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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Raghava’s Reincarnation Myth

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 / Published in Articles / 11,152 views

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.

Room for rent in San Diego 10 min from the temple
A Methodist Reverend Appreciates Srila Prabhupada's Books

56 Responses to “Raghava’s Reincarnation Myth”

  1. amalagaura says :

    I don’t know why Dandavats is continuing to publish articles on this. Publishing the first article was controversial enough, and now there is just a flame-fest.

    This article has even more speculation than the first and is like a lawyer making arguments for Raghava prabhu’s going back to Godhead. Then we have comments in the other article with calculations by the day on how long it takes a soul to incarnate.

    All really ridiculous. The editors should not encourage all this. I personally think it is more than likely that the reincarnation took place. But such discussions are just odd.

  2. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    Dear Jeevanmukta,

    Thank you very much for your text. It is a breath of fresh air after so much New Age hippy consciousness and lack of critical thinking that has been seen on Dandavatas lately. Especially coming from two particular authors, a husband and wife team, I think you know who I mean (-:

    In the following letter Prabhupada didn’t give many details about what happens when one of his disciples dies.

    “Regarding the auto accident, just hold a condolence meeting for Raghava das Brahmachari and pray for his soul to Krishna for giving him a good chance for advancement in Krishna Consciousness. Certainly Krishna will give him a good place to take birth where he can again begin in Krishna Consciousness activities. That is sure.”
    (Shrila Prabhupada in a letter to Revatinandana das – 14 Nov. 1973)

    But, in the following text Srila Prabhupada gave more details about what happens when one of his disciples die, in this case His Grace Jayananda Prabhu.

    5 May, 1977

    My Dear Jayananda,

    Please accept my blessings.

    I am feeling very intensely your separation. In 1967 you joined me in San Francisco. You were driving my car and chanting Hare Krsna. You were the first man to give me some contribution ($5000) for printing my Bhagavad-gita. After that, you have rendered very favorable service to Krsna in different ways. I so hope at the time of your death you were remembering Krsna and as such, you have been promoted to the eternal association of Krsna. If not, if you had any tinge of material desire, you have gone to the celestial kingdom to live with the demigods for many thousands of years and enjoy the most opulent life of material existence. From there you can promote yourself to the spiritual world. But even if one fails to promote himself to the spiritual world, at that time he comes down again on the surface of this globe and takes birth in a big family like a yogis’ or a brahmanas’ or an aristocratic family, where there is again chance of reviving Krsna Consciousness. But as you were hearing Krsna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krsna-loka.


  3. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    Part 2

    In this letter Srila Prabhupada says that when a devotee dies there are two possible scenarios:

    • If they are thinking of Krsna then they go back to Godhead.

    • If they had any tinge of material desire then they will go to Svarga and enjoy there for many thousands of celestial years. And, then if they can make spiritual advancement in Svarga (which is hard to do because of the opulence) they then go back to Godhead. Or, the more usual case of coming back to this world to continue in their spiritual quest.

    This brings up some important points.

    When Raghava Prabhu died he may have been thinking of Krsna or at least chanting the mahamantra in which case even if he was not a perfect devotee he goes back to Godhead just for hearing the Holy Name “But as you were hearing Krsna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krsna-loka.”

    But, considering that Raghava Prabhu was on his way to do book distribution and that most sankirtan devotees are intensely praying to Krsna to distribute lots of Prabhupada’s books then it is highly likely that Raghava Prabhu was deeply meditating on distributing Prabhupada’s books which are non-different from Krsna.

    What to speak of a fired up sankirtana devotee dying on his way to do book distribution thinking of Krsna when he died, I know of one disciple of JPS (Maha-madhusudhana Dasa) who worked a karmi job and didn’t go to the temple much. He was killed in a car wreck when the truck he was driving over turned and he was severely injured and shortly there after died on the spot. But even though he was wearing karmi clothes and there were no obvious signs that he was a devotee the police first came to the local temple to bring news of his death. Why? Because when the police arrived on the scene this devotee, whose body was crushed, in unspeakable agony and with his life quickly seeping out of him could be distinctly heard chanting the Maha mantra by the cops. Then he died. So according to Srila Prabhupada (and the sadhus and sastras) he went back to Godhead.

    So unless Raghava Prabhu was killed instantaneously before he could utter the Holy Name he went back to Godhead.


  4. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    part 3

    The other possibility Srila Prabhupada says is that if he didn’t go back to Godhead then he went to Svarga to enjoy celestial delights for thousands of years of the demigods. So considering that 1 divine year =360 human years, that is a very long time. And, even if we are conservative and only give him one thousand years in Svarga that still adds up to 360,000 human years at which time he either goes back to Godhead if he made more spiritual advancement. Or, he takes birth again in a pious family.

    So this compels us to the conclusion that at the very minimum His Grace Raghava Prabhu would not take birth again for least another 360,000 years.

    This is also confirmed in Jyotish sastra. I once heard the recorded Bhrigu reading of a senior devotee. That reading (from an authentic Brghu reader) described this senior devotee’s two previous lives. The first life had been that of a devotee who had fallen down, but after doing tapas to eradicate his sins he died and went to svarga for a thousand celestial years (360,000 human years). After he fell from svarga and took birth in this world he took initiation from Srila Prabhupada, whom the Bhrgu Samhita said was his guru before he went to svarga. Hence his last life as a sadhaka was sometime in the middle of the previous Dvapara yuga about 360,000 years ago. This Brghu reading was also confirmed by other Nadi granthas.

    This whole case published in Dandavatas hinges on the assumption that only 2 years passed between Raghava Prabhu’s death and Ratnavali Mataji’s birth in this one, and the assumption that she must have been a disciple of Srila Prabhupada in her past life. This is clearly not supported in Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Jayananda Prabhu, or the recorded reading of the Brghu Samhita that I heard. This is a fatal flaw.

  5. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    part 4

    I flatly refuse to believe her story on these grounds alone. As for dreams they do not constitute pramana, as they are not a shared reality. They are a mixture of many visions and sensations produced by the mind from previous experience in this and other lives and can not be relied upon. We can make them fit whatever we want them to and there is no way to verify.

    The only reliable way of knowing one’s past and future lives is through the Nadi grathas like Brghu Samhita. But even here one must be exceedingly cautious as there are many counterfeits.

    I am glad that this has come out on Dandavatas as it shows us just how excessively credulous some sections of the devotee population are and where they need education and training so as not to fall for this kind of sensationalism. We are however happy that not everybody has forgotten how important it is to be armed with a healthy skepticism (different from the morbid variety).

    It is unfortunate that all these years Mother Ratnavali has not received proper guidance on this matter by senior devotees but was instead encouraged to go down this path wasting a lot of time.

    Again Jeevanmukta Prabhu thank you for taking the time to write this text.

    Atmavidya das

  6. Trilocana says :

    Although Jeevan Mukta appears to be very concerned about how the story of Raghava Prabhu / Ratnavali mataji will be seen by the public, I fear that his own style of retoric is in danger of coming accross as disjointed rantings scoring highly on the eccentrometer. This we unfortunately observe in some of our members and frankly it is not at all impressive to the public.

    While he also refers to sastra his interpretation is dubiously speculative in particular he seems to think he is qualified to judge matters above the direct and clear analysis of Srila Prabhupada. Indeed he may find himself in the category of a dabbler.

    It is true that past life regression is not a very reliable source of confirmation, but it is mentioned in Srila Prabhupadas books (as sited by learned devotees commenting on this story) that sometimes people remember their past lives awake or in dreams, however leaving that aside the astrological analysis gives scientific support that the two lives are of the same soul.

    There is no reason to blindly doubt this and ultimately on the basis of the science of the soul presented by Krishna Conscious authority it is completely reasonable to consider this account to be feasable as a true case history.

    Ys Trilocana das

  7. Patita Pavana says :

    He who would cast aspersions upon the testimony of a Vaishnava, and in so doing contradicts the very words of the spiritual master, indeed the very words of Shri Krishna Himself in the Gita, treads heavily upon very very thin ice.

