Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 23 Jun 2019


If an animal is a condemned soul, how could there be animals at the beginning of creation?

If an animal is a condemned soul, how could there be animals at the beginning of creation, when there were no sinners?

[Shri Bharath Krishna: Were all the fourteen lokas created simultaneously or were they created later on like the Goloka, according to the need? The Goloka was created only after the Gopikas passed the tests of God and was not there in the beginning. Did animals and humans come into existence at the same time? During the initial days of creation, assuming that all human beings had the knowledge given by God, there must have been no necessity of hell and heaven. Animals are supposed to be condemned souls. They can be condemned only after doing sins in their human births. But during the initial days of creation, nobody had the freedom to do sins. Hence, there should not be any animal existing at that time.]

Swami replied: The fundamental point is that there is a subtle difference between a human being and a robot. In the first age after creation called the Kruta Age, human beings did not have the freedom to commit sins. But they still had some little marginal freedom. Hence, human beings, even during the Kruta Age, cannot exactly be treated to be robots, which operate only as per the information programmed into them.

There are cycles of creation and destruction in creation. Within each cycle, there are four ages or yugas called the Kruta Age, the Dvaapara Age, the Tretaa Age and the Kali Age. The first age, is the longest and the rest are progressively shorter in duration. After passing through the four ages in that order, a new cycle starts.

At the very beginning of creation, which is the first age of the first cycle, the souls had very little freedom. Your question of whether animals were created in the beginning or not, actually pertains only to this first age of the first cycle. After the first four ages and the end of the first cycle, the second cycle starts. From this second cycle onwards, there is no difficulty in explaining the presence of animals in the first age, since souls which were condemned to be animals from the later ages of the previous cycle are always available. Actually, between two cycles, there is a gap (pralaya) in which all souls remain in a subtle, unexpressed form called avyaktam. In this state, each individual soul retains its inherent qualities, which are a fixed ratio of the fundamental qualities known as sattvam, rajas and tamas.

An animal is called a pashu in Sanskrit. But pashu can also mean a human being or any soul. It is in this sense that God is called Pashupati, which means the Lord of all souls. Here, the physical form of an animal is not important. It is the qualities of an animal that are being considered. An animal like a cow has good qualities whereas a human being like Duryodhana has bad qualities. Ordinary lions in the forest are cruel animals that kill anybody. But the particular lion that Goddess Parvati rides, has all good qualities. Its cruelty is confined only to killing demons. There are several animals like cows, goats, horses and so on, which are not cruel and those souls are not sinners. They are soft-natured due to sattvam and they are ignorant due to tamas. There is no cruel nature in them which is the effect of rajas. The Veda says that these soft-natured animals were created even in the very beginning of creation. The Veda specifically mentions that cows were created (Gaavoha jajnire...), horses were created (Tasmaadasvaah...), goats were created (Tasmaat jaataa ajaavah...) and other animals having two rows of teeth were created (Yekechobhayaadatah...). These animals have the basic ignorance found in animals (tamas) and a soft nature (sattvam). Sattvam is the quality of doing good work and avoiding bad work. Rajas is the quality of doing bad work. Tamas is the quality of neither doing good work nor bad work due to ignorance. A combination of sattvam and tamas is not bad. Souls with such a combination do some types of good work and they do not do some other types of good work due to their partial ignorance. Not doing good work is not a very serious sin. Doing bad work is a serious sin. Bad work (rajas) leads to hell and good work (sattvam) leads to heaven. Ignorance, due to which the soul does neither good nor bad work leads the soul to the middle world which is the abode of departed neutral souls (moon or Pitru Loka).

In the first age of first cycle, souls only had a minimal amount of freedom. They possessed some ignorance (tamas) along with good qualities (sattvam). This condition allowed the creation of some soft-natured animals, as described in the Veda, since these animals too have ignorance mixed with good qualities. Towards the later part of the first age of the first cycle itself, the freedom available to the souls gradually increased as they began to deviate more and more from the initial information given to them by God. This gave rise to increasing levels of bad qualities (rajas) leading to sins. Rajas and tamas mixed together gave birth to cruel wild animals and demons. Sages and soft-natured animals belong to the earlier time whereas demons and cruel-natured animals belong to later time of the first age (Kruta Yuga) of the first cycle. Gradually, as the other three ages progressed in the first cycle, rajas and tamas increased greatly and sattvam diminished a lot. Since there were demons and cruel wild animals in the later part of the Kruta age itself, the first six of the ten famous Incarnations of God (Matsya to Paraṣurāma) incarnated on Earth to punish the sinners or demons. In these six Incarnations, wild animals were also represented by the Varāha and Narasiṁha incarnations.

It is not a question of human beings or animals. There are wise animals and ignorant human beings in creation. The wise animals are like four-legged humans and the ignorant human beings are like two-legged animals. We need not worry about the external physical form of the soul. It is the good and bad qualities of the soul that decide whether a soul is really a human being or an animal. As time passed in creation, good qualities changed into bad qualities. Actually, there is no specific good or bad quality. The good and bad are based on the direction in which a certain quality is applied in any situation. Anger, when used to keep students and children in discipline is a good quality. Kindness and love shown towards a bad person is a bad quality. Basically, any quality directed towards God, without any selfishness is divine. Conversely, any quality, even if it is coupled with sacrifice, is undivine, if it is directed towards oneself.

Sattvam, rajas or tamas never exist isolated from each other. Each of the three qualities always exists in association with the other two qualities. Even when we speak of pure sattvam, it is actually 99% sattvam and 1% rajas and tamas. The preacher has to kindle and raise the percentage of sattvam in the disciple and reduce the percentage of rajas and tamas. Hence, every human being is eligible to receive spiritual knowledge. The preacher has to adopt a suitable mode of presentation of the knowledge as per the receptivity and mentality of the disciple. To preach to atheists and convert them to theists, Shankara Himself became an atheist in the beginning. He preached that the soul itself is God and that there is no God other than the soul. By this, He made the atheists agree that God exists because the soul exists!

After answering your question, I would like to give an important advice to you and through you to other people who ask similar questions. Suppose you meet God Krishna, who is the author of the Gita, which is the greatest spiritual scripture. What will you ask Him? Will you ask Him “O God! Please tell me whether Shankara belonged to the sixth century or the seventh century”. Will such a question be useful to you for improving your present condition? You should ask Him “O God! Please tell me what I should do to please You so that I can uplift my soul and rise towards divinity?” The former question is not at all useful for your spiritual progress or even for your materialistic life in this world. Shankara calls such questions as grinding the already well-ground fine powder (Pishtapeshanameva bhavati). The world created by God has various forms of living beings and inert items. What is the use of analyzing the process of creation to know whether human beings came from animals or animals came from human beings? This subject is part of science. It is not related to the spiritual knowledge, which is useful to us. We should only worry about the technique of liberation, by which we can rise from a non-divine life to a divine life. It is what makes our present limited human life perfectly meaningful.


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