BIRTH AGAIN // DEATH AGAIN
Bhaktivedanta Vedic Research
We all know how a little child develops in mother's womb because modern science explains it all but did u ever know that all these were spoken in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5000 years ago.This video explains it clearly.
In the 5000 year old Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the world of the unborn, the child's stay in the womb of the mother, its suffering, etc., are all very graphically described. It should be thoroughly understood that birth is distressful. Because we forget how much distress we have suffered within the womb of the mother, we do not make any solution to the repetition of birth and death. Similarly at the time of death there are all kinds of sufferings, and they are also mentioned in the authoritative scriptures. These should be discussed. And as far as disease and old age are concerned, everyone gets practical experience. No one wants to be diseased, and no one wants to become old, but there is no avoiding these. Unless we have a pessimistic view of this material life, considering the distresses of birth, death, old age and disease, there is no impetus for our making advancement in spiritual life.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: Canto 3: “The Status Quo”
Chapter Thirty-one: Lord Kapila’s Instructions
on the Movements of the Living Entities
The Personality of Godhead said: Under the supervision of the Supreme Lord and according to the result of his work, the living entity, the soul, is made to enter into the womb of a woman through the particle of male semen to assume a particular type of body. (SB 3.31.1)
On the first night, the sperm and ovum mix, and on the fifth night the mixture ferments into a bubble. On the tenth night it develops into a form like a plum, and after that, it gradually turns into a lump of flesh or an egg, as the case may be. (SB 3.31.2)
In the course of a month, a head is formed, and at the end of two months the hands, feet and other limbs take shape. By the end of three months, the nails, fingers, toes, body hair, bones and skin appear, as do the organ of generation and the other apertures in the body, namely the eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth and anus. (SB 3.31.3)
Within four months from the date of conception, the seven essential ingredients of the body, namely chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semen, come into existence. At the end of five months, hunger and thirst make themselves felt, and at the end of six months, the fetus, enclosed by the amnion, begins to move on the right side of the abdomen. (SB 3.31.4)
Deriving its nutrition from the food and drink taken by the mother, the fetus grows and remains in that abominable residence of stools and urine, which is the breeding place of all kinds of worms. (SB 3.31.5)
Bitten again and again all over the body by the hungry worms in the abdomen itself, the child suffers terrible agony because of his tenderness. He thus becomes unconscious moment after moment because of the terrible condition. (SB 3.31.6)
Owing to the mother’s eating bitter, pungent foodstuffs, or food which is too salty or too sour, the body of the child incessantly suffers pains which are almost intolerable. (SB 3.31.7)
Placed within the amnion and covered outside by the intestines, the child remains lying on one side of the abdomen, his head turned towards his belly and his back and neck arched like a bow. (SB 3.31.8)
The child thus remains just like a bird in a cage, without freedom of movement. At that time, if the child is fortunate, he can remember all the troubles of his past one hundred births, and he grieves wretchedly. What is the possibility of peace of mind in that condition? (SB 3.31.9)
Thus endowed with the development of consciousness from the seventh month after his conception, the child is tossed downward by the airs that press the embryo during the weeks preceding delivery. Like the worms born of the same filthy abdominal cavity, he cannot remain in one place. (SB 3.31.10)
The living entity in this frightful condition of life, bound by seven layers of material ingredients, prays with folded hands, appealing to the Lord, who has put him in that condition. (SB 3.31.11)
The human soul says: I take shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears in His various eternal forms and walks on the surface of the world. I take shelter of Him only, because He can give me relief from all fear and from Him I have received this condition of life, which is just befitting my impious activities. (SB 3.31.12)
I, the pure soul, appearing now bound by my activities, am lying in the womb of my mother by the arrangement of māyā. I offer my respectful obeisances unto Him who is also here with me but who is unaffected and changeless. He is unlimited, but He is perceived in the repentant heart. To Him I offer my respectful obeisances. (SB 3.31.13)
I am separated from the Supreme Lord because of my being in this material body, which is made of five elements, and therefore my qualities and senses are being misused, although I am essentially spiritual. Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is transcendental to material nature and the living entities, because He is devoid of such a material body, and because He is always glorious in His spiritual qualities, I offer my obeisances unto Him. (SB 3.31.14)
The human soul further prays: The living entity is put under the influence of material nature and continues a hard struggle for existence on the path of repeated birth and death. This conditional life is due to his forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, without the Lord’s mercy, how can he again engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord? (SB 3.31.15)
No one other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as the localized Paramātmā, the partial representation of the Lord, is directing all inanimate and animate objects. He is present in the three phases of time—past, present and future. Therefore, the conditioned soul is engaged in different activities by His direction, and in order to get free from the threefold miseries of this conditional life, we have to surrender unto Him only. (SB 3.31.16)
Fallen into a pool of blood, stool and urine within the abdomen of his mother, his own body scorched by the mother’s gastric fire, the embodied soul, anxious to get out, counts his months and prays, “O my Lord, when shall I, a wretched soul, be released from this confinement?” (SB 3.31.17)