    In fact, there was never room for such discouraging sentiments in the ISKCON I joined in 1967, but, alas, times do change.

    However, he who objectively examines the facts of the matter, will see the continuation. How many Hindus join the Hare Krishna movement not as sideline cheerers, but by diving headlong into the sankirtan movement, placing their lives on the line for Mahaprabhu? Ratnavali is to be honored not only for speaking the truth, but for setting an example that will cause any old book distributor to swell with pride. I am saddened that you do not agree, Prabhu.

    -Patita Pavana das Adhikary

  8. Abhaya Mudra Dasi says :

    Hare Krishna!

    Even the great sages of the Dandakaranya forest during the advent of Lord Rama had to wait millions of years to participate in the pastimes of Shri Krishna in the material world. You, Prabhu can keep you optimism open, but the Supreme Lord is neither easy to reach nor serve. The living entity should always remember Krishna and never forget Him. And since Shri Krishna’s name is non-different from Him, this remembrance is the one sure way to be with Him. The rest– special engagement and location of the bhakta’s service–is up to the Lord to decide.

    If a person remains on the path of perfection life after life as a devotee, isn’t that a testimony for the direct supervision of the Supreme Lord? Accordion to you that is not enough mercy. Set aside the external circumstances which, according to you, contributed to a more elevated status in Ratnavali devi dasi’s previous embodiment, she is still a devotee. She continues to make progress with her service.

    Abhaya Mudra Dasi

  9. Abhaya Mudra Dasi says :

    …May be for you Krishna Consciousness is a religion but not for Srila Prabhupada who states:

    Sanatana-dharma does not refer to any sectarian process of religion. Unlike religion, Srila Prabhupada continues, “…we must take it for granted on the authority of Shri Ramanujacharya that it has neither beginning nor end.”
    (BG Intro)

  10. Prabhava Vigraha das says :

    Namas te JeevanMukta.
    I read your article thoroughly with attention. I will not comment that much. But I will humbly try to bring your attention to a very important point, namely Srila Prabhupada’s comments on specific occasions of devotees leaving their bodies in auto or road accidents.

    I am going to bring up the focus on Srila Prabhupad’s words about Raghava’s accident. —As far as we are concerned as disciples, we would not even dare doubting comments of Srila Prabhupada, which from our standpoint, are to be taken as authoritative. This is taken for granted, right?

    1) For what I understood, Srila Prabhupada has commented about Raghava’s auto accident:
    “Regarding the auto accident, just hold a condolence meeting for Raghava das Brahmachari and pray for his soul to Krishna for giving him a good chance for advancement in Krishna Consciousness. Certainly Krishna will give him a good place to take birth where he can again begin in Krishna Consciousness activities. That is sure.”
    (Letter to Revatinandana das – 14 Nov. 1973)

    Other instance of Srila Prabhupada commenting on a devotee involved in a mortal road accident, dating in 1976.

    2) In 1976, I was a sankirtan leader in France of a mixed sankirtan party. The following day of Radhastami, that year, after a full day of book distribution, on her way back to our sankirtan truck, just crossing the road, with her box of remaining books on her shoulder as she used to do every night, our Godsister, Mrida devi dasi, never saw a van coming her way as she crossed the road. She was only 10 feet or so from the truck when all of a sudden she was hit on the head by the van’s bumper. Her body went up in the air and landed about 25-30 feet from the impact. She left her body instantly. On the ground, on her sari, was stuck an open BTG right in the middle where there was a beautiful poster of Krishna with a deer.

    I reported the events to then GBC Bhagavan who in his turn reported the news to Srila Prabhupada. And Srila Prabhupada confirmed that our dear Godsister, Mrida devi dasi, one of the first Italian devotees who had joined in Paris, an exemplary dedicated, surrendered devotee either on or off sankirtan book distribution, had gone to the spiritual world. So her attainment of the spiritual world was confirmed by Srila Prabhupada.

    So, as far as Raghava is concerned, Srila Prabhupada confirmed the opposite. You can rest assured that if Raghava would have made it to the spiritual world, he would have said so.

  11. Akruranatha says :

    I do not see what the hubbub is about. It is certainly possible that Raghava took his next life as Ratnavali. There is some evidence that has caused Ratnavali and her friends to believe this.

    If someone were trying to make this an article of faith that everyone in ISKCON must accept, that would be strange. But as a human interest story involving some facts that tend to suggest the reality of reincarnation, it’s a good story, which devotees are free to believe or not believe as they like.

    Birth in a devotee family with an opportunity to serve in ISKCON from a young age is undoubtedly an exalted situation, however she happened to take such a birth:

    atha va yoginam eva kule bhavati dhimatam
    etad dhi durlabhataram loke janma yad idrsam

    tatra tam buddhi-samyogam labhate paurva-dehikam
    yatate ca tato bhuyah samsiddhau kuru nandana

    “Or [if unsuccessful after long practice of yoga] he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Certainly, such a birth is rare in this world.

    “On taking such a birth, he revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.”

    [B.G. 6.42-43]

    Srila Prabhupada wrote: “Certainly Krishna will give him a good place to take birth where he can again begin in Krishna Consciousness activities. That is sure.”

    It would be a shame if a devotee like Raghava had to spend thousands of celestial years in the heavenly planets. Srila Prabhupada told us the demigods were lining up to take birth within this Krishna consciousness movement now. We are living in very special times. The Age of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement is here!

    Whether Raghava was born as Ratnavali is something that we can all have different opinions (or remain agnostic) about. Why should it turn into an argument?

  12. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    Re: #6

    Trilocana Dasa said:

    It is true that past life regression is not a very reliable source of confirmation, but it is mentioned in Srila Prabhupadas books (as sited by learned devotees commenting on this story) that sometimes people remember their past lives awake or in dreams, however leaving that aside the astrological analysis gives scientific support that the two lives are of the same soul.

    Hari Bol Prabhu,
    I am curious about your competency to analyse a chart. Are you a trained astrologer or a layman?

  13. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    Re: #8-9

    Dear Abhaya Mudra Mataji I am glad you are still alive and commenting on the blogosphere. We thought you had vanished as several people are still waiting for you to reply to their comments at

    Hope to hear from you soon with your replies to their posts.

  14. Tungavidya dd says :

    Thanks very much to Jeevanmukta Prabhu for this text. It is an eye opener for readers after so much speculation, guesses and dreams that we read in recent texts on Ratnavali dd case. And all encouraged by Abhaya Mudra dd and her husband as if it is something 100% true.

    They wanted to assure us about the correctness of Ratnavali’s story by supporting it with astrological explanation. But, we know that Abhaya Mudra dd is not competent in astrology at all. She still didn’t answer to readers by providing sastric and jyotish references on her statements in this text:

    Why? Because she doesn’t know astrology, so she doesn’t know how to answer. It is the behavior of an incompetent.

    Person who writes such serious texts should be competent otherwise they will create a complete mess and be responsible for all aparadhas they caused amongst devotees by writing on topics they know little or nothing about it.

    As Pope said “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

    It is a case of the Blind leading the blind, as the vast majority of devotees are laymen when it comes to astrology and Abhaya Mudra is just one step ahead of them leading them into a ditch.

  15. Tungavidya dd says :

    Re: #6

    Trilochana you must be very close to Ratnavali dd as you are so much defending her and trying to tell us about her subtle consciousness as if you are somebody very close to her. I know Ratnavali dd; she is very cute, sweet and good-hearted devotee, a lovable person. But for her benefit I would suggest that she should move on in her life, stop dreaming and living on her subtle level fantasizing and ignoring people and events in this very life. It is totally unpractical and I would not like to encourage her more in her visions that may be or may not be true at all. It doesn’t serve her well.

  16. Trilocana says :

    I want to point out that after speaking to those Srila Prabhupada disciples that knew Raghava, he was not a book distributor. So Jeevan Mukta has concocted many of his own ideas in his article. Raghava was on his way to harinam from Edinburgh to Newcastle in the morning and he did not make it to the harinam.

    ys Td

  17. Urmila says :

    Hare Krishna!

