The Secret of Past Lives ► 00 ►Preliminaries ► Translator's Note

Posted: 28.07.2017

I begin by invoking the blessings of Acharya Shree Mahapragya, seeking the blessings of Acharya Mahashraman and Muni Kishanlal ji. This is a humble effort, taken up, not because of proficiency in the subject, but more out of dedication to Munishree.

Much of the world we live in, remains a mystery to us. Like the Tamil saint Avvaiyar said, "Katradu kai man alavu, kaladadu ulaga alavu" or that which one knows is just a fistful and that which one does not, is the size of the Universe. So when I reluctantly agreed to translate Rahasya Poorva janmo ki, it was with the hope that I would learn something more about this mysterious world we live in. The reluctance was the disbelief of the rational mind in the possibility of encountering visions about the past or future births. With these two contradictory pulls on the mind, I embarked on what turned out to be a fascinating project.

All Indian traditions believe in the existence of a soul. In Jainism it is the soul that keeps the continuity of the world. The body is created and destroyed periodically. What decides the size, shape and circumstances that the new body takes or lives in? The Jains say that these factors depend on the karmic impurities that adhere to the soul. A short discussion on the soul and its karmic adherents may not be out of place.

When any action is performed, the Jains say, it attracts karma. Karma is visualized as karmic particles that adhere to the soul as sand does to wet feet. As is obvious, some karmic particles bring good effects for they accrue out of positive actions and some bring negative effects. Both of them however sully the soul and the quest for the purification of the soul is the ultimate goal of life. This purification is rarely achieved in one birth. We carry the particles from one birth to another and depending on the nature of the particles, attain a deserving birth. To progress on the spiritual path which means to purify the soul, however, one must get rid of the attached particles and not attract more. When this is achieved, realization occurs.

Our story is of the soul which is on its journey with a baggage of karmic particles. An excerpt from a conversation between Goyama, Mahavira's foremost disciple and Mahavira himself is more illustrative of the idea that I have tried to describe above:

Mahavira:...

Just as with the passing of the nights, the leaves turn yellow and fall away, so too does human life come to an end one day Goyama and so do not be remiss even for a split second

It is rare for every being to be born as human. Karma matures relentlessly. So Goyama do not be remiss even for a split second.

Souls possessing the earth, water, air or fire as their body remain in that state for innumerable years...plants remain in that state for endless years... the two, three, four sensed organisms remain in that state for several years... the five sensed organisms remain in that state for seven to eight years....so Goyama do not be remiss even for a split second....

 

The conversation reveals two ideas. One, the already discussed one about the soul being the thread of continuity for all living beings. The second idea which is emphasised in this conversation is that the subsequent births depend on actions undertaken in this and previous births. This means if we think we are suffering in this birth, it is a direct consequence of some remiss on our part in one of our earlier births.

Muni Kishanlal's purpose of writing this book is to try and understand the reasons for our present angst through explorations into our past lives. In this way, he feels, one can not only gain a deeper understanding of the self and better management of our problems in this birth but also develop an attitude of moral restraint and rectitude so that we have better births in the future. In a sense, just as Mahavira repeatedly tells Goyama not to be remiss, Muni Kishanlalji too is trying to show us examples from our own life so that the right path is chosen by us. The path which would evenually merge with the spiritual path towards purification of the soul, will also give comfort and character on its way.

To this end, Muniji has collected experiences from different contemporary thinkers and psychologists who have written about past and furture births in the first few chapters. He has also recounted the experiences of many who have remembered their past life and how on verification it was found to conform to and confirm with the memory. In addition to all the practical experiences recounted, Muniji has also given the religious base behind the idea. He has quoted vastly from texts and has also derived the ideas presented from Jain texts.

The special feature of this book is however beyond this. It lies in a technique he has outlined to recollect the past. In simple and easy steps, he has described an intense and deep search within. It should be undertaken only after understanding the steps properly or with guidance.

The process of translating the meditation as described by Munishree has brought great peace and joy... a quiet that has carved a space for itself within. The past lives still await unveiling though, for that requires practice.

Sudhamahi Regunathan

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Title: The Secret of Past Lives
Authors: Muni Kishan Lal
Publisher: B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2017