In rare cases, though, memories may persist, as they apparently did with Sukla Gupta. Sukla remembered her home, her family, and her clothing from the previous life. She talked about the three saris she used to wear, especially the two made of fine Benares silk. And when she visited what she said was her former home, she found the saris stored in a trunk, jumbled in with clothing that belonged to others. She picked out the three saris she said were hers, and in fact they had been Mana’s.
Sukla talked about a brass pitcher in a particular room of the house. When she visited, the pitcher was still there. The room had been Mana’s bedroom, and Sukla correctly showed where Mana’s cot had previously been. And tears came to Sukla’s eyes when she saw her old sewing machine, the one that Mana had previously used.
But even if we forget our previous lives, they influence our present one nonetheless. The Bhagavad-gita says that it’s what we’ve done and thought in our past lives that determines what kind of body we start out with in this one. And by what we do in this life, we’re paving our way to the next.
According to the Bhagavad-gita, we’ve already been through many millions of lifetimes, and it’s possible we’ll have to go through many millions more. Some of them may be in human bodies and some in the bodies of lower forms like animals and trees.
But by spiritual realization, the Gita says, we can free ourselves from spinning through this endless cycle of incarnations. We can transcend material existence altogether and return to our eternal home, in the spiritual world with Krishna.
The Gita points out that each of us is eternal and Krishna is also eternal. And our real existence is our eternal life with Krishna.