    I am glad that Ratnavali’s story has provoked discussion of these important considerations. Krishna Himself says that the unperfected yogi comes back to get another chance.

    Whether an individual believes Ratnavali or not, many people are inspired by her story, and she has great courage to come public with it. I know her personally, and she is a very stable, solid, and honest person.

    Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

  18. krsnas03 says :



    I am a neophyte devotee and upon reading this article I find your views of the situation like that of a Swami or Guru, in fact your opinion is that of one who has heard it from the spiritual planets. Is this so? If not are you a incarnation of Krishna or someone with this type of esoteric knowledge? I am very interested in knowing how you could sound so certain of this view point if you do not any authority in this matter. Please forgive the condescending manner this is written in… I mean no disrespect, just clarity of your viewpoint and it’s validity! Thank you for taking the time to read this Jeevanmukta Das.


  19. KKDasa says :

    Some concern has been raised about the public being turned off by possibly reading stories like that told by Ratnavali Mataji. Yet when the same public sees the intensity with which her story has been slated, I would have thought they’d notice that more; you know; how devotees deal with each other.

    I must admit that when I first saw the title of her story I was sceptical. After reading her article I found more plusses than minuses. Her’s is a personal story, and she wanted to share it with us readers. It is obvious that this “life-changing” event had profound effects on her. I can imagine how she feels when her story is dismissed this way.

    It is one thing to use Sastra to try and prove her story as false, but it is another thing to consider that Krishna Himself, who is Bhakta-Vatsala, and who personally takes care of His devotees, does not have to abide by scriptural norms to help expedite a devotee’s approach to Him. There may be time scales for the deceased soul and for duration of heavenly enjoyment and so on, but Krishna can overturn all these if He desires.

    He could even cause a particularly stubborn devotee to perhaps take an animal birth to remind of the folly of wasting time. On this basis we cannot confine the Lord, and what He intends to do with each devotee, to simple scriptural expectations, or to our own. Because Krishna cares for His devotees, He need not conform, nor can we predict what the journey of a soul of a devotee will be exactly.

    Even if there are some apparent “gaps” in her story, the lessons of transmigration still apply, and the ease by which one can earn a female form in this case, is scary in any case. Because many things appear coincidental in the life of Ratnavali, they more readily fit into a reincarnation belief system, but would be very strange in another belief. That’s why there are more plusses,

    So rather than dismiss her story, I would give the benefit of the doubt. Besides, this major event in Ratnavalis life has helped her get serious in Krishna consciousness, which may be a comparatively rare thing. This story might encourage others to get serious as well. When we see such seriousness we should encourage that, and encourage her too, so that this may be her ultimate step into the loving embrace of Sri Bhakta-Vatsala.

    Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  20. Prananatha das says :

    Many times in the media we see such kinds of headlines which profess a conclusion before the discussion has even begun. Similarly here we see the heading “Raghava’s Reincarnation Myth”. This heading indicates the writers predetermined conclusion.
    I found it interesting to note that there are posts here both for and against the issue. But what is the issue? What is at question here? It would appear that some are doubtful of the efficacy of the astrologers in determining whether a case of reincarnation exists between Raghava Prabhu and Ratnavali Devi Dasi.
    Is it really so unusual? Can there be any doubt that Raghava Prabhu took birth after leaving his body? No. Is it possible this soul took birth after a short period of time and has now manifested as Ratnavali? Why not? Each and every one of us was existing in a body prior to our present one. You cannot argue against this fact. Whether we remember or not, we have a history, and given our current association with ISKCON, it is not at all unreasonable to assume that many of us had prior association with the devotional life. I do not find the 360,000 year argument very reasonable at all. Time is under the control of The Supreme. You cannot simply pull out a calculator to decide how long a soul will remain in a certain place. Srila Prabhupada stated his wishes that Raghava return and continue on with devotional life. What better way to accomplish this than to rejoin Srila Prabhupada’s movement?
    Perhaps an injection of faith is required for the doubters. That’s for them to decide. For me, I see no reason at all why this event, reincarnation, something that happens tens of thousands of times every week, could not have, and indeed did not, transpire as outlined.
    Pray tell. How will you possibly prove it wrong?

  21. ron conroy satyahit says :

    hare krsna All Glories To Srila Prabhupada ! please accept my humble obeisances.
    I see no need to call what Patita Pavan & his good wife have corroberated in the story of the
    next birth of Raghava das as “rubbish”. There is no need for hysteria or calling of names
    upon others, especially as the story of the re incarnation of Raghava das into a family of devotee’s
    is a good thing . Why Jeevan Mukta prabhu is so certain that Raghava’s taking a female body is so
    horrible I do not know . Don’t the ladies also go back to Godhead ? How does Jeevan Mukta know
    for certain that Raghava prabhu did not advance in this way ? Did he know Raghava prabhu at all
    as did Patita Pavan for some time as president of the Edinburough temple . No one on earth can say
    for sure that Ratnavali dasi is simply in illusion regarding these matters. There are other accounts of
    persons who remembered their previous life, especially when they are young. Some of these cases are
    completely factual wherein all that the young person remembered from their past life is found & proven to be true ! There is the case of a young american boy who remembered being shot down in his plane in world war two. He even remembered the names of people he knew back then & all was found to be true in the army records. There was no way a young boy could have made this up, and it took a long time for his parents
    to accept the facts but they eventually had to. There is the famous case of a little indian girl who remembered being killed by her ex husband, a doctor, so much so, that the ex husband was convicted of murder . None of these things are impossible. It would seem much more impossible to hear and beleive about some of the Lords Personal activities in His various Forms but hearing from the pure devotee we accept it all. So hearing from a sincere god sister should not cause so much alarm. Jeevan Mukta thinks
    that the krsna conscious philosophy would be watered down but i do not think so, rather i say that he has over reacted . Re incarnation is going on constantly and mostly as Krsna states we do not remember our previous births, but some few remember some details of one birth previous. Never more than that have i heard. so, hare krsna, chant hare krsna, hear others chanting hare krsna , become purified . that is the purpose of this human life .
    satyahit das

  22. I agree with Mother Abbhaya Mudra , many or maybe most think so little qualification is needed to go back to Godhead this is also why we do not take chanting more serious, if Lord Caitanya asked for 64 rounds and Srila Prabupada reduced it to minimum 16 …Srila Prabhupada also stated those who distribute his books will go back to Godhead but we still refuse to follow his order and we expect so easy to go back to Godhead?

  23. pustakrishna says :

    I agree that it is a little quirky, perhaps, to speculate that one is the reincarnated soul of a former sankirtan bhakta. But, my reason for writing is to challenge the conventional conceptions of time itself. Krishna revealed His universal form, Visva Rupa, to Arjuna on the field of Kuruksetra. There Arjuna saw the soldiers on the field already being devoured by the universal form BEFORE the battle even took place. The future, the past, the ever-present are all known to Krishna. When Arjuna asked “Who are You, and what is Your mission?” Krishna replied, kalosmi lokaksaya krit. “Time I am, destroyer of the words”. From this we can understand two simple things. Krishna is Himself Time, and He has created this temporary manifestation ultimately to destroy it, to frustrate the illusioned souls who are grasping for false independence.
    So, I want to say that Time is not necessarily a linear phenomenon, as we experience it in a mundane manner….A to B to C…etc. Time is Himself a manifestation of Krishna. Just as Krishna is Adhokshaja, beyond the material senses to grasp, we must understand He as Time is also inscrutable.
    If Her Grace Ratnavali dd is the same soul as Raghava Das or not, she is gloriously engaged in devotional service with enthusiasm. We really should avoid speculation in general, however, otherwise others may think that they can do regression analysis of their past lives, really a waste of energy. Krishna says to Arjuna, you and I are both eternal, but I can remember all of My past lives (appearances) while you cannot. Still, I love It gives me the opportunity to hear about Krishna’s devotees, the movement, like the first Rathayatra in Nashville, Tennessee, etc. and the opportunity to write something and try to remain focused more on Krishna. I love you all. Haribol.

