Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 29 Sep 2019

     

Have the total number of souls changed since the beginning of creation?

Shri G Lakshman asked: Swami! Padanamaskarams to You! In one of Your earlier discourses, You had mentioned that the number of souls (quantity) is more or less the same across the different worlds. In the beginning, God was bored and for His entertainment, He created the universe consisting of different worlds, animals, humans and so on. When God initially created souls, I understand that there would have only been a few of them and later on, they might have multiplied over time. Today, perhaps, we can say that the number of souls has reached a constant value. Is this true?

Swami replied: A person asked a villager how many crows were there in his village. The villager replied that there were 400 crows in his village. The person disagreed, claiming that he had already counted the actual number of crows and the number was only 390. The villager calmly explained that 10 crows might have gone to the neighboring village! The person left and returned after some time saying that currently, there were exactly 410 crows in the village. The villager again calmly responded saying that 10 crows might have come into his village from the neighboring village! This example is similar to our question of the number of souls present in material bodies on Earth. The souls in the upper worlds exist in energetic bodies and they are invisible to us by the will of God. Souls constantly journey to and fro between the various worlds. Souls in material human bodies, after death, go to the upper worlds to become energetic beings. The souls in energetic bodies, after sometime, are born on Earth in material bodies. Some souls stay for a longer time in the upper world, while other souls stay there for a shorter time. They all enjoy the fruits of their good and bad deeds in the upper worlds. Usually, the minimum time for a soul to be reborn on Earth after death can be a few minutes and the maximum time can be 360 years, which is three complete human generations. The complete life-span of a human being is 120 years, which is the sum of the periods of the nine planets, as per astrology. Usually, souls cannot stay in the upper world longer than that. As part of the traditional rituals performed on the annual death anniversary of one’s forefathers, a ball of rice or wheat flour called the piṇḍa is offered to the souls of the dead forefathers, who are in the upper world. The offering is done only for three generations because, after the third generation, it is assumed that the soul of the forefather must have already been reborn on Earth. Of course, some ‘special’ condemned souls stay in a horrible hell forever.

The total number of souls created by God remains constant in this world. The variations in the numbers of souls present in each world are due to the to and fro journeys of souls from one world to the other. But it does not mean that God cannot create any new soul. Once, Prajāpati, an assistant of God Brahma, kidnapped some cowherds and their cows and hid them in the upper world. God Krishna created new souls, which were exact duplicates of the kidnapped souls and they lived along with their family members for some time. When the original souls were brought back to Earth, God Krishna, dissolved the newly-created souls. This means that the soul is created by God and that the soul is not the Creator.

What I feel is that such enquiries are not of much use and we should always try to focus on the various ways of pleasing God in order to get His protection. The topic of the number of souls in the world is only of theoretical interest and is not related to the important practical aspect of pleasing God. Of course, we have to thoroughly understand the theoretical spiritual knowledge (jñāna yoga) because its practical implementation depends on thoroughly understanding it.