Birthmarks due to reincarnation

Noted reincarnation researcher, Dr Ian Stevenson(1918-2007), identified several cases of children whose birthmarks or birth defects seemed to coincide with the death wounds of the person they claimed to be in their previous incarnation.  We shall discuss some cases here along with a possible explanation for the birthmarks in light of the insights of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

(Word of caution: Please do not conclude based on this article that ALL birthmarks are the consequence of some past incarnation!  That is not what this article says. )

Birthmarks traced to the past incarnation

Out of the numerous cases of reincarnation that Stevenson investigated, there were 49 in which a postmortem report from the previous birth was available through government officials, and in 43 of these cases, he and his colleagues were able to establish a definite correspondence between the death wounds and the birthmarks.  A correspondence was judged satisfactory if the birthmark and the wound were both within an area of 10 square centimeters at the same anatomical location.  For illustrative purposes, a few cases are now mentioned[1].

1. An Indian child who recalled the life of a man being killed by a shotgun at close range was found to have a birthmark (hypopigmentation or loss of skin color) around the area of the heart.

2. A Thai man recalled memories of his previous incarnation in which he had been his own uncle who had been struck on the head with a heavy knife and killed almost instantly.  On the back of his head, was a major abnormality of skin known as verrucous epidermal nevus.   He also had a deformed toe-nail of the right great toe.  This corresponded to a chronic infection of the same toe which his uncle suffered from before his death.

3. Another Thai boy had a small round mark on the back of his head, and a larger irregularly shaped birthmark on the front of his head.  The boy remembered the life of a man who had been shot in the head from behind.  Based on post-mortem report of the victim, the small mark corresponded with the entry point of the bullet and the large mark with the bullet’s exit point.

4. A Thai woman had three separate linear hypopigmented (loss of skin color) scars near the midline of her back.  As a child, she had remembered the life of a woman who was killed when struck three times in the back with an ax.  In this case, no record was available but was the manner of death was verified through informants.

5. A Burmese woman born with two perfectly round birthmarks of different sizes in her left chest.  She recalled the previous life of a woman who was accidentally shot and killed with a shotgun.  A responsible informant said the shotgun cartridge had contained shot of different sizes.

5. Another Burmese child remembered the life of a deceased aunt who had died during surgery.  This child had a long, vertical linear hypopigmented birthmark close to the midline of her lower chest and upper abdomen, which resembled the surgical incision caused during heart repair.

6. A child in Turkey had a horizontal linear birthmark across the right upper quadrant of his abdomen, resembling a surgical incision.  He remembered the life of a paternal grandfather who had become jaundiced and was operated upon before death.

7. A Turkish boy had a diminished and malformed ear, and an underdeveloped  right face(picture below).  He had remembered the life of a man who had been shot with a shotgun at point-blank range.  The wounded man had died in hospital 6 days later.  Dr Stevenson obtained a copy of the hospital record and was able to correlate the injury to the birthmark.

Photo: Turkish boy with diminished and malformed ear.

8. An Indian child with missing fingers on the right hand  (picture below) remembered the life of a child who had lost his fingers after putting his hand into the blades of a fodder-chopping machine.  His fingers in this birth were mere stubs(unilateral brachydactyly).

Indian child with brachydactyly

9. A Burmese girl missing the lower right leg (lower hemimelia) from birth remembered the life of a girl who had been run over by a train.  Eyewitnesses said the train severed the girl’s right leg first, before running over the trunk.  The girl’s birth defect, lower hemimelia, is an extremely rare condition (picture below).

Burmese girl with hemimelia

Explanation of past-life memories and birthmarks

The cases of reincarnation that Stevenson and his colleagues investigated seem to possess certain salient characteristics:

  1. The soul seems to be reborn quickly, in a period ranging from a few months to a few years, after experiencing a premature death due to a murder, a suicide or an accident.
  2. The children are able to recollect only the immediate past life and not the ones before.
  3. The recollections of the past life spontaneously begin between the ages of 3-7, after which the memory gradually fades away.

Since I have not read all of Stevenson’s works, I am unaware of the latest and greatest theory that he may have put forth to demystify these cases.  In what follows, I will base my explanation on the insights into reincarnation given by the Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra Alfassa.

