Is it my re-birth?
by Swami Prasad Sharma
(Dona Paula, Goa, India)
Is it my re-birth?
The study of matter and energy is practiced through science and verifiable through experiments. Spirituality, however, is based on one’s faith, developed in strange and very individual ways. It is measured by various scales, such as optimism, compassion, fearlessness, service to mankind, etc.
A phenomenon takes place in a man’s life, and if his mind becomes curious enough to know the reality behind it, he naturally finds an answer. In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, a well-known scripture in Hinduism, it is written that everything ends in knowledge. It is the degree of curiosity in the observer that makes the difference in the observation of a certain phenomena. Many a person before Newton must have seen the fall of an apple from a tree, but it was he who pondered over the question – why does everything fall to the ground? He got the answer, and propounded the law of gravitation. Mankind was making use of this property since time immemorial as a routine, but credit goes to him.
Here, I will talk about a phenomenon called “rebirth” – an accepted fact in most of the eastern religions. But people use this term in a routine way, without realizing its validity to them, and strangely enough nobody is curious about it.
It was after the events of 1977 (See my article: Death - a great spiritual teacher, indeed!) that I wished to know the background of my experience. Till that time I had no idea of spirituality and was an ardent devotee of science. Of course, I was a follower of true love and companionship beyond the issues of caste, creed and religion, but not following any set path. I liked to debate with my friends about idealism and the necessity to follow it during our earthly sojourn.
Now, I will mention 3 events in connection with the rebirth phenomenon, which led me to know the background of my experience of 1977.
1. A distant relative of 35 years old came to our home as a guest. I was ten at that time. While we were listening to some of his stories, before going to bed, he happened to mention that in his childhood he used to tell his parents about places, relatives, people, etc. of a previous life. With age his memory of previous life had gradually diminished.
2. Later when I was 12-14 years of age a Pundit (a person well versed in the scriptures), also a relative, used to visit our house. In my childhood my father had made him prepare my horoscope. So, whenever he came I wanted him to show what was in store for me in life. I asked him about learning, nothing else. He would tell me that I had been a Yogi in a previous life and left the body around the age of 30-32 years. And in this life he predicted that I would get something before the age of 35 years (before 1980). I never paid attention to the significance of having been a Yogi in my last life, nor to what I would get before 35.
3. I met a boy of 5 years old in December 1971 (I was then 26 years old) at a cycle repair shop. He was in a military dress with cap and shoes, and had a good physique, fitting a model captain.
While I enjoyed seeing how well the child’s personality matched the uniform, just like a mini captain, his father was talking to me. He also was getting his cycle repaired. I had just appreciated the boy’s outlook and said that he looked like a perfect mini captain. His father replied that he had been a captain in a previous life. He also mentioned that he had been a lecturer in a local college for sometime and later joined the army. He was killed in the war of 1965. His father prompted me to ask the child something to get my doubt removed. I asked him the subject of his post-graduation paper and his specialization in the final year, to which he correctly replied: Physics and Spectroscopy. I believed him, because I had read about some cases of rebirth in magazines.
Now coming to the point – should I believe in rebirth, because of the Pundit’s forecasting of getting something before the age of 35 years? At the age of 32, in 1977, I had self-realization to my credit! It is simple to understand that what I had narrowly missed in my last life, simply continued in this life and became fulfilled at the appropriate time.
In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, there are dialogues between Arjuna, a disciple, and the Lord Krishna. Arjuna raises a doubt on following the path of spirituality. Suppose someone, who is practicing the spiritual path sincerely but is not getting the desired result, loses his faith in the process. He had neither indulged in mundane enjoyments, nor had he continued his practice. What would happen to his dissatisfied soul when the end of his life had arrived? The Lord assured him that in his next life he would be born in a suitable family and enjoy the unfulfilled worldly desires of his previous life unknowingly, or alternatively from the very beginning of his next life he might take up his uncompleted task in spirituality. At the appropriate time in this life he would be attracted towards the lost path. And he would do it most sincerely! (Realizing by then the futility of worldly achievements.)
In the light of the above, I am convinced of re-birth. The mind needs a scientific explanation to get convinced, but the ancient view is that our soul is not made of matter. Hence it is not a subject of scientific enquiry. Saints have also proclaimed that spirituality is a matter of faith.
For 2-3 years after 1977 I used to repent of how narrowly I had missed a rare opportunity in my previous life due to my impatience. I could only get rid of this gradually when I started the devotion path through remembering the sweet names of the personal God. Then, finally, I became happy and felt grateful to God for giving devotion as a bonus, mercifully, of course!
However, it won’t make any difference in my views if re-birth is proved or not proved. After all, the views, which are satisfying to me and making my life a pleasure without losing anything but the ego, are worth believing. Since we cannot have a mortal companion eternally and are not immortal ourselves (body-wise), we might just as well believe in a relationship with a super companion. At least I am able to feel and witness, thank God, a selfless love at my heart.