The reincarnation case of Swarnlata Mishra is the true story of a girl who remembered at least 50 verifiable details of her past life.
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What if your 3yo claimed to remember a past life? You might just write it off as a vivid imagination. But what if she could give you directions to her previous house which was over a hundred miles away? Oh, and she could accurately name and recognize over 20 people she’d never met in this lifetime. She even knew a secret that only existed between a man and his deceased wife.
What if your child could sing more than one song in a language you never taught her - because you yourself don’t speak that language? This is the true story of Swarnlata Mishra’s reincarnation case as documented by the well-known scientist and researcher Ian Stevenson, M.D.
A 3-Year-Old Starts Talking about Her "Other Family"
In the early 1950s, Swarnlata Mishra first began talking about her past life when she was only 3 years old. Her spontaneous memory included more than one witness, and the evidence only got more interesting from there.
Her father had brought her along with him on a trip to a city that was nearly 200 miles south of their home. On the way back, around the halfway mark, Swarnlata suddenly pointed to a road and asked the driver to take them to “my house.”
The driver didn’t take that road, but Swarnlata didn’t drop the subject. When the group stopped in that same town to have tea, she admonished them by saying they could have much better tea at “her” house which was nearby.
Her father thought the experience was curious but didn’t take it too seriously. She was barely more than a toddler, after all. He was chagrined to learn that once they were back home, she continued to talk about her past life in more detail with her current siblings. She even gave them the last name of her previous family — Pathak.
Professionals Become Interested in the Reincarnation Case
By the time Swarnlata was 10 years old, word had gotten around that she’d spent the last 6 years or more claiming to remember a past life. A professor named R. Agnihotri invited her, along with her father, to his home. He hoped she could describe her memories to him and some of his friends who were present.
While there, Swarnlata learned that the professor’s wife was from Katni, the town she claimed to have previously lived in. She asked to meet her. When the time came, Swarnlata recognized the woman as someone she knew from the previous life.
To validate her point, Swarnlata shared memories she had with the professor's wife. As an example, she reminded her of a time the two of them had gone to a wedding at Tilora village and had had trouble in finding a latrine.
Dr. Ian Stevenson doesn’t say as much in his book about the reincarnation case, but you can imagine the woman must have been surprised and impressed because she went on to tell several people about it. For the first time, Swarnalata’s father started taking her past life memories seriously. He wrote down some of her statements, which was useful later when trying to prove the accuracy of her case.
Parapsychologist Gets Involved
Around 6 months later, in March of 1959, a man named Sri H. N. Banerjee who worked in the Department of Parapsychology at University of Rajasthan, Jaipur also showed interest in Swarnalata’s reincarnation case.
He spent 2 days investigating the case in Chhatarpur, where Swarnlata’s family lived. Then he traveled to Katni to meet with the family she claimed to have once been a part of. Where things get really interesting is that he was able to find the Pathak home based solely on the information given to him by Swarnlata - even though she was only a child and she lived over a hundred miles away at that point.
Swarnlata Accurately Describes a House She's Never Visited in this Lifetime
Once he arrived, Sri Banerjee was able to confirm 9 different statements Swarnlata had made about the Pathak residence. They were all accurate! And keep in mind, Swarnlata had never visited the Pathak home in this lifetime. When she was 3, she had gestured to the road to get to the house, but she’d not laid eyes on it at this point.
So how did she know the home was white and had black doors with fitted bars? How could she know there were lime furnaces and a railway line visible from the house and a school located behind it? Okay, sure, you could argue that even a stranger could learn and describe the outdoor features of the house. But how did Swarnlata know so much about the inside of it?
How did this little girl know that the front floor of the home was made of stone slabs? How did she know that there were four structured rooms but the other parts were less well finished?
Even more interesting was the fact that Swarnlata described the house specifically as it had been when Biya, her past life personality, was still alive. When she eventually visited the home as Swarnlata, she accurately commented on several changes that had been made in the last 20 years since Biya’s death.
More Proof in the Reincarnation Case - Swarnlata Recognizes over 20 People from Her Past Life
My favorite part of Swarnlata’s reincarnation case is just how many people she recognized — even when they actively tried to deceive, test, and trick her.
In the summer of 1959, not long after Sri H. N. Banerjee (the guy from the Department of Parapsychology) visited, some members of the Pathak family decided to travel to Swarnlata’s home town. They’d clearly had their interest piqued, but they were also cautious.
It was a large group that included Biya’s widowed husband, one of her sons, and a bunch of townspeople she’d never met. These men were specifically brought along in an effort to see if she would falsely claim to know any of them.
I want to take this moment to remind everyone that this was happening in India during the 1950’s - a time before smartphones and social media and Google. Swarnlata’s family didn’t even have a radio until around 1956, let alone more advanced technology. As a matter of fact, one of the standout things she described about her past life was the fact that her previous family owned an automobile — a pretty big deal at the time.