There is a recorded dialogue where the Mother was asked to elucidate on cases of reincarnation similar to those investigated by Stevenson:

Question: In the Bulletin, you have said: “Psychic memories possess a very special character, they have a wonderful intensity…They are unforgettable moments of life when the consciousness is intense, luminous, strong, active, powerful, and sometimes turning-points in life that have changed the direction of one’s life. But you will never be able to say what dress you put on or the gentleman with whom you spoke or about your neighbours and the kind of field where you were.”¹ And about these memories of small details, you said: “That is absolute childishness.”

But then how is it that in newspapers one quite often reads stories of small children who remember their past lives and that the details have been verified? And it is the study of such events that leads parapsychologists to assert the existence of reincarnation. So are they not on a completely wrong track? And how can reincarnation be demonstrated scientifically in any other way?

Mother Mirra Alfassa: The memories you refer to, which are mentioned in newspapers, are memories of the vital being that, exceptionally, has gone out of one body in order to enter another. It is something that can happen, but it is not frequent. The memory that I refer to is that of the psychic being, and one is conscious of it only when one is in conscious relation with one’s psychic being.  There is no contradiction between the two things[2].

In her answer, the Mother makes a distinction between vital memories and psychic memories and elucidates that the cases where small children recall minute details of their immediate past life are due to vital memories.  Some background into the myriad ways in which reincarnation occurs needs to be developed in order to understand her answer.

The human constitution is comprised of five concentric sheaths – physical(annamaya), vital(pranamaya), mental(manomaya), and the higher two sheaths called knowledge (vijnanamaya) and bliss(anandamaya) – all of which are held together by the psychic being.

After a person is dies, the psychic being dissolves the bonds between sheaths and the various sheaths fall apart.  Just as the physical body needs a few days to decompose, similarly the vital and mental sheaths also require time to purge the desire and thought formations that were gathered during the lifetime.  This usually takes a period of 3-5 years(relative to earth-time), after which the psychic being can retire to the psychic world for recuperation[3].  This period of rest can span from tens to hundreds of years[4].  Refreshed and invigorated after this vacation, the psychic being then begins its evolutionary journey by assembling a new set of sheaths and taking birth again into a brand-new family in some other part of the world.  As we become highly evolved, we develop greater control over this whole cycle.  In other words, people who did not develop spiritually in life tend to be reborn quickly with minimal rest between incarnations[5].

In case of those who die prematurely due to murder, accident or suicide, this cycle is disrupted.  Such people tend to have unfulfilled desires towards their families, friends and even enemies which keep them tied them to the earth’s atmosphere.   They may have exited their physical body but they still retain their vital and mental sheaths.  They remain on the look-out for a suitable opportunity to take birth again, and when they enter a newly conceived body, they bring along the old vital and mental sheaths into the new birth.  As a result, when they are reborn, they continue to carry vivid memories of their immediate past life[6].  These are the memories that we see being spontaneously displayed by many of the children the Dr Stevenson interviewed.

This brings us to the next question : how to explain those birthmarks?  That can be explained by virtue of the old vital sheath which these children brought into the new incarnation.   This vital sheath retains the impressions of the immediate past life, and during early childhood development, it impresses these formations onto the maturing physical body, hence producing the birthmarks which coincide with the past incarnation.

Moreover, such a conclusion is consistent with other phenomena where the effect of the vital sheath on the physical sheath has been observed.  In the article Memory transference experienced by organ donor patients, we observed that heart transplant recipients seem to miraculously take on the memories of their donors.  In the article Physical marks seen after injuries sustained in dreams, we saw that injuries received by the vital sheath during dreams can get propagated to the physical body.

Further reading

Dr Stevenson’s paper “Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons” is available online at any of these three links.


You may also like to read this page summarizing Stevenson’s book: Where_Reincarnation_and_Biology_Intersect


  1. Ian Stevenson. Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 403-410, 1993.
  2. Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 15,  p 137.
  3. Sri Aurobindo.  Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 22, page 458.
  4. Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 3, page 145.
  5. Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 7, pp 86-87.
  6. Sri Aurobindo. Life Divine, CWSA vol. 21-22, p 827.

