Life Comes from Life

The Eighth Morning Walk

Recorded on May 11, 1973, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, near Los Angeles.

The Evolution of Consciousness

DR. SINGH: Srila Prabhupada, I came across a statement in the Bhagavad-gita to the effect that all 8,400,000 species of living entities are created simultaneously. Is that correct?


DR. SINGH: Does that mean that there are some living entities who come directly to the human species without undergoing the evolutionary process?

PRABHUPADA: Yes. Living beings move from one bodily form to another. The forms already exist. The living entity simply transfers himself, just as a man transfers himself from one apartment to another. One apartment is first class, another is second class and another is third class. Suppose a person comes from a lower-class apartment to a first-class apartment. The person is the same, but now, according to his capacity for payment, or karma, [12] he is able to occupy a higher-class apartment. Real evolution does not mean physical development, but development of consciousness. Do you follow?

DR. SINGH: I think so. Do you mean that if one falls to one of the lower stages of life, he must evolve step by step up to the higher stages?

PRABHUPADA: Yes. As you get more money you can move to a better apartment. The apartment already exists, however. It is not that the lower-class apartment becomes the higher-class apartment. That is Darwin’s nonsensical theory. He would say that the apartment has become high class. Modern scientists think that life has come from matter. They say that millions and millions of years ago there was simply matter, but no life. We do not accept that. Of the two energies—life and matter—life, or spirit, is the original, superior energy, and matter is the resultant inferior energy.

DR. SINGH: Do they exist simultaneously?

PRABHUPADA: Yes, but spirit is independent, and matter is dependent. For example, I can live even without my hands or legs. If they were amputated, I could survive. Therefore I am not dependent on my hands and legs; my hands and legs are dependent on me, the spirit soul within my body.

Bodies for Eternal Desires

DR. SINGH: But do life and matter come simultaneously?

PRABHUPADA: No. They do not “come” at all. They already exist. The “coming” idea is in our minds because we are living in this limited world, where we see that there is a beginning to everything. Therefore we think in terms of things “coming.” But actually matter and spirit already exist. When I am born, I think my birth is the beginning of the world. But the world already exists. Another example is a fire. When you light a fire, do the light and heat begin later on? No. Whenever a fire is ignited, immediately there is light and heat. But suppose I think, “Now there is a fire, but I have to wait for the light and heat to come later on.” isn’t that foolishness?

DR. SINGH: But fire is the source of the heat and light.

PRABHUPADA: Yes, but still the heat and light exist simultaneously with the fire. Similarly, the eternal living entities have many different eternal desires. And all the varieties of species also exist eternally to fit these various eternal desires.

DR. SINGH: And the living entities are made to live in different bodies according to these desires?

PRABHUPADA: Yes. For example, the government constructs a prison house because it knows there will be criminals. So when a criminal is tried and convicted, the prison already exists, even before the judgment period. Similarly, God is described as sarva-jna, He who knows everything. Thus He knows that some living entities will become criminal and rebel against His service. Furthermore, He knows the various desires the living entities in the material world acquire according to the three modes of material nature. Therefore He creates all the species of life from the very beginning to accommodate all the conditioned souls.

The three modes of material nature are sattva-guna [goodness], rajo-guna [passion] and tamo-guna [ignorance]. With these three qualities, all the different objects of the material world are made, just as one might mix the three primary colors (blue, red and yellow) to make millions of hues. The great expertise required to handle this arrangement exists in nature. According to the Bhagavad-gita (3.27), prakriteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvashah: “All activities are performed by the modes of material nature.” And these modes are manifested in the different types of species, which include plants, trees, aquatics, human beings, demigods, cats, dogs and many others, totaling 8,400,000.

The Supreme Lord expands Himself as the Paramatma, or Supersoul, in everyone’s heart. Although dwelling in the material body, this Supersoul is not material, even though He is the original source of the material body. Because heat and light are the energies of the sun, the sun never feels “too hot.” Similarly, for the Paramatma there is no distinction between spiritual and material because both the material and the spiritual energies emanate from Him. Sometimes we see that clouds cover the sun; but that is actually our imperfection. We on this planet experience both sunshine and cloudiness, but on the sun, even though it can create clouds, only sunshine is experienced. Similarly, the division of matter and spirit is our experience, not God’s. Whether He comes in a so-called material body or in a spiritual body, He is always spiritual. For Him matter and spirit are the same because He is the energetic. He can turn matter into spirit, and spirit into matter.

H2O Plus Mystic Power

DR. SINGH: The chemists and the scientists think that certain elements enable the spirit soul to remain in the material world. These elements, they say, are carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen—the main elements that combine to form living units. I think the Vedas teach that in order for a living creature to develop, spirit must first enter within these preexisting chemical elements. Is that correct?

PRABHUPADA: Yes. For example, the earth contains everything necessary for a plant to grow, but you must first put a seed in the earth. Similarly, a mother has within her womb all the necessary ingredients for creating another body, but the father must first inject the semen, or seed, into the womb; then the child will develop. A dog forms a dog’s body, and a human forms a human body.
Why? Because all the required ingredients are there, respectively.

