Lower forms of life

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Chapters 7 - 12

BG 7.15, Purport:

Another class of duṣkṛtī, or miscreant, is called the narādhama, or the lowest of mankind. Nara means human being, and adhama means the lowest. Out of the 8,400,000 different species of living beings, there are 400,000 human species. Out of these there are numerous lower forms of human life that are mostly uncivilized. The civilized human beings are those who have regulative principles of social, political and religious life. Those who are socially and politically developed but who have no religious principles must be considered narādhamas. Nor is religion without God religion, because the purpose of following religious principles is to know the Supreme Truth and man's relation with Him. In the Gītā the Personality of Godhead clearly states that there is no authority above Him and that He is the Supreme Truth. The civilized form of human life is meant for man's reviving the lost consciousness of his eternal relation with the Supreme Truth, the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is all-powerful. Whoever loses this chance is classified as a narādhama.

BG Chapters 13 - 18

BG 16.1-3, Purport:

In the beginning of the Fifteenth Chapter, the banyan tree of this material world was explained. The extra roots coming out of it were compared to the activities of the living entities, some auspicious, some inauspicious. In the Ninth Chapter, also, the devas, or godly, and the asuras, the ungodly, or demons, were explained. Now, according to Vedic rites, activities in the mode of goodness are considered auspicious for progress on the path of liberation, and such activities are known as daivī prakṛti, transcendental by nature. Those who are situated in the transcendental nature make progress on the path of liberation. For those who are acting in the modes of passion and ignorance, on the other hand, there is no possibility of liberation. Either they will have to remain in this material world as human beings, or they will descend among the species of animals or even lower life forms. In this Sixteenth Chapter the Lord explains both the transcendental nature and its attendant qualities and the demoniac nature and its qualities. He also explains the advantages and disadvantages of these qualities.


SB Canto 1

SB 1.2.16, Purport:

The conditioned life of a living being is caused by his revolting against the Lord. There are men called devas, or godly living beings, and there are men called asuras, or demons, who are against the authority of the Supreme Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā (Sixteenth Chapter) a vivid description of the asuras is given in which it is said that the asuras are put into lower and lower states of ignorance life after life and so sink to the lower animal forms and have no information of the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. These asuras are gradually rectified to God consciousness by the mercy of the Lord's liberated servitors in different countries according to the supreme will. Such devotees of God are very confidential associates of the Lord, and when they come to save human society from the dangers of godlessness, they are known as the powerful incarnations of the Lord, as sons of the Lord, as servants of the Lord or as associates of the Lord. But none of them falsely claim to be God themselves. This is a blasphemy declared by the asuras, and the demoniac followers of such asuras also accept pretenders as God or His incarnation. In the revealed scriptures there is definite information of the incarnation of God. No one should be accepted as God or an incarnation of God unless he is confirmed by the revealed scriptures.

SB Canto 4

SB 4.22.36, Purport:

In our material existence we accept a higher form of life as a blessing and a lower form as a curse. This distinction of "higher" and "lower" only exists as long as the different material qualities (guṇas) interact. In other words, by our good activities we are elevated to the higher planetary systems or to a higher standard of life (good education, beautiful body, etc.). These are the results of pious activities. Similarly, by impious activities we remain illiterate, get ugly bodies, a poor standard of living, etc. But all these different states of life are under the laws of material nature through the interaction of the qualities of goodness, passion and ignorance. However, all these qualities will cease to act at the time of the dissolution of the entire cosmic manifestation.

SB 4.29.4, Purport:

Originally the living entity is a spiritual being, but when he actually desires to enjoy this material world, he comes down. From this verse we can understand that the living entity first accepts a body that is human in form, but gradually, due to his degraded activities, he falls into lower forms of life—into the animal, plant and aquatic forms. By the gradual process of evolution, the living entity again attains the body of a human being and is given another chance to get out of the process of transmigration. If he again misses his chance in the human form to understand his position, he is again placed in the cycle of birth and death in various types of bodies.