Related Posts

  1. When does the soul enter the body?
  2. Cases of reincarnation across religions
  3. Does population growth invalidate reincarnation?
  4. The Aurobindonian model of Karma
  5. Karma can be changed. Your destiny is in your hands
  6. Raising a child prodigy
  7. Does dying in holy cities like Varanasi bring salvation?
  8. Explaining out-of-body and near-death experiences
  9. Ghosts explained
  10. Memory transference in organ transplant recipients

29 thoughts on “Birthmarks due to reincarnation

  1. Pingback: On death, burials, cremations, funerals and resurrection | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  2. Sandeep Post author

    Another reference where the Mother explains the reason why children remember their immediate past life. This conversation was recorded on 24 Feb 1951.

    NOTE: It is significant that Dr Stevenson’s research on premature deaths was done after the observations made by the Mother’s observation. In other words, her prediction of those cases was validated by Stevenson.

    Disciple: Here in India frequently children are born in a village and they give, while very young, precise information about the village where they have lived before, about their parents, etc. Is this true?

    Mother: Yes, but generally these are children who have died as children or very young and whose previous life had not fully run out. This can happen

    (Collected Works of the Mother. vol. 4, p 149)

  3. K

    // This usually takes a period of 3-5 years(relative to earth-time), after which the psychic being can retire to the psychic world for recuperation[3]. This period of rest can span from tens to hundreds of years[4].//

    Ian stevenson’s and Michel Newton’s Inter life research gives somewhat a different perspective.As per the subject’s memories, the Inter life is full of activity, learning and Joyous.They explain about Guides, soul Groups, some sort of spiritual authorities and explain other details like explain how the soul chooses the next life and also fascinating interplanetary lives.It seems like the Inter life period was markedly reduced in the recent centuries.

    After reading the materials one will have a feeling that the Inter life is full of Joy and Learning
    without any suffering and other evils of the physical, not sure how far its true.May be these are
    the fantasies, vivid imagination of the subjects.

    May be I think that the above experiences are happening in the Vital or mental planes before the being rests in the psychic world or its happening in the psychic world itself.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Michael Newton is a hypnotherapist. I would be more inclined to rely on the insights of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who said that there is a brief period of suffering for those who have strong sensual passions, but after that we all enjoy a brief rest.

      On the other hand, it doesn’t really matter who says what about the afterlife. There will be all kinds of theories, some hopeful and some not so hopeful. We have to silence the mind day after day and find out on our own what exists out there.

    2. amsha

      Is there such a thing as hell?
      Yes, there are hells that are formed by human thought which
      exist in certain regions of the vital world.
      21 June 1935

      Is it after death that one suffers those torments?
      Yes, if one believes in them.
      24 June 1935

      More Answers from the Mother

      1. Kieran

        She knows her stuff! If you do any Astral projection you will see this for yourself. Individuals and more importantly groups off, can create their own version of a hell. Beware of your thoughts and emotions because they can have a life of their own.

      2. amsha

        Not really into astral projection stuff but I can see at a times how things rising from subconscient influence what people feel and do, so if somebody doesn’t have bit of soul in him everything obviously turns to be ugly.

      3. Kieran

        To Amsha.. I would recommend you practice Astral Travel.. or at least try it! I don’t know the ‘Mother’ you quote above but the quotes are very important if you want to understand where you are and who you are. Life does not stop at the point of death nor does it become perfect whereby you are guided to some perfect world(heaven as some people see it) The journey is on going and this is the scenario that catches people out. Life is not a Hollywood movie with a perfect ending. In fact there is no ending

  4. Rama Prasad

    “After a person is dies, the psychic being dissolves the bonds between sheaths and the various sheaths fall apart. Just as the physical body needs a few days to decompose, similarly the vital and mental sheaths also require time to purge the desire and thought formations that were gathered during the lifetime. This usually takes a period of 3-5 years(relative to earth-time), after which the psychic being can retire to the psychic world for recuperation[3”

    “In case of those who die prematurely due to murder, accident or suicide, this cycle is disrupted. Such people tend to have unfulfilled desires towards their families, friends and even enemies which keep them tied them to the earth’s atmosphere. They may have exited their physical body but they still retain their vital and mental sheaths. ”

    Dear Sandeep,
    From the first para copied, it seems the psychic remains in the earth atmosphere until purging of desire and thought formations and it is bound to the vital and mental sheaths. If it is not, then why the psychic continues in earth atmosphere for 3 to 5 years and how it knows of the “purging” of the sheaths discarded? Can you pl help explain further ?

    In the second para copied, it is said “They may have exited their physical body but they still retain their vital and mental sheaths. “. Who is this “They” ? The psychic beings of the departed or who retains these sheaths ? if the psychic had discarded them as said in the first para.

