Woman predicts own death: Dies as Sumitra but wakes up as Shiva before funeral

An almost unexplained case of death and life which has left world divided whether it was possession, reincarnation or a mental complication.

Mayank Kasyap
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Courtesy: Society for Physical Research

New Delhi: An intriguing case in which a woman named Sumitra Singh died and then woke up as Shiva Tripathi. The incident is eerily captivating and complex in itself. It also defies an easy explanation. It touches aspects of humans, life, death and whatever lies in between and beyond, including reincarnation, possession and the mysteries of human consciousness.

Who is Shiva Tripathi?

Born in 1962 to a Brahmin family, Shiva Tripathi was a college graduate who married Chhedi Lal and settled in Dibiyapur. However, tensions arose between Shiva and her in-laws, with some speculating it stemmed from cultural differences or dowry disputes. Tragedy struck in May 1985 when Shiva was found dead by the railway tracks. Her in-laws claimed suicide, but rumors of foul play swirled.

Who is Sumitra Singh?

Sumitra Singh, born around 1968, belonged to a lower caste and had a limited education. Married young, she experienced unexplained episodes of trance-like states. In July 1985, Sumitra seemingly died but revived, claiming to be Shiva Tripathi. It was recorded that she announced the date of her death in advance. When the day approached, she died. However, when the pyre was being prepared she woke up from the dead. But she was a different person now.  She woke from dead as Shiva Tripathi.

Sumitra now identifies as Shiva

Sumitra, now identifying as Shiva, displayed knowledge and mannerisms unknown to her past self. She accurately recognized Shiva's family members and interacted appropriately. Researchers documented this, interviewing witnesses and family members.

Investigations and explanations

The case attracted the attention of reincarnation researcher Ian Stevenson. He, along with others, interviewed witnesses and analyzed the details. Psychologist Parmeshwar Dayal also conducted an independent investigation.

Interpretations varied. Stevenson considered it a case of "replacement reincarnation," with one spirit replacing another. Others, like journalist Tom Shroder, found elements of possession more plausible, questioning the fleeting return of Sumitra's original personality.

A life lived as Shiva

Sumitra, now Shiva, continued living and was last known to be alive in 1998. Later investigations by Mills and Dhiman confirmed her death and re-examined the case, comparing it to other possession and reincarnation cases.

Can past-life memories resurface?

The Sumitra-Shiva case remains a fascinating yet controversial one. While evidence suggests a remarkable transformation, definitive explanations behind the cause remain elusive. This case raises profound questions about the nature of consciousness, life after death, and the possibility of past-life memories resurfacing.