SB Canto 5

SB 5.8.26, Purport:

Although Bharata Mahārāja was awarded the body of an animal, he did not forget what had previously happened due to his purposeful mistake. He was very anxious to get out of his deer body, and this indicates that his affection for devotional service was intensified, so much so that he was quickly to attain perfection in a brāhmaṇa body in the next life. It is with this conviction that we declare in our Back to Godhead magazine that devotees like the gosvāmīs living in Vṛndāvana who purposely commit some sinful activity are born in the bodies of dogs, monkeys and tortoises in that holy land. Thus they take on these lower life forms for a short while, and after they give up those animal bodies, they are again promoted to the spiritual world. Such punishment is only for a short period, and it is not due to past karma. It may appear to be due to past karma, but it is offered to rectify the devotee and bring him to pure devotional service.

SB 5.8.29, Purport:

As far as the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are concerned, they have sacrificed everything to push on this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Yet they must take a lesson from the life of Bharata Mahārāja to be very cautious and to see that not a single moment is wasted in frivolous talk, sleep or voracious eating. Eating is not prohibited, but if we eat voraciously we shall certainly sleep more than required. Sense gratification ensues, and we may be degraded to a lower life form. In that way our spiritual progress may be checked at least for the time being. The best course is to take the advice of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī: avyartha-kālatvam (Cc. Madhya 23.18-19). We should see that every moment of our lives is utilized for the rendering of devotional service and nothing else. This is the secure position for one wanting to return home, back to Godhead.

SB 5.14.31, Purport:

In this life we have to prepare ourselves for promotion to the next life. Those who are in the mode of rajo-guṇa are generally interested in being promoted to the heavenly planets. Some, unknowingly, are degraded to lower animal forms. Those in the mode of goodness can engage in devotional service, and after that they can return home, back to Godhead (yānti mad-yājino 'pi mām). That is the real purpose of human life. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to bring intelligent human beings to the platform of devotional service. Instead of wasting time trying to attain a better position in material life, one should simply endeavor to return home, back to Godhead. Then all problems will be solved.

SB Canto 8

SB 8.24.6, Translation:

Like the air passing through different types of atmosphere, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although appearing sometimes as a human being and sometimes as a lower animal, is always transcendental. Because He is above the material modes of nature, He is unaffected by higher and lower forms.

SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)

SB 11.7.47, Translation:

Just as fire manifests differently in pieces of wood of different sizes and qualities, the omnipotent Supreme Soul, having entered the bodies of higher and lower life forms created by His own potency, appears to assume the identity of each.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Adi-lila

CC Adi 4.62, Purport:

The Absolute Truth is therefore the substance of reality, eternally manifest in three energies. The manifestation of the internal energy of the Lord is the inconceivably variegated spiritual world, the manifestation of the marginal energy comprises the living entities, and the manifestation of the external energy is the material cosmos. Therefore the Absolute Truth includes these four principles—the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, His internal energy, His marginal energy and His external energy. The form of the Lord and the expansions of His form as svayaṁ-rūpa and vaibhava-prakāśa are directly the enjoyers of the internal energy, which is the eternal exhibitor of the spiritual world, the most confidential of the manifestations of energy. The external manifestation, the material energy, provides the covering bodies of the conditioned living entities, from Brahmā down to the insignificant ant. This covering energy is manifested under the three modes of material nature and appreciated in various ways by living entities in both the higher and lower forms of life.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Krsna Book 33:

Kṛṣṇa's lifting of Govardhana Hill and His killing of great demons like Pūtanā are all obviously extraordinary activities. Similarly, the rāsa dance is also an uncommon activity and cannot be imitated by any ordinary man. An ordinary person engaged in his occupational duty, like Arjuna, should execute his duty for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa; that is within his power. Arjuna was a fighter, and Kṛṣṇa wanted him to fight for His satisfaction. Arjuna agreed, although at first he was not willing to fight. Duties are required for ordinary persons. They should not jump up and try to imitate Kṛṣṇa and indulge in rāsa-līlā and thus bring about their ruin. One should know with certainty that Kṛṣṇa had no personal interest in whatever He did for the benediction of the gopīs. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, na māṁ karmāṇi limpanti: (BG 4.14) Kṛṣṇa never enjoys or suffers the results of His activities. Therefore it is not possible for Him to act irreligiously. He is transcendental to all religious duties and principles. He is untouched by the modes of material nature. He is the supreme controller of all living entities, whether in human society, in demigod society in the heavenly planets, or in lower forms of life, and He is also the supreme controller of material nature; therefore, He has nothing to do with religious or irreligious principles.