My dear Lord, by Your causeless mercy I am awakened to consciousness, although I am only ten months old. For this causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the friend of all fallen souls, there is no way to express my gratitude but to pray with folded hands. (SB 3.31.18)
The living entity in another type of body sees only by instinct; he knows only the agreeable and disagreeable sense perceptions of that particular body. But I have a body in which I can control my senses and can understand my destination; therefore, I offer my respectful obeisances to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by whom I have been blessed with this body and by whose grace I can see Him within and without. (SB 3.31.19)
Therefore, my Lord, although I am living in a terrible condition, I do not wish to depart from my mother’s abdomen to fall again into the blind well of materialistic life. Your external energy, called deva-māyā, at once captures the newly born child, and immediately false identification, which is the beginning of the cycle of continual birth and death, begins. (SB 3.31.20)
Therefore, without being agitated any more, I shall deliver myself from the darkness of nescience with the help of my friend, clear consciousness. Simply by keeping the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu in my mind, I shall be saved from entering into the wombs of many mothers for repeated birth and death. (SB 3.31.21)
Lord Kapila continued: The ten-month-old living entity has these desires even while in the womb. But while he thus extols the Lord, the wind that helps parturition propels him forth with his face turned downward so that he may be born. (SB 3.31.22)
Pushed downward all of a sudden by the wind, the child comes out with great trouble, head downward, breathless and deprived of memory due to severe agony. (SB 3.31.23)
The child thus falls on the ground, smeared with stool and blood, and plays just like a worm germinated from the stool. He loses his superior knowledge and cries under the spell of māyā. (SB 3.31.24)
After coming out of the abdomen, the child is given to the care of persons who are unable to understand what he wants, and thus he is nursed by such persons. Unable to refuse whatever is given to him, he falls into undesirable circumstances. (SB 3.31.25)
Laid down on a foul bed infested with sweat and germs, the poor child is incapable of scratching his body to get relief from his itching sensation to say nothing of sitting up, standing or even moving. (SB 3.31.26)
In his helpless condition, gnats, mosquitoes, bugs and other germs bite the baby, whose skin is tender, just as smaller worms bite a big worm. The child, deprived of his wisdom, cries bitterly. (SB 3.31.27)
In this way, the child passes through his childhood, suffering different kinds of distress, and attains boyhood. In boyhood also he suffers pain over desires to get things he can never achieve. And thus, due to ignorance, he becomes angry and sorry. (SB 3.31.28)
With the growth of the body, the living entity, in order to vanquish his soul, increases his false prestige and anger and thereby creates enmity towards similarly lusty people. (SB 3.31.29)
By such ignorance the living entity accepts the material body, which is made of five elements, as himself. With this misunderstanding, he accepts nonpermanent things as his own and increases his ignorance in the darkest region. (SB 3.31.30)
For the sake of the body, which is a source of constant trouble to him and which follows him because he is bound by ties of ignorance and fruitive activities, he performs various actions which cause him to be subjected to repeated birth and death. (SB 3.31.31)
Due to his particular type of body, the materialistic living entity wanders from one planet to another, following fruitive activities. In this way, he involves himself in fruitive activities and enjoys the result incessantly. (SB 3.31.43 )
In this way the living entity gets a suitable body with a material mind and senses, according to his fruitive activities. When the reaction of his particular activity comes to an end, that end is called death, and when a particular type of reaction begins, that beginning is called birth. (SB 3.31.44)
When the eyes lose their power to see color or form due to morbid affliction of the optic nerve, the sense of sight becomes deadened. The living entity, who is the seer of both the eyes and the sight, loses his power of vision. In the same way, when the physical body, the place where perception of objects occurs, is rendered incapable of perceiving, that is known as death. When one begins to view the physical body as one’s very self, that is called birth. (SB 3.31.45-46)
BY A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
SB 3.31.1 PURPORT
As stated in the last chapter, after suffering different kinds of hellish conditions, a man comes again to the human form of body. The same topic is continued in this chapter. In order to give a particular type of human form to a person who has already suffered hellish life, the soul is transferred to the semen of a man who is just suitable to become his father. During sexual intercourse, the soul is transferred through the semen of the father into the mother’s womb in order to produce a particular type of body. This process is applicable to all embodied living entities, but it is especially mentioned for the man who was transferred to the Andha-tāmisra hell. After suffering there, when he who has had many types of hellish bodies, like those of dogs and hogs, is to come again to the human form, he is given the chance to take his birth in the same type of body from which he degraded himself to hell.
Everything is done by the supervision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Material nature supplies the body, but it does so under the direction of the Supersoul. It is said in Bhagavad-gītā that a living entity is wandering in this material world on a chariot made by material nature. The Supreme Lord, as Supersoul, is always present with the individual soul. He directs material nature to supply a particular type of body to the individual soul according to the result of his work, and the material nature supplies it. Here one word, retaḥ-kaṇāśrayaḥ, is very significant because it indicates that it is not the semen of the man that creates life within the womb of a woman; rather, the living entity, the soul, takes shelter in a particle of semen and is then pushed into the womb of a woman. Then the body develops. There is no possibility of creating a living entity without the presence of the soul simply by sexual intercourse. The materialistic theory that there is no soul and that a child is born simply by material combination of the sperm and ovum is not very feasible. It is unacceptable.
