“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि
जन्मानि तव चार्जुन
तान्य् अहं वेद सर्वाणि
न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप
bahūni me vyatītāni
janmāni tava cārjuna
tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi
na tvaṁ vettha parantapa
“I think this is one of the reasons someone would approach a swami. I am not making a judgment on their decision, since everyone is searching for something more. Who am I to judge, as if every decision in my life has been perfect? To err is human, and each person is an individual at the core.
“Let me explain. They are spirit soul, but within this particular lifetime they are in something of a combination. Merging of body and spirit. It looks like they are one, but actually there is always the distinction. This explains birth and death. Someone entering the apartment, then the same person vacating.
“As not all apartments are the same, the individuals exhibit individuality. They don’t behave the same way, talk the same way, or respond to stimuli in the same manner. Therefore, you find people asking spiritual leaders questions about past lives. They are inquisitive to know if they have lived before. If so, where? In what form? What led to the present lifetime?
“I am glad that Shri Krishna addresses some of these issues in Bhagavad-gita. He explains to Arjuna that the soul is indestructible. As it has lived in the past, so it will continue to live in the future. There is no reason to overly lament at the event of death, whether it be ours or someone we care deeply about.
“The distinction is that Krishna can remember those past lives. We cannot; including Arjuna. This really bums me out. You get your hopes up knowing that you lived before, and then just as quickly everything falls apart. What is your response?”
We cannot remember experiences from within this lifetime. We cannot revisit childhood. Though we look back upon those days fondly, they are gone forever. For instance, we used to be able to travel to school and not worry so much about senseless violence. We didn’t have to closely monitor the teacher, in fear of hearing nonsense instruction, having them view each student as a set of germs instead of a wonderful, vibrant human being with almost limitless potential for doing good in the world.
I cannot get back to yesterday, even. Time’s procession cannot be checked. It is the great devouring agent. At the moment of death it deals the final blow that we can personally witness. It already did the same in the past; only we cannot remember.
More important to take away from Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna is that the relationship to God never has to break. He is our best friend birth after birth. He was with me in the past lifetimes, He is with me today, and He will never leave my side moving forward.
Armed with such knowledge, where is the justification for lamentation? What is the cause of sadness? The most powerful person, who is forgiveness personified, who is attractive in every feature, whose glories are endless, who provides renewing opportunities for service that gives more bliss than can ever be imagined, also happens to be my best friend.
This is the most welcome news I could ever hear. In return, He will stay forever dear to me. I will work for His interests first. I will talk to Him constantly. I will be kind and helpful to His servants, who are superior to me in their devotion. I will continue on the path of bhakti, in this lifetime and others: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Since now in ignorance set,
The past lives to forget.
What benefit receiving?
Since memories not retrieving.
More important from instruction so,
That Krishna inside wherever to go.
In the past, present, and future too,
My best friend and well-wisher who.