    Pusta Krishna das

  24. isvaradas says :

    Its nothing new for people being able to remember their earlier or previous lives. It was mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam how a child in the womb is able to remember his previous lives and thus vowing not return to a mother’s womb. It was simply after coming out of the womb and getting trapped in all the new attractions in the current life that a persons forgets the account of the past existence. However there few individuals who are able to remember that. The ability to forget one’s previous existence is also a mercy of God. Say for instance one is in great and comfortable situation in the previous life, and due to karmic reactions, one is in put in a bad existence now, how horrible feelings it will be if one is made aware of one’s former position in a previous lifes.

    I remember more than forty years ago when my grandfather was passing away, just before he passed, I used to sit with him, and he would be recounting the events of his life coming to him just a television. He would be seeing so many visions and would be asking me if I am seeing this or that, or if I am seeing the same events that were unfolding before his eyes. Of course I was seeing nothing, but to make him feel happy, I would be telling him that I am seeing the same thing.

    In one sense, many do have the gift of recollecting their previous existence. I think it is quite immature to be categorically slamming those who are claiming their previous existence. Agnostics don’t believe in anything, not to talk of the subject of re-incarnation. What power do we have to judge a person who is able to remember his/her previous existence if we ourselves are not bordering on agnosticism.

    Another thing that has been amusing me lately is the conceptions that the devotees are having that as soon as someone passes away and he is chanting the holy name,, then he automatically goes to the spiritual world. Such a ridiculous conceptions goes against the teachings of the acaryas. It takes lifetimes of achieving perfections. Even after attaining the perfections, one still have to take birth a planet where Krishna is performing His pastimes, in the family of a devotee. There are required trainings involved such as one’s eternal activities under a particular guidance. There is no training in the spiritual world, but pure loving service. So if someone hasn’t entered the realm of loving transcendental attachment to the Lord’s service, which spiritual world the person is going or has gone?

  25. pustakrishna says :

    I would not be so fast to discount that a bhakta can immediately be transfered to the spiritual world after this life. Whether chanting with mundane lips and hearing with mundane ears, or whether Krishna mystically transforms the environment of His bhakta, wonderful things can and do happen. We cannot save ourselves. It is Krishna, as Mukunda, Who saves us. It is His pastime. His happiness, to bring one of His jiva soul expansions back to Home. Have faith in Krishna. He is not a hardened Person. The bhaktas win His heart with their love and dependence. This is not a mechanical process, even though externally it sometimes might appear like that. Krishna is ever present within, not far away…and He declares that He is our dearmost Friend. That is the conception of Krishna consciousness that I have cultivated, and I am sure that there are many other flavors of conception. When the bhakta is dependent upon Krishna, do you think that Krishna will ignore such a soul? Pusta Krishna das

  26. Locanananda dasa says :

    Mother Ratnavali’s diary is a human interest story for devotees. We are trying to understand the phenomenon from the standpoint of sastra and through the teachings of our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. Devotees learned in the (not so perfect) science of astrology seem to perceive validity in the belief that Ratnavali mataji is the same spirit soul as Raghava das brahmacari — a young man who was becoming accustomed to celibate life distracted by a member of the opposite sex, then dying in an untimely fashion and coming back as a woman. Plausible, to say the least.

    I don’t question her recollection of past events, even from a previous lifetime, but what I do question is why her spiritual authorities would recommend the speculative procedure of past life regression as if it were a bona fide method by which a devotee might resolve deep personal issues. And to tell a disciple, “There is no doubt that in your previous life you were a brahmacary doing Harinam Sankirtana,” sounds to me like guess work being presented to a neophyte devotee as encouragement in spiritual life.

    Ratnavali’s enthusiasm for Sankirtana is what is most inspiring about her story. It is exemplary. Our movement would explode if we all caught Sankirtana fever from devotees like Mother Ratnavali. If she were to join my Harinam party, I think though I would have her play karatalas instead. The mrdanga and karatalas were Lord Caitanya’s weapons of choice, and I prefer to follow tradition rather than introduce instruments that are not part of our vaisnava heritage and which cover up the purifying transcendental sound vibration of the mrdanga drum.

    Personally, I do not recommend dwelling on the circumstances of one’s past life because it can hinder one’s performance of the activities recommended for us in the present life. Taken a step further,
    or many steps further, one could even imagine what one’s identity was before coming to the material world and then begin artificially to think and act in that role prematurely, without becoming fully Krishna conscious. I believe Srila Prabhupada would not have paid much attention to this story of past lives but would see to it that we were focusing on the mission at hand which is to spread the chanting of the Holy Name to every town and village.

  27. gourgopal.brs says :

    Dear Jeevanamukta Prabhu &Atmavidya Prabhu!

    The whole world is watching us fighting here.
    We are forgetting that we are representing Srila Prabhupada’s mission.
    Is this what we have acquired after coming to Krishna consciousness? Why do we have so much ego? Why do we have so much enviousness? We are well aware of this fact that because of this ego and enviousness we are separated from our original home and suffering here in this material world. And fortunately by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy we are again trying to reach our home.
    But what is this here…? Where shall we go after this if we still continue having the same attitude here?
    My humble request to you, kindly do not post such article where Srila Prabhupada is being dragged unnecessarily and It is not right to make personal remarks on devotees.
    Gour Gopal Das
    (Secunderabad, India)

  28. bhakta says :

    Dear prabhu,

    it seems to me that yes, to you Krsna consciousness is religion.
    One without philosophy, it seems.

    To those who take Krsna consciousness as a scientific process/system for knowing and loving God, we cannot help but disagree with these fanatical views..
    The fact that you are trying to disprove the words of your own spiritual master by word jugglery and speculation disqualifies any further argument.

    Bhagavad-gita says that whatever state of being one remembers a the time of death one attains, and that the unsuccessful transcendentalist gets another chance.
    In Nectar of Devotion as well, Srila Prabhupada says that by development of bhakti-rasa one is guaranteed a human body in one’s next life.
    We even have the example in the Srimad Bhagavatam of Bharata Maharaja, a very advanced devotee, who had to take two more births before attaining perfection.

    Yes, Srila Prabhupada said we can do it in one lifetime, but for those who can’t or did not, isn’t it wonderful to know that they’ll have the opportunity in their next life?
    This is evidence of both the action of the material laws of karma and reincarnation, and the causeless mercy of guru and Krsna upon the sincere devotee.

    It is very nice to think that just by saying we love Krsna, He’ll be fooled into accepting.But that doesn’t even work on the material platform.
    Love means action.
    Lastly in the Nectar of Devotion Srila Prabhupada says that devotional service is quickly effective. So it is still possible to go back in this life time.

  29. Devala das says :

    I believe it was at the Festival of India Exhibit where I once read something similar about re-incarnation- a young girl in India going back to her village and so on.Like hers,the story of Ratnavali,though rare,cannot be easily dismissed as fictitious.Why isn’t Ms.Caroline from Liverpool claiming that she had some connection with the devotees and with the past life of Raghava?

    I strongly believe in the astrogolical analysis by Patita Pavana das and Abhaya Mudra very accurate as I have personally experienced they are very good at the service,after being skeptical at first.I would recommend them to Iskcon worldwide.


    Devala das

  30. Bhadra Govinda Dasa says :

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    This is a wonderful story of Srila Prabhupada’s unlimited mercy, that he is giving a second chance to the devotee to be again getting connected to ISKCON in next life. Srila Prabhupada is amazing, and everything is possible by his mercy.

    The diary entries of Ratnavali mataji, to me seem to be very very honest. What will she or any one who is forwarding her story gain, by bluffing. There is no name, fame or glory just by sharing honestly this particula story of reincarnation, other than kindling Krishna Conscious philosophical thoughts.

    I personally appreciate the story very much, which has increased my faith in Srila Prabhupada and his ISKCON. I donot want to judge it by my mind or intelligence, as it has touched me deeply in my heart.

