To understand this article you will need to familiarise yourself with the following articles:
- Destiny and the Law of Karma
- The Law of Give-and-Take
- Sattva, Raja and Tama
- Where we go after death
- Purpose of life
1. Introduction to life before birth
Is this life all I have? Where do we come from before we are born? Where do I go after I die?
These questions will undoubtedly be familiar to almost all of us. Some time ago, we published an article on ‘What happens after death’. Through spiritual research we will cover our life before we are born in this 2 part series of articles. The two parts are:
- Part 1: The time before we are conceived
- Part 2: The time we are in the womb
The reason we have published both life before birth and life after death is because it brings to focus that we live our lives with consequences. The Law of Karma pervades our entire life. The life that we lead in our current birth decides the quality of our afterlife and subsequent births. Paradoxically while most people are interested in the spiritual life before birth and life after death, only a handful are interested in actually doing something about their spiritual life on Earth. This is so as to have a better afterlife and subsequent births and to ultimately get out of the cycle of birth and death.
2. Where are we before we are born?
After we die on Earth, we (i.e. our respective subtle bodies) go to one of the various subtle regions of the Universe depending on our spiritual level and merits and demerits. Here we stay for varied periods of time before we get a chance to be born back on Earth. (Refer to point 2.4 for which subtle region we are most likely to go to.)
2.1 Life before birth: Regions of Heaven and above
In the current times, only 2 out of every 100 of us will make it to the higher positive regions of the Universe such as Heaven (Swarga), Maharlok etc. In the higher regions of the Universe, the predominant experience is happiness and Bliss.
The rest of us go to either the Nether region (Bhuvarlok) or one of the regions of Hell (Pātāl). Here the predominant experience is unhappiness to extreme suffering.
2.2 Life before birth: The Nether world
The suffering experienced in the Nether region is generally far more than that in the Earth region (Bhūlok) as there is not much freewill. In the Nether region, 10% of the subtle bodies are guided by subtle bodies from higher regions such as Heaven and Maharlok. These subtle bodies are those of seekers with yearning for spiritual growth. Approximately 2% are controlled completely by destiny. Approximately 88% of subtle bodies are attacked by ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) and controlled by them. These subtle bodies are fully conscious that they are controlled by ghosts but can do little to fend them off as they do not have any spiritual strength of their own.
2.3 Life before birth: Regions of Hell
With regards to the Hell region, even the worst part of one’s life on Earth is better than what is experienced in the regions of Hell. In Hell subtle bodies are controlled 100% by higher level negative energies. As we go to the lower rungs of Hell, the suffering and pain is only amplified. We stay in the Nether region for approximately 50-400 years before we are eligible for rebirth on Earth. In the case of the Hell region, we can languish for thousands of years before we get an opportunity to be reborn.
2.4 Spiritual practice in the subtle regions
The following chart shows the likelihood of the subtle region we will go to after we die in current times.
The only thing that can alleviate the suffering in the lower subtle regions of the Universe is spiritual practice. However the likelihood of doing spiritual practice in the lower subtle regions of the Universe (i.e. the Nether and Hell regions) is next to nil. Intense suffering compounded by attacks from higher level ghosts make the environment impossible for spiritual practice as subtle bodies switch into survival mode to combat the harshness of the environment.
In the subtle region of Heaven, the happiness experienced is such that subtle bodies get caught up in its experience and hardly do any spiritual practice. So while subtle bodies can theoretically do spiritual practice in Heaven, the likelihood of actually doing it is minimal due to distractions of various pleasurable experiences.
Spiritual practice can be done and actually does happen only in the higher subtle regions of Maharlok to Satyalok. Subtle bodies in these regions do not have to be reborn on the Earth plane to settle their give-and-take accounts or to do spiritual practice.
Life on the Earth region is of great importance as it is the only plane where people from the lower regions can be born to do spiritual practice, complete their give-and-take and get outside the cycle of birth and death.
2.5 Do we know about our previous births while in the subtle planes?
The average subtle body generally remembers events only from its last birth on Earth. It does not remember births before that unless they are very notable. This is up to the time the subtle body is reborn on Earth again. Wanting to know about previous lives is not the highest item on our agenda in the Nether region or Hell. Avoiding unhappiness, fending off ghosts and the agony of being away from people that they are attached to are generally what occupy most subtle bodies in the Nether region.
