Transmigration Misunderstood

By : 
Bhakta David Lightsey

In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna, on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, tells Arjuna “For one who has taken birth death is certain and for one who is dead birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty you should not lament.”
BG 2.27

The Lord says for one who takes birth death is certain and for the dead birth is certain. Among those who embrace reincarnation, there is some philosopher4s that say once the entity obtains the human form of life one cannot be degraded to the animal species. Their argument is that evolution is forward so being degraded would be against the laws of nature. They reason that there would be no inducement for the entity to step down to a lower stage even if it could do so. They conclude that regardless of how we live we will always have the privilege and luxury of embodying the human form of life.

Bhagavad-gita is one of the foremost authorities on the science of reincarnation. The Supreme Authority, Sri Krsna, is the composer. Sri Krsna states, “The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (15.8) In this verse the entity is described as iśvarah – the lord of the body. The entity is described as carrying his different conceptions, mental thoughts or plans, to another body. Depending upon those conceptions one can either elevate or degrade the body he embodies.

The next verse states, “The living entity, thus taking on another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, tongue, nose, and sense of touch which are grouped about the mind.” (15.9) Depending on how one elevates or degrades his consciousness he obtains a particular body fitting that mentality. If one adulterates his consciousness with the qualities of animals, nature will provide an animal body so he has better facilities to enjoy his animalistic propensities. As stated earlier, the entity is called iśvaram – the lord of his own body which means the entity alone is responsible for his elevation or degradation.

“The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body not can hey understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this clearly.” (15.10) Krsna says jňāna cakşuşah, one who has the eyes of knowledge, they can see all this. The vimūdha, foolish persons, cannot understand. The philosophers who pride themselves on the philosophical speculations lack the eyes of knowledge. We enjoy a particular body under the spell of the modes of nature, namely sattva guna (goodness), raja guna (passion) and tamo guna (ignorance). One who cultivat4es the qualities of a particular mode obtains a suitable body in which to express those qualities.

Krsna says, “When one dies in the mode of goodness he attains to the pure higher planets. When one dies in the mode of passion he takes birth among those engaged in fruitive activities and when one dies in the mode of ignorance he takes birth in the animal kingdom.” (14. 14-15) In these verses Krsna discusses the particular types of bodies one enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. One who dies in ignorance is degraded to the animal kingdom.

“…The mode of ignorance causes the delusion of all living entitles. The result of this mode is madness, indolence and sleep which bind the conditioned soul.” (14.8) A man in the mode of ignorance sleeps more tan required, he is lazy, in madness he neglects cultivating spiritual knowledge and because one is deluded in this mode he cannot understand what is what. If one dies under the spell of tamo guna the injunction of the Supreme Lord is that he will be degraded.

Srila Prabhupada has a good analogy in this regard. He compared our bodies to apartments. The spirit soul resides in this apartment. Nature provides many apartments and according to our propensity we must accept one. We are all spiritual entities and under natures direction we are changing material bodies. Depending on our past activities we are awarded or degraded with a particular type of body. Let’s say you refuse to go to your apartment; the decision is no longer yours, it is not a matter of inducement. It depends on the money (good karma) you have accumulated which decides the quality of your apartment. So the question is … do you have enough money (good karma) to continue to pay the accommodations of the human form of life.

Jňāna cakşuşah – one whose eyes are trained in knowledge cannot be fooled by the philosopher’s speculations. This “one a human, always a human” is dangerously misleading. Sri Krsna is the fountain head of all knowledge. By taking knowledge from His bona fide representative one is sure not to be mislead with “theories” or “perhaps” or “maybes.” When one gains scientific knowledge and can see what is what, knowing there is potential danger of being degraded, they will act sanely and seriously take to cultivating the transcendental qualities.