    I thank Patitapavana Prabhu and Abhaya Mudra Mataji for putting this story together in a very nice way. By the way I do not know them personally. I know them only through their wonderful no nonsense Krishna Conscious articles on Dandavats which I have read recently. To me they seem to be thoroughly honest. One can judge a person based on how he/she speaks. I request them to keep on writing more and more enthusiastically, as there are many like me who will be benefeted.


    Your humbel servant,
    Bhadra Govinda Dasa.

  31. Jeevanmukta Das says :

    Thank you all for your valuable comments prabhus and sincere apologies to RDD. I would not like to drag this further than needed for an innocent devotee (misguided and encouraged by seniors, which is unfortunate) is at the center of this storm. But what needs to be said must be said.

    In less than five-hundred years after Mahaprabhu started the Bhakti Movement it was corrupted into near extinction by the sahajiyas. They rolled on the ground, pretend-cried their little black hearts out and bewildered the populace with their sham-devotion. Later, they homed in on the divine love of Radha-Krishna, indulged in unacceptable and deviant activities, and ruined Vaishnavism to such an extent that educated people in Bengal and Orissa were repulsed by the unique religion. In fact, Thakur Bhakti Vinod, our great grand spiritual master, who eventually lifted it out of this quagmire, had initially flatly refused to even consider Vaishnavism until a friend (an unsung hero, to whom the world owes a huge debt) urged him with great determination to study it.

    Most devotees cry. Indeed, such is the state of affair that most on merely hearing the name ‘Krishna’ will cry! And yet our master, Srila Prabhupada, who by all counts should have had a regular little rivulet of tear flowing by his abode, presented the picture of a perfect and grave gentleman.

    Why? Because Vaishnavism, due to its proximity to bhava, attracts all manner of con-artists and is very easily corruptible. Also, it must surely have crossed his mind that it’s not just east Indians con-artist now, but the whole world’s collection of err… artists! Imagine for instance, what would happen if the supremely talented people who gave the world ‘Stigmata’ (of Christianity) were to give Vaishnavism a whirl!

    Apart from my reasons for not believing this reincarnation tale, which I have elaborated in the article above, my primary objection to the reincarnation issue is as such: Today it’s just an obscure brahmachari who has ‘reincarnated.’ Who is to say that tomorrow stalwart devotees of the past, including venerable masters will not be dug out and made to forcibly reincarnated in a similar fashion? Would we still be hearing the belligerent ‘why not’ from the sentimental-secularist-brigade as we do now? I sincerely hope not.


  32. Jeevanmukta Das says :


    Therefore I say, be wary of anyone who reincarnates, or bleeds, or excessively cries (within reason of course!) or falls of vyasasna in a swoon, or uses subtle means to project a ‘holier than thou’ image by mannerisms or by writes soppy articles, or hints at ‘I have deeper manjari bhava to offer (indeed!),’ or flaunts a PhD, or promotes so-called secularism or the democratic process (which I predict will do untold damage in the years to come), or is flamboyant or uses some other idiosyncrasy to beguile us.

    As the wild boar freezes to evaluate his situation, pause, evaluate, ask yourself if this divinely sweet gift of love from Goloka (Golokera prema dhana) we call Krishna Consciousness is secure, and if need be, be not afraid to take charge. Be vigilant, be very wary. Indeed, if we want this to last 10000 years, then we must rigorously use the ‘PERFECT GENTLEMEN’ template put in place by Pramahamsa AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to gauge the teachers… and his books of course, to gauge the teachings.

    Once again, my sincere apologies to RDD, but then again, this is no longer about you sweetheart. HK.

  33. Abhaya Mudra Dasi says :

    Dear Jeevamukta Prabhu,

    Bharata Maharaja was the emperor of of the whole world. This Earth was called Bharata varsha because of him, yet at the time of death he was thinking of a deer and became a deer. But this deer was not ordinary and was always looking for the association of devotees. In his even next life Bharata Maharaja became Jata Bharata, a brahmana who was considered slow (deaf and dumb.) He taught the science of bhakti to king Rahugana who was the only one to recognize the greatness of the devotee in the former Bharata Maharaja.

    It seems that external circumstances have nothing to do with spiritual advancement. Shri Krishna is tricky. He is the Supreme enjoyer. He can test His devotees in manifold fashions. He can even appear in front of them unrecognized. That happened. It is accounted for in Srimad-Bhagavatam.

    After Radharani left the rasa dance at a point when the gopis were looking for Shri Krishna He appeared in front of them in the form of Narayan. The gopis dismissed Him as being different from Shri Krishna. They did not recognize Him. But Srimati Radharani immediately melted Narayan’s two extra hands. Sri Krishna cannot hide form Her love the way a person cannot hide from his own self.

    It is a question what we want. If we simply want Shri Krishna, then we will be able to undergo all the test He wants to put us trough. He may want us to become the lowest or the highest, an insect or the king of heaven. And without attachment we should accept all the tests with one though in mind, “I only want you Krishna”.

  34. Patita Pavana says :

    My dear Jeevanmmukta,

    You claim outright to know what Shrila Prabhupada desired and what is good for this movement. You claim Ratnavali is being misled by her elders. Do you think that you alone know the mind of the paramahamsa?. Therefore allow me to inquire when Prabhupada devised you to demean chaste women (whose very feet we honor) with terms like “Sweetheart.” Were we ordered to respect women as our mother or wantonly address them with intimate terms so as to cause public embarrassment? Such a false display of affection on your part exposes the shallowness contained in your apology. One who refers to chaste lady devotees as Sweetheart is reprehensible and shameful. That egoist who does not honor and respect the mothers of this movement is not a proper gentleman. And a Vaishnava must be a proper gentleman.

    Who is the misleader here?

    Patita Pavana das Adhikary

  35. veda says :

    this discussion is really getting sad – maybe we should stop pretending to be twice born or vaisnavas – finding faults in each other and throwing philosophy at one another to try to prove that i’m right and you’re wrong is sad – what example are you setting to the world – i can’t say that i know what srila prabhupada wanted but i’d be surprised that this is an example of it.

  36. Kulapavana says :

    It takes great courage to share a personal reincarnation story, as Ratnavali devi dasi did. And the response this story generated in our community will make it unlikely that other devotees will share their own reincarnation experiences. Such stories are not as rare as many people think, and they are very valuable since they provide both knowledge and inspiration in devotional life. Rest assured, devotees blesed with such first hand glimpses of reincarnation will not share them with you. I know I won’t. I do not have the courage of Mother Ratnavali.

    Sometimes in our pursuit of ‘absolute truth’ we end up smashing individual lives because they seem to run contrary to our ideas of what this ‘absolute truth’ is supposed to be. Perhaps we need to first ask ourselves, what is that we are really looking for? Truth, or pratistha? We can barely know the truth about our own life, what to speak of the truth about other people’s lives.

    Mother Ratnavali, I salute your courage. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.
    Your servant,

  37. pustakrishna says :

    There is all manner of places in Vaikuntha for the bhaktas. Many different relationships exist within the spiritual world. We read in the Jaiva Dharma about all manner of rasa, some of which seem antagonistic as well. Krishna is the enjoyer. Some will have place with Lord Vishnu (that is not an insult mind you) and some with Krishna, depending on His desire and our propensities of the soul. There is no harm to discuss the matters of the society of devotees. And, there is never need to become angry if one has not committed Vaishnava Aparadha. The “sweetheart” term is of course inappropriate and used in this context as a way to diminish the value of the person. But, in reality, it may be a form of upliftment also. If I had a sweet heart, perhaps I might attract the attention of Sri Krishna more effectively. Certainly, even in madness, as the Gopis conversing with bumble bees demonstrated, love for Krishna takes many, many forms. Again, it is note-worthy that one might consider themselves a bhakta in the previous lifetime.

    My old friend and Godbrother, His Grace Tamal Krishna Maharaj, and I had a conversation in Miami in 1976. We talked about Krishna consciousness taking many lifetimes. “Tamal” as we called him affectionately said to me…”I am afraid to think what I might have been in my past life”. It can work both ways you see.

