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Humans and Earth, Guna and karma

Animal evolutionUniverse consists of 8,400,000 species of plants, animals and humans.

  • There are 900,000 species living in the water.
  • There are also 2,000,000 non-moving living entities (sthavara)
    such as trees and plants.
  • There are also 1,100,000 species of insects and reptiles.
  • There are 1,000,000 species of birds.
  • As far as quadrupeds are concerned there are 3,000,000 varieties.
  • There are 400,000 human species. (Padma Purana)

I became an animal subjected to the gunas and my free will was replaced by the instincts. Gradually I will be elevated to the uncivilized human level. This may take me longer time if I am killed in the animal body by ignorant humans.

"While rotating in the cycle of birth and death again and again in different species because of his own fruitive activities, the dependent living entity, by good fortune, may happen to become a human being. This human birth is very rarely obtained." (SB 8.22.25)

"After many, many births and deaths one achieves the rare human form of life, which, although temporary, affords one the opportunity to attain the highest perfection. Thus a sober human being should quickly endeavor for the ultimate perfection of life as long as his body, which is always subject to death, has not fallen down and died. After all, sense gratification is available even in the most abominable species of life, whereas Krsna consciousness is possible only for a human being." (SB 11.9.29)


Humans in general can be roughly categorized into six general types according to their social, cultural and spiritual advancement (Bhaktivinoda Thakura: Vaishnava-siddhanta-mala, ch.7):

  • Yavanas1) Uncivilized tribes like the Pulindas (aborigines) and the Sabaras (mountain people), etc.

    "Kirata, Huna, Andhra, Pulinda, Pulkasa, Abhira, Sumbha, Yavana, members of the Khasa races and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord, due to His being the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him." (SB 2.4.18)

  • Mlecchas2) Civilized races with developed materialistic knowledge and science, as well as an emphasis on industrialized production; they do not know what is proper moral conduct, nor do they have actual faith in God; these are the characteristics of the mlecchas (meat-eating races), etc.

    "My dear Thakura Haridasa, in this age of Kali most people are bereft of Vedic culture, and therefore they are called yavanas. They are concerned only with killing cows and brahminical culture. In this way they all engage in sinful acts. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 3.50)

  • Buddhists3) Those who have no personal God but are very fond of the natural beauty of the material world, like the Buddhists, etc.

    "Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist." (SB 1.3.24)

    "The scriptures of the Buddhist cult are chiefly based on argument and logic, and they contain nine chief principles. Because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu defeated them in their argument, they could not establish their cult."
    (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 9.49)

  • Druids4) Those whose ethics are endowed with a philosophy and faith of an imaginary God, like the karma-vadis (worshipers of various demigods, etc., who do good with the hope of being elevated to higher planets. This is called imaginary because they believe various demigods to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead.).

    "Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures." (BG 7.20)

    "Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet." (BG 7.23)

  • 5) Those worshipers who accept the true Lord of Creation, but do not perform devotional service unto Him.

    "Persons who want to advance in superior religion are advised to give up all envy of other living entities, whether in relationship to the body, words or mind. There is no religion superior to this." (SB 7.15.8)

  • 6) Those who are fond of the nirvisesa-vada (doctrine of ultimate impersonal oneness), like the jnana-vadis (those who practice the path of intellectually-wrangled spiritual knowledge).

    "Mayavada philosophy is disguised buddhism. My dear Devi, I [Shiva], in the form of brahmana, will teach it in Kali-yuga." (Padma Purana, Uttara khanda, 25.7)

    "O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from this position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet." (SB 10.2.32)


    After being born among the uncivilized humans I will be elevated among the civilized races. My further progress will depend on my guna and karma.

    Guna table
    Three gunas


    Gunas"Material nature consists of three modes - goodness, passion and ignorance. When the eternal living entity comes in contact with nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he becomes conditioned by these modes." (BG 14.5)

    Sattva - "O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge." (BG 14.6)

    Rajas - "The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kunti, and because of this the embodied living entity is bound to material fruitive actions." (BG 14.7)

    Tamas - "O son of Bharata, know that the mode of darkness, born of ignorance, is the delusion of all embodied living entities. The results of this mode are madness, indolence and sleep, which bind the conditioned soul." (BG 14.8)


    Devotees during sankirtanaBhakti - "In this Age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by performance of sankirtana-yajna [congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord]." (SB 11.5.32)