2.5.1 Why do we not remember our previous births in this lifetime?
As we get involved with the world, we forget our previous life in the subtle regions and on Earth. Our physical senses strongly overshadow our sixth sense and we lose our ability to perceive our previous births. It is also God’s compassion for us that He has so arranged that we forget the previous lifetimes. Just imagine how difficult it would be to go about the day to day affairs of this life remembering past life events like the past birth relationships we had with the people in our life in this birth. For example, a father and son in this life could well have been husband and wife in an earlier life. Or a present life mother could have been responsible for the death of her present life daughter in a previous lifetime.
3. Why are we born on Earth?
We are born on Earth to settle our give-and-take account or Karma and to do spiritual practice. In the Nether region and Hell it is almost impossible to do spiritual practice so as to burn our give-and-take account.
Refer to the article on the purpose of life.
After the death of a person, being born on Earth again is not in the hands of the person (or rather his subtle body). Birth on the Earth plane is rare. For every entry of a subtle body into an embryo, millions of other subtle bodies compete to gain entry on Earth to experience worldly life. But it is only that subtle body that is destined to enter an embryo that will get birth on Earth.
4. What are the factors that decide when and where and to whom we are reborn on Earth
The two main factors that decide our birth on Earth are:
- Are the conditions on Earth conducive for settling our give-and-take account?
- Which region are we in prior to our birth on Earth?
4.1 The give and take account and rebirth
Our give-and-take account is the single most important factor that decides
- the time period when we are born on Earth and
- into which family etc.
Our give-and-take account decides the time of our conception right up to the year, month, hour, minute and second. This means that we take birth on Earth during that period when it is most conducive for us to complete a maximum amount of our accumulated give-and-take account. Hence we take birth at the same time when those people with whom we have major give-and-take accounts are around and also that external circumstances on Earth are conducive too. Let us take a look at the following example case-study:
Mr. A has cheated Mr. B of all his fortune. Thus Mr. A has created an adverse give-and-take account with Mr. B. If he dies without repaying this debt then he will have to be reborn to repay it and thus complete that account. Now to complete this, he will either have to be reborn immediately when Mr. B is still around or wait till such time that Mr. B is reborn. Also if Mr. A has further lived a life of fraudulent deals etc. he will have to face a life of major unhappiness in one or more of his rebirths to atone for this. Naturally he will have to be born during a period of general strife. Hence he cannot be born during relatively good times.
An important point about the give-and-take account is that it is not maintained in terms of how much money is to be returned etc. but in terms of units of unhappiness or happiness. In the above example if Mr. A by cheating Mr. B of a certain amount of money has been responsible for 1000 units of unhappiness to Mr. B then Mr. A may be reborn as mother and Mr. B as her child. The child (Mr. B in earlier birth) is born very loving and obedient and enjoys lot of love from the mother. He then dies in a fatal accident or brief illness at the age of say 10 years. By that time the mother has become quite attached to the child and his untimely death thus causes 1000 units of unhappiness to his now mother but earlier Mr. A.
The religion that we are born to takes a lesser priority as compared to the give-and-take account we have with the parents we are born to.
4.1.1 What decides which part of the accumulated account will play out as one’s destiny on Earth?
Here again the same rule applies: that part of the accumulated give-and-take account will be selected based on what can be maximally settled in the impending birth.
4.1.2 Can parents attract a more advanced and sattvik subtle body before conception through spiritual practice like chanting?
Yes, it is possible to attract a more advanced and more sāttvik subtle body into the womb through spiritual practice. This is only possible when parents are doing a considerable amount of spiritual practice, (i.e. a minimum of 4-5 hours a day according to the six basic principles of spiritual practice including the sacrifice of body, mind and wealth to serve God).
In the event of the spiritual practice by parents, suppose the first subtle body in line (according to the strength of give-and-take with the parent) to come into the womb is not that sattvik, then it will get superseded by the next most sattvik subtle body in line. Some of the characteristics of sattvik children are that they are well behaved, intelligent and well adjusted. There are also less chances of having physically and mentally challenged children. The reason for this is that people have challenged children due to negative destiny. Destiny is overcome through spiritual practice. If parents are doing a high amount of spiritual practice according to the six basic principles of spiritual practice then their negative destinies are reduced.
If a Saint (i.e. a person above the 70% spiritual level) is to be born then the spiritual level of the mother needs to be at least 50-60% to be able to bear the positivity of the baby. The mother’s spiritual level holds 70% importance as opposed to the father’s spiritual level.