SB 3.31.2 PURPORT
The body of the soul develops in four different ways according to its different sources. One kind of body, that of the trees and plants, sprouts from the earth; the second kind of body grows from perspiration, as with flies, germs and bugs; the third kind of body develops from eggs; and the fourth develops from an embryo. This verse indicates that after emulsification of the ovum and sperm, the body gradually develops either into a lump of flesh or into an egg, as the case may be. In the case of birds it develops into an egg, and in the case of animals and human beings it develops into a lump of flesh.
SB 3.31.4 PURPORT
When the body of the child is completely formed at the end of six months, the child, if he is male, begins to move on the right side, and if female, she tries to move on the left side.
SB 3.31.5 PURPORT
In the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa it is said that in the intestine of the mother the umbilical cord, which is known as āpyāyanī, joins the mother to the abdomen of the child, and through this passage the child within the womb accepts the mother’s assimilated foodstuff. In this way the child is fed by the mother’s intestine within the womb and grows from day to day. The statement of the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa about the child’s situation within the womb is exactly corroborated by modern medical science, and thus the authority of the purāṇas cannot be disproved, as is sometimes attempted by the Māyāvādī philosophers.
Since the child depends completely on the assimilated foodstuff of the mother, during pregnancy there are restrictions on the food taken by the mother. Too much salt, chili, onion and similar food is forbidden for the pregnant mother because the child’s body is too delicate and new for him to tolerate such pungent food. Restrictions and precautions to be taken by the pregnant mother, as enunciated in the smṛti scriptures of Vedic literature, are very useful. We can understand from the Vedic literature how much care is taken to beget a nice child in society. The garbhādhāna ceremony before sexual intercourse was compulsory for persons in the higher grades of society, and it is very scientific. Other processes recommended in the Vedic literature during pregnancy are also very important. To take care of the child is the primary duty of the parents because if such care is taken, society will be filled with good population to maintain the peace and prosperity of the society, country and human race.
SB 3.31.6 PURPORT
The miserable condition of material existence is not only felt when we come out of the womb of the mother, but is also present within the womb. Miserable life begins from the moment the living entity begins to contact his material body. Unfortunately, we forget this experience and do not take the miseries of birth very seriously. In Bhagavad-gītā, therefore, it is specifically mentioned that one should be very alert to understand the specific difficulties of birth and death. Just as during the formation of this body we have to pass through so many difficulties within the womb of the mother, at the time of death there are also many difficulties. As described in the previous chapter, one has to transmigrate from one body to another, and the transmigration into the bodies of dogs and hogs is especially miserable. But despite such miserable conditions, due to the spell of māyā we forget everything and become enamored by the present so-called happiness, which is described as actually no more than a counteraction to distress.
SB 3.31.7 PURPORT
All descriptions of the child’s bodily situation in the womb of the mother are beyond our conception. It is very difficult to remain in such a position, but still the child has to remain. Because his consciousness is not very developed, the child can tolerate it, otherwise he would die. That is the benediction of māyā, who endows the suffering body with the qualifications for tolerating such terrible tortures.
SB 3.31.8 PURPORT
If a grown man were put into such a condition as the child within the abdomen, completely entangled in all respects, it would be impossible for him to live even for a few seconds. Unfortunately, we forget all these sufferings and try to be happy in this life, not caring for the liberation of the soul from the entanglement of birth and death. It is an unfortunate civilization in which these matters are not plainly discussed to make people understand the precarious condition of material existence.
SB 3.31.9 PURPORT
After birth the child may forget about the difficulties of his past lives, but when we are grown-up we can at least understand the grievous tortures undergone at birth and death by reading the authorized scriptures like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. If we do not believe in the scriptures, that is a different question, but if we have faith in the authority of such descriptions, then we must prepare for our freedom in the next life; that is possible in this human form of life. One who does not take heed of these indications of suffering in human existence is said to be undoubtedly committing suicide. It is said that this human form of life is the only means for crossing over the nescience of māyā, or material existence. We have a very efficient boat in this human form of body, and there is a very expert captain, the spiritual master; the scriptural injunctions are like favorable winds. If we do not cross over the ocean of the nescience of material existence in spite of all these facilities, then certainly we are all intentionally committing suicide.
SB 3.31.10 PURPORT
At the end of the seventh month the child is moved by the bodily air and does not remain in the same place, for the entire uterine system becomes slackened before delivery. The worms have been described here as sodara. Sodara means “born of the same mother.” Since the child is born from the womb of the mother and the worms are also born of fermentation within the womb of the same mother, under the circumstances the child and the worms are actually brothers. We are very anxious to establish universal brotherhood among human beings, but we should take into consideration that even the worms are our brothers, what to speak of other living entities. Therefore, we should be concerned about all living entities.
SB 3.31.11 PURPORT
It is said that when a woman is having labor pains she promises that she will never again become pregnant and suffer from such a severely painful condition. Similarly, when one is undergoing some surgical operation he promises that he will never again act in such a way as to become diseased and have to undergo medical surgery, or when one falls into danger, he promises that he will never again make the same mistake. Similarly, the living entity, when put into a hellish condition of life, prays to the Lord that he will never again commit sinful activities and have to be put into the womb for repeated birth and death. In the hellish condition within the womb the living entity is very much afraid of being born again, but when he is out of the womb, when he is in full life and good health, he forgets everything and commits again and again the same sins for which he was put into that horrible condition of existence.
