As clearly said by Krishna to Arjuna in Bhagwat Gita, that, "I remember all my previous births but you don't". Then question arises is why God only has that Extra privilege, and why normal human beings are deprived of it.

One may argue that why normal people need to know? If it is known, then at least people will understand the direct cause-and-effect principle.
Also people will automatically start behaving more humanly as they will know that if they misbehave, their next birth will be one heck of hell.

The memory from last births will act as a deterrence to avoid bad karma in current birth as humans are known to learn from their mistakes.

Now, when people suffers in current birth, and some sage or someone tells them that it is because of sins or bad karma of your previous birth, it becomes impossible for that person to digest it, specially if he/she does not believe in past life or reincarnation.

What could be the reason why God kept this seemingly obvious thing away from mere mortals?

  • 2
    it is not like that. all memories are present in the subconscious. Swami Vivekananda says that all the memories are like an ocean of consciousness. The deeper you go the more you find. Thus He says that all past life memories can be recalled by trying to recall it. Simple as that. The reason why normal people don't remember is because they choose not to. They believe that it is not important to remember these incidents in past life at all..
    – Sai
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 6:05
  • 1
    why do they believe that? think of a arithmetic exam. There are different problems. So when practising, the student solves many problems to understand how to solve the problem isn't it? But when they are done with learning, they only remember the method of solving the problem. Not the problem itself!! It is similar with past lives. Everyone comes to this world to learn lessons. But they need not remember the exact problem and its solution. They only remember the way to solve the problem. That is why some people exhibit great talents in some areas.
    – Sai
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 6:09
  • Some people do not. These are all impressions in the soul from past lives. If a sincere attempt is made, then it is easy to recollect past life experiences. These days scientists are performing regression a state of deep subconscious where all the past life are present and recalled!! That is why Swami Vivekenanda could recollect all His past lives, Buddha, Sri Krishna, Vivekananda, Sai Baba, Dalai Lama, all these saints were able to recall their past lives. Warning - Memories of past lives could be very traumatic sir!! Be careful what you wish for you might get it!!
    – Sai
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 6:13
  • @Sai this is exactly what my point was while asking this question as per your comment it seems like there has to be some special effort taken by ordinary humans and in contemporary world filled with competition i don't think anyone has time to do all this and only some extraordinary people like swami vivekananda could do this but what about normal people who not aware of heavy thing like consciousness etc. how they will be able to remember it? Why is it not as simple as your first school for example I don't need to do meditation or look into subconscious mind to know this information right Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 6:28
  • haha my friend everything has its amount of work. Do you think Vivekananda became Vivekananda over night? You say now that learning math was easy, but imagine when you were a student. I am sure you believed it was hard work isn't it!! Hard work is needed. Nothing can be gained by simply repeating the word 'gold', 'gold'. It is necessary to extract the gold by digging deep into the soil!! It is not easy because you have not started yet!! Once you practice it will become easier and easier. But as warned, it might not be beneficial as you think!!
    – Sai
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 6:31

2 Answers 2


God does not keep it from you, you keep it from you.

Patanjali tells how a person can remember their previous births in his Yoga Aphorisms. Swami Vivekananda was asked if he remembered his previous births, and he replied yes, but would give no details.

Ordinary memory is a function of the mind. Most people cannot remember most of the events of this life. How many can remember when they were babies? If you cannot remember even this life, how can you remember prior lives?

The mind can be trained to remember all the events of this life as well as prior lives, just as the mind can be trained to read other minds. If you want to memorize a poem, do you say "I want to memorize this poem' and expect the mind to suddenly memorize it? Or do you study the poem, repeating it many times, and slowly start to remember it? If you want to know your past lives, you need to train the mind on how to do so, just as you would train your mind in any other mental endeavor.

God has given your soul human birth, you have a mind capable of remembering its past lives or realizing Brahman. Which one do you want?

The real question is - will knowing my past lives help me to realize Brahman? Will this power help me to escape the endless round of birth and death? The answer is no, it will only bind you further.

  • Good answer except the last paragraph, which is too judgemental.
    – iammilind
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 9:00
  • @iammilind Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said: "Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Friend, if you want to realize Me, you will not succeed if you have even one of the eight occult powers.' This is the truth. Occult powers is sure to beget pride, and pride makes one forget God." Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 5:05
  • Was not aware of this conversation between Krisna-Arjuna, any reference from Gita or Mahaabhaarata?
    – iammilind
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 5:20
  • The quote is from "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 6:07
  • hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/7144/… maharaj please help me.
    – C Sharper
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 12:04

The way I have understood it is as follows - Absolute formless GOD (Nirakar Prabrahma) has always and will always exist. The Ego of Formless God is the Avatara (God-with-Form). The Ego of the Avatara manifests other things and eventually the ego of that is the result of the human soul.
The human soul (although part of the divine), is not the first making. The human soul is like a Child of the Father (God). Our existence is only due to the grace of the almighty GOD. We are like the (inferior) aspect, if you like.

Now - one obviously logical answer as to why human beings (or infact any other lifeforms) do not recollect past lives is because to keep things FAIR. Say, in your past life, if you had done lots of bad deeds, you do not want to remember all of that - it will hinder in your spiritual life, because your Sanskaras (mental impressions) will be 10 times more than what you already have accumulated in this life.
If you had done good deeds in your past life, yes, you would benefit. What you need to understand is that we already do benefit - if we did lots of bad karmas in our past lives, we would be born in families with lots of difficulty, if we did good deeds, we are born in more pious families.
To deal and remove Sanskaras is NOT an easy thing to overcome, my friend. I know this very well and I know how difficult it is to eliminate Sanskaras. It is only the grace of the Divine that has helped us with this. People think it would be cool to remember all lives, but the mind can go crazy. Therefore, only people at a high level of spiritual practice are able to "tame" the mind and these people have received grace of the divine to see past lives through intense meditation, chanting, etc.

This video from Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) should clarify your doubts further http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/classrooms/classroom-destiny-and-karma/

Best Wishes,

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