    These are some questions which were there in my mind for quite some time now.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      I don’t have firsthand information as to how the psychic being would know if the sheaths have been purged, but I presume its analogous to the way you feel after having shed some heavy package that you were carrying. Because you feel lighter, you naturally fly off to the next domain.

      At death, the psychic being exits the physical body but continues to retain the vital and mental sheaths, as these sheaths (the vital in particular) continue to vibrate with earthly desires.

      In case of those who died naturally, these sheaths decompose in a period of 3-5 years after which the psychic being becomes free and flies away to the psychic world. (Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 22, page 458)

      In case of those who are reborn quickly, these sheaths do not decompose so the psychic being retains them and rebirth occurs with the same old habit formations.

      You have to imagine a multistage rocket launching into space, shedding layer after layer. It needs some time to escape the pull of earth atmosphere. If the rocket fails at the some preliminary stage, it falls back to earth like a person who died prematurely in a murder or an accident. If not, it ventures into outer space successfully and returns after a long time.

      Hope that resolves the contradiction (?)

  5. Sandeep Post author

    Sri Aurobindo’s comments on a case of a child remembering a past life

    16 August 1926 (Evening)

    (Sri Aurobindo referred to a newspaper report that a boy, 6 years old, in Punjab described in detail the incidents of his past birth and his statements after verification have been found to be true.)

    Disciple: Taking the case to be genuine, what is the explanation?

    Sri Aurobindo: The only explanation which seems probable to me is that some vital being is strongly associated with the boy and it is that being which is enabling him to recall and describe his past births.

    Disciple: How could the vital being retain its association even after the death of the person?

    Sri Aurobindo: Perhaps the person after death did not go beyond the vital plane; he did not go to the place of his rest as he had very little experience to assimilate.

    (X referred to a case of a child dying and very soon afterwards taking birth again in the womb of its mother.)

    Sri Aurobindo: As the child died early and had little experience to assimilate it was quite possible for it to come back very soon. There are various things which pull a person to take birth. But men do not leave one body and at once take birth into another; it is possible only in the case of insects.

    At the place of rest the departed soul does not only assimilate the experiences of its immediate previous birth; all the experiences of all its past births together determine the kind of birth it is next going to take.

  6. mike

    Actually dr stevenson consulted with dr hiroshi motoyama [japanese yogi and scientist] on this subject and motoyama confirmed stevenson’s findings. Motoyama wrote a very good book on reincarnation called ‘karma and reincarnation’.

    “A Brief Case of Reincarnation with Stevenson and Motoyama
    We have already talked about one case from Hiroshi Motoyama (The Case of Ms. Y) and one from Dr. Ian Stevenson (Gillian and Jennifer Pollock). Now, I would like illustrate how Ian Stevenson’s work has impacted Motoyama, in “Karma and Reincarnation” Motoyama discusses an experience he had that helped persuade him that Stevenson had dealt with true cases of reincarnation. First, he verifies Stevenson’s credibility by discussing how it is impressive that Stevenson has used such a “diverse” amount of countries including the Western and European ones (Motoyama 82).

    Stevenson actually paid a visit to Motoyama, and told him about a special case he was studying and which was presented in his book “20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation” about an Indian man who had reached out to Stevenson. This man claimed to remember a past life of his, a life in which he was a British officer during World War I. During the war, the British officer died when a bullet pierced his throat (entering in one side and leaving through the opposite side of the throat).

    The Indian man also could clearly and vividly remember details of the hometown of the British officer he claimed to have been: he remembered the house he was from, the officer’s parents names, local sayings in the area, street layouts, and landmarks in the town he claimed the officer was from.

    Stevenson then told Motoyama about the research he did into the Indian man’s life, he verified and was certain that this Indian man had no way of travelling to Scotland/England and the area he told them of in those countries. Dr. Stevenson flew to Scotland to the exact location described by the Indian man and was shocked to find that every detail the Indian man had told him about the town had been correct. Even the family verified that their son had been an officer and was shot in the throat and the dialect was exactly as the man had described.

    Motoyama was impressed by Stevenson’s unbiased approach and thorough research, and claims that Stevenson convinced him in this case (Motoyama 83). Also something Motoyama agreed with was the placement of birthmarks on the man’s throat, it corresponded to where the British officer had been shot and matched the story the Indian man had told, the Scottish family the British officer was from also verified the location the bullet entered their son and it was identical to the birthmarks on the Indian man’s neck.

