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MEANING AND VERACITY OF PAST LIFE REMEMBRANCES

By Bhakti Prabhava Swami
Since my early childhood, various experiences have given rise to thoughts of previous
lives. I was born in July 1960, the fifth child of a Flemish Catholic middle class couple, in
Haren, a suburb of the Belgian capital city, Brussels. In the early 1960s, the population
of Haren was about 3,400. The majority of the villagers were of white ethnic origin and
from a Flemish Catholic background. Non-white immigrants, with the exception of a
handful of North Africans, were rarely seen in Haren in those days. My family had a big
house in the centre of the village just opposite the city Hall and the parish church.

St Elisabeth, parish church, Haren (Brussels)

One day, when I was about two years old I saw, for the first time, a black African man
outside the entrance to the local church. The sight filled me with fear and made me cry
hysterically. My parents could not understand why I was so distressed.
During my early childhood, around the ages of two to four, but also later on during my
youth, I had several dreams and nightmares on recurring themes. They were not the
usual kind of dreams that are irrational and meaningless. Rather, they represented
images, apparently emerging from my sub-conscious. It often occurred, in these dreams,
that I was sitting at a dining table with many family members and an important guest, a
Christian monk, who was praying aloud. In other dreams I would find myself in a variety
of monasterial buildings practising prayers and penances.

From an early age I have had problems with, sometimes severe, pain in my throat,
behind my eyes and in a part of my brain that is susceptible to migraine. I remember my
childhood generally as an unhappy time, despite the endeavours of my parents to give
me a good Christian education, for which I am grateful. All failure of their good intentions
certainly lies in me.

One night, when I was near the age of adolescence, I had a particular nightmare that
struck me so deeply that I continued to remember it in detail. In the dream I saw myself
as a monk, with short white hair and a short beard, wearing a crucifix on my chest. I
found myself inside a semi-circular building with high ceilings and big windows. I was
walking up and down through the building, in great anxiety, waiting to board a flight. But
seemingly someone had confiscated my passport (It is noteworthy that, at the time of my
life when I had this dream, I had no experience of flying on airplanes). It was extremely
hot and the fans on the ceiling were not moving. After I had waited for a long period of
time, a black man in military uniform indicated to me that I should follow him. We went

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outside the circular shaped building and entered an adjacent building at the right side of
the terminal. There, another black man, keeping my passport in his hand, interrogated
me. I was then guided to a military truck along with many others. A strong smell of
kerosene mixed with human sweat impregnated the truck. Packed with civilians, the
military vehicle was driven for a considerable period of time through searing tropical
heat. Then, armed black soldiers forced us from the truck and made us walk towards
some fields. This walk in the scorching sun was almost unbearable. Finally, in the middle
of the agricultural fields we were told to stop and stand in a line with our hands in the air.
Just then a soldier came over to me, put his rifle in my mouth and pulled the trigger.
Then my nightmare ended and I woke up. For years I pondered the meaning of this
seemingly realistic dream.

In August 1996 I had my first trip to India. As I landed on Indian soil I had my first
experience of a sub-tropical climate. The tropical heat and flora felt familiar - a déjà-vu
experience. My curiosity led me to do some research and gradually I started to see links
between the events. In 1959, especially in January and November, there were riots in
Leopoldville (Kinshasa), Belgian Congo.1 The New York Times, 3 November, 1959,
reports:
STANLEYVILLE, Belgian Congo, Nov. 2 (Reuters) -- African unrest was
reported spreading outside this riot-torn town today on the eve of a Belgian
parliamentary debate on the Congo's future.2

Hereafter I have included pictures of the Ndjili Airport Terminal in Leopoldsville
(Kinshasa). The new airport building was opened in 1958 and it is circular shaped. The
picture inside the terminal building shows the high ceilings and big windows. The third
picture shows the adjacent buildings at the right side of the terminal.

Source: http://kosubaawate.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/leopoldville-1959-tale-of-two-airports.html;
last accessed on June 10, 2017 – Airport.

1 Source:

https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=1959%20Léopoldville%20Riots&item_type=t
opic; last accessed on June 23, 2017.
2
Source:
http://www.nytimes.com/1959/11/03/archives/unrest-spreads-in-belgian-congo-strikes-
and-pillage-reported-on-eve.html?_r=0; last accessed on June 23, 2017.

