When there are so many cases of past life memories, why don’t we find some people remembering their experience in heaven, hell or as animals?

by Chaitanya CharanJune 3, 2014

From Pankaj P

Question: Why are there no past life memories of heaven and hell or even animal life, when the soul has gone through such existences in previous life?

Answer: In general, when the soul goes from one body to another body almost all the memories of the previous body are wiped out from the conscious recollection of the soul. The impressions of those memories may be there and they may create the samskaras, the svabhavas and impressions on the soul. That is true. But most of the time because the memories are connected with the body, those memories get wiped out. Now, when the previous body and the next body are similar, then in some exceptional cases their memories may remain. Now, i have answered another question elaborately: Why we forget our past lives? Because:

1. It’s our tendency to forget

2. Its traumatic to remember

3. There are some biological chemicals which also stimulate forgetfulness during pregnancy

4. that is the best way we can go ahead with life


Forgetting is the normal thing that happens. Occasionally, some people remember some memories. That stimulation for the memory also comes largely because there are some circumstances that are similar from the previous life and this life. So, when the soul has come from the animal life to the human form, or has come from heaven or hell to the human form then the conditions are so radically different that in the transition phase whatever memories are there, they are lost. And that’s how the most memories get lost. Now, we have to use empirical evidences for specific points of understanding. Can we use empirical evidences to prove that Goloka Vrindavan is the highest among all the spiritual abodes? No! From empirical evidence we can understand that the design indicates that there is a designer, there is a God. But about the personal features of that God we can’t come to know. Similarly, from the fact of the past life memories the main thing that we can infer is ‘we are not the body, we are the soul’ and the soul exists before this body also. Similarly, the soul will exist beyond this body. Now, if we want to know the nature of previous existence, in terms of where the soul was, what the soul was doing, for that we cannot just rely on unknown memories. Because, often even the past life memories, how do we know that they are not hallucinations. We can’t just believe anybody who claims past life memories. Those people may honestly believe it, they may be thinking ‘these are my memories’ but they may be hallucinations. So, scientists like Ian Stevenson and others follow quite rigorous method for verification of the memories. So they go to those persons who remember their past life and check out whether this person could have got the memory through any alternative sources, whether the parents and other relatives could have given the memories to this person and what is the likelihood that the person is guessing the memories himself. And as these possibilities are eliminated, then they say that this can be most likely explained through reincarnation. So, now if we simply rely on empirical methods for acquiring knowledge, then our empirical reliance will be incomplete. If we are going to use that to know about heaven or hell, because even if we hear some description about heaven or hell, or even if some people remember heaven or hell from their past life memories, how do we know that those memories are not just hallucinations, they are actually something that happened? Then we would have to go to heaven or hell, we would have to go to animal species and experience the life over there and compare the recollections of the experiences. That is not practically possible. So therefore, we shouldn’t over rely on empirical sources of knowledge for vindicating the points of philosophy. We should focus on the main points that we learned from past life memories, that is we are not this body we are the soul and for that there is a strong empirical evidence. Not just that ‘we are not the body we are the soul’ but that the soul continued to exist before its present existence. Thank you! Hare Krishna!

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Chaitanya Charan

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