Sri Isopanisad

Sri Isopanisad 1, Purport:

The standard of life for human beings cannot be applied to animals. The tiger does not eat rice and wheat or drink cow's milk, because he has been given food in the shape of animal flesh. Among the many animals and birds, some are vegetarian and others are carnivorous, but none of them transgress the laws of nature, which have been ordained by the will of the Lord. Animals, birds, reptiles and other lower life forms strictly adhere to the laws of nature; therefore there is no question of sin for them, nor are the Vedic instructions meant for them. Human life alone is a life of responsibility.

Sri Isopanisad 2, Purport:

Other life forms are also subject to the cycle of birth and death, but when the living entity attains a human life, he gets a chance to get free from the chains of karma. Karma, akarma and vikarma are very clearly described in the Bhagavad-gītā. Actions that are performed in terms of one's prescribed duties, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures, are called karma. Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death are called akarma. And actions that are performed through the misuse of one's freedom and that direct one to the lower life forms are called vikarma. Of these three types of action, that which frees one from the bondage to karma is preferred by intelligent men. Ordinary men wish to perform good work in order to be recognized and achieve some higher status of life in this world or in heaven, but more advanced men want to be free altogether from the actions and reactions of work. Intelligent men well know that both good and bad work equally bind one to the material miseries. Consequently they seek that work which will free them from the reactions of both good and bad work. Such liberating work is described here in the pages of Śrī Īśopaniṣad.


Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Lecture on BG 7.1 -- Upsala University Stockholm, September 8, 1973:

So this human form of life is meant for that purpose. Lower than the human form of life, cats and dogs, they cannot understand what is spiritual pleasure. That is not possible. But in the human form of life you can understand what is spirit and what is matter and what is spiritual pleasure and what is material pleasure. This distinction we can make. That much consciousness is developed in the human form of life. But if we misuse this developed consciousness for material pleasures, then we are missing the opportunity. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is that you have got this human form of body. Don't miss the opportunity. That you can, if you properly utilize, if you train yourself, you can be transferred to the platform of eternal, spiritual bliss. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

Lecture on BG 13.5 -- Bombay, September 28, 1973:


ṛṣibhir bahudhā gītaṁ
chandobhir vividhaiḥ pṛthak
brahma-sūtra-padaiś caiva
hetumadbhir viniścitaiḥ
(BG 13.5)

Yesterday we were discussing tat kṣetram, kṣetram, this body, how we enter into different types of bodies, how it is obtained. There are eight million four hundred thousand forms of bodies according to the qualities. Three qualities. Three multiplied by three, it becomes nine, nine multiplied by nine, it becomes eighty-one. So at least, in the lower grades of forms, there are eighty-one lakhs or eight million one hundred thousand and above that, about four hundred thousand forms of human beings. So one has to understand.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Lecture on SB 1.1.1 -- Caracas, February 20, 1975:

Just about two months before, when I was in Māyāpura, the two snakes, not very big, small, were found in the lavatory, and they were also two, in pair. That means this pair in birds and beasts, in animals, in snakes, they are found. The tiger, the elephant, there are two. So there is no scarcity of sex also. And so far defense is concerned, everyone is provided with nails, jaws, and wings, and everything. According to their capacity, they can defend also. So in this way, so far our four necessities of life required, it is already arranged by the laws of nature. So we, means the living entity, or the soul, we are wandering throughout the whole universe in different types of bodies. And because we are part and parcel of God, our four necessities of life, namely the food, shelter, sex and defense, that is already provided. So for these four things we need not work very hard. Because they are available even in the animal life, birds life, beasts life, lower form of life, and why not in human life? Therefore the śāstra says,

tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ
tal labhyate duḥkhavad anyataḥ sukhaṁ
kālena sarvatra gabhīra-raṁhasā
(SB 1.5.18)

They say that "So far these necessities of life are concerned, they are ready, supplied." In any life, either in human life or in birds and beasts, lower animal, trees, plants, that is ready. Therefore we should not waste our time for these things, but we should be ready to enquire about the Absolute Truth. So human intelligence is there to enquire about the Absolute Truth. So they have got better developed consciousness or intelligence than the lower animals. So that higher intelligence should be utilized for enquiring about the Absolute Truth.