    Rest assured that no harm comes to the movement by speculations such have taken place here in this blog. Many good ideas have come out, and I am always inspired to read what others have to say and contribute, and I am inspired what comes to me also by these discussions. Hare Krishna. Pusta Krishna das…and yes, I have a PhD in Medicine (MD)

  38. Jeevanmukta Das says :

    We all reincarnate, but the issue here is can we remember a past birth? Anticipating this query, Krishna unambiguously states:

    bahuni me vyatitani, janmani tava carjuna, tany aham veda sarvani, na tvam vettha parantapa. [BG 4.5]

    Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!

    So, ‘na tvam vetta!’

    Na=not, tvam= yourself, vettha=know. Translation: HUMANS CANNOT REMEMBER.

    In short Krishna unambiguously states: NO WAY, ABSOLUTELY NOT. ONLY I, GOD, CAN REMEMBER!

    By the way, this verse is what I call a ‘fool-proofing’ verse. Alternatively, you may call it a, ‘me cheese you chalk’ verses. There are many such ‘fool-proofing or me cheese you chalk’ verses and they serve to protect the Lord’s station when he takes birth amongst humans. I am sure you are familiar with the ‘fools deride me….etc., etc.’ verse. Basically, these verse differentiate between God and man. And surprise, surprise, remembering past lives is one such talent the Lord exclusively reserves for himself and tags this ability as a meaning by which a learned person can differentiate between man and God.

    In fact, the above verse is exclusively spoken to plug the reincarnation scam. It is not bendable and absolutely no one (however long he is been in ISKCON) can smuggle a few humans past these injunction. In short, the claim, ‘‘x’ remembering a ‘y’’ past-life is contrary to a key ‘fool-proofing’ shastric injunction. That being the case, please be assured that the Lord is not be amused by such a stunt, and in fact calls people who tries it, ‘fools,’ (something he rarely does!) and generally tries his best to avoid getting into such a mess.

    True, Bharata maharaj was given special mercy to recall his past live. But that does not transpire that ordinary people can do so by accident. On the contrary, I am sure that there is a whole department up there that ensures that such accident does not take place! Similarly, Krishna gave Arjuna special vision to see his divine virat-rupa. Vyasdeva gave Sanjaya a special ability to see what is going on at the battlefield at Kurukshetra and so on. These however were all special mercies… and whenever it was bestowed, it is specifically proclaimed, “And, now I give you divine eyes!

  39. pustakrishna says :

    Good verses which I also brought up earlier in this discourse. But…also, remember this:
    sarvasya ca aham hridi sannivisthto
    matah smritir jnanam apo hanam ca

    Krishna is within each and every one’s heart, and from Him comes remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.

    We want to grasp Krishna by listening to one verse, or another…and then we see another sloka that throws some controversy into what we have previously understood. The reason I bring this up is to expound upon Krishna’s special mercy upon His devotees. We cannot fence Krishna in, we cannot place Him into a folder and close the drawer thinking that we have captured Him. Mother Yashoda tried to tie Him up, only to attract His mercy and finally allow Him to be tied up…due to the love of Yashoda.

    Again, I do not think that we jeapardize Lord Chaitanya’s movement by these discussions. But, we have to conclude that we know that we have all passed many many births, and here we are now, and by the mercy of Sri Guru Vaishnava, we are so fortunate to be engaged in Lord Chaitanya’s Sankirtan Movement. The jiva soul, after all, if very very tiny, only 1/10,000th the tip of a hair. Very small indeed.

    Should have included this controversy on its website? In my opinion, yes. It stimulated so many good thoughts, perhaps softened more hearts than it hardened. But, in the end, we have the sagely wisdom of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur…”Forget the past it sleeps, and never the future dream at all. Live in times that are with thee, and progress thee shall call.” Hare Krishna. Pusta Krishna das

  40. Akruranatha says :

    Jeevanmukta Prabhu is putting an interesting gloss on B.G. 4.5, but I do not think it withstands scrutiny.

    Srila Prabhupada’s Purport emphasizes that the verse demonstrates the difference between the part-and-parcel living entity and the Supreme Lord, but he does not go so far as to say no part-and-parcel living entity ever remembers anything from a past birth. That would be reading something into the verse that is not there.

    Maharaja Bharata in the Fifth Canto of Bhagavatam is just one of many instances in the Puranas and epics where living entities remember previous births. Narada Muni also tells of a past birth a maidservant’s son in the First Canto, and as a gandharva in the Ninth Canto. Really, there are many such stories in our authoritative scriptures.

    Now, I agree we should not align ourselves too closely with the new age past-life regression fad, because if it turns out (as in many cases it probably will) to be based on imagination and auto-suggestion that might make our belief in reincarnation also seem like a hoax.

    On the other hand, we should not look a gift horse in the mouth. If these fads (or the scientific research of Dr. Ian Stevenson and similar researchers) are encouraging the people of the world to believe in reincarnation, we can say that, regardless of the validity of the research or the methods used by others, we have positive, scientific knowledge of reincarnation based on our revealed scriptures and the direct realizations of those who practice Krishna consciousness. Reincarnation is a fact.

    I would like to take this opportunity to plug the efforts of His Grace Jnanagamya Das who has written a screenplay for a light romantic comedy movie involving a Hare Krishna devotee artist and an heiress who had a relationship (with reversed genders) carried over from a previous life. (She was previously a Taoist master in Southeast Asia and he was a nun who saved his life along with the lives of a number of his followers).

    And yes, some past-life regression therapy is involved. It is a good screenplay and if he can raise the money he needs and it can become popular it will be a vehicle for giving people a glimpse into the world of Hare Krishna, seeing Ratha Yatra and chanting, while being entertaining and not too preachy or taking itself too seriously.

    The title of Jnanagamya’s movie is “Celibate In Chelsea”. Please go to for more information and to watch trailers. They are looking for investors.

  41. Patita Pavana says :

    Gita Class Featuring Ratnavali on Dandavats.

    The our sadhu Godbrother Sureshwara das Prabhu ‘s Skype class featuring Ratnavali and her story is now posted on Dandavats. (Go to the moving Ads at the top). Those members of the sangha who appreciate truth and enjoy encouraging our fellow ISKCON family members will love this insightful discussion.

    Sureshwara Prabhu notes that that those grounded in guru/sadhu/shastra will likely appreciate the class, and those who aren’t will continue to speculate/vituperate.

    He recalls Britain’s mystic poet William Blake:

    Both read the Gita day and night/But you read black where I read white.

    -Patita Pavana das

  42. Kulapavana says :

    Jeevanmukta: “In short Krishna unambiguously states: NO WAY, ABSOLUTELY NOT. ONLY I, GOD, CAN REMEMBER! ”
    No, this is NOT what He is saying. He is saying that Arjuna can’t remember his past lives. Yours is purely creative writing.
    There are many, many documented cases of people (especially young children) remembering their past lives.

  43. Patita Pavana says :

    Kulapavana das Prabhuji,

    Please accept my dandavats. Prabhupada ki jai. I’ve been wanting to meet you on line for some time. If you like, please contact me at Nothing like sadhu sangha to refine our understanding of Guru-Gauranga seva!

    Your humble servant,
    Patita Pavana das Adhikary

  44. Prabhava Vigraha das says :

    In reference to comment # 38. “In short Krishna unambiguously states: NO WAY, ABSOLUTELY NOT. ONLY I, GOD, CAN REMEMBER! ”

    We take it as a fact that only Krishna can remember all His appearances and that in general all ordinary living entities cannot remember to such an extent the entirety of their past lives. That is correct. But that does not mean that no human being can at all not remember one particular past life. It is to be understood from Vedic literatures that such rememberance is possible in some particular cases for souls blessed by God.

