindus. Rajul’s statements about Gita turned out to be very accurate. They also learned that shortly before her death Gita had been taken to a Girbhi ceremony. To explain the significance of this, Stevenson provides this explanatory footnote:
Mount Girnar is a sacred mountain near Junagadh in Gujarat. Ten thousand stone steps lead to its top, where there are many temples. It is frequently visited by pilgrims and is a site for religious exercises. During the Girbhi Festival some persons make models of Mount Girnar (usually of clay) in the streets of Junagadh. These models … are about two meters at the base and one and a half meters high. Children and adult women walk, sing, and dance around the model. Rajul was imitating this activity in her play.
Think of it. Two little girls, at different places and times. Gita, not knowing she was about to die, dancing around a model of Mount Girnar; then Rajul, three years later, claiming to be Gita and dancing around another mountain in her imagination.
Do you see what the question is here? It is not whether this is something real, whether Rajul is really connected with Gita in some way. That is unquestionable. Something is real, though we don’t know what it is. We can’t explain it, but that doesn’t give us the right to deny what is in front of our faces.
The question is – Why does the Mount Girnar dance carry such significance that it was communicated between these two girls? Does this say something about how religions work? Or what religion is?
Keep in mind that what has happened here lay largely outside either the Hindu or Jain religion. It doesn’t necessarily support either of them. Stevenson said repeatedly that the evidence of children who remember past lives does not support the doctrine of Karma. These children who remember past lives appear to do it in complete disregard for the dogma of formal religions.
The lives of these children speak of something larger than any specific religion, maybe something that underlies all of life. As psychologist C.G. Jung said of such things in his book Modern Man in Search of a Soul:
“something not clearly known but profoundly alive.”
Yes, there is something there. If nothing else, these children prove that the world is vastly larger than most people think it is. A mountain of undetermined dimensions.