4.1.3 What decides if one is born to wealthy families or to parents of a higher spiritual level?
If a subtle body has more merits it will generally be born in good conditions and into families that are well off. If the subtle body has an above average spiritual level, it will be born to parents that are of a higher spiritual level that will be able to nurture its spiritual growth. However Saints being born are beyond merits and demerits and can also be born into very poor families. This will depend on their mission on Earth.
4.2 Rebirth on Earth with respect to the region we are in before birth
The likelihood of being born on Earth is much lower when a subtle body is in the
- higher regions of the Universe such as Maharlok and above or
- lower regions such as the Hell region.
4.2.1 Rebirth from regions above Maharlok
As mentioned earlier when a subtle body attains the subtle regions of Maharlok and above they are beyond the 60% (samashṭi) or 70% (vyashṭi) spiritual level. At this spiritual level they attain Mukti or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Whatever remaining destiny they may have can be settled from the subtle region itself through spiritual practice.
People beyond the 60% ((samashti) or 70% ( vyashti) spiritual level can however get born of their own will. In Maharlok and Janalok as the ‘I’ or subtle ego is still active, though minimal, the subtle bodies themselves decide when they want to be reborn as per the time conducive for their mission. Because of their high spiritual level, they are born just by their wish and they will be born to parents of a higher spiritual level. Even more spiritually evolved subtle bodies from Tapolok decide both when and where they will be reborn. In fact, many such evolved subtle bodies are already born in the world to sustain the coming 1000 years of spiritual renewal. Refer to the article on Armageddon.
4.2.2 From the region of Heaven
If one is in the region of Heaven, it can take approximately thousands of years to be reborn on Earth again.
4.2.3 From the regions of Hell
In the lower regions of the Universe such as the Hell region, the time period of suffering is greatly increased. Along with this, higher level ghosts directly influence the subtle body’s existence making them do negative acts. As a result, the subtle body goes into a negative vortex of negative give-and-take which keeps them in the lower regions of Hell.
It is only when a subtle body from the first three regions of Hell has completed its quota of suffering that it gets rebirth on Earth. Even then the probability of a subtle body from the first region of Hell getting reborn on Earth is only 1 in 100,000 births. The probability of rebirth from the 2nd and 3rd regions of Hell is even more negligible. The likelihood of getting birth from beyond the third region of Hell is next to nonexistent.
In the approximately 350,000 births that happen on a daily basis around the world, only three subtle bodies will be from Hell, the rest will be mainly from the Nether region and only a few are from Heaven.
In some rare cases a subtle body will be going through its first birth even in today’s era. As these subtle bodies have no prior give-and-take accounts, all the events in their life are due to their wilful action. Also as they do not have any fixed Raja-Tama impressions in their sub-conscious minds, they can use this wilful action for spiritual practice. Hence they are in the best position to achieve God-realisation in their first birth itself.
5. What is the time gap between death and rebirth on Earth?
There is no fixed time interval between death and rebirth on Earth. On an average it is 50-400 years for subtle bodies from the Nether region. Subtle bodies in Heaven may have to wait thousands of years before they get rebirth on Earth.
It is in very rare cases that a person dies and gains immediate entry into a womb. Generally if this happens it will be just after the first trimester. Therefore one is reborn in 6 months time. The probability of this happening is 0.001% out of all births.
In even rarer cases the subtle body of a person who has just died can oust some other subtle body in a 9 month old foetus and be born again immediately. In this case the subtle body ousting another would need to have a higher spiritual level and a more intense give-and-take account with the family it is being born to.
6. When is the next birth of a person decided?
The next birth is decided at the time of death in the previous life itself in the case of the majority of people. This is because most subtle bodies do not do any spiritual practice in the afterlife after their physical death. As spiritual practice is the only way to nullify the give-and-take account, for the majority of subtle bodies the give-and-take remains unchanged due to a lack of spiritual practice in the afterlife.
Only in the case of evolved subtle bodies coming from the region such as Maharlok and Janalok, it is decided at the time of their birth. This is because when to be born is as per their wish, i.e. they are not affected by destiny. However the subtle bodies in the lower subtle regions like the Nether region, Heaven and the Hell region are 100% bound by destiny.
7. How many births have we gone through?
It is very difficult to give an answer that will encompass all people. The thing is we could have lived over a thousand births as humans and it could also be the first time we are being born in this current lifetime of ours. However on average the person at the 20% spiritual level in today’s’ world would have been born a number of times in the last 1000 years. The adjoining table gives one an understanding of the various types of births that a human at the 20% spiritual level could go through over a thousand year span.