SB 3.31.12 PURPORT
The word calac-caraṇāravindam refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who actually walks or travels upon the surface of the world. For example, Lord Rāmacandra actually walked on the surface of the world, and Lord Kṛṣṇa also walked just like an ordinary man. The prayer is therefore offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who descends to the surface of this earth, or any part of this universe, for the protection of the pious and the destruction of the impious. It is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā that when there is an increase of irreligion and discrepancies arise in the real religious activities, the Supreme Lord comes to protect the pious and kill the impious. This verse indicates Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Another significant point in this verse is that the Lord comes, icchayā, by His own will. As Kṛṣṇa confirms in Bhagavad-gītā, sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā: [Bg. 4.6] “I appear at My will, by My internal potential power.” He is not forced to come by the laws of material nature. It is stated here, icchayā: He does not assume any form, as the impersonalists think, because He comes at His own will, and the form in which He descends is His eternal form. As the Supreme Lord puts the living entity into the condition of horrible existence, He can also deliver him, and therefore one should seek shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa demands, “Give up everything and surrender unto Me.” And it is also said in Bhagavad-gītā that anyone who approaches Him does not come back again to accept a form in material existence, but goes back to Godhead, back home, never to return.
SB 3.31.13 PURPORT
As stated in the previous verse, the jīva soul says, “I take shelter of the Supreme Lord.” Therefore, constitutionally, the jīva soul is the subordinate servitor of the Supreme Soul, the Personality of Godhead. Both the Supreme Soul and the jīva soul are sitting in the same body, as confirmed in the Upaniṣads. They are sitting as friends, but one is suffering, and the other is aloof from suffering.
In this verse it is said, viśuddham avikāram akhaṇḍa-bodham: the Supersoul is always sitting apart from all contamination. The living entity is contaminated and suffering because he has a material body, but that does not mean that because the Lord is also with him, He also has a I material body. He is avikāram, changeless. He is always the same Supreme, but unfortunately the Māyāvādī philosophers, because of their impure hearts, cannot understand that the Supreme Soul, the Supersoul, is different from the individual soul. It is said here, ātapyamāna-hṛdaye ’vasitam: He is in the heart of every living entity, but He can be realized only by a soul who is repentant. The individual soul becomes repentant that he forgot his constitutional position, wanted to become one with the Supreme Soul and tried his best to lord it over material nature. He has been baffled, and therefore he is repentant. At that time, Supersoul, or the relationship between the Supersoul and the individual soul, is realized. As it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, after many, many births the knowledge comes to the conditioned soul that Vāsudeva is great, He is master, and He is Lord. The individual soul is the servant, and therefore he surrenders unto Him. At that time he becomes a mahātmā, a great soul. Therefore, a fortunate living being who comes to this understanding, even within the womb of his mother, has his liberation assured.
SB 3.31.14 PURPORT
The difference between the living entity and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is that the living entity is prone to be subjected to material nature, whereas the Supreme Godhead is always transcendental to material nature as well as to the living entities. When the living entity is put into material nature, then his senses and qualities are polluted, or designated. There is no possibility for the Supreme Lord to become embodied by material qualities or material senses, for He is above the influence of material nature and cannot possibly be put in the darkness of ignorance like the living entities. Because of His full knowledge, He is never subjected to the influence of material nature. Material nature is always under His control, and it is therefore not possible that material nature can control the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Since the identity of the living entity is very minute, he is prone to be subjected to material nature, but when he is freed from this material body, which is false, he attains the same, spiritual nature as the Supreme Lord. At that time there is no qualitative difference between him and the Supreme Lord, but because he is not so quantitatively powerful as to never be put under the influence of material nature, he is quantitatively different from the Lord.
The entire process of devotional service is to purify oneself of this contamination of material nature and put oneself on the spiritual platform, where he is qualitatively one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Vedas it is said that the living entity is always free. Asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ. The living entity is liberated. His material contamination is temporary, and his actual position is that he is liberated. This liberation is achieved by Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which begins from the point of surrender. Therefore it is said here, “I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Person.”
SB 3.31.15 PURPORT
The Māyāvādī philosophers say that simply by cultivation of knowledge by mental speculation, one can be liberated from the condition of material bondage. But here it is said one is liberated not by knowledge but by the mercy of the Supreme Lord. The knowledge the conditioned soul gains by mental speculation, however powerful it may be, is always too imperfect to approach the Absolute Truth. It is said that without the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead one cannot understand Him or His actual form, quality and name. Those who are not in devotional service go on speculating for many, many thousands of years, but they are still unable to understand the nature of the Absolute Truth.
One can be liberated in the knowledge of the Absolute Truth simply by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is clearly said herein that our memory is lost because we are now covered by His material energy. Arguments may be put forward as to why we have been put under the influence of this material energy by the supreme will of the Lord. This is explained in Bhagavad-gītā, where the Lord says, “I am sitting in everyone’s heart, and due to Me one is forgetful or one is alive in knowledge.” The forgetfulness of the conditioned soul is also due to the direction of the Supreme Lord. A living entity misuses his little independence when he wants to lord it over material nature. This misuse of independence, which is called māyā, is always available, otherwise there would be no independence. Independence implies that one can use it properly or improperly. It is not static; it is dynamic. Therefore, misuse of independence is the cause of being influenced by māyā.
