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If we remember our past lifes' mistakes then there are less chances of making that mistake again, at our good times we can understand it as result of our past good deeds/punyam and at bad times we understand the mistakes done by us. By this we can easily understand the concept of karma in our lives and through self realization & evaluation there are more chances for us to get free from the cycle of birth & death.

What is the reason behind our memory loss? I heard dog will remember its past life and will cry when it sits on ash heap but forgets once its out of it! Is it true?

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    just a logical comment, our soul does not have a brain..so no memory
    – Vedantism
    Sep 28, 2014 at 14:51
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    When soul carries spiritual level why can't it carry its experiences, I believe there would be a strong reason for it
    – pbvamsi
    Sep 28, 2014 at 14:54
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    I would be more happy if someone can comment before down vote, I've habit of questioning on them for which I do through research and i post them for which i know answers
    – pbvamsi
    Sep 29, 2014 at 8:06
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    we don't remember it because we don't want to remember it. Why? think of it this way, everyday we go through dreams. Do we remember what we dreamt of six years ago? No. Why? We do not give these dreams that importance. Similarly every janma (birth) in the physical plane is really more like a dream when compared to the higher (subtle) plane. A hundred years in this plane is really nothing in the higher planes. Therefore we do not really give these common events in our lives the importance to remember. That said some people do remember their past lives, because they choose to remember.
    – Sai
    Sep 29, 2014 at 16:32
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    Does this answer your question? When does a soul lose its memory of its previous birth?
    – ram
    Dec 16, 2021 at 23:55

9 Answers 9

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In the Gita (4.5) Krishna says to Arjuna 'Many a birth have I passed through, O Arjuna, and so have you. I know them all, but you know them not, O scorcher of foes.'

Memories are a part of the mind, the mind dissolves with the gross body upon death. What is carried from one life to another are 'impressions' on the jiva. If you do something with all your heart and do something repeatedly every day, then it will make a deep impression that will carry forward to and manifest in your next life. If you teach yourself to love God with all your heart it will carry forward as an impression to your next life.

Swami Vivekananda said he remembered all his past lives. Patanjali says in the Yoga Aphorisms that a man who attains samadhi is able to know all his past lives.

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    You should cite sources for your claims in the second paragraph, preferably scripture. Sep 30, 2014 at 17:35
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    (1) "Those who act here virtuously (take birth in a good womb)" Chandogya Upanisad V. x. 7 (2) "Owing to the residual (results, the soul gets its future birth)" Apastamba Dharma-Sutras II.2.2.3 (3) Also Sri Bhasya 3.1.8-11 (4) There is a good detailed discussion in "Five Lectures on Reincarnation" by Swami Abhedananda (direct disciple of Ramakrishna Parmahamsa). (5) The fact that memories dissolve is self-evident, no scripture is needed. It is the experience of everyone. Oct 1, 2014 at 6:11
  • @moonstar2001 No it is not worthwhile. What is worthwhile is to realize Atman within your heart. Dec 27, 2014 at 8:01
  • @SwamiVishwananda: Could you please include the sources with the body of your answer? Thanks!
    – nic
    Jun 14, 2016 at 3:31
  • @SwamiVishwananda "Swami Vivekananda said he remembered all his past lives." - what is the source of this? Thank you.
    – sbharti
    Dec 21, 2021 at 23:13
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I believe that it is pure causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord that we can't remember our past life experiences.

We can't handle the traumatic situations of this one life; what to speak of countless other previous lives?

Anyways in Srimad Bhagavatam Lord kapila explains how the child loses one's memory when he comes out of the womb of mother.

this is explained in third canto of Bhagavatam; Chapter 31

Pushed downward all of a sudden by the wind, the child comes out with great trouble, head downward, breathless and deprived of memory due to severe agony.

in commentary A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes.

When the child comes out of the abdomen through the narrow passage, due to pressure there the breathing system completely stops, and due to agony the child loses his memory.

the next verse(3.31.24) says

The child thus falls on the ground, smeared with stool and blood, and plays just like a worm germinated from the stool. He loses his superior knowledge and cries under the spell of māyā.

Note:Also I'am not sure if dog remembers their past life. However I dont think so.For there are no strong evidences in its support.

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Few reasons are:

  • If we remember our past lives then we end up seeing all our relatives & friends in animals and other beings. We would be emotionally lost and we may waste our complete life in their service!
  • We would run after our worldly possessions gained in our previous births and will start fighting for command over it, this way we stop working and just strive hard to get our wealth into our control!
  • The relations between humans may be looked as the amount of karma bondage between two souls. We start seeing all women as mothers and sisters and men as fathers and brothers, in this account new bondings can't be made, elder can't pass moral values to younger!
  • The varna system would collapse, no one can stop anyone from doing anything.
  • Remembering all the painful experiences, human would lose hope and may just do nothing other than feeling sad on such happenings!
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Let me answer this question from the book dialogues with guru(between chandrasekhar bharati and a disciple)

This book was written by jnanananda bharati ji who took sanyaas from jagadguru abhinava vidyatirtha ji!

Even bharati tirtha ji(sankaracharya of sringeri) had promoted books written by jnanananda bharati ji!

Except to a very few highly advanced souls, the past certainly remains unknown. But even our ignorance of it is very often an advantage to us. For, if we happen to know all the results we have accumulated by our actions in this and our past lives, we will be so much shocked as to give up in despair any attempt to overcome or mitigate them. Even in this life, forgetfulnes is a boon which the merciful God has been pleased to bestow on us, so that we may not be burdened at any moment with a recollection of all that has happened in the Past. Similarly, the divine spark in us is ever bright with hope and makes it possible for us to confidently exercise our free-will. It is not for us to belittle the significance of these two boons-- forgetfulness of the past and hope for the future.

