Past LivesReincarnation Story

The following case study is taken from Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim Tucker. These cases are an impressive overview of stories from all over the world, and provide insight into and proof of the existence of past lives.

Kemal Atasoy: Reincarnation

Dr. Jürgen Keil, a psychologist from Australia, listened as Kemal Atasoy, a six-year-old boy in Turkey, confidently recounted details of a previous life that he claimed to remember. They were meeting in the boy’s home, a comfortable house in an upper middle class neighborhood, and with them were Dr. Keil’s interpreter and Kemal’s parents, a well-educated couple who seemed amused at times by the enthusiasm that the little boy showed in describing his experiences. He said that he had lived in Istanbul, 500 miles away. He stated that his family’s name had been Karakas and that he had been a rich Armenian Christian, who lived in a large three-story house. The house, he said, was next to the house of a woman named Aysegul, a well-known personality in Turkey, who had left the country because of legal problems. Kemal said that his house had been on the water, where boats were tied up, and a church was behind it. He said that people called him Fistik and that his wife and children had Greek first names. He also said that he often carried a large leather bag and that he only lived in the house for part of the year.

The historian said that a rich Armenian Christian had, in fact, lived in that house. He had been the only Armenian in that area, and his family’s name was Karakas.

No one knew if Kemal’s story was true when he met Dr. Keil in 1997. His parents did not know anyone in Istanbul. In fact, Kemal and his mother had never been there, and his father had only visited the city twice on business. In addition, the family knew no Armenians. His parents were Alevi Muslims, a group with a belief in reincarnation, but they did not seem to think that Kemal’s statements, which he had been making from the time he was just a toddler at two years of age, were particularly important.

Dr. Keil set out to determine if the details that Kemal had given fit with someone who had actually lived. The great effort that this investigation took demonstrates that Kemal could not have come across the information by accident.

When Dr. Keil and his interpreter went to Istanbul, they found the house of Aysegul, the woman whom Kemal had named. Next to the house was an empty three-story residence that precisely matched Kemal’s description—it was at the edge of the water, where boats were tied up, with a church behind it. Dr. Keil then had trouble finding any evidence that a person like the one Kemal described had ever lived there. No Armenians were living in that part of Istanbul at the time, and Dr. Keil could not find anyone who remembered any Armenians ever having lived there. When he returned to Istanbul later that year, he talked with Armenian church officials, who told him that they were not aware that an Armenian had ever lived in the house. No church records indicated one had, but a fire had destroyed many of the records. Dr. Keil talked with an elderly man in the neighborhood, who said that an Armenian had definitely lived there many years before and that the church officials were simply too young to remember that long ago.

Armed with that report, Dr. Keil decided to continue his search for information. The next year, he made a third trip to the area and interviewed a well-respected local historian. During the interview, Dr. Keil made sure he did not prompt any answers or make any suggestions. The historian told a story strikingly similar to the one Kemal had told. The historian said that a rich Armenian Christian had, in fact, lived in that house. He had been the only Armenian in that area, and his family’s name was Karakas. His wife was Greek Orthodox, and her family did not approve of the marriage. The couple had three children, but the historian did not know their names. He said that the Karakas clan lived in another part of Istanbul, that they dealt in leather goods, and that the deceased man in question often carried a large leather bag. He also said that the deceased man lived in the house only during the summer months of the year. He had died in 1940 or 1941.

Though Dr. Keil was not able to verify Kemal’s statement that the wife and children had Greek first names, the wife came from a Greek family. The name that Kemal had given for the man, Fistik, turned out to be an Armenian term meaning “nice man.” Dr. Keil could not confirm that people actually called Mr. Karakas that, but he was struck by the fact that, even though no one around him knew the expression, Kemal had given a name that could easily have been used to describe Mr. Karakas.

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