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A primer on the evidence

for Reincarnation
"It is a secret of the world that all things subsist and so not die, but only retire a little from
sight and afterwards return again Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and
endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the
window, sound and well, in some new and strange disguise."
- Emerson (The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Reincarnation, also known as the
transmigration of the soul, is a theory that
most of you may have come across in one
form or another. The theory holds that
each one of us, including other living
beings have taken birth countless times
and that this is not the first time that we
have been presented with a material body,
birth, the challenges of life, family,
relationships and most certainly, the death
of the physical body.

In actual fact, the physical body is never
really alive. It only appears to be alive
since the symptom of the soul, namely
consciousness, is spread throughout the
body and therefore causes it to become
animated and appear as though alive.
It is like a car that appears to be moving
here and there but that which without a
human driver by whose agency and will the
car is controlled, would remain sitting there
parked on the side of the road, completely
motionless.
Beyond New Age Beliefs

Reincarnation was commonplace amongst
the early Christians. During the council of
Nicea and the following council of Trent,
many doctrines of Christianity were omitted.
It was 323AD, at the Council of Nicea, that it
is generally accepted that the concept of
reincarnation was tossed out of Christian
theology. The purpose of the Council of
Nicea was for early Christians to settle their
disputes regarding Christ.

Even within the Bible, one is able to find
instances of Reincarnation. Christ himself
assured his disciples on three occasions that
John the Baptist was the reincarnation of the
former prophet, Elijah.

Origen of Alexandria who was one of
Christianitys greatest systematic and early
theologians also affirmed reincarnation.

Another verse reads, Naked I came from my
mothers womb, and naked I shall return
there. (Job 1:21)

The Jewish scriptures also accept
reincarnation and it is most prominently
explained in the books of the Mystic
Jewish tradition of the Kabalists. It is also
accepted amongst many other scriptures
and cultures in similar forms with minor
variations.

Scientific Evidence?
Perhaps youve heard of cases where
young children suddenly start giving details
about the life of a deceased person and
provide information that would be
considered near impossible via normal
sensory perception. In the majority of these
cases, the children usually identify
themselves as the deceased person and
exhibit similar behaviours, likes, dislikes
and characteristics.

What you may not be aware of is that there
is a large body of evidence that helps
support the theory that birthmarks
correspond to wounds on the previous
body or personality of the reincarnated
person. The evidence is very compelling
and Dr Ian Stevenson who investigated
cases of the Reincarnation type around the
world for 40 years or so has lent a great
deal of strong evidence to support such a
claim. Stevenson was even able to provide
post mortem reports and photographs to
confirm correspondence between
birthmarks and wounds on the body of the
deceased. The following are 2 reports.

The Hindu boy born
amongst Muslims
Nasruddin Shah was born in a village of
the Shahjahanpur District of Uttar Pradesh,
India, in April 1962. His family were
Muslims. His father was a poor, landless
labourer. Nasruddin was born with several
birthmarks, of which the most prominent
was a lens-shaped birthmark on his left
chest. His family did not understand its
significance until Nasruddin began to speak
about a previous life.

When he did speak, he said that he was a
Thakur, that is, a member of the second
highest ranking caste of Hindus. Without
saying so explicitly, he indicated that he came
from a nearby village called Phargana. He
said that he was called Hardev Baksh
Singh and had been killed with a spear
during a quarrel over cattle. These and other
statements that Nasruddin made were correct
for the life of a man called Hardev Baksh
Singh, a Thakur landowner of Phargana.

During a quarrel over cattle, which became
violent, one of his adversaries drove a spear
through his left upper chest, and he died
almost immediately. The postmortem report
confirmed the close correspondence in
location between Nasruddin's birthmark when
he was born and the fatal spear wound in
Hardev Baksh Singh.

By the time we first met and examined
Nasruddin (when he was 13 years old), the
birthmark had migrated to a position lower on
his chest than the position it had formerly
occupied. A birthmark on Nasruddin's head
had faded by this time. The most remarkable
feature of this caseapart from the principal
birthmark was Nasruddin's "Thakur
behavior."

Although born a Muslim, he considered
himself a Hindu; moreover, he regarded
himself as one of particular distinction. For
example, he refused to engage in activities,
such as collecting cow dung for fuel that most
village boys in India would undertake without
question. Nasruddin also resisted the
Islamic religion; he would not say Islamic
prayers or go to the mosque.
Nasruddin's parents knew that
reincarnation is not part of the teaching
of their religion, but Nasruddin's
statements and behavior convinced them
that he was the reincarnation of Hardev
Baksh Singh.