So when this group of men showed up unannounced in Swarnlata’s town, what happened next was like something out of a movie. (Fun fact, when she was this age, there were no movie theaters in any of the towns she lived in… just to reiterate the fact that she wasn’t getting any of this shit from TV.)
Swarnlata Reveals a Family Secret that Only One Other Living Person Knew
First, Biya’s brother showed up at Swarnlata’s home with no warning. He didn’t even introduce himself to her father. Swarnlata recognized him immediately, and she called him Babu, an appropriate term for Biya’s eldest brother.
Next, a meeting was arranged with the large group of travelers and Swarnlata was asked to name each person present. When she came to Sri Pandey, Biya’s husband, she didn’t just say she knew him. Her behavior changed. She acted bashful the way Hindu wives traditionally do in front of their husbands.
Swarnlata was also able to pick Biya's husband out in a photograph of 9 people that had been taken 40 years earlier. And if that wasn’t enough to solidify the point, she mentioned to him about a time he had taken over a thousand rupees from Biya’s box of money. This was something that literally no one but he and his deceased wife knew about!
Family Members Try to Trick Swarnlata
This is where things got sneaky. Though Swarnlata recognized Biya’s oldest son, Murli, immediately, he denied the truth. He committed to the deception and pretended she was mistaken for a full day. Murli had also brought a friend with him and he told Swarnlata that it was his younger brother (Biya’s other son).
Swarnlata was not deceived by either trick. She insisted Murli was her (Biya’s) son and that the person he’d brought with him was not her other son. This is extra impressive if you consider that Murli was 13 years old when Biya died. At the time of meeting Swarnlata he was 35 years old.
(Can you imagine being a 35-year-old person meeting a child who is less than half your age who claims to be your mother reborn?!) As bizarre as it was, Swarnlata passed every test. She recognized her relatives and acquaintances from the past life. And she didn’t claim to know any of the strangers that the Pathak men had brought with them.
Swarnlata’s behavior and her wealth of memories persuaded all of Biya’s family so much so that they completely accepted her as Biya reborn. She remained in contact with the family as she grew up. Each year she participated in Rakhi, a Hindu custom where siblings exchange gifts and renew their devotion to each other.
At least two relatives admitted to Dr. Ian Stevenson that they personally had had no belief in reincarnation until meeting Swarnlata. She had fully convinced them that she was Biya in a past life and that reincarnation is real.
The Reincarnation Case Includes a Second Past Life
There were almost 10 years between the death of Biya and the birth of Swarnlata. So, why the large gap in years? According to Swarnlata, she was busy living another life during that time. She said she was a young girl named Kamlesh who died during childhood, when she was only around 9 years old.
The life of Kamlesh has not been verified the way Biya’s was, but it has a fascinating twist that makes it a standout for any reincarnation case. In 1953, when Swarnlata was around 6 years old (and long before her family owned a radio or entertainment technology of that sort) she began performing dances while singing songs in another language.
It took an expert by the name of Professor P. Pal to figure out what Swarnlata was singing, because even she didn’t seem to know. Her parents recognized that she was singing in another language but it was so unfamiliar to them that they themselves inaccurately guess what language it. (Thus the need for an expert to figure it out.)
The Phenomenon of Xenoglossy
The professor, who was originally from Bengal, recognized the language of the songs as Bengali. Professor Pal noticed that Swarnlata always performed the songs and dances together. It seemed likely she wasn’t capable of doing one without the other.
When he tried communicating with Swarnlata in Bengali, she was unable to speak it or understand what he was saying. This means she had recitative xenoglossy — she was accurately performing a language she recalled from her past life, but she was by no means fluent in the language.
Nevertheless, Swarnlata performed the songs several times in a row so that Professor Pal could write down the words. After some research he learned that they all derived from poems — so she was, by no means, singing nonsense.
In Dr. Ian Steveson’s book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, you can see the lyrics and the English translation of each one. Just like all of her memories of the Biya lifetime, Swarnlata never lost her ability to sing or perform these Bengali songs.
Learn More about Swarnlata Mishra and Her Reincarnation Case
The true story of Swarnlata Mishra is as beautiful as it is mind-blowing. For more information on this reincarnation case, be sure to check out the following books. These are affiliate links, which just means that I get a tiny percentage if you happen to purchase any of the books while using my links. (It doesn't cost you anything extra.) Even if you don't purchase, you can still click the links to read more about the books. You may be able to find them in other book stores or at your local library. The first one is an academic books so it's a bit more expensive and harder to find than the others.
Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation by Ian Stevenson, M.D.
Children’s Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child by Carol Bowman
Children Who Remember Previous Lives by Ian Stevenson, M.D.