Raghava’s Reincarnation Myth
By Jeevanmukta Das
Reincarnation is a subject the world needs to be taught in a hurry. However, using sensational ‘x’ reincarnated as ‘y,’ read-it-and-weep stories will only hurt us. (See: The Diary of Ratnavali Devi Das)
How so? We represent a religion; we are the experts. We cannot be seen as dabblers in ‘weird eastern ideologies,’ which is how this story would be bracketed. Our idea of reincarnation is extensive and elaborate. For us, reincarnation is a fine-tuned science. We don’t just ‘believe’ in reincarnation, we in fact, eat, sleep and drink reincarnation! If we inadvertently blur the boundaries between expert and dabbler and hawk the same fare as the dabblers do, we lose our credibility.
By blurring boundaries we compromise the Krishna Consciousness ideology as well.
How so? Now, Raghava prabhu (see: The Diary of Ratnavali Devi Dasi) was a sincere devotee who had fully surrendered to Krishna at a very young age. Although he missed his fire sacrifice, he was initiated and therefore a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. He had given up all his worldly possessions, was chanting and doing wonderful seva. In short, when he passed away, he was fully Krishna Conscious. Here, by ‘conscious’ I mean a temporary state of mind. And, this can be achieved in a week’s time by being fully focused on any activity. For instance, when you drive a car for very long, chances are you will dream of driving one in your sleep. So, even if Raghava was not an advanced devotee, his consciousness at the time of passing away was 100% Krishna Conscious.
Furthermore, Raghava prabhu passed away on the battlefield, on his way from yet another intense book-distribution encounter. As we all know, book-distribution is an intensely purifying exercise. What can be more glorious than dying in the line of serving Krishna? Are not ordinary Kshatriyas who die on the battlefield guaranteed a ticket to heaven? Who is to say a Krishna Conscious warrior would not go to his choice of destination in a similar manner? After all, Krishna promises the world and beyond for mere surrender!
Even if he didn’t get in on the warrior ticket, the chances are high that Raghava remembered Krishna at the hour of death. And that’s all that is needed! Anta kale narayan smriti! On that stipulation alone he would have made it in!
It can also be argued that the desire and fire when one initially commits to Krishna Consciousness is magical when compared to the somewhat disillusioned trudge that a long life offers. I would even go so far as to say that we probably make 80% progress in our spiritual life during this cranked-up jumpstart and merely reel in the balance 20% during the rest of our lives. Besides, a longer life is no guarantee that we will reel in the balance 20%. Fraught as it is with the danger of disillusionment and drifting, the chances are that our spiritual balance may fall from the 80% we started with! In short, it can be argued that dying early when one is 100% surrendered and has achieved 80% spiritual growth, is perhaps a better time to go than later, assuming of course that the minimum spiritual growth required is set at 40% or so. Raghava prabhu could well have romped back to Godhead on this ticket alone!
Anyone who takes the name of Krishna even once goes back to Krishna! We know that and this too needs to be factored in. Surely, Raghava did at least chant one round!
True, Srila Prabhupada himself commented that Raghava would need to come back. Yet that does not mean that the shastra based arguments given here are baseless or that he had not considered it. Srila Prabhupada had to consider other factors as well. Such as ceto-darpana-marjanam and that the ‘marjanam’ was obviously incomplete. After all, we are not Christians. We have not short-circuited the pathway to: ‘sign under where it says ‘we believe in Jesus’ and you are in.’ Godhead cannot be cheapened. This then is the verdict as per guru, shastra and sadhu.
If however we use the ‘crystal-ball’ to deliver the verdict, having set aside all our exalted knowledge on the subject of reincarnation, in an ‘let’s get back to our good old hippy days’ mood or I don’t know what, then we will be sending out the message that: Raghava prabhu chanted Hare Krishna, did seva, was 100% surrendered, was a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and died gloriously on the battlefield serving Krishna—all in vain. For here he is, back to base—as a woman—and is now busy dumbing-down the exalted the Krishna Consciousness ideology to ‘some Eastern mish-mash ideology!’
Incidentally, the story of Raghava’s reincarnation narrated by Ratnavali Devi Dasi is full of holes. Regression therapies mentioned is rubbish and we can directly throw it right out of the window. What remains is, she apparently had developed a strong sense of déjà vu that she had been here (in this world) before. She then researched to find a likely candidate. She found Raghava and internalized his glorious life.
Then she dreamed.
Now we all know, in dreams, it is possible to see anything. At night, when the intelligence is switched off, not around to rein the mind, it, the mind, becomes a runaway morphing machine. The mind can then merge the head of a cat to a body of a kangaroo and this creature will tell you bedtime stories in the voice of your grandmother—and it will all seem terrifyingly real!
Even Sri Rama saw a golden deer—a creature that could not have existed—and ran after it to please his beloved Sita. May that Rama, his Sita and that golden deer, live forever in my heart.