The Japanese Burman
Ma Win Tar was born in Pyawbwe, Upper
Burma, on February 17, 1962. Her parents
were U Aye Kyaw and his wife, Daw Khin
Win. At her birth she was found to have
severe defects of both hands. The middle
and ring fingers of her right hand were
present, but only loosely attached to the rest
of the hand, and they were webbed
together. A doctor recommended that
these dangling fingers be amputated, and
this was done when Ma Win Tar was a few
days old. Several of Ma Win Tar's other
fingers were either missing or had
constriction rings.

There was a prominent ring around her
left wrist, and close examination of this
showed that it consisted of three separate
depressions that might have corresponded
to grooves made by a rope wound three
times around the arm (Figure 1). Daw Khin
Win said that there had been a similar rope
like mark above Ma Win Tar's right wrist, but
this had since faded. She also said that when
Ma Win Tar had been younger, it was
possible to discern in this area a pattern
within the birthmarks that corresponded to
the strands of the rope. I know of a man who
developed ropelike marks on his skin after
vividly remembering having been tied with a
rope some years earlier.

When she was about 3, she began to refer
to a previous life. She said that she had
been a Japanese soldier, captured by some
Burmese villagers, tied to a tree, and burned
alive. She gave no name for herself in the
previous life, and her account of it
remains unverified.

It is, however, plausible. As the
Japanese Army retreated before the
British advance in the spring of 1945,
Burmese villagers would sometimes
capture straggling Japanese soldiers. The
stragglers were treated variously,
according to the experiences the local
villagers had had with the occupying
Japanese Army. If the villagers believed
the Japanese had badly mistreated them,
they might take revenge on captured
Japanese soldiers; and a Burmese
associate who had been living in
Pyawbwe at the time told me that some
stragglers from the Japanese Army
had been burned alive.

Ma Win Tar showed some behaviour
that was unusual in her family, but
appropriate for the previous life that she
claimed to remember. She liked to dress
like a boy and to wear shirts and
trousers. (Burmese boys, outside a large
city like Rangoon, ordinarily wear shorts
until they begin to wear the ankle-length
garment known as a longyi.) She also
liked to keep her hair short like a
boy's. Eventually, her family forbade her
to wear boys' clothes and insisted that
she dress like a girl.

Ma Win Tar also showed several
behaviours that I call "Japanese"
traits. She complained that the
Burmese food was too spicy and
refused to eat spicy foods when she was
young. She liked sweet foods and pork.
She was relatively insensitive to pain and
more hardworking than the average
Burmese child. She had a streak of
cruelty rare in Burmese children, and she
sometimes slapped the faces of her
playmates when they annoyed her. (This
was a habit that the Japanese soldiers
often showed when Burmese villagers
irritated them; Burmese people rarely slap
faces.) Ma Win Tar also resisted learning the
forms of worship practiced by Burmese
Buddhists. She refused to perform the
customary gesture of obeisance when
meeting Buddhist monks, despite the urgings
of her parents. When Ma Win Tar was
young, she would sit on the ground with
her knees forward and her buttocks
resting on her heels, as Japanese people
do and Burmese people do not (except
sometimes, briefly, when worshipping).

The behaviour I have described certainly
made Ma Win Tar stand out from her siblings
and other playmates. It would not necessarily
have alienated her from them if she had
been less fervent, almost defiant, in insisting
that she was Japanese. She would
sometimes say: "I am Japanese. What
do you think of me? When members of
the Japanese War Graves Commission
came to Pyawbwe, Ma Win Tar told her
playmates: "They are our nationals.

These attitudes led to quarrels in the
home, and Ma Win Tar formed the idea
that other members of the family were
aligned against her because, as she put it,
she was "a foreigner." I do not think her
suspicions were warranted; on the
contrary, I believe members of her family
treated her kindly, even though Ma Win
Tar's behaviour must have tried their
patience sorely.

When I last met Ma Win Tar in 1984, she
had adjusted fully to life in Burma and said
that she did not wish to "return" to Japan.
She then had no imaged memories of the
previous life, but she retained some
masculine traits.
Figure 1: View of Ma Win
Tars left forearm as it
appeared in 1978. In this
photograph one can see a
pattern of three separate
depressions extending
around the arm and
corresponding to the
grooves that a rope might
make if wrapped tightly
around the arm three times.
Further reading
For those who are interested, you may refer to the many books of the late Dr Ian
Stevenson and other researchers of Reincarnation type cases. For a free online copy of a
larger book discussing the evidence for Reincarnation and the refutation of alternate
explanations for these cases, please send an email to Grace Magazine on Insert email.