Science and Paranormal events

    Even if a single case of rebirth is accepted as the proven fact, it would be sufficient to establish the necessity of ‘scientifically studying and explaining’ the phenomenon.

  Here we are giving one such case by way of an example. The very first question in such ‘claims’ is the credentials of the person who studied such claims. We are taking our example that has been quoted  by retired Justice V.R. Krishna Iyyar of the Supreme Court of India in his book ‘Death and After’ It would be enlightening to give a life sketch of this eminent person of India.

  He was an able lawyer and then a Minister in the Communist government of the State of Kerala in India. He rose to become a Judge, firstly of the High Court and then of the Supreme Court of India. He was a non-believer communist and by habit had a critical attitude towards everything. While he was serving in the Supreme Court, he unfortunately underwent a personal tragedy: his wife, who was so dear to him as none could be to him on earth, had died during a medical operation in a U.S. hospital. He was dejected for some time and, then, his investigative spirit put him on the path of studying the truth of the finality of death, or life after death or rebirth or whatever it could be.

  He writes in the introduction to this book that the tentative conclusion based on sparkling new evidence is that one lives after death and that at the same time he has discarded with active skepticism blind faith in dealing with the subject matter of the book. He says the book is never wooly, nor it is afraid of where the investigation may lead one and assures his readers of the integrity and fairness of the author in his search and research. He calls upon the reader to interrogate the pages, critique the given stories and challenge the material, but do the same with the charity that the reader owes to the author that he (author) is not sold out to any preconceived thesis or hypothesis, and that like other student with critical faculties kept alive, the author seeks light on what is beyond, with an effort to ‘tap into’ knowledge stored in odd places. He very aptly comments that facts are sacred and, if found true, must be accepted; he rightly says that retreat from facts is untruth, cowardice and arrogant ignorance.

  Justice Krishna Iyyar refers the case of Mushir Ali of Kakori who was reborn as Naresh Kumar of Baznagar, which was researched by Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the department of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS Bangalore and published as a paper by her. In this paper she says that there are more than 2600 cases of children claiming to remember their previous lives, which have been identified and investigated. These children hail from cultures where belief in reincarnation exists. However, the vast majority of Muslims do not believe in reincarnation and twenty-six (7 percent) of the subjects of the 400 cases (in India) were Muslims in the present life or remembered having been Muslims in their previous life. She observes that in 19 of these 400 studied cases, there was a change in religion from Hindu to Moslem (7 cases) or Moslem to Hindu (12 cases).

   One Haider Ali, a Muslim resident of village Kakori in district Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh, had married twice and had one son from the first wife, and three sons – the eldest being Mushir Ali – and seven daughters from the second. Mushir Ali had hired a horse-cart and used to take vegetables and fruits to the market; he was the sole breadwinner of the family at the time of his death. On June 30, 1980 in the early hours of the morning, Mushir Ali was taking mangoes to the market in Lucknow in his horse-cart. He had gone a little more than 2 kilometers from Kakori when his cart collided with a tractor; he died almost instantly. He was 25 years old at the time. It was not an unusual event.

  After about eight years from the above incident, an unusual thing happened. With the passage of time, things changed and Haider Ali turned to a life devoted to God. He used to go from Kakori to Baznagar, a village in the same district of the state, every Thursday for alms. He was a Fakir now whose life was dedicated to God.

  When Naresh, a child of Guruprasad and his wife Bishwana, started speaking, he used to utter two words ‘Kakori’ and ‘Kharkhara’ (local word for a horse-cart). At the age four he told details about his previous life. He narrated that he was carrying mangoes in his horse-cart when it collided with a vehicle and he died; he also said that he was a Moslem and lived in Kakori. When anyone in the village asked him, Naresh used to talk about his previous life. After he started walking, he used to follow Haidar Ali on seeing him around the village and say that he wanted to go with him (Haider Ali) as he was his father. Naresh was so insistent on going to Kakori that one day he started going on his own towards the road leading to Kakori. Under these strange circumstances, eventually, Naresh’s father Guruprasad decided to take him along with some other persons of Baznagar to Kakori. Naresh is said to have led them to Mushir Ali’s house. On reaching the house, Naresh recognized several objects that had belonged to Mushir Ali, such as a cap and the contents of Mushir Ali’s suitcase. He was also credited with having correctly recognized members of Mushir Ali’s immediate family, as well as other relatives and friends. Naresh, when questioned, told them about the bank account that the family had when Mushir Ali died.

  He also mentioned the name of a person who owed some money to Mushir Ali. (The family acknowledged this as true and added that the person in question had returned the money after Mushir Ali’s death.)

  On the basis of these and other statements Naresh was accepted as Mushir Ali (the son of Haider Ali) reborn. Mushir Ali’s family was economically no better off than Naresh’s family. Mushir Ali’s other brothers, when Dr. Pasricha met them in 1988, had grown and had their own embroidery business which improved their economic situation to some extent. Haider Ali was religiously inclined and devoted his remaining life to saying prayers for others. He lived from alms given to him by persons who appreciated his piety.

  If one is not fanatically hostile to the thesis of rebirth there is no reason why the Pasricha’s inference should not be accepted, rightly observes the learned author of ‘Death and After’ Dr Pasricha also notes an important observation made in this case, which has an occult – or as it is normally termed, Para psychological – importance. Naresh had a birth defect (a depressed area) near the middle of his chest, slightly on the right side. This corresponded to the fracture of the ribs of Mushir Ali that was reported in the post-mortem examination.

  It is superfluous to multiply such cases of so called rebirth, which have been identified in diverse cultures of mankind and investigated by competent persons with complete commitment to maintain the scientific character of the study.

  These cases open Pandora’s Box of unusual questions for science. Science can have no excuse for refusing to deal with them; it cannot maintain stoical silence when confronted with the reality of such cases; and without studying these unusual events science cannot take a definite stand against them. Do we know all the parameters – factors – that determine, or even affect, the happening of such an event of so called rebirth? And, more than that are we able to duplicate at our sweet will all those parameters in laboratory in a controlled experiment?  Answer is, obviously, in negative. In studying such cases, are we able to calculate the affect of the ‘remainder’ of universe and accord it a suitable place in the equations of our controlled experiment? The answer is in negative. Such a capability on our part is a sine qua non for performing any meaningful scientific experiment.

  We human beings have not yet accumulated enough knowledge of the working of Nature and there is no justification on our part to be arrogant in crowning our assertions as the sole truth because they have been approved by science.

  There is no problem with truth. Truth can always be verified for its veracity. It is always open to all to come forward and verify its veracity. The problem lies with the insistence of science to put every truth under its scientific scanner and label the ones that do not conform to its scientific method as false.

  Let science in pursuit of truth replace its arrogance with enlightenment. Let science not denounce truth for the sake of its method that is flaunted as scientific.

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  1. Trackback: Rebirth, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and scientific research | Indian People's Congress

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