Please note this is typical of a person that has come from the Nether region. He can be born in various forms to suffer before coming back as a human.
8. Does a person know his destiny or who he is going to be born to?
A person does not know about the family he is going to be born to until the very moment of conception. Even after that there is a likelihood of it losing its place in the womb to another subtle body. At the point in time of conception they have an understanding of their give-and-take with the family they are being born into. This means they understand whether the account is positive or negative. They may also understand the nature of the reason for the account. They are however not privy to the life that is destined for them.
9. Before one is born is there any guidance from an evolved subtle body on what is expected of one?
No, there is no guidance given.
10. What decides the sex of the baby?
In the first birth the sex of the newborn is decided by God. From God’s point of view, being born as a male or female is a moot point from the perspective of realising the basic goal of life, i.e. attaining God-realisation.
After the first birth, those who are born as males generally continue to be born as males if that is the predominant impression in the sub-conscious mind of the person. This happens according to the rule that ‘What we don’t know we are not interested in’. However if a person happens to have a lesbian or gay constitution that person can be born in the next birth in the sex which they have a stronger liking for.
From completing ones give-and-take account point of view being male or female is of no value as the other personality characteristics remain the same like anger etc. Also getting a male birth is not necessarily a plus from a God-realisation point of view.
In fact according to Spiritual science, man and woman are not superior or inferior, rather they are just one unit – Sun Channel (Sūryanāḍi) and Moon Channel (Chandranāḍī) of the Universal Spiritual Energy system (Kunḍalinī).
However in exceptional cases like for example when a woman has taken immense beating for years from her husband and wants to repay him in the same coin by becoming the husband in another birth with the present husband being born as the wife, a reversal of sexes can happen.
But again, it is not really necessary to be born as husband and wife in role reversal to undergo the above mentioned negative destiny. The present life husband can undergo the requisite units of unhappiness in other ways.
11. What decides whether an animal is reborn as a human?
There is a chance of an animal being born as a human being if a human being had regressed to that animal form as punishment for his misdeeds. After the animal that was initially a human has finished its quota of suffering as an animal, it can be reborn in human form. Rituals for departed ancestors done by their descendants also help.
It is extremely difficult for an animal (that was born as an animal to start with) to evolve to a human being as it is very difficult for an animal to do spiritual practice. However, an animal who has attained a Saint's satsang, consumed Holy sacrament (Prasād), listened to Holy songs or repetition of the Name of God regularly may develop the desire for God realisation and evolve spiritually to human form. Also if an animal lives with a Saint, and the Saint makes a resolve for the animal to progress spiritually to evolve to a human form, then an animal could attain a human birth.
12. Can departed ancestors of a family interfere with a subtle body being born to the family?
Departed ancestors of higher spiritual level or ancestors with the help of ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) of higher spiritual power like subtle-sorcerers (māntriks) etc. can interfere with a subtle body being born to the family by preventing a birth or preventing a subtle body of a particular sex, e.g. male to be born in the family. In such cases the subtle body next in the queue or with the next highest give and take takes birth instead. This action of interference by the departed ancestors is either an attention seeking action or an act of revenge etc.
Refer to the article on why would my departed ancestors want to trouble me?
13. In Summary
What does this article mean for us?
The things that most people chase during their lifetime, such as job, status, wealth and family have little bearing on how we do in the present life with respect to the spiritual purpose of life and none whatsoever on the after life. The only currency in the afterlife is our spiritual level.
Human birth on the Earth plane is very precious from a spiritual perspective. It is the only plane where we can do spiritual practice to overcome our destiny and ultimately take us out of the cycle of birth and death.
In the current era we have to wait for many centuries before we get birth on Earth. This is if we make it to the Nether region; if we go to the Hell region the likelihood of being born again on Earth is only after thousands of years.
In the current era on average only 30% of us will make it to the Nether region. The majority of us will go to one of the regions of Hell.
The current times i.e. between the years 1999-2022 the world will see a changing of mini eras in the main Era of Strife (Kaliyug). This era is very conducive for spiritual growth wherein one year of spiritual practice is equivalent to some 50 years in any other era.
Through spiritual practice once we achieve the spiritual level of 60% ( samashti) or 70% ( vyashti) in this birth itself, we do not have to come back to the earth plane to settle our destiny.