Lecture on SB 1.2.7 -- Hyderabad, April 21, 1974:
The cats and dogs, they do not know that they are not the body. They are spirit soul. That they do not know. They know simply that "I am this body, and the necessities of body must be fulfilled somehow or other." That is their business. Whole day and night, they are working just to fulfill the necessities of his body, because there is no jñānam. But in the human form of life, that is not the business. Therefore the Vedānta-sūtra says, athāto brahma jijñāsā: "This life, human form of life, which is achieved after evolution of 8,400,000's of forms of life..." It is called labdhvā sudurlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte (SB 11.9.29). Idaṁ śarīram. This human form of body is achieved, bahu-sambhavānte, after achieving many, many other lower forms of life. Jalajā nava-lakṣāṇi sthāvarā lakṣa-viṁśati. So many different forms of life we had to pass through to come to the standard of human life. Therefore this life is not meant for spoiling like cats and dogs. This is jñānam. The spoiling the life like cats and dogs means āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithuna... eating, sleeping, defending and sexual intercourse. These are the bodily demands. Sāmānyam etat paśubhir narāṇām. These are common formulas for the cats and dogs and the human being. But what is the meaning of human being? The human being is eligible to understand what is the value of life, what is the problem of life, how to make the solution. That is human life. Not that simply passing our days like cats and dogs working very hard.
Lecture on SB 1.16.21 -- Los Angeles, July 11, 1974:

So it is only Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement trying to bring back Vedic culture so that people may be very happy. It is not a business; it is not a religious sentiment. It is a program to make everyone happy. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. This is Vedic culture. Not that "I exploit you, you exploit me, I cut your throat, you cut my throat." This is not human society. And this has begun already. Because you cut throat of the animals—you are very expert, cutting throat—now you will cut throat each other. This is the... So a sober man, thinking all this downfall of the human civilization, he becomes very unhappy. He becomes, very unhappy. Oh. This human civilization, human being, human form of life, was given by God or the nature for cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness, spiritual. That is not possible in the lower form of life, animals, the cats and dogs. And this is an opportunity given by nature's law. Now we get this body. Now you understand your position, what you are, to understand that you are not this body. So long in the lower grade of life you were under the impression that you are a body, the cats and dogs. They do not know that the body and soul is different. But it is the human form of life to understand that "I am not this body."

Lecture on SB 2.1.2 -- Mombassa, September 13, 1971:

Dehāntara means one body after, one body after, one body after it is going. So here in this human form of body is a chance. Lower than this human form of life you cannot understand self, ātma-tattva, it is not possible. But you can understand in this human form of life what is ātma-tattva. If you miss this chance, if you do not work to understand what is ātma-tattva, what is self, what is Superself, what is the spiritual world, how things are going, so many things you have to know, if you don't know, if you don't try to know, then you are missing the point. And missing the point, we are busy. So how we are busy? That is described in the next verse. How? Nidrayā hriyate naktam. We are spoiling our life by sleeping. Nidrayā hryate naktaṁ vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ, or by sex. At night we have got two business. One who has no facility for sex, he takes some pill and sleeps very soundly. (indistinct) Or one who has got sex facility, he enjoys sex. So that is stated here. Nidrayā hryate naktaṁ vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ. Then at daytime, what is the business at day? Diva cārthehayā rājan. And during daytime, there is business, where is money, where is money, where is money? divā cārthehayā rājan kuṭumba-bharaṇena vā (SB 2.1.3). And as soon as one gets money, then go to the storehouse, purchase things for my wife, for my children, for me, for this, that. So this is the activity of the materialistic person.