Māyā is so strong that the Lord says that it is very difficult to surmount her influence. But one can do so very easily “if he surrenders unto Me.” Mām eva ye prapadyante: anyone who surrenders unto Him can overcome the influence of the stringent laws of material nature. It is clearly said here that a living entity is put under the influence of māyā by His will, and if anyone wants to get out of this entanglement, this can be made possible simply by His mercy.
The activities of the conditioned souls under the influence of material nature are explained here. Every conditioned soul is engaged in different types of work under the influence of material nature. We can see in the material world that the conditioned soul acts so powerfully that he is playing wonderfully in creating the so-called advancements of material civilization for sense gratification. But actually his position is to know that he is an eternal servant of the Supreme Lord. When he is actually in perfect knowledge, he knows that the Lord is the supreme worshipful object and that the living entity is His eternal servant. Without this knowledge, he engages in material activities; that is called ignorance.
SB 3.31.16 PURPORT
When a conditioned soul is seriously anxious to get out of the influence of the material clutches, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated within him as Paramātmā, gives him this knowledge: “Surrender unto Me.” As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā, “Give up all other engagements. Just surrender unto Me.” It is to be accepted that the source of knowledge is the Supreme Person. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. Mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca [Bg. 15.15]. The Lord says, “Through Me one gets real knowledge and memory, and one also forgets through Me.” To one who wants to be materially satisfied or who wants to lord it over material nature, the Lord gives the opportunity to forget His service and engage in the so-called happiness of material activities. Similarly, when one is frustrated in lording it over material nature and is very serious about getting out of this material entanglement, the Lord, from within, gives him the knowledge that he has to surrender unto Him; then there is liberation.
This knowledge cannot be imparted by anyone other than the Supreme Lord or His representative. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta Lord Caitanya instructs Rūpa Gosvāmī that the living entities wander in life after life, undergoing the miserable conditions of material existence. But when one is very anxious to get free from the material entanglement, he gets enlightenment through a spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa. This means that Kṛṣṇa as the Supersoul is seated within the heart of the living entity, and when the living entity is serious, the Lord directs him to take shelter of His representative, a bona fide spiritual master. Directed from within and guided externally by the spiritual master, one attains the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is the way out of the material clutches.
Therefore there is no possibility of one’s being situated in his own position unless he is blessed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unless he is enlightened with the supreme knowledge, one has to undergo the severe penalties of the hard struggle for existence in the material nature. The spiritual master is therefore the mercy manifestation of the Supreme Person. The conditioned soul has to take direct instruction from the spiritual master, and thus he gradually becomes enlightened to the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The seed of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is sown within the heart of the conditioned soul, and when one hears instruction from the spiritual master, the seed fructifies, and one’s life is blessed.
The precarious condition of the living entity within the womb of his mother is described here. On one side of where the child is floating is the heat of gastric fire, and on the other side are urine, stool, blood and discharges. After seven months the child, who has regained his consciousness, feels the horrible condition of his existence and prays to the Lord. Counting the months until his release, he becomes greatly anxious to get out of the confinement. The so-called civilized man does not take account of this horrible condition of life, and sometimes, for the purpose of sense gratification, he tries to kill the child by methods of contraception or abortion. Unserious about the horrible condition in the womb, such persons continue in materialism, grossly misusing the chance of the human form of life.
The word kṛpaṇa-dhīḥ is significant in this verse. Dhī means “intelligence,” and kṛpaṇa means “miserly.” Conditional life is for persons who are of miserly intelligence or who do not properly utilize their intelligence. In the human form of life the intelligence is developed, and one has to utilize that developed intelligence to get out of the cycle of birth and death. One who does not do so is a miser, just like a person who has immense wealth but does not utilize it, keeping it simply to see. A person who does not actually utilize his human intelligence to get out of the clutches of māyā, the cycle of birth and death, is accepted as miserly. The exact opposite of miserly is udāra, “very magnanimous.” A brāhmaṇa is called udāra because he utilizes his human intelligence for spiritual realization. He uses that intelligence to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness for the benefit of the public, and therefore he is magnanimous.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, intelligence and forgetfulness are both supplied by the Supersoul sitting with the individual soul within the body. When He sees that a conditioned soul is very serious about getting out of the clutches of the material influence, the Supreme Lord gives intelligence internally as Supersoul and externally as the spiritual master, or, as an incarnation of the Personality of Godhead Himself, He helps by speaking instructions such as Bhagavad-gītā. The Lord is always seeking the opportunity to reclaim the fallen souls to His abode, the kingdom of God. We should always feel very much obliged to the Personality of Godhead, for He is always anxious to bring us into the happy condition of eternal life. There is no sufficient means to repay the Personality of Godhead for His act of benediction; therefore, we can simply feel gratitude and pray to the Lord with folded hands. This prayer of the child in the womb may be questioned by some atheistic people. How can a child pray in such a nice way in the womb of his mother? Everything is possible by the grace of the Lord. The child is put into such a precarious condition externally, but internally he is the same, and the Lord is there. By the transcendental energy of the Lord, everything is possible.
