Shanti Devi (11 December 1926 – 27 December 1987) was born in Delhi, India. As a little girl in the 1930s she began to claim to remember details of a past life. The case was brought to the attention of Mahatma Gandhi who set up a commission to investigate; a report was published in 1936. Two further reports were written at the time. The report by Bal Chand Nahata was published as a Hindi booklet by the name Punarjanma Ki Paryalochana. In this, he stated that “‘Whatever material that has come before us, does not warrant us to conclude that Shanti Devi has ‘former life recollections or that this cases proves reincarnation”. This argument was disputed by Indra Sen in an article later. A further report, based on interviews conducted in 1936, was published in 1952. Later in life Shanti Devi was interviewed again, and a Swedish author who had visited her twice published a book about the case in 1994; the English translation appeared in 1998.
According to these accounts, when she was about four years old, she told her parents that her real home was in Mathura where her husband lived, about 145 km from her home in Delhi. Discouraged by her parents, she ran away from home at age six, trying to reach Mathura. Back home, she stated in school that she was married and had died ten days after having given birth to a child. Interviewed by her teacher and headmaster, she used words from the Mathura dialect and divulged the name of her merchant husband, “Kedar Nath”. The headmaster located a merchant by that name in Mathura who had lost his wife, Lugdi Devi, nine years earlier, ten days after having given birth to a son. Kedar Nath traveled to Delhi, pretending to be his own brother, but Shanti Devi immediately recognized him and Lugdi Devi’s son. As she knew several details of Kedar Nath’s life with his wife, he was soon convinced that Shanti Devi was indeed the reincarnation of Lugdi Devi. When Mahatma Gandhi heard about the case, he met the child and set up a commission to investigate. The commission traveled with Shanti Devi to Mathura, arriving on November 15, 1935. There she recognized several family members, including the grandfather of Lugdi Devi. She found out that Kedar Nath had neglected to keep a number of promises he had made to Lugdi Devi on her deathbed. She then traveled home with her parents. The commission’s report concluded that Shanti Devi was indeed the reincarnation of Lugdi Devi.
Shanti Devi did not marry. She told her story again at the end of the 1950s, and once more in 1986 when she was interviewed by Ian Stevenson and K.S. Rawat. In this interview she also related her near death experiences when Lugdi Devi died. K.S. Rawat continued his investigations in 1987, and the last interview took place only four days before her death on December 27, 1987.