We find a certain quantity of chemicals in my body, a smaller quantity in an ant’s body, and a greater quantity in an elephant’s body. So, if I can create so many more chemicals than an ant, and an elephant can create so many more chemicals than I can, then just think how many more chemicals God can create! This is the basis on which scientists should consider how hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water. Otherwise, they cannot identify the source of the vast quantities of hydrogen and oxygen required to make the oceans. But we can. This hydrogen and oxygen exist in the virat-rupa, the universal body of the Lord. Why do the scientists fail to understand this plain truth? Hydrogen and oxygen combine to form the water in the seas. We both accept this fact. But the scientists are surprised to hear that the origin of this huge quantity of hydrogen and oxygen is actually achintya-shakti, or the inconceivable mystic power of the Lord.

The Definition of “Life”

DR. SINGH: I have noticed a disagreement within the scientific community over the definition of living and nonliving. Some say that if a being can reproduce, it is alive. Therefore, they claim to have created life because certain large DNA molecules [13] produced in the laboratory can replicate themselves; that is, they can reproduce other chains of molecules by their own power. Some scientists say these DNA molecules are living, and others say they are not.

PRABHUPADA: Because somebody is saying one thing and somebody is saying another, their knowledge must be imperfect.

DR. SINGH: Can we define living as “containing consciousness” and nonliving as “without consciousness”?

PRABHUPADA: Yes, that is the difference. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (2.17), avinashi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam: “That which is spread all over the body is indestructible.” Anyone can understand what is spread all over a living body; it is consciousness. According to our consciousness at the time of death, we are awarded a particular bodily shape. If you have a dog’s consciousness, you will get a dog’s body, and if you have a godly consciousness, you get a demigod’s body. [14] Krishna gives everyone the freedom to take whatever body he wants:

yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrin yanti pitri-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino ‘pi mam

“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.” (Bg. 9.25)

Darwin Condemned

DR. SINGH: If a human being doesn’t attain liberation, does he have to pass through all 8,400,000 species of life before again coming to the human form?

PRABHUPADA: No, only in the lower forms of life does the living entity progress step by step, according to the laws of nature. In the human form of life, he is endowed with developed consciousness—he has discretion. Therefore if he is advanced in consciousness, he is not going to get the body of a dog or cat; he will get another human body.

prapya punya-kritam lokan
ushitva shashvatih samah
shuchinam shrimatam gehe
yoga-bhrashdo ‘bhijayate
[Bg. 6.41]

The word yoga-bhrashtah refers to someone practicing yoga who somehow or other could not fully succeed. There’s no question of evolution here; he is again awarded a human body. He does not get a cat’s body or a dog’s body. As with the apartments we were discussing, if you can pay more, you get a nicer apartment. You do not have to come to the lower-class apartment first.

DR. SINGH: What you have been saying completely contradicts Darwin’s theory of evolution.

PRABHUPADA: Darwin is a rascal. What is his theory? We kick out Darwin’s philosophy. The more we kick out Darwin’s philosophy, the more we advance in spiritual consciousness.

DR. SINGH: Many scientists doubt Darwin’s theories. But Darwin’s supporters say that life started from matter and evolved from unicellular organisms to multicellular organisms. They believe that higher species like animals and men did not exist at the beginning of creation.

PRABHUPADA: Darwin and his followers are rascals. If originally there were no higher species, why do they exist now? Also, why do the lower species still exist? For example, at the present moment we see both the intellectual person and the foolish ass. Why do both these entities exist simultaneously? Why hasn’t the ass form evolved upward and disappeared? Why do we never see a monkey giving birth to a human? The Darwinists’ theory that human life began in such and such an era is nonsense. Bhagavad-gita says that you can directly transmigrate to any species of life you like, according to your efforts. Sometimes I travel to America, sometimes to Australia and sometimes to Africa. The countries already exist. I am simply traveling through them. It is not that because I have come to America, I have created or become America. And there are many countries I have not yet seen. Does that mean they do not exist? The scientists who support Darwin are nonsensical.

Bhagavad-gita clearly says that all the species exist simultaneously, and that you can go to whichever species you like. You can even go up to the kingdom of God, if you so desire. All this is declared in Bhagavad-gita by Lord Krishna.


12. Karma means “activity,” and the law of karma refers to the process in which higher authorities award us favorable or unfavorable reactions according to our pious or impious activities, respectively. As the Bible says, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Thus, our present condition—whether we are wealthy, wise or beautiful, or whether we have an American, an Indian or a Japanese body—completely depends on the activities we performed in our previous life or lives. Ultimately, all karma, whether good or bad, is unfavorable, for it binds us to the material world. Devotional service in Krishna consciousness, however, is “akarmic”. In other words, it produces no reaction at all. Hence, when Arjuna killed his opponents on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, he suffered no reaction, for he was simply carrying out the will of Lord Krishna. [Back to text]
13. DNA molecules are essential building and replicating units in organic cells. Many scientists regard them as the source of life, but according to Vedic science we must distinguish the chemical constituents of the body (such as DNA) from the very source of the life symptoms, which is the spirit soul. [Back to text]
14. Demigods are beings more advanced than humans. Although they resemble us, they possess far greater intelligence and beauty, wonderful mystic powers and, in some cases, many arms and heads. In the material universe there are thirty-three million administrative demigods, each of whom is responsible for a particular phase of cosmic management (such as heat, light, water or air). [Back to text]

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One Response to Life Comes from Life

  1. steve kramer says:

    Unfortunately, there is hardly anything published in this book that accurately corresponds to the original transcripts, which have been widely available for the past quarter century. The book reads like a dramatic recreation produced by, perhaps, by early young disciples who thought they were more articulate than their spiritual master. Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly once someone takes time to examine the transcripts, the date for one of these recreated conversations does not appear in the Prabhupada archives. Oddly.

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