    This case, though brief and discussed in both Stevenson’s and Motoyama’s books and I believe that gives the case a certain amount of credibility, especially since Motoyama is a well revered human psychologist as well as very published author. I liked this case and find it convincing because it connects the elements of remembering past lives in explicit detail and being able to verify them with a living relative of the deceased. It was also impressive that the Indian man had never been to or heard of the area prior to having it verified by Dr. Ian Stevenson.

    Motoyama, Hiroshi. Karma and Reincarnation. Encintitas: CIHS, 2009. Print.
    Stevenson MD, Ian. 20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. New York City: American Society for Physical Research, 1966″

    This is one story from Motoyam’s book:

    “The Case of Ms.Y
    One prominent case of reincarnation is studied at Temple University in the class of “Death and Dying” is the case of Ms. Y. This is excerpted from the book “Karma & Reincarnation” by Hiroshi Motoyama. Motoyama discloses that this is not the family’s real name due to privacy reasons and anonymity. The author begins by discussing that he does past-life regression therapy, which basically puts a person into a state of hypnosis in which they will most likely not recall when they come to normal consciousness again. During this time people sometimes recall a past life and are able to elaborate and, as said in the previous entry, recall very detailed facts including names and the origin of the previous life.

    In this case, Motoyama talks about how Ms. Y came to him because she was experiencing a fit of deep depression. With this is in mind, Motoyama proposed that she try past life regression therapy. During the session, Ms. Y remembered a time 350 years prior to when her father in this life was a samurai at that point in time and she was his daughter. During this lifetime, her father was very well revered but she was having problems in this life. The problem was star-crossed love, her family forebode her from marrying the man she loved very much in her teen years, this threw her into a manic depressive state at the time and she killed herself. (Motoyama 2-3)

    Motoyama closely worked with the family for quite some time researching the history of this family that Ms. Y spoke of 350 years prior to. They visited the town that the samurai (Hachirouemon Nakanose) was from in Suwa. They did a lot of research and eventually found the tomb and the family lineage of Nakanose and verified that he did have a daughter who had killed herself over the loss of an unattainable lover.

    This case helps dispell the myth that past life regression therapy can cause only false memories. Motoyama knew that Ms. Y had never been to Suwa and had no knowledge of any families in that area, so it was highly improbable that Ms. Y had researched this family and knew the details simply from that. Also, this is not a family who is well known, so it was very unlikely Ms. Y had heard of the family and simply made a story to go along it. All the research the Motoyama did to prove or disprove this case proved helpful and after much digging in libraries and temples, Ms. Y was able to prove that this past life could have actually happened (Motoyama 5).

    I found this case very interesting because the age Ms. Y came down with symptoms of depression in her current life is when she had taken her own life because of grief and sorrow in her past life (about 20 years old). I also admired how Motoyama did intensive research to prove or disprove Ms. Y’s memories of a past life. Ultimately, I would say that this is a valid case and Motoyama is fairly well revered since his book is being studied at Temple University in the class “Death and Dying””

  7. mike

    “With this is in mind, Motoyama proposed that she try past life regression therapy”

    “This case helps dispell the myth that past life regression therapy can cause only false memories”

    l should make it clear that although the comments above seem to suggest ‘hypnotic regression’ this is not what l’ve read in Motoyama’s book. He would enter samadhi to see into the woman’s past-life. So the person writing the above statement appears to be confusing the issue. Motoyama’s method has nothing to do with ‘past-life regression therapy’ in the normal psychological sense, as far as l can tell..

  8. KAI

    I think that it is very difficult to ascertain whether the memories were the past life of the self or
    an attached disembodied being as indicated by SA in his conversation.

    I remember reading a concept from a mystic which goes like this… consecutive reincarnation of a single entity does not happen and what is remembered as past life is the memory of an attached being.This is absolutely contradictory to the traditional and prevalent knowledge
    about reincarnation.

    As ordinary humans does not possess the required occult faculties there is dependency
    on researches and mystics and often is confusing because of the varied views.

  9. KAI

    Dear Sandeep,
    Have been visiting the site frequently with the anticipation of finding a new article
    though you said you are busy professionally, however closely following the comments
    of the visitors which eventually leads to better understanding.

