Shanti Devi: ‘The Reincarnated of Delhi’ Who Impressed Mahatma Gandhi

At four years old, Shanti Devi started recounting stories of a woman who had passed one year before her birth. She became known as the 'Reincarnated of Delhi' and even Gandhi was amazed by her story.

Isabel Cara

'La reencarnada de Delhi' que impresionó a Mahatma Gandhi

Days after her fourth birthday, Shanti Devi’s parents began to hear strange stories from their daughter’s mouth. Shanti talked about the existence of a village several kilometers away called Muttra (also Mathura) where a man by the name of Kedar Nath lived whom she claimed to know and with whom she had been in love in the distant past.

“Mom, Dad… I started a family with him and died just as my third child was born,” the little girl told her parents as they ate dinner in their small home in New Delhi. They felt a shiver run through their skin as they watched their daughter offer these details as she calmly ate her food. As the months passed, Shanti gave more and more details about the house where she had been betrothed and given birth to her son, along with her life at Kedar Nath’s side. She even gave the name under which she had lived that past existence: Ludgi.

Shanti Devi, a Case of Real Reincarnation?

Shanti’s parents, increasingly alarmed at what they believed to be the ravings of a somewhat lonely child, took her to the family doctor’s office, who after checking the child found her to be in perfect health. However, from his talk with her, information emerged that caught his attention: Shanti stated that her death occurred at the end of 1925, a year before her birth in 1926. She also gave him details about the pregnancy, gestation, and birth that only a woman who had actually given birth could offer.

Everything suggested that the girl could indeed be a real case of reincarnation, one of the acts that are part of the dharmic religions, originating from Hinduism, which believes that the actions of the present life will have an impact on the next. This cycle is part of the so-called wheel of Kharma, which evaluates human behaviors and their repercussions in reincarnation.

Shanti devi the reincarnated of delhi

Years passed without the girl’s parents doing anything to verify the veracity of her words. However, her great-uncle, Professor Kishen Chand, was truly fascinated by the girl’s stories. So he took a decision: to write a letter to the address in Muttra to which the girl had so often referred; he addressed the letter to Mr. Kedar Nath and told him Shanti’s story. He also asked him for the opportunity to meet the girl, if he wanted to, to clear up any doubts about the story that so intrigued the family.

Weeks later, he got an answer: Kedar Nath agreed to meet the girl’s family, intrigued to meet her, but before that, he sent his cousin to keep a close eye on Devi’s family to make sure it was not a fraud. The cousin kept a close eye on the girl’s family, even going so far as to reveal his mission to them. After speaking with the girl’s parents and even with the girl herself, Kedar Nath’s cousin was impressed by Shanti’s accurate account and vouched for the veracity of the details she gave him. So, Kishen Chand and the girl’s parents offered Kedar Nath and his youngest child (Shanti’s possible son) to pay for the train ride from Muttra. The longed-for meeting was about to take place without the girl being aware of it.

The Meeting

When the girl had Kedar Nath in front of her, her countenance looked serene but inside her, there was a great agitation: the man was obviously a few years older, but, undoubtedly, he was the one with whom she had shared her years of marriage until the outcome in childbirth. They both greeted each other, and Shanti spoke to him as if they were still together and had never been separated. Kedar Nath looked dismayed at the details the girl offered him, which were exactly the same as those he had experienced with his former wife Ludgi.

However, the most emotional and impressive moment was when she saw and recognized the oldest of her children. Shanti hugged him in tears and told him how much she had loved him. It was impressive to see how she behaved in a very maternal way with a child who was older than her and who could not understand what had happened. Those gathered there watched the scene with emotion, but at the same time with a growing sense of concern. Was it all real? Could the reincarnated girl’s story really be real?

Shanti devi the reincarnated of delhi

The Trip Back to Muttra

That was not the only meeting between Shanti and Kedar Nath. Months later, on November 15, 1935, the girl traveled to Muttra to see the house where she had lived in her previous life. The case was reported in the press, and hundreds of reporters waited at the train station to record photographs and first impressions of the moment.

Arriving at the house of her stories, the girl felt her eyes light up as she recalled the years spent there. The presence of other relatives did not frighten Shanti: she mentioned the place where she used to hide money, referred that some years ago, the house was painted in a different color, and gave details that only someone close to the family could master. Kedar Nath had remarried; however, his new wife, who was present in the house, also listened fascinated by the little girl’s anecdotes and stories. Shanti recognized neighbors, places she used to frequent and other details that finally left no doubt about the veracity of her case. From that moment on, Ludgi-Shanti began to be called ‘The reincarnated of Delhi’ by the press.

Mahatma Gandhi Gives the Final Verdict

The news of Shanti Devi’s reincarnation began to travel around India until it reached the ears of Mahatma Gandhi himself, who after meeting ‘The reincarnated of Delhi’ and hearing her story, ordered a commission to investigate the case in depth. When the results were conclusive, and it was proved that the girl was not lying, Gandhi corroborated his support for the case. In turn, Sture Lonnestrand, a renowned Swedish writer and psychologist, traveled to the Asian country to interview Shanti and learn more about her story.

All the publicity Shanti and her family gained became too much to bear. Kedar Nath and his family decided to cut off all communication with the girl and continue to live their lives away from her and the whole case. Shanti’s parents also drifted away over the years. ‘The reincarnated of Delhi’ continued to live in New Delhi and work in a public office, living in solitude. In an interview, Shanti said, “I had almost reached a state of eternal bliss and salvation… but I made a mistake. I was too anxious to return to Earth, longing to see my son and longing for my husband Kedar Nath. My love was selfish, greedy, and demanding. He still loved me even when I was dead. Therefore, I had to experience the next stage of death, reincarnation.” Shanti passed away in India on December 27, 1987.

Story written in Spanish by Cora Bravo in Cultura Colectiva