Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stevenson's Case of Prakash

In 1964 Dr. Ian Stevenson went to Mathura, India to investigate a case of a young boy who's memories of a past life began in 1955. This boy, named Prakash, claims to remember his life as a boy who died of small pox in 1950 (he was then reborn again in 1951 as Prakash) and claimed that the family he was born into is not his "real" family and that he really misses his true family.

In fact, he missed his "real" family who resided in Mathura (which was a few miles away) so much that he would attempt to run away during the night for a whole month and then a little less frequently as his life in his new family as Prakash continued. Prakash did continue to keep making claims about his past family, talking about who exactly his parents were, his home, the interior of the home he lived in as Nirmal, and family members and neighbors.

When Dr. Stevenson came to visit the family to examine the case, he interviewed Prakash's biological family (the one he was currently born into) and they did admit that they were feel tense about the whole situation and were not content with their son claiming to be from another family. However, while he was interviewing, they did take him to see the family he claimed to be from and he did correctly identify each family member, neighbor, and local women. This was unusual and Prakash's biological family claimed to have never taken him to this village before this event. On the way, Prakash's family did try to mislead him to see if he was really remembering a past life and when they put him on the wrong bus at the station he cried until they put him on the right one.

When Stevenson did visit the family in 1964, he interviewed the families that the boy claimed to be from and the family he was currently with. During this time, the families claimed to have never met and Stevenson acknowledged it would have been very difficult for them to meet since they are from different castes. Prakash's current family also talked about how Prakash insisted on being called Nirmal and that he often talked down about the current living situations compared to his previous situation (Stevenson 31).
This case stuck out because Stevenson noted that this was a case he had studied where the child was very intent on trying to return to the past family he had been from and remembered all the details vividly despite being misled by current family members. He also was so driven to get home he would try to run away back to his "previous" village and family. I found it amazing that since the families had never met that Prakash could have such vast knowledge of familial relations in Nirmal's family, the family he claimed to have been from.

This case also had other witnesses and in Stevenson's book "20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation" he has a table with the claims made and the claims verified. The witnesses included both families as well as a translator and neighbors. I found it very fascinating and would also say that this case of reincarnation seemed plausible throughout the whole course of reading it until the end.


Stevenson MD, Ian. 20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. New York City: American Society for Physical Research, 1966. Print.

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