Lecture on SB 6.1.63 -- Vrndavana, August 30, 1975:

So the nature's law is so nice or so perfect that by seeing only, you will be infected, by seeing only. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). We are put into such a position that every moment we are being affected by the three modes of material nature. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni. The prakṛti, the nature, is working so expertly. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni. And kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu (BG 13.22). In this way our transmigration from one body to another, tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13), it is due to this infection of contacting different material modes of nature. The whole world is going on. So therefore our business of human life is how to protect ourself from this infection of material nature. That should be the aim of human life, not that allow us to be infected more and more and become implicated in the cycle of birth and death, sometimes lower, sometimes higher. This is not intelligence. The intelligence is how to get out of it. In the lower animal forms of life the nature takes care. Jalajā nava-lakṣāni sthāvarā lakṣa-viṁśati, kṛmayo rudra-sāṅkhyakāḥ. From the aquatics to the plant life, then insect life, then bird life, then beast life, then we come to the human life. And that is also When we come to the civilized life we should not waste our time like animals or lower creatures.

General Lectures

Lecture -- Laguna Beach, September 30, 1972:

So this world, this material world, although it is not different from God, but still, it is not God. So we have to transfer ourself from this material energy to the spiritual energy. That is the business. So long we are in the lower form of life... This human form of life is considered the upper or better form of life, whereas the animals, the trees, the aquatics, the insects, the reptiles... There are so many, 8,400,000 forms of life. Out of that, this human form of life, especially the civilized form of life, this is elevated life of developed consciousness. The consciousness of human form of life is different from the consciousness of aquatic life or tree life or plant life or cat life or dog life. This is the developed consciousness of life. Why this developed consciousness of life is given by God? To understand God. This is the only business. This developed consciousness of life is being misused in the matter of animal life. The modern scientific advancement or philosophical speculation, they are trying to adjust how we can enjoy our sense life better. But after all, it is sense life. Better or inferior, there is no such question.

Philosophy Discussions

Philosophy Discussion on Charles Darwin:

Prabhupāda: They are degrading.

Hayagrīva: ...degenerating. What is the cause of man's physical, mental and spiritual deterioration in the succeeding yugas?

Prabhupāda: That is education. Every individual person, he is a soul, and he has got a particular type of body. Especially in the human body he requires education. What is this animal and what is higher than human race, these are Vedic description. So there are 8,400,000 different forms of life, and the body is being evolved. The body is machine, and the individual soul desires and he gets a suitable body made by material nature under the order of God. This is Vedic idea, as it is said in the Bhagavad-gītā, īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe arjuna tiṣṭhati (BG 18.61). God is existing within the core of everyone's heart, and the individual soul is desiring something, and upon the order God he is given a machine made by material nature. So this is evolution, and even a man, although he is human form of body, he can again degenerate to animal form of body according to his desire. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). He has to change the body, and the body is changed according to his work and desire. In the animal kingdom they have also desires, but they are under the laws of nature changing body, and one is given the chance to become a human being, and then he may desire, and according to his desires he gets the next body. If he likes, he can go higher forms of life, and if he degenerates he goes lower form of life.

Philosophy Discussion on Henri Bergson:

Hayagrīva: Now if, as Bergson says, our personality, which by definition would include the mind, the intelligence, the ego, and the soul also, as a person...,

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Hayagrīva: ...if it shoots, grows and ripens without ceasing, then why or how could the personality or the individual jīva soul return to a lower life-form? That is to say, how could a greater experience regress to a lesser experience?

Prabhupāda: The..., everything is calculated at the time of death. That is nature's process. That I was talking in the morning, that these boys, they are too much addicted to these water sports. Twenty-four hours they are indulging in this water sport. They are creating a mentality to become aquatic animal. So naturally, at the time of death, he will think of all these things and nature will give him a body. Yes. That you cannot check. After death you are completely under nature's control. You cannot dictate. That these rascal do not understand. Therefore they, "Finish this business. There is no life after death. That's all."

Philosophy Discussion on The Evolutionists Thomas Huxley, Henri Bergson, and Samuel Alexander:

Śyāmasundara: His idea is that all lower forms of life strive to emulate the higher forms of life.

