“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
Friend1: One of the more profound verses from the Ramayana relates to the greatest fear in the human being.
Friend2: A Sanskrit shloka?
Friend1: I am referencing the Ramayana of Maharishi Valmiki. A historical work of epic length set into beautiful poetry. Every verse is profound, but I am speaking from personal observation. In other words, this verse resonated with me the first time I came across it.
Friend2: I see.
Friend1: I could look up the exact context to be more accurate, but from what I remember there is a conversation between Shri Rama and His younger brother Bharata.
Friend2: They are two of four sons to King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.
Friend1: I think this is where Bharata is trying to convince Rama to return home, to go back to Ayodhya. Never mind the fourteen year exile period. Forget the words of the father, who wouldn’t break the promise made to Queen Kaikeyi.
Friend2: Dasharatha had already left this world by then. Bharata was mortified, as this was the scheme of his mother, Kaikeyi, for his benefit. Yet Bharata wanted no part of what he viewed as an illegal coup attempt.
Friend1: In discussing how easy it is to discard dharma and the principles of righteousness, Rama mentions how the greatest fear for a human being is death. The comparison is to the ripened fruit.
Friend2: That hangs off a tree.
Friend1: There is no other fate than to fall. The growth has already taken place. Similarly, for the mature human being the only thing to contemplate is the end, which is inevitable.
Friend2: Or at least try to forget what you know will happen. It is the guaranteed fate for every person who takes birth.
Friend1: One thing I was thinking is that people fear the future so much, but what about the past?
Friend2: What about it?
Friend1: Where were we?
Friend1: But how do we know?
Friend2: In the same way that we will exist in the future, know that we existed in the past. As we know we were in the womb based on the trust extended to the word of the parents, we can take it on faith from the spiritual guides that we existed somewhere in a previous life.
Friend1: Okay, but where exactly? Do you, I, or anyone else know?
Friend1: Which would make sense. God has perfect memory. He is omnipresent. He knows what is occurring in every corner of the universe at every second. He is witness to the good and the bad. He sanctions results to activity, without being an active participant.
गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
कर्ताहम् इति मन्यते
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
Friend2: As He gives permission for the results to action to manifest, so He is in charge of the transmigration of the soul within material nature. We know for certain that we existed prior.
Friend1: My point is that we don’t freak out over the past. A million years ago, I was somewhere. Does anybody lose sleep over that?
Friend1: Then why be so concerned about the unknown future? Why make death the primary fear?
Friend2: You are speaking logically. Your words are rooted in intelligence.
Friend1: I understand that we should try to influence destiny. There is nothing wrong with that. But if a person is so afraid of dying, they should be equally afraid of having lived before.
Friend2: Makes sense.
Friend1: I will invest full faith in the Supreme Lord, instead. If I have to be somewhere, either now or in the future, I want to be by His side: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Wanting to be by His side,
Wherever in future to reside.
Already many births passed,
Thousands of years moving fast.
So why of future to fear?
Or of end drawing near.
Consciousness fixing today,
Transcendence the only way.