Sri Ramakrishna used to explain beautifully to his devotees the nature of Samskaras i.e. how powerful is the inborn tendencies due to the experiences of previous births. To illustrate the point he used to narrate a parable.

There lived a prince who was the heir to the thrown of his father. Born in an affluent family he lived a luxurious life. However, every now and then the tendencies of his previous births used to surface in his character. In the previous birth he was the son of a washerman. While playing with his friends in this incarnation as the prince he used to tell them, “Stop these games. I shall show you a more interesting one. I shall lie on my belly and you will beat the clothes on my back as the washerman does, making a swishing sound.” He could not get over completely the Samskaras or effects of the experiences of his previous life as the son of a washerman when he used to wash clothes. So, in spite of being a crown prince, the game related to an activity of his previous birth sounded more interesting to him than a princely sport.

Thus Sri Ramakrishna would caution his devotees, how a spiritual aspirant has to be extremely careful and alert as to his tendencies. Even while engaged in Sadhana, it is possible that obstacles due to tendencies inherited from the experiences of previous births might surface from the depths of one’s personality. A Sadhaka should carefully overcome such tendencies or obstacles. Spiritual life is like walking on razor’s edge and one has to be very careful, alert and focused on the goal if one is desirous of realizing the ultimate goal of life.

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