    Thanks for sharing the huge body of information which will be useful for the seekers and
    the curious.

  10. mike

    “I remember reading a concept from a mystic which goes like this… consecutive reincarnation of a single entity does not happen and what is remembered as past life is the memory of an attached being.This is absolutely contradictory to the traditional and prevalent knowledge
    about reincarnation.”

    Kai, do you remember who that mystic was. His knowledge doesn’t seem very profound if you compare it to all those that say ‘consecutive reincarnation of a single entity’ does happen.. Just wondering if l know this person..
    l know there are several books on ‘attached beings’ around [and how to release oneself from them..] but to say this is ‘ALWAYS’ the cause of reincarnation memories is a bit limited, to say the least.. Perhaps this mystic is just an ordinary so-called psychic who only has a small degree of clairvoyance [there are many of those out there]..

    Yes, your right, without the required occult or Spiritual vision the Truth in these matters will always be speculative.

  11. KAI

    Mike, I remember reading these concepts in Vethathri Maharishi’s books..His approach towards
    the Dvine is more like a particle physicist then a mystic.Being an ordinary human I can’t say right or wrong about the theories but I felt this concept about reincarnation contradictory against the wide held beliefs and it much more confusing if we read the new age materials with
    diverse concepts.Beliefs sytsems, concepts, Ideas, Theories, Speculations, Tradition, culture are all creating a huge burden and tension on the Psyche of an individual.

    Knowing is what frees the individual from these and not the knowledge.I don’t think that
    this can be achieved through individual efforts alone and at times it happens without effort at all.

    I think, with the intellect one cannot go beyond speculation even for the basic questions about
    life and the existence, now I understand why Krishnamurthy said that thinking is futile.

  12. mike

    “I think, with the intellect one cannot go beyond speculation even for the basic questions about
    life and the existence, now I understand why Krishnamurthy said that thinking is futile.”

    Yes, kai l totally agree with the above…

    l haven’t heard of Vethathri Maharishi but his vision of things seems very narrow. l have heard his theory in other places, though. Makes me wonder why someone would want to ditch a belief [reincarnation] that so many great sages through the ages have held to be true.
    There are many in the new-age movement who are confusing things nowadays IMO – especially with their so-called ‘channelled information’. l feel as SA says, that many are trapped in the ‘intermediate zone’ where there is much falsehood. But, as you say without a Higher knowledge we are not able to verify anything for ourselves – that will come one day. For the moment we have to be guided by those we believe to be enlightened..

  13. KAI

    ‘For the moment we have to be guided by those we believe to be enlightened.’
    yes Mike, That is the only course we can take as of now.

    Most of these channeled information are claimed to be of alien origin.Though these stimulates
    the though processes , it can be validated only by mystics of very high caliber.I remember reading an answer by SA to a disciple regarding science swiping aside the ancient knowledge as superstition, He says something like the traditional knowledge contains Truth, Half Truths and Falsehood and it is not right to regard everything as superstition.I think this hold good for
    the new age materials also.

    The inter life research material of Dr.Ian Stevenson mentioned in the above article give one perspective, another researcher Michael Newton in this domain gives a different perspective.
    On some topics they give completely opposite views and thus a lay person gets confused.

    This happens among great mystics also which makes one wonder what its all about.

  14. KAI

    Another subject which we can reflect associated to reincarnation is whether humans reincarnate as animals when lived a series of degraded lives.The great mystic Vallalar is affirmative in this regard however the Theosophists say that it is a rare happening. I am not sure about the views of Mother and SAs view on this matter.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      It is the Chandogya Upanishad which states that humans can be reborn as animals. I don’t recall the exact verse but you will find it in the chapter which discusses the Devayana and Pitrayana (higher and lower) paths of the soul after death.

  15. mike

    SA didn’t have much time for theosophy from what l’ve read – He wrote quite a big article about it.

