“That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.” – (Bhagavad Gita 2.17)
Reincarnation is true and past life impressions are deep rooted in the human mind. During death, the gross body composed of earth, water, fire, air and ether is destroyed; it gets mixed with the earth. However the subtle body that covers the soul, consisting of mind, intelligence and ego accompanies the soul to its next destination.
The subtle body carries many impressions from the past lives, and that influences our behaviour and lifestyle to a great extent in this life too. Although our present samskaras or impressions we gather from childhood play a critical role, the past impressions are there in the background, and they explain certain phenomenon which is inexplicable by the present set up.
For example my spiritual master, Radhanath Swami was born in Chicago, and he had never heard of Vedic culture or Hinduism or the lifestyle of sadhus in India. Yet from childhood, unlike any other child within his family as well as the neighbourhood, he hated chairs. He liked to sit on the floor during meals, while the family would insist he sit on the dining table. He also never liked to wear any new clothes or possess things that were opulent or better than what others had. His mother would have to wash his new clothes at least half a dozen times before he’d agree to wear them. Everyone thought he was strange, and he too didn’t know why he had these idiosyncrasies. Once he went to a restaurant with his family, and ran out when he saw that the waiter was his class mate. He never liked to feel he was better than others.
Now, this appears to be strange to most people in this world, but for the genuine sadhus living in holy places of India, these are common characteristics and behavioural patterns. And when Richard (Radhanath Swami’s legal name) did come to the Himalayas he found it natural to live in the forest and wear old, ragged cloth on his body. And when he first saw Krishna’s photograph, he had a spontaneous, natural attraction towards Krishna. He also naturally developed devotion to mother Ganga and even received the precious gift of the Hare Krishna maha mantra from her. All this allude to a divine connection to life.
There is certainly more to our lives than what’s apparent to our mundane senses. When we see a car passing by our vision, we know for sure that the car had an existence before we saw it and it would continue to exist even after it disappeared from our vision. Similarly we see our life within the narrow confines of our present sixty-eighty years of existence in this body. But we did exist in the past and also shall continue to exist in the future. This body will grow old, decay and perish, but we shall march on in our sojourn till we decide to end our mindless journey within this world and seek to travel to the spiritual realm of existence.
Through practise of Bhakti Yoga, we add spiritual credits, add devotional samskaras to our consciousness and prepare ourselves for our journey to our eternal home of Goloka Vrindavan. If we can successfully execute Krishna consciousness by remembering Krishna at the time of death, we shall go to Him, and if we fail to remember Him but have sincerely executed the practise, we shall get another chance. And this time we would have greater facilities and opportunities to come closer to Krishna. All that we did in the past life would help us go forward in our journey towards Krishna.
So let’s enthusiastically chant Krishna’s Holy Names and attentively hear His beautiful pastimes. There is no loss in this endeavour; we’ll either go back to Him or come closer to Him.