Indian TV viewers have been treated to a nightly dose of reality TV featuring past life regression.
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Raaz – Pichhle Janam Ka (Hindi: “Secrets of Previous Lives”) is an NDTV Imagine show in which participants — a mixture of invited celebrities and ordinary members of the public — undergo past life therapy. The show is hosted by actor Ravi Kishan (or Kissen) and the regressions are conducted by therapist Dr Trupti Jayin, a former clinical psychologist and occupational therapist based in Mumbai (below). The first series ran from 7 December 2009 to 15 January 2010.
Ravi Kishan and Dr Trupti Jayin
Ravi Kishan has told Channel 4 News (UK):
In India this show is rocking – big time.
People thought earlier that it was not going to work, because they thought past life was nonsense. Now everyone that used to criticise us wants to come and do their own regression.
Each programme begins with a participant explaining a particular personal problem, usually a fear, phobia or physical ailment which he or she would like to overcome or at least gain some insight into. After that they are taken through a lengthy regression session (edited for the broadcast) that involves a process of progressive relaxation, followed by a deepening meditation. They are then instructed to go back into the past to discover the reason for whatever troubles them in this lifetime. (A research team are on standby in the control room, ready to Google any personal or historical information that may be verifiable.) Finally, the participant discusses the whole experience with the presenter.
Air crash victim
Many of the show’s participants have apparently recalled valid information from their past lives. For example, in Episode 1, a young woman from Bhopal named Swati Singh had memories of being in an air crash.
During her regression, Swati, who has a fear of heights, saw herself in 1966 as one of a contingent of Indian sailors boarding a passenger jet, “Air India Flight 101” to New York. She remembered being in “window seat 24F.” She also remembered having the same surname as her present self, “D. Singh” or “B. Singh.”
The show’s researchers verified that there had been an Air India crash on 24 January 1966 involving Air India Flight 101. The passenger jet was travelling from Mumbai to New York via Delhi and Geneva. The researchers also looked up the official crash report and found a Birinder Singh listed among the passengers.
Swati also correctly recalled seeing on the same flight a famous Indian scientist, Dr H. J. Bhabha, chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, who was on his way to Vienna.
Finally, the aircraft was in the air somewhere near Geneva when it apparently crashed and he/she was killed.
(The actual crash was attributed to pilot error. While descending into Geneva, the pilot had flown into the slopes of Mont Blanc which he believed he had already passed. All 106 passengers and 11 crew were killed. The wreckage can still be seen.)
In the series finale review programme (15 January 2010), Swati Singh said:
In flights, I always felt lots of anxiety during takeoff and landing. I saw that the plane in which I was travelling in my past life crashed. Since the regression, I have boarded one flight. I was more relaxed. I have become more relaxed now. …
The Bollywood actress and the German soldier
Celebrity participants on Raaz – Pichhle Janam Ka have included Shekhar Suman, Monica Bedi, Celina Jaitley, Payal Rohatgi and Manvendra Singh Gohil.
Celina Jaitley, a beautiful and sultry Bollywood actress as well as a well-known gay rights activist in India, wanted to find out about the recurring stomach pain which she has had since childhood. The pain to the left of her stomach could be debilitating for several days at a time. Despite consulting various doctors and undergoing medical tests, the root cause of the problem has never be detected.
Celina Jaitley on Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka
During her regression treatment, Celina regressed to three different lifetimes in all — much to the shock of the production team, apparently. In one, she saw herself as a man, a 21-year old German soldier in World War 2. This soldier died during an air raid while stationed in Italy. (German troops were indeed stationed in Italy during the war. As Italy began to succumb to the Allies, the Germans siezed and held control of northern Italy from 1943-45.)
Celina’s German soldier died as result of a shrapnel injury to the left side of the stomach. This injury, of course, corresponded with the pains Celina keeps experiencing in this life. Her German life might also explain why, in this life, of all the foreign languages, she decided to learn German.
In another life she saw herself as a happily married woman from the US who died in an accident in 1974. This memory proved to be very emotional for Celina.
Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka has been a life-turning experience for me. I have always wondered about the phenomenon of past life and have read a lot of books on the same. During my regression, I went back into 3 different lifetimes, which upon researching came up with shocking and apt tallies. It’s an experience I will never forget.”
A danger to society?
Needless to say, some people and organizations have raised doubts over the credibility and reality of the show. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a notice to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry over the show. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by Bharat Jan Vigyan Jathan, an independent organisation “engaged in creating scientific temperament among Indians,” seeking to restrain the channel from broadcasting the series. The petitioner claimed that the show “… is destroying the social fabric of society,” that it is an artificial presentation of “something unreal,” and that the very basis of the programme is based on “concoction and hypnotism.”
If the programme were promoting reincarnation as, say, a Hindu doctrine, then I can see how many people would be offended by it being broadcast on a non-religious network. Likewise if they were to give the impression that past-life regression acts as a cure-all — imagine the reaction of the medical establishment! As far as I am aware, though, neither of these is the case. I think the programme makers need to be careful to just let the evidence speak for itself and beware making any claims or assumptions. I am reminded of how some poorly worded statements about disability and karma left England’s football coach Glenn Hoddle without a job in 1999.
The show is currently airing a second season of 20 episodes.
Personally, I can’t wait for some British or American channel to buy the format and try it out on Westerners. The show has already developed a significant following among Asians in the UK, and according to Channel 4 News there are plans for an English language version.
I might even be tempted to volunteer as a participant!
- There are hundreds of video clips on YouTube and elsewhere, as in this Google video search.
- Raaz – Pichhle Janam Ka has its own Facebook page and there is a Wikipedia entry on the show.
- There is an interview with Celina Jaitley about her regression experiences.
- Channel 4 News: Past life TV show proves huge hit in India.
- Ravi Kishan’s blog (Hindi).