Prabhupāda: That is natural. Everyone wants to become higher than what he is. Because he is trying to become master. He is trying to... His whole problems is that he is trying to be master. So he comes to master to some extent. Suppose he is working in an office, he is a head clerk, master of several clerks. So he is not satisfied. He wants to become a superintendent. When he becomes a superintendent, he wants to be under-secretary. When he is under-secretary, he wants to become secretary. When he becomes a secretary, he wants to become minister. When he is made minister, then he wants to be the president. And when he becomes a president, he wants to control all over the world, just like your Nixon. So this progressive ambition is there in the material world because any materialistic man is implanted with the idea that "I shall become like Kṛṣṇa." So when he fails everything, then he wants to merge into the Kṛṣṇa. Māyāvāda philosophy. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi. He does not know that... He is already Brahman, but he thinks that "I am the Supreme Brahman. I am moving the sun. I am moving the..." Meditating. He is moving the sun. He is moving... Just another imitate. That is the last snare of māyā. Māyā is giving him allurement that "You become a minister, you become secretary, you become a big merchant, you become a Birla. You..." "Become become become." (S)he is always dictating, and he is working under the dictation of māyā. The last dictation is, "Then you have failed all these things. Better you become God." (laughter) So he thinks, "I am God." And māyā is still kicking. As soon as God gets some toothache, he'll have to, another... So he goes... "After all, what kind of God you are? You come here for toothache cure." This is another man.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1973 Conversations and Morning Walks

Morning Walk -- May 12, 1973, Los Angeles:

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Then why is it in the Vaivarta Purāṇa, after traveling 8,400,000 species of life, we get this human form of life? Is that contradiction with the...?

Prabhupāda: No. Because in the lower form of life, the progress is by the laws of nature, and in the human form of life, you get consciousness development. Therefore you have got discretion. The other forms, they have no discretion, one after another.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: No. My point being the... Some human beings, they come without traveling through these 8,400,000 species.

Prabhupāda: Then he can come.

Morning Walk -- December 2, 1973, Los Angeles:

Prabhupāda: Ah. So increase the fire. Yes. But because we have got this body, we have to utilize it to make the best use of a bad bargain. Therefore marriage is allowed, gṛhastha life is allowed, not for increasing sex life, but to finish it as soon as possible.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: But, Śrīla Prabhupāda, even in the very lower forms of life, there are some species, they reproduce without any sex? It's called asexual reproduction.

Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. Oh yes. These bugs, bedbugs, they produce by this blood. You kill...

Svarūpa Dāmodara: We cannot check reproduction.

Prabhupāda: No, how can you check? There are so many living entities. They have come to this material world to enjoy. So the reproduction must go on. Just like you cannot stop the jail. You come out, but another is ready to enter it. That is not possible.

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

Room Conversation with Catholic Cardinal and Secretary to the Pope -- May 24, 1974, Rome:
Prabhupāda: If you want to be happy, then you must take to the superior type of religious system which teaches the followers how to love God without any motive, and which is never checked by any material condition. God's name is given here as Adhokṣaja. Adhokṣaja means beyond experimental knowledge. God has got many name according to different situation, and one of the name, for the materialistic person, adhokṣaja. Akṣaja means experimental knowledge. Akṣa means eyes or senses. Beyond sense perception. So we cannot speculate about God, but we can understand about God from authorities. This is the conception of Bhāgavata-dharma. So the human life is especially meant for understanding God. That is the version of the Vedānta-sūtra, Vedānta philosophy. The Vedānta philosophy teaches, athāto brahma jijñāsā, "Now this human form of body, which is above the lower grades of forms..." There are 8,400,000 forms of body. The soul is transmigrating, evolution. But when we get this human form of body, our main business is to inquire about God. Athāto brahma jijñāsā. Now, if somebody inquires what is God, the immediate reply is, God is the source, original source of everything. Janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1). So the human form of life is meant for understanding God, and according to our philosophy, if human body is not utilized for understanding God, then it is misused. If we simply spoil our life like the animals, eating, sleeping, sex life and defending, then the human life is spoiled like animals. The real necessity of human life is to understand God. Not only to understand God superficially, but to understand our eternal relationship with Him, and then prayojana, the ultimate goal of life, is to go back to home, back to Godhead. That is ultimate goal.

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

Morning Walk -- May 28, 1976, Honolulu:

Devotee (1): You said that the different living entities in lower forms of life, they became those lower forms of life due to their work in the human form?