The evolutionary process of different types of bodies is something like that of a fructifying flower. Just as there are different stages in the growth of a flower—the bud stage, the blooming stage and the full species of bodies in gradual evolution, and there is systematic progress from the lower species of life to the higher. The human form of life is supposed to be the highest, for it offers consciousness for getting out of the clutches of birth and death. The fortunate child in the womb of his mother realizes his superior position and is thereby distinguished from other bodies. Animals in bodies lower than that of the human being are conscious only as far as their bodily distress and happiness are concerned; they cannot think of more than their bodily necessities of life—eating, sleeping, mating and defending. But in the human form of life, by the grace of God, the consciousness is so developed that a man can evaluate his exceptional position and thus realize the self and the Supreme Lord.
The word dama-śarīrī means that we have a body in which we can control the senses and the mind. The complication of materialistic life is due to an uncontrolled mind and uncontrolled senses. One should feel grateful to the Supreme Personality of Godhead for having obtained such a nice human form of body, and one should properly utilize it. The distinction between an animal and a man is that the animal cannot control himself and has no sense of decency, whereas the human being has the sense of decency and can control himself. If this controlling power is not exhibited by the human being, then he is no better than an animal. By controlling the senses, or by the process of yoga regulation, one can understand the position of his self, the Supersoul, the world and their interrelation; everything is possible by controlling the senses. Otherwise, we are no better than animals.
Real self-realization by means of controlling the senses is explained herein. One should try to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead and one’s own self also. To think oneself the same as the Supreme is not self-realization. Here it is clearly explained that the Supreme Lord is anādi, or purāṇa, and He has no other cause. The living entity is born of the Supreme Godhead as part and parcel. It is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā, anādir ādir govindaḥ: [Bs. 5.1] Govinda, the Supreme person, has no cause. He is unborn. But the living entity is born of Him. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, mamaivāṁśaḥ: both the living entity and the Supreme Lord are unborn, but it has to be understood that the supreme cause of the part and parcel is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Brahma-saṁhitā therefore says that everything has come from the Supreme Personality of Godhead (sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam [Bs. 5.1]). The Vedānta-sūtra confirms this also. Janmādy asya yataḥ: [Bhāg. 1.1.1] the Absolute Truth is the original source of everyone’s birth. Kṛṣṇa also says in Bhagavad-gītā, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: “I am the source of birth of everything, including Brahmā and Lord Śiva and the living entities.” This is self-realization. One should know that he is under the control of the Supreme Lord and not think that he is fully independent. Otherwise, why should he be put into conditional life?
As long as the child is within the womb of his mother, he is in a very precarious and horrible condition of life, but the benefit is that he revives pure consciousness of his relationship with the Supreme Lord and prays for deliverance. But once he is outside the abdomen, when a child is born, māyā, or the illusory energy, is so strong that he is immediately overpowered into considering his body to be his self. Māyā means “illusion,” or that which is actually not. In the material world, everyone is identifying with his body. This false egoistic consciousness of “I am this body” at once develops after the child comes out of the womb. The mother and other relatives are awaiting the child, and as soon as he is born, the mother feeds him, and everyone takes care of him. The living entity soon forgets his position and becomes entangled in bodily relationships. The entire material existence is entanglement in this bodily conception of life. Real knowledge means to develop the consciousness of “I am not this body. I am spirit soul, an eternal part and parcel of the Supreme Lord.” Real knowledge entails renunciation, or nonacceptance of this body as the self.
By the influence of māyā, the external energy, one forgets everything just after birth. Therefore the child is praying that he prefers to remain within the womb rather than come out. It is said that Śukadeva Gosvāmī, on this consideration, remained for sixteen years within the womb of his mother; he did not want to be entangled in false bodily identification. After cultivating such knowledge within the womb of his mother, he came out at the end of sixteen years and immediately left home so that he might not be captured by the influence of māyā. The influence of māyā is also explained in Bhagavad-gītā as insurmountable. But insurmountable māyā can be overcome simply by Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te. Whoever surrenders unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa can get out of this false conception of life. By the influence of māyā only, one forgets his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa and identifies himself with his body and the by-products of the body—namely wife, children, society, friendship and love. Thus he becomes a victim of the influence of māyā, and his materialistic life of continued birth and death becomes still more stringent.
The miseries of material existence begin from the very day when the spirit soul takes shelter in the ovum and sperm of the mother and father, they continue after he is born from the womb, and then they are further prolonged. We do not know where the suffering ends. It does not end, however, by one’s changing his body. The change of body is taking place at every moment, but that does not mean that we are improving from the fetal condition of life to a more comfortable condition. The best thing is, therefore, to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Here it is stated, upasādita-viṣṇu-pādaḥ. This means realization of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One who is intelligent, by the grace of the Lord, and develops Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is successful in his life because simply by keeping himself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he will be saved from the repetition of birth and death.
The child prays that it is better to remain within the womb of darkness and be constantly absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness than to get out and again fall a victim to the illusory energy. The illusory energy acts within the abdomen as well as outside the abdomen, but the trick is that one should remain Kṛṣṇa conscious, and then the effect of such a horrible condition cannot act unfavorably upon him. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that one’s intelligence is his friend, and the same intelligence can also be his enemy. Here also the same idea is repeated: suhṛdātmanaiva, friendly intelligence. Absorption of intelligence in the personal service of Kṛṣṇa and full consciousness of Kṛṣṇa always are the path of self-realization and liberation. Without being unnecessarily agitated, if we take to the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness by constantly chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, the cycle of birth and death can be stopped for good.