    "Transcendental practices that do not ultimately help one realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead are useless, be they mystic yoga practices, the analytical study of matter, severe austerity, the acceptance of sannyasa, or the study of Vedic literature. All these may be very important aspects of spiritual advancement, but unless one understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, all these processes are useless." (SB 4.31.12)

    SadhuJnana - "Neither religious activities endowed with honesty and mercy nor knowledge obtained with great penance can completely purify one's consciousness if they are bereft of loving service to Me." (SB 11.14.22)

    "The seven great sages [Marici, Vasistha, Atri and so on] reside on planets beneath Dhruvaloka. Well aware of the influence of the water of the Ganges, to this day they keep Ganges water on the tufts of hair on their heads. They have concluded that this is the ultimate wealth, the perfection of all austerities, and the best means of prosecuting transcendental life. Having obtained uninterrupted devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they neglect all other beneficial processes like religion, economic development, sense gratification and even merging into the Supreme. Just as jnanis think that merging into the existence of the Lord is the highest truth, these seven exalted personalities accept devotional service as the perfection of life." (SB 5.17.3)

    Yogi seeing ParamatmaYoga - "In this way, being purified by ritualistic sacrifices, the heart of Maharaja Bharata was completely uncontaminated. His devotional service unto Vasudeva, Lord Krsna, increased day after day. Lord Krsna, the son of Vasudeva, is the original Personality of Godhead manifest as the Supersoul [Paramatma] as well as the impersonal Brahman. Yogis meditate upon the localized Paramatma situated in the heart, jnanis worship the impersonal Brahman as the Supreme Absolute Truth, and devotees worship Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose transcendental body is described in the sastras. His body is decorated with the Srivatsa, the Kaustubha jewel and a flower garland, and His hands hold a conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower. Devotees like Narada always think of Him within their hearts." (SB 5.7.7)

    Working manKarma - "Karmis are always anxious to accumulate wealth for their sense gratification, but for that purpose they must work very hard. Yet even though they work hard, the results are not satisfying. Indeed, sometimes their work results only in frustration. But devotees who have dedicated their lives to the service of the Lord can achieve substantial results without working very hard. These results exceed the devotee's expectations." (SB 8.5.47)

    ButcherVikarma - "Suta Gosvami said: Maharaja Pariksit, thus being petitioned by the personality of Kali, gave him permission to reside in places where gambling, drinking, prostitution and animal slaughter were performed." (SB 1.17.38)

    "If a human being is engaged in sinful, irreligious activities, either because of bad association or because of his failure to control his senses, then such a person will certainly develop a personality full of material desires. He thus becomes miserly toward others, greedy and always anxious to exploit the bodies of women. When the mind is so polluted one becomes violent and aggressive and without the authority of Vedic injunctions slaughters innocent animals for sense gratification. Worshiping ghosts and spirits, the bewildered person falls fully into the grip of unauthorized activities and thus goes to hell, where he receives a material body infected by the darkest modes of nature. In such a degraded body, he unfortunately continues to perform inauspicious activities that greatly increase his future unhappiness, and therefore he again accepts a similar material body. What possible happiness can there be for one who engages in activities inevitably terminating in death?" (SB 1.10.27-29)

    For those who are on the level of Vedic life, dharma sastras (scriptures on dharma) provide definition of the proper behavior leading to elevation. Any deviation from it is called vikarma (negative, degrading karma). Let me examine motivations directing my life and choose my further destination:

      sattva rajas tamas

    Bhurloka (worse human birth)

    Karma Svarga Bila-svarga, Bhurloka
    Jnana Brahman, Sunya

    Bhurloka (better human birth)

    Yoga Muniloka, Hari-dhama Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka
    Bhakti Hari-dhama Svarga, Mahesa-dhama

    The process of elevation on the path back home, back to Godhead, is different in different yugas (cosmic ages) as each yuga has its specific yuga-dharma based on bhakti.





    SB 2.2.15-31 describes the path from the point of view of yoga (Satya-yuga-dharma), SB 7.15.54-55 from the point of view of yajna (Treta-yuga-dharma), BG 8.23-27 from the point of view of upasana (Dvapara-yuga-dharma) and Brhad Bhagavatamrta, part 2, from the point of view of harinama-sankirtana (Kali-yuga-dharma, the process for the current age).

    Dharma - "The Yamadutas replied: That which is prescribed in the Vedas constitutes dharma, the religious principles, and the opposite of that is irreligion. The Vedas are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, and are self-born. This we have heard from Yamaraja." (SB 6.1.40)

    "The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self."
    (SB 1.2.6)

    Vedic cosmology
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