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Source: http://kosubaawate.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/leopoldville-1959-tale-of-two-airports.html;
last accessed on June 10, 2017 – Airport – adjacent buildings at the right.

Source: http://kosubaawate.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/leopoldville-1959-tale-of-two-airports.html;
last accessed on June 10, 2017. Inside the circle shaped airport terminal.

The above information strongly suggests that I was a Flemish Christian missionary in
Belgian Congo in my previous life and that I was murdered in 1959 during the riots and
unrest leading up to the independence of Congo - officially confirmed on 29 June 1960.
Due to my attachment for my homeland, I returned to Belgium, not by airplane, but by
transmigration of the soul. The reason for my hysterical crying at the age of two, upon
seeing a black man, is easily explained by the story leading to my death some time in
1959. The dreams of my presence in monasteries and the visiting Christian monk in the
family suggest my religious inclinations. The familiarity with a (sub-) tropical climate upon
my first arrival in India in 1996 is explained. The frequently occurring pain in my throat,
behind my eyes and in a certain area in my brain, is possibly due to the shock that my

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subtle body would have undergone when the bullet, shot through the rifle gun loop,
passed through the throat and into the brain.

When I was a teenager I had another dream, suggesting a close-to-death experience in
a previous life. In that dream I was an old woman with long white hair, lying on a bed in a
side room of a small house and preparing for my last breath. During this short dream I
had an awareness of what was in the adjacent room and beyond. At one side of that
room there was a stove and above it was a wooden crucifix. In the middle of the room
was a large wooden table. Two windows admitted plenty of light and the window frames
supported multiple stained glass elements. Heavy rain splashed against the windows,
obscuring the sight of a small garden with a rocky path, ending at an ocean

Floor plan of the house.

In the purport of Bhagavad-gita 7.14 Srila Prabhupada writes:
“The living entities belong to the eternal superior nature of the Lord, but due to
contamination by the inferior nature, matter, their illusion is also eternal. The conditioned
soul is therefore called nitya-baddha, or eternally conditioned. No one can trace out the
history of his becoming conditioned at a certain date in material history.”

This indicates that knowing the history of previous lives is unnecessary. Even if we do
know something about them - what about the thousands of other lives we went through?
Bhagavad-gita 8.15 describes the material world as duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam, a

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temporary place full of misery. That is, in essence, what the above experiences
demonstrate and certain elements of the Congo story are in line with the process of
transmigration. Bhagavad-gita 8.6 explains: Whatever state of being one remembers
when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.

The attachment to my homeland (Flanders) and my affinity for the Catholic faith brought
me to take birth in a family of devout Flemish Catholics near to the Belgian capital.
However, due to persisting karmic reactions, possibly due to participation in meat eating,
I had a miserable youth. The stories also demonstrate that after many births of religious
practice, by the grace of Srila Prabhupada, I was finally introduced to the science of self-
realisation, and was set on the path of true religion.

Scientific studies of reincarnation show that a high incidence of violent deaths are
remembered and that the mode of death is frequently recalled. Verifiable details have
been reported many times. Dr. Ian Stevenson, who chronicled a total of more than three
thousand reports of reincarnation, indicated that certain birthmarks, scars and birth
defects resulted from occurrences in previous lives. From the Vedic literature we know
that the gross body is built upon a subtle body, which accompanies the spiritual soul (the
source of consciousness) through the transmigration from body to body.

Modern science has yet to reach knowledge of the subtle plane of existence. Most
scientists cannot understand how the transmigration of the soul takes place. They see
the gross body but they are blind to the subtle body and the spirit soul. Infatuated by
pride, lust, greed and fear, they forget their inherited spiritual nature, which is eternal, full
of knowledge and bliss. Disconnected from their innate spiritual self they enter a
dreamlike world of illusion. Identifying with temporary forms of matter, the conditioned
living entity is suffering and is afraid of death. Only Lord Krishna, and His representative,
the spiritual master, can wake up the bewildered living entity from this dream, and
engage him in loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Once the spirit soul
reconnects with Lord Krishna, the source of all eternal spiritual happiness, he attains
supreme inner peace, happiness and fulfilment, and transcends the material plan of
temporary miserable existence.

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