It may be questioned herein how the child can be fully Kṛṣṇa conscious within the womb of the mother without any paraphernalia with which to execute Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is not necessary to arrange for paraphernalia to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. The child wants to remain within the abdomen of its mother and at the same time wants to become free from the clutches of māyā. One does not need any material arrangement to cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One can cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness anywhere and everywhere, provided he can always think of Kṛṣṇa. The mahā-mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, can be chanted even within the abdomen of one’s mother. One can chant while sleeping, while working, while imprisoned in the womb or while outside. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be checked in any circumstance. The conclusion of the child’s prayer is: “Let me remain in this condition; although it is very miserable, it is better not to fall a victim to māyā again by going outside.”
The word kṛcchreṇa means “with great difficulty.” When the child comes out of the abdomen through the narrow passage, due to pressure there the breathing system completely stops, and due to agony the child loses his memory. Sometimes the trouble is so severe that the child comes Out dead or almost dead. One can imagine what the pangs of birth are like. The child remains for ten months in that horrible condition within the abdomen, and at the end of ten months he is forcibly pushed out. In Bhagavad-gītā the Lord points out that a person who is serious about advancement in spiritual consciousness should always consider the four pangs of birth, death, disease and old age. The materialist advances in many ways, but he is unable to stop these four principles of suffering inherent in material existence.
Within the abdomen of the mother, the nourishment of the child was being carried on by nature’s own arrangement. The atmosphere within the abdomen was not at all pleasing, but as far as the child’s feeding was concerned, it was being properly done by the laws of nature. But upon coming out of the abdomen the child falls into a different atmosphere. He wants to eat one thing, but something else is given to him because no one knows his actual demand, and he cannot refuse the undesirables given to him. Sometimes the child cries for the mother’s breast, but because the nurse thinks that it is due to pain within his stomach that he is crying, she supplies him some bitter medicine. The child does not want it, but he cannot refuse it. He is put in very awkward circumstances, and the suffering continues.
It should be noted that the child is born crying and suffering. After birth the same suffering continues, and he cries. Because he is disturbed by the germs in his foul bed, which is contaminated by his urine and stool, the poor child continues to cry. He is unable to take any remedial measure for his relief.
The word vigata jñānam means that the spiritual knowledge which the child developed in the abdomen is already lost to the spell of māyā. Owing to various kinds of disturbances and to being out of the abdomen, the child cannot remember what he was thinking of for his salvation. It is assumed that even if a person acquires some spiritually uplifting knowledge, circumstantially he is prone to forget it. Not only children but also elderly persons should be very careful to protect their sense of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and avoid unfavorable circumstances so that they may not forget their prime duty.
From birth to the end of five years of age is called childhood. After five years up to the end of the fifteenth year is called paugaṇḍa. At sixteen years of age, youth begins. The distresses of childhood are already explained, but when the child attains boyhood he is enrolled in a school which he does not like. He wants to play, but he is forced to go to school and study and take responsibility for passing examinations. Another kind of distress is that he wants to get some things with which to play, but circumstances may be such that he is not able to attain them, and he thus becomes aggrieved and feels pain. In one word, he is unhappy, even in his boyhood, just as he was unhappy in his childhood, what to speak of youth. Boys are apt to create so many artificial demands for playing, and when they do not attain satisfaction they become furious with anger, and the result is suffering.
In Bhagavad-gītā, Third Chapter, verse 36, Arjuna inquired from Kṛṣṇa about the cause of a living being’s lust. It is said that a living entity is eternal and, as such, qualitatively one with the Supreme Lord. Then what is the reason he falls prey to the material and commits so many sinful activities by the influence of the material energy? In reply to this question, Lord Kṛṣṇa said that it is lust which causes a living entity to glide down from his exalted position to the abominable condition of material existence. This lust circumstantially changes into anger. Both lust and anger stand on the platform of the mode of passion. Lust is actually the product of the mode of passion, and in the absence of satisfaction of lust, the same desire transforms into anger on the platform of ignorance. When ignorance covers the soul, it is the source of his degradation to the most abominable condition of hellish life.
To raise oneself from hellish life to the highest position of spiritual understanding is to transform this lust into love of Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, a great ācārya of the Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, said, kāma kṛṣṇa-karmārpaṇe: due to our lust, we want many things for our sense gratification, but the same lust can be transformed in a purified way so that we want everything for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Anger also can be utilized towards a person who is atheistic or who is envious of the Personality of Godhead. As we have fallen into this material existence because of our lust and anger, the same two qualities can be utilized for the purpose of advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and one can elevate himself again to his former pure, spiritual position. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has therefore recommended that because in material existence we have so many objects of sense gratification, which we need for the maintenance of the body, we should use all of them without attachment, for the purpose of satisfying the senses of Kṛṣṇa; that is actual renunciation.
The expansion of ignorance is explained in this verse. The first ignorance is to identify one’s material body, which is made of five elements, as the self, and the second is to accept something as one’s own due to a bodily connection. In this way, ignorance expands. The living entity is eternal, but because of his accepting nonpermanent things, misidentifying his interest, he is put into ignorance, and therefore he suffers material pangs.