Prabhupāda: Yes. A criminal is freed, but if he again commits criminal..., criminality, then again he's put into the jail, like that. (inaudible) ...his freedom, now make your choice. But if you misuse it, then again go.... māyāprāpte nivartante mṛtyuḥ saṁsāra vartmani. (break) ...go home back to Godhead. But if we do not take the chance, and misuse it, like animals, then again we go down. The process is to go back to home, back to Godhead, eternal life, blissful life. And other process is the cycle of birth and death in different species of life. So this human form of body is to make choice whether to continue the cycle of birth and death in different species of life, or you want to go home, back to Godhead. (Sanskrit) He's Kṛṣṇa conscious when he goes back to home, back to Godhead. (inaudible) species of life, according to karma, they're going to be fish. From fish, by nature's way, leads to the plants, then insect. In this way.... Then birds, then beasts, again human being. Again another birth. In this way they are.... bahūnāṁ janmanām ante (BG 7.19). Similarly, after many, many births, when he comes to his senses.... "I have enjoyed very nice life. Now let me go back home..." Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti... (BG 7.19). Kṛṣṇa says, sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ. Such mahātmā, great soul, who has accepted that Kṛṣṇa is everything, he is very, very rarely found. Manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu (BG 7.3). After many, many millions.

Interview and Conversation -- July 8, 1976, Washington, D.C.:

Prabhupāda: So in the Calcutta there is Bose Institute, you can go and see. They have got all machine, how the plants are feeling. Everything is there.

Rūpānuga: That's important because they are saying these animals have no soul. They are saying lower form of life, they have no soul, so killing them is not important. So his work was important. It showed...

Prabhupāda: No, killing or not killing, that is another point. You can kill your own son. They are killing, actually. That is another point. But they have got soul. All the symptoms are there; how you can say there is no soul? Where is the difference between man's behavior and animal's behavior? So far eating, sleeping, sex, defense is concerned, the same thing. How do you say that it is different from the human being? Why they differentiate the animal from the man? What is the main point?

Sadāpūta: I think that scientifically that was just Christian doctrine that made them do that. Because the scientists turned around...

Prabhupāda: Christian doctrine is not perfect. But symptoms of animal and symptoms of human being, primary necessities eating sleeping, mating, defense that is there, everywhere.


1971 Correspondence

Letter to Upendra -- Delhi 8 December, 1971:

We have information that there are 8,400,000 species of life. Out of these, 400,000 species are considered human life. Of these 400,000, how many species do we find in our experience? Not many, probably less than 1,000, so we must conclude that there are hundreds of thousands of higher and lower types of human forms. But this does not mean that automatically one body evolves into a higher body. No. It is described by Krishna how the soul becomes embodied according to his desire. So there are 8,400,000 types of bodies eternally existing. Not that the appearance of a new form in this world means that form has never existed previously. No, as conditions change on this earth planet, the living entities here desire to enjoy in a different way, so they take a different type of body. Even that body may be new here, it has always existed also somewhere else. So if a man qualifies for that body, he may be rewarded the body of superman, as he desires. So if someone wants such body, he must learn the process for acquiring it, that is Bhagavad-gita.

1976 Correspondence

Letter to Mr. Dhawan -- Vrindaban 2 April, 1976:

First question: What is the true aim of human life?

Answer: The real aim of life is to go back to Home, back to Godhead. We all living entities in different forms of body numbering 8,400,000 forms beginning from the aquatics up to the best advanced form of human life, there is a regular evolution by the laws of nature. The real fact is that we living entities although part and parcel of God, on account of our own disobedience have come down to this material world under different circumstances. We have different types of material dresses to fulfill the tendency for sense gratification, and this by the laws of nature, by association with the 3 modes of material nature. We are transmigrating through different forms of life. So this human form of life is given to us as an opportunity to understand our position because in the human form of life we have more developed consciousness than the lower forms of life like the aquatics, insects, plants, birds, beasts and the civilized and uncivilized human beings. So the point is that a human being must know the aim of life is to go back to Home, back to Godhead.

Facts about "Lower forms of life"
Compiled byLabangalatika + and Serene +
Completed sectionsALL +
Date of first entryAugust 9, 0012 JL +
Date of last entryJanuary 10, 0013 JL +
Total quotes32 +
Total quotes by sectionBG: 2 +, SB: 8 +, CC: 1 +, OB: 3 +, Lec: 11 +, Conv: 5 + and Let: 2 +