    In the following excerpt from Krishna book, Chapter 64, Srila Prabhupada explains how King Nriga could retain memory of his past life. After being delivered by Krishna from his lizard body, King Nriga addressed the following prayer to Lord Krishna. Please find herewith the excerpt below:

    “Somehow or other, as a result of his pious activities, King Nriga had aspired to see the Lord. He continued to say: ”My dear Lord, I had a great desire that someday I might be able to see You personally. I think that my tendency to perform ritualistic and charitable activities, combined with this great desire to see You personally, has enabled me to retain the memory of who I was in my former life, even though I became a lizard.“ (Such a person, who remembers his past life, is called jati-smara.) ”My dear Lord, You are the Supersoul seated in everyone’s heart. There are many great mystic yogis who have eyes to see You through the Vedas and Upanishads. In order to achieve the elevated position of being equal in quality with You, they always meditate on You within their hearts. Although such exalted saintly persons may see You constantly within their hearts, they still cannot see You eye to eye; therefore I am very much surprised that I am able to see You personally. I know that I was engaged in so many activities, especially as a king. Although I was in the midst of luxury and opulence and was subjected to so much of the happiness and misery of material existence, I am so fortunate to be seeing You personally. As far as I know, when one becomes liberated from material existence, he can see You in this way.“


  45. Prabhava Vigraha das says :

    We have to be very careful in our understanding of scriptures. It is a very dangerous business to twist meanings to suit one’s own on-the-fly purposes. Individuals who do that are be called veda-vada-ratas. These men are described in the purport Sri Isopanisad, mantra 9, “According to the Bhagavad-gita (2.42, 7.15), mistaken mundane educators are known as veda-vada-rata and mayayapahrita-jñana. They may also be atheistic demons, the lowest of men. Those who are veda-vada-rata pose themselves as very learned in the Vedic literature, but unfortunately they are completely diverted from the purpose of the Vedas. In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15) it is said that the purpose of the Vedas is to know the Personality of Godhead, but these veda-vada-rata men are not at all interested in the Personality of Godhead. On the contrary, they are fascinated by such fruitive results as the attainment of heaven.” There is another explanation of veda-vada-rata in the purport of Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.21.25: “Those who are veda-vada-rata claim that religious scriptures are meant to facilitate sense gratification in the ignorance of conditioned life. The true goal of religion, however, is spiritual liberation, in which material sense gratification ceases to exist. The darkness of bodily attachment cannot exist in the effulgent light of spiritual knowledge. In the ocean of spiritual bliss, the anxiety-ridden apparent pleasure of this world vanishes completely. The true meaning of veda, or perfect knowledge, is to surrender to the Supreme Lord in full Krsna consciousness for an eternal life of bliss and knowledge as the Lord’s faithful servant.”


  46. Prabhava Vigraha das says :

    On the bodily platform there is all opportunity for envy and sense gratification. Anything can go, it is a free for all. The only problem is that there are reactions for every foolish activity performed on this platform. All such activities are under the control of the law of karma.

    On the spiritual platform there is no such binding. This is the platform of genuiness. The platform of the soul proper acting in his original relationship with God, Krishna. On that platform there are unliminted numbers of bona fide, trusworthy, respectable devotees. Such devotees are described as santas, peaceful; and as sadhavas, faithful followers of scriptures. These are some basic characteristics of sadhus as described by Lord Kapila (SB.3.25.21). It is our privilege to be contact with these teachings kindly given to us by Srila Prabhupada and it is actually our duty to understand them in their proper light and to come to par with them through our own example inspired by our heartfelt following them. This will allow us to lead a peaceful spiritual life as opposed from an ever disturbed or disturbing forgetful life in materialism or, in other word, on the bodily platform of life.

    No offense intended, we beg for forgiveness if any. Our intention is into contrasting some concepts or nuances of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. We have faith that devotees are devotees and that they are always under protection of the Lord. Whatever little imperfections here and there are subject for correction in due course of time. We are only instruments in the hands of the Lord at all times. But as humble devotees we can recognize the hand of the Lord when we prove to the Lord that we are welcoming such corrections as thought by Providence. We don’t mind them at all actually. It is part of our sadhana to pay attention to improper behaviors described in the scriptures in order to avoid them in our own life in all earnestness. That is part of being a faithful servant of the Lord.

  47. Brijlata dasi says :

    Part 1

    Hare Krsna Jeevan Mukta Prabhu,
    pamho. AGTSP!
    I think it is quite good to question things as we learn, and grow in Krsna Consciousness. However, there is a way to question devotees. A certain standard of Vaisnava etiquette that should be followed.
    Personally, if I had any doubts regarding the Diary of Ratnavali Devi Dasi (and may I add – I have no doubts), then I would have approached this topic quite differently. If I have any issue, or question for anyone, devotee or not, I think the best way is to approach the devotee(s) involved directly. This is the proper way. I would have requested Ratnavali Mataji to answer my questions, and I would have asked Patita Pavan Prabhu and Abhaya Mataji for further clarification, revealing my heart and mind to them.
    I am, after all, not an expert on Vedic Astrology. I do have any qualification in this regard, nor do I have years of experience in this regard. I certainly am not empowered. However, I do understand that this is a Vedic science, and one of our most highly regarded Vedic sciences.
    If I would question, I would be open to hearing the answers as well. This is the correct way to question. We do not question to fight, or create doubt, etc.. We question, to learn and to understand.

    brijlata dasi

  48. Brijlata dasi says :

    Part 2 :

    Secondly, I think that to simply overlook, or disregard the words of Srila Prabhupada – to try to interpret them to suit oneself is not correct. I agree with Prabhava Vigraha Prabhu, that we cannot doubt Srila Prabhupada’s exact words. I do not see that Srila Prabhupada’s words are open for interpretation. They are, to me, quite simple and straightforward. He is the authority, and we accept the words as they are.
    I am also in agreement with Abhaya Mataji, regarding how many many divine souls have to wait many years… Krsna is not as easy to attain as we all would like to feel. We have much work to do, much to prove as disciples, and grand disciples. Who knows how long, for how many lifetimes, we have already been trying to reach Krsna? Who knows for how many more lifetimes we need to live, before we are able to go back Home?
    If Krsna would like us to remember a past life, who can stop Him?
    If Krsna would like us to forget everything, who can stop Him?
    He is the cause of both.. as we know.
    If, as we know, the sons of Kuvera were allowed to remember their previous lives, can we really question if a devotee of Krsna can remember as well? Who, exactly, are we to question this, if Krsna, has allowed it?
    If anything, the Diary of Ratnavali mataji is most welcomed, as it serves to build our faith and understanding, in the process of Krsna Consciousness – the science thereof – not the religion.
    If we happen to have the doubt, we can question of course – but please do this with the correct etiquette and process in mind.

    brijlata dasi

  49. gourgopal.brs says :

    Dear Jeevanmukta prabhu,

    Your article begins is founded, begins and ends with blasphemy. The very title of the article “…Myth” shows your challenging attitude, which should not be the case. Naturally the follow up is just a building up on that “challenge”. The real knowledge comes when we know to respect vaishnavas. But I am sorry to say your article along with comments are anything but that.
    Further when it comes to remembering the past lives, you have your own concocted interpretation of the Lord’s words. There are many instances when people have remembered their previous birth even in the scriptures. Besides the interesting examples given by HG Abhayamudra mataji, I think you should just read the story of Nalakuvera and Manigriva.
    Manigriva and Nalakuvera were cursed by Narada muni that they should become immovable living entities or trees. Although tress are covered by the mode of ignorance, they can not do harm. The great sage Narada thought it fitting that, although the brothers would be punished to become trees, by HIS MERCY THEY WOULD CONTINUE TO KEEP THEIR MEMORY AND BE ABLE TO KNOW WHY THEY WERE BEING PUNISHED.
    After changing the body a living entity generally forgets his previous life, but in Special cases, by the GRACE OF THE LORD, as with Nalakuvera and Manigriva, one can remember.
    I fail to understand that even after knowing all these still we try to mis-interpret the quotes of Shastra and present them in front of the general people just to fight.
    I request you to keep the sanctity of Dandavats.
    Aspiring to serve,
    Gour Gopal Das, Secunderabad

  50. Patita Pavana says :

    Answer to Lochananda das # 26,

    My dear Lochananda Prabhuji,
    Dandavatts to you. You mentioned your harinama party. Was that you I saw in the Youtube video (I accessed it on, “Ecstatic Hari Nama in Israel”). Fantastic. Just like Thompkins Square Park. We haven’t met in some 35 years, and I never knew you had such a rich voice. You say that you would like to have Ratnavali on your party, playing caratals. Why not invite her? You can contact her through me at

    What devotee would not love your hari nama party? I woould.