In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that one has to work to satisfy Yajña, or Viṣṇu, for any work done without the purpose of satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a cause of bondage. In the conditioned state a living entity, accepting his body as himself, forgets his eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and acts on the interest of his body. He takes the body as himself, his bodily expansions as his kinsmen, and the land from which his body is born as worshipable. In this way he performs all sorts of misconceived activities, which lead to his perpetual bondage in repetition of birth and death in various species.
In modern civilization, the so-called social, national and government leaders mislead people more and more, under the bodily conception of life, with the result that all the leaders, with their followers, are gliding down to hellish conditions birth after birth. An example is given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānāḥ: when a blind man leads several other blind men, the result is that all of them fall down in a ditch. This is actually happening. There are many leaders to lead the ignorant public, but because every one of them is bewildered by the bodily conception of life, there is no peace and prosperity in human society. So-called yogīs who perform various bodily feats are also in the same category as such ignorant people because the haṭha-yoga system is especially recommended for persons who are grossly implicated in the bodily conception. The conclusion is that as long as one is fixed in the bodily conception, he has to suffer birth and death.
SB 3.31.43 PURPORT
When the living entity is encaged in the material body, he is called jīva-bhūta, and when he is free from the material body he is called brahma-bhūta. By changing his material body birth after birth, he travels not only in the different species of life, but also from one planet to another. Lord Caitanya says that the living entities, bound up by fruitive activities, are wandering in this way throughout the whole universe, and if by some chance or by pious activities they get in touch with a bona fide spiritual master, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, then they get the seed of devotional service. After getting this seed, if one sows it within his heart and pours water on it by hearing and chanting, the seed grows into a big plant, and there are fruits and flowers which the living entity can enjoy, even in this material world. That is called the brahma-bhūta stage. In his designated condition, a living entity is called materialistic, and upon being freed from all designations, when he is fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, engaged in devotional service, he is called liberated. Unless one gets the opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of the Lord, there is no possibility of one’s liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the different species of life and through the different grades of planets.
SB 3.31.44 PURPORT
From time immemorial, the living entity travels in the different species of life and the different planets, almost perpetually. This process is explained in Bhagavad-gītā. Bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā: [Bg. 18.61] under the spell of māyā, everyone is wandering throughout the universe on the carriage of the body offered by the material energy. Materialistic life involves a series of actions and reactions. It is a long film spool of actions and reactions, and one life-span is just a flash in such a reactionary show. When a child is born, it is to be understood that his particular type of body is the beginning of another set of activities, and when an old man dies, it is to be understood that one set of reactionary activities is finished.
We can see that because of different reactionary activities, one man is born in a rich family, and another is born in a poor family, although both of them are born in the same place, at the same moment and in the same atmosphere. One who is carrying pious activity with him is given a chance to take his birth in a rich or pious family, and one who is carrying impious activity is given a chance to take birth in a lower, poor family. The change of body means a change to a different field of activities. Similarly, when the body of the boy changes into that of a youth, the boyish activities change into youthful activities.
It is clear that a particular body is given to the living entity for a particular type of activity. This process is going on perpetually, from a time which is impossible to trace out. Vaiṣṇava poets say, therefore, anādi karama-phale, which means that these actions and reactions of one’s activity cannot be traced, for they may even continue from the last millennium of Brahmā’s birth to the next millennium. We have seen the example in the life of Nārada Muni. In one millennium he was the son of a maidservant, and in the next millennium he became a great sage.
SB 3.31.45-46 PURPORT
When one says, “I see,” this means that he sees with his eyes or with his spectacles; he sees with the instrument of sight. If the instrument of sight is broken or becomes diseased or incapable of acting, then he, as the seer, also ceases to act. Similarly, in this material body, at the present moment the living soul is acting, and when the material body, due to its incapability to function, ceases, he also ceases to perform his reactionary activities. When one’s instrument of action is broken and cannot function, that is called death. Again, when one gets a new instrument for action, that is called birth. This process of birth and death is going on at every moment, by constant bodily change. The final change is called death, and acceptance of a new body is called birth. That is the solution to the question of birth and death. Actually, the living entity has neither birth nor death, but is eternal. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: [Bg. 2.20] the living entity never dies, even after the death or annihilation of this material body.
RE-INCARNATION • TRANSMIGRATION
 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. John 16:12, KJV
In the Bhagavad-gita it is stated:
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya /
navāni gṛhṇāti naro ’parāṇi
tathā sarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny / anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones..”
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti / yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti / vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.
Change of body by the atomic individual soul is an accepted fact. Even some of the modern scientists who do not believe in the existence of the soul, but at the same time cannot explain the source of energy from the heart, have to accept continuous changes of body which appear from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth and again from youth to old age. From old age, the change is transferred to another body. This has already been explained in the previous verse.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated:
"Therefore, my Lord, although I am living in a terrible condition, I do not wish to depart from my mother’s abdomen to fall again into the blind well of materialistic life. Your external energy, called deva-māyā, at once captures the newly born child, and immediately false identification, which is the beginning of the cycle of continual birth and death, begins." [Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.31.20]
"In this way the living entity gets a suitable body with a material mind and senses, according to his fruitive activities. When the reaction of his particular activity comes to an end, that end is called death, and when a particular type of reaction begins, that beginning is called birth." [Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.31.44]