    He also says regressive reincarnation [returning to an animal incarnations] is a myth, as seen in the letter below:

    “After leaving the body, the soul, after certain experiences in other worlds, throws off its mental and vital personalities and goes into rest to assimilate the essence of its past and prepare for a new life. It is this preparation that determines the circumstances of the new birth and guides it in its reconstitution of a new personality and the choice of its materials.
    The departed soul retains the memory of its past experiences only in their essence, not in their form of detail. It is only if the soul brings back some past personality or personalities as part of its present manifestation that it is likely to remember the details of the past life. Otherwise, it is only by Yogadrishti that the memory comes.
    The Karana-purusha is what is called the central being by us, the Jiva. It stands above the play, supporting it always. There may be what seems to be retrograde movements but these are only like zigzag movements, not a real falling back, but a return on something not worked out so as to go on better afterwards. The soul does not go back to the animal condition; but a part of the vital personality may disjoin itself and join an animal birth to work out its animal propensities there.
    There is no truth in the popular belief about the avaricious man becoming a serpent. These are popular romantic superstitions.”

    Letters on Yoga
    Volume 1

  16. mike

    This might clear it up. Possibly it’s the confusion between ‘Transmigration’ and ‘Reincarnation’ that presents the problem here. This from G.VAN Wrekham’s book ‘beyond man’::

    “Reincarnation is often mistaken for transmigration, which is an ill-considered popular belief. Transmigration holds that the soul rather haphazardly comes back in all sorts of animal bodies and even in plants, but most often in the last species of animal the dying person has set eyes on before his death. According to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother the growth of the soul, in its various evolutionary stages, is the development of a spiritual consciousness at all times directed, meaningful and irreversible. And so Sri Aurobindo wrote: ‘We have to ask whether the soul, having once arrived at humanity, can go back to the animal life and body, a retrogression which the old popular theories of transmigration have supposed to be an ordinary movement. It seems impossible that it should so go back with any entirety, and for this reason that the transit from the animal to human life means a decisive conversion of the vital consciousness, quite as decisive as the conversion of the vital consciousness of the plant into the mental consciousness of the animal. It is surely impossible that a conversion so decisive made by Nature should be reversed by the soul and the decision of the spirit within her come, as it were, to naught.’ (The Life Divine, p. 762)

    Sri Aurobindo goes on to say that a regression to a lower level may still be possible in the border areas just before reaching the threshold of humanity, but not after this threshold has been crossed. It is also possible, he writes, that parts of the vital composition of the personality may drop back, so that for instance a violent, unsatiated sexual desire may be integrated into an animal, but this of course is something very different from a falling back of the soul. ‘The soul does not go back to the animal condition; but a part of the vital personality may disjoin itself and join an animal birth to work out its animal propensities there.”

    SA does say there that it may still be possible to reincarnate as an animal before the ‘threshold of Humanity’ is reached..

  17. mike

    As sandeep says, animal retrogression is accepted in the hindu scriptures according to this.

    “Retrogression Into Animal Births

    Hindu scriptures say that a man may become a Deva or a beast or a bird or vegetable or stone according to his merit or demerit. The Upanishads also corroborate this statement. Kapila also agrees on this point.

    But certain schools of Buddhism and some Western philosophers teach: “There is no more retrogression for a man when once he takes a human birth. There is no necessity for him to be born as an animal for the sake of demerit. He can be punished in a variety of ways in the human birth itself.”

    When a man takes the form of a Deva, all human Samskaras, habits and tendencies will remain dormant. When a man takes the form of a dog, the animal tendencies, habits and Samskaras only will manifest. Human tendencies will remain suppressed. Some dogs get royal treatment in the palaces of kings and aristocratic people. They move in cars, eat good food and sleep in cushions. These are all degenerated human beings.”

  18. Jessica

    When I was a young girl, I remembered these quick little memories of a little kid at the beach who ran off into the water to play, and from what I remember, I would see water coming over my head, and it all going black.

  19. 01

    I’ve been born prematurely and deformed. I had that huge growth hanging from between my eyebrows and feet turned inwards, there was risk that I wouldn’t walk. But I’ve been massaged and feet straightened, they’re still very veiny and delicate, but I walk just fine. I guess I was so stiff I needed massage to chill, huh. They also burned that thing between my eyebrows with radium, I think (yay for Maria Curie?). I don’t remember that much from this life, let alone another. My memories start at 6 years old, I don’t remember any past life stuff from then. I had terrible nightmares, like rock music video, crows, moths, snakes and all that jazz. I developed terrible insomnia that I started to manage quite recently, maybe few years ago. Before that I slept for 2 hours daily maybe. Only earlier memory is from when I was five, it was my birthday and I was happy I’m five and jumping on the bed :). Really cute memory. Other than that I don’t remember much, let alone previous life.


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