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    – Community Bot
    Dec 21, 2021 at 23:14
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  1. We do remember everything from our past life till just before we are born.
  2. You can still recollect things from your past life if you concentrate by way of meditation,have strong self confidence and can devote yourself in the divine idea of reincarnation
  3. There is a phenomenon called deja vu, thats because you do remember things from your past life, Basically life is all a vicious, never ending cycle. You have done all these in millions of your previous lives, you are doing it today, and you will again do it in your millions of coming lives.
  4. Only souls which have been already mentioned in our scriptures to become free for life and death cycle, are the ones who have actually become free of it.

If you are born in Kaliyuga, means you cannot be free from it, you have to accept this, and just be too good that your next births are a bit nearer to God.

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Question similar to yours was discussed by Swami Vivekananda at World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, 1893. Here (Addresses at The Parliament of Religions > Paper on Hinduism) is the excerpt from his speech on Hinduism:

...Taking all these for granted, how is it that I do not remember anything of my past life ? This can be easily explained. I am now speaking English. It is not my mother tongue, in fact no words of my mother tongue are now present in my consciousness; but let me try to bring them up, and they rush in. That shows that consciousness is only the surface of the mental ocean, and within its depths are stored up all our experiences. Try and struggle, they would come up and you would be conscious even of your past life.

Therefore, whatever we are conscious of at present forms just the surface of the vast mental ocean. And the reason for not remembering our past lives is that they are no longer part of this surface i.e., our conscious mind. But the past experiences are still there in the depth of mental ocean.

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  • but after child is given its first bath, it is expected that the of spring will loose the memory of past lives. Though by guru's grace or by through spiritual practices like yoga, one may get memory of his/her past lives. Can you give any more citations/references to your views?
    – pbvamsi
    Dec 21, 2015 at 12:29
  • @pbvamsi: Well, never heard of any such practice of removing child's past life memory. But even if it is followed, then the removing should only be from conscious mind and not from the entire mental domain. As for more references, currently, these words of Swamiji are the only reference I have.
    – Jatin
    Dec 21, 2015 at 13:11
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I found this researching this question. The restriction to wombs might be because of the transmissible cancers, who are all not born from wombs. This is important because the forgetting of previous births seems dependent on being in the womb. This implies all cancers can remember their previous births, including the transmissible cancers.

Vyāsa said:

14-15. At the time of delivery the child in the womb whose face is defiled by faeces, blood, urine and semen is excessively tormented by the wind Prājāpatya. His bones and joints are crushed. He is made to face down the powerful organic winds at the time of delivery. The child that is harassed thus manages to come out with difficulty from the womb of the mother.

  1. On being touched by the external wind he attains an extremely senseless state. On being born, O excellent sages, he attains the loss of special knowledge (of the previous births).

So the reason we forget pervious births is wombs. The relatively recent appearance of transmissible cancers are good proof of the supernatural. This is because they show increasing soul abilities with time, due to karma, and since cancers do not benefit from natural selection before birth, they are the perfect control case. Cancers do not forget their previous lives. Since the transmissible cancers all probably come from modern humans, as they are very advanced (implied by rarity). This means all of the transmissible cancers have minds like humans, due to remembering their human lives.

https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-purana-english/d/doc216282.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698198/

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Memory depends on your sanskars. If you were deeply involved with someone and you die then probably you will again be involved with that being in next birth. You may not remember but others will. Similarly if you had a craving for some type of food vegetarian or non- vegetarian then in next birth you will eat that. Again you may not remember what you ate in previous births but because of sanskars you will be inclined to eat that.

What you wish is to remember is your past history then you must meditate on mind, you must love yourself so much that you feed on those memories. You must give importance to those who you love ,it should become part of your sanskar then only then you will be able to recall your history.

If you were a blind follower of any God then in next birth you will again be a blind follower of that God. Karma is very important to remember history.

If your karma is not right you might have to start afresh (you are not exactly new as history is not the only part which takes rebirth). Monkeys have a tendency to forget because of their belief system. You must fix your belief system to remember your history.

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Sri Shiva Gita Chapter 8.:

In the seventh month the foetus gains full shape and remains in full strength and colour. With the feet and with closed fists it remains closing the ears and other pores and due to the hellish experience of womb-dwelling, it feels sad and remains scared of the future womb dwelling experience (which comes due to rebirths caused by non-attainment of Salvation). The fetus remains filled with knowledge,and thinking of the self, thinking of the good & bad deeds done (in past) it remains sad and feels sorry. It reminisces its past and repents thinking how it remained inside the hellish place called womb, how it got baked under the Jatharagni (heat of the womb), how it slept in between the fluids, blood, flesh and otehr stinking materials, how it was bitten by the worms of the womb, how it got tortured by the presure of the bones of the mother. It thinks that the hellish womb is far worse than even the darkest of the hells viz. Kumbhipaka. In this way it repents for the past deeds and feels bad about the womb dwelling experience. Inside the womb I (the fetus feels) drank the blood and sleshma (pleghm) of the mother, I ate whatever was present inside the mother's stomach. The suffering I felt inside the womb is far higher than the pain given in all the hells summed together. In this way the jeeva thinks about the past deeds, the undergoing torture, and cries for a pathway to salvation (moksha). (23b-33).

Now i would narrate the sequences of the stages through which the infant passes after the birth. The infant remains in Adhomukha form (having head downwards), and remains sorrowful and cries after falling out of the vagina on its back. Thereafter because of lack of strength or self sufficiency in self protection from dogs or any other dangers, it remains under the protection of its care takers. Because of ignorance [ it loses its knowledge after few seconds of falling into this world ] the child sees its father as a demon and the mother as a demoness and the milk as the pious drink. Therefore the childhood is a difficult path due to this ignorance. (39-41).

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

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