    Your servant in Prabhupada as always,
    Patita Pavana das Adhikary

  51. Prabhava Vigraha das says :

    Whenever I think of or read Loacananda’s name, that is synonym of very nice souvenirs of a very dedicated ecstatic devotee, 100% loyal to the mission of Srila Prabhupada. In my eyes, expert mridanga and harmonium player. Very sweet harinam kirtans especially in company of other very nice sankirtan devotees such as Indradyumna, Yogeswara, Bhagavan, Harivilas, Bhugarba in Paris either at Le Marché aux Puces or at the Sacré-Coeur, or in the Latin Quarter, or in the temple room at 4 rue Le Sueur.

  52. Akruranatha says :

    A TV news report of a boy whose family believes he is the reincarnation of a WWII fighter pilot named James Houston can be seen here:

    Now, this one instance may be a hoax. Many similar instances have been researched and I watched a whole documentary about such instances at one point.

    It is possible that such empirical evidence does not tally with what we can learn about the mechanics of reincarnation from our revealed scriptures. If so, what should we do, as a preaching strategy?

    I do not see any point in leading a charge against the validity of such instances. After all, they may serve at least to strengthen the public’s general acceptance of the idea of reincarnation.

    We might want to back off from claiming that instances such as the boy in the Fox news report above are “proof” of reincarnation, or even be careful in citing them as important evidence. (I remember there was a BTG article some years back about the research of Australian dermatologist Ian Stevenson and his assistants.)

    On the other hand, I think we should point out that such instances exist and that some people find them to be persuasive evidence that the phenomenon of reincarnation described in Bhagavad-gita and other authoritative scriptures does in fact occur.

  53. scooty.ram says :

    Dear Akruranatha prabhu,

    You had menioned :
    “It is possible that such empirical evidence does not tally with what we can learn about the mechanics of reincarnation from our revealed scriptures. If so, what should we do, as a preaching strategy?”

    Satyam Vada, Dharamam Cara is the vedic statement.
    Srila Prabhupada never encouraged empirical philosophers.

    At this juncture , we have to resort to “Athato Brahma Jijnasa”
    And the jijnasa should take us to Veda. This is called Faith.Faith means faith in Sastras
    When we are confused about something , we should resort to our scriptures which will clarify the Adrishta, the unseen.

    It is the same revealed scripture which talks about re-incarnation as well as the process behind it. We should accept both with equal faith.We should not accept re-incarnation ignoring the science behind re-birth.We should accept the information on how a soul is born.We should accept how a soul leaves a body and gets a new bidy.It is all well defined and it is a science.

    To accept some part of the scripture and reject something else is not a good proposition.

    There is no limit to intepretation.
    We can interpret Srila Prabhupada’s comment on Sri Raghavas death to mean that Sri Raghava would take birth in the same planet where Sri Krishna takes incarnation and in the womb of a Pure devotee.This could also mean ‘Being in Krishna consciousness’

    My personal opinion is that the time for transfer of a soul from one body to another is much more than the gap between Sri Raghava’s death and Matajai’s birth.


  54. Akruranatha says :

    Haribol Scooty.Ram,

    Yes, of course our authority for understanding the science of reincarnation is the revealed scriptures and the great sages who can perceive exactly what is taking place and how and why and when, and have written about it in the sastras.

    My comment was directed more to whether it was a good strategy to try to “expose” cases that empirically support the factual occurrence of transmigration of souls, to simply ignore them without comment, or to just occasionally acknowledge them without endorsing them as necessarily true or as the basis for our belief in reincarnation.

    My own opinion is, the last option is best. It is not why we accept reincarnation, it is not one of our principle arguments, but it is something there, in the mix, that other people may find interesting if not persuasive. It is not the first thing I would discuss with someone out of the box, but when the issue arises I will acknowledge I have heard of these cases and many seem to be well-documented and difficult to explain.

    “Srila Prabhupada never encouraged empirical philosophers.” Well, they do not need to be encouraged, but learning from direct sense perception goes on all the time, and Srila Prabhupada merely pointed out that this was a less reliable form of evidence than Vedic sabda. It is still one of the most basic ways of learning.

    That is to say, whether we encourage it or not, empirical evidence is going to be very persuasive to most people, and plays a very active role in how people form their beliefs and their faith, even devotees.

    Empirical evidence is not sufficient to understand Krishna. It also is imperfect and has to take a back seat to unimpeachable statements that are free from the four defects. However, it is all around us and we rely on it every day.

    “My personal opinion is that the time for transfer of a soul from one body to another is much more than the gap between Sri Raghava’s death and Matajai’s birth.”

    I do think, independent of this particular case, it would be interesting to hear thoughtful and friendly discussion of authoritative Vedic evidence concerning the process of transfer into the next womb, how long it usually takes, whether there are exceptions, etc. I admit I do not know much about these things.

    However, I was surprised at the partisan vehemence with which some of the authors attacked this issue of Ratnavali. There also seems to be an old and bitter rival between certain devotee astrologers at work here, sadly.

  55. scooty.ram says :

    Dear Akruranatha prabhu,

    Thank you for the response.

    All material evidences are destroyed by time.
    Hence we stress on Veda since they are eternal. Whenever the ‘text’ of the veda or its ‘purport’ is lost , Lord incarnates as Sri Matsya or Sri Krishna.

    Ultimately the presence of soul or any other spiritual substance can never be proved scientifically .

    BG 2.25
    “As far as the soul’s existence is concerned, no one can establish his existence experimentally beyond the proof of sruti, or Vedic wisdom. We have to accept this truth, because there is no other source of understanding the existence of the soul, although it is a fact by perception. There are many things we have to accept solely on grounds of superior authority.”

    The knowledge of birth and death is always a secret.No amount of material testimony can prove these things. It is the will of the creator to keep them as secret .Only few yogis can tap to the hidden past.
    Faith is a spiritual gift that is obtained by a fortunate soul.

    Intermittently we can resort to ‘material’ evidences to get the preaching/ faith going for sometime. The real test is passed when we accept veda as the words of God and abide by it word to word in mood of pure devotion.

    Never will astrologers, lawyers, scientist, munis(sages)agree things on a common ground.

    Garuda purana and other text talk about the travel of the soul.
    Just like development of a child in a womb is scientific and each stage of growth has a specific time , so is the journey of a soul.Its time is predefined. We can not use the case of Gandhari or Jada bharatha or Sri Sukadeva since they are exceptions


  56. Madhavananda Das (Orissa) says :

    Can someone *prove* this particular story one way or the other? I think not. Does it have any value then? I strongly think it does, if it inspires some readers to believe, or believe more seriously that they are not their body — then very good!

    Let’s not forget that amongst other sources, Srila Prabhupada sometimes told stories from:

    * A Charlie Chaplin movie he had seen.

    * From the Bengali Kritivasa Ramayana (about Ravana building a staircase to the heavenly planets, and about Ravana’s uncle Mahiravana, neither of which are mentioned in Valmiki Ramayan).

    * The stories of Birbal.

    He also cited other references, which were neither Vedic, nor provable by modern empiricism.

    I would suggest that Srila Prabhupada used them, because he found some element in the stories to inspire us in bhakti. Similarly if this story inspires even one person in their bhajan — very good.

    Some may protest that it may cause a bad name to our society. However, in my mind that doesn’t seem like a very valid concern. Preaching means getting on stage and doing your dance. Some dance well and some poorly. Each preacher/performer will naturally be judged as individuals. ISKCON is a big society with many dynamic ways of preaching. If something works, why stop it?

    If our concern is over secular scholars etc criticizing ISKCON over this, just point out to them, that this article is not an official ISKCON publication. It’s the realization/ideas of one individual.

    Bas, finished. What’s the problem?

    My thanks to Abhay Mudra and Patit Pavan Prabhu for this delightful and inspiring article.