Excerpt from Children's Past Lives

Children's Past Lives by Carol Bowman

Chapter 6:   Dr. Ian Stevenson

Dr. Stevenson found that in 35 percent of his verified cases (300 of 895), the children had birthmarks or birth defects that matched wounds from their previous lives.

Birthmarks are important because they offer physical evidence for the link between past and present lives. One of Stevenson’s cases is of an Indian boy who remembered being killed by a shotgun blast to his chest. On this boy’s chest was an array of birthmarks that matched the pattern and location (verified by the autopsy report) of the fatal wounds. Another boy in India was born with stubs for fingers on only his right hand—an extremely rare condition. He remembered the life of boy who had his fingers cut off by the blades of a fodder chopping machine. One woman had three separate linear scar-like birthmarks on her back. As a child, she remembered the life of a woman who was killed by three blows to her back with an ax.

Dr. Stevenson applied his usual rigorous methods to examining and recording the birthmarks and birth defects. He required that eyewitness reports verify that the marks were present at birth. He carefully measured and photographed the marks. He screened cases where the birth defect could have been genetic, caused by a family relationship between the subject and the deceased, or that could be explained by events during pregnancy. Then he documented the facts of the previous personality’s life and death from eyewitness accounts, medical records, and autopsy reports. (Remember, Dr. Stevenson was trained as a medical doctor, so he knew what he was looking at.) Finally, he would compare the verified death wounds or marks on the previous personality with the marks on the child subject.

Dr. Ian Stevenson

Dr. Stevenson was very careful to guard against cases where the past life memories were fabricated as a way of retroactively explaining the birthmark. He would accept only those solved cases where the child had sufficient verbal memories—the many facts and people that Swarnlata remembered, for example—to identify and locate the previous personality. In many instances this was a person the child or his family had never seen or known about. In other words, these cases had to stand on their own merits before the birthmarks and birth defects were admitted as further evidence.

Some critics might attribute these birthmarks to chance. But a significant number of Stevenson’s birthmark cases involve two or more matching birthmarks—for example, the woman who had three scarlike marks on her back. Among the 210 cases in his volumes are eighteen cases of double birthmarks. Nine of these cases involve bullet wounds where not only do the marks match the exact site of entry and exit, but the mark corresponding to the entry wound is small and round, and the mark corresponding to the exit wound is large and irregular. This conforms perfectly to the ballistic fact that the exit wound from a bullet is always larger than the hole where the bullet entered the body.

What are the odds that two birthmarks would randomly correspond to two wounds? Stevenson did the calculation and determined that the odds are 1 in 25,600. The odds against this happening by chance eighteen times are astronomical.


This passage from the book you have just read was based on an academic article by Dr. Stevenson published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. See the complete, unabridged article, including photographs: "Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons".


Another excerpt from this chapter of Children's Past Lives : Past Life Sleuth: How Dr. Stevenson Investigates Cases.

A case that was edited out of the final manuscript of the book, Double Birthmarks: The Case Of Titu, as well as the full version of a central case in the Stevenson chapter that was shortened for the final manuscript: Sweet Swarnlata.