"Vedic Evolution" (SB 3.31.41)
In this presentation, Thompson considers aspects of Darwinian theory as reflecting features of classic Vedic accounts of the creative process. He analyzes a traditional narrative describing the Divine Feminine coupling with the Divine Masculine to produce the faculty for conditional cognition, ahankara. Propelled by material desire, over time new species gradually unfold through sexual reproduction in a process simultaneously controlled by design. Descriptions of this unfolding encompass gradations of form that includes a variety of celestial beings, along with the human, animal and plant forms commonly experienced on earth. The teleology identified with this account appreciates self-realization as the goal of human life, which aims toward experiencing a natural state of devotion that ultimately transcends creative processes bound by time and space.
TRANSCRIPT: Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 3, Chapter 31, Text 41. “Vedic Evolution.” San Diego - 1993-09 / (070)
A living entity, who as a result of attachment to a woman in his previous life, has been endowed with the form of a woman foolishly looks upon maya in the form of a man, her husband, as the bestower of wealth, progeny, house and other material assets.
Purport by Srila Prabhupada:
From this verse it appears that a woman is also supposed to have been a man in his (her) previous life, and due to his attachment to his wife, he now has the body of a woman. Bhagavad-gita confirms this; a man gets his next life’s birth according to what he thinks of at the time of death. If someone is too attached to his wife, naturally he thinks of his wife at the time of death and in his next life, he takes the body of a woman. Similarly, if a woman thinks of her husband at the time of death, naturally she gets the body of a man in the next life.
In the Hindu scriptures, therefore, woman’s chastity and devotion to man is greatly emphasized. A woman’s attachment to her husband, may elevate her to the body of a man in her next life. But a man’s attachment to a woman will degrade him and in his next life he will get the body of a woman. We should always remember as it is stated in Bhagavad-gita, that both the gross and subtle material bodies are dresses; they are the shirt and coat of the living entity. To be either a woman or a man only involves one’s bodily dress. The soul in nature is actually the marginal energy of the Supreme Lord. Every living entity being classified as energy is supposed to be originally a woman, or one who is enjoyed. In the body of a man there is a greater opportunity to get out of the material clutches; there is less opportunity in the body of a woman. In this verse it is indicated that the body of a man should not be misused through forming an attachment to women and thus becoming too entangled in material enjoyment, which will result in getting the body of a woman in the next life. A woman is generally fond of household prosperity, ornaments, furniture and dresses. She is satisfied when the husband supplies all these things sufficiently. The relationship between man and woman is very complicated, but the substance is that one who aspires to ascend to the transcendental stage of spiritual realization should be very careful in accepting the association of a woman. In the stage of Krsna consciousness, however, such restriction of association may be slakened because if a man’s and woman’s attachment is not to each other, but to Krsna, then both of them are equally eligible to get out of the material entanglement and reach the abode of Krsna.
As it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, anyone who seriously takes to Krsna consciousness – whether in the lowest species of life, or a woman, or less intelligent classes such as the mercantile and laborer class – will go back home, back to Godhead, and reach the abode of Krsna.
A man should not be attached to a woman, nor should a woman be attached to a man. Both man and woman should be attached to the service of the Lord. Then there is the possibility of liberation from material entanglement for both of them.
cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena
tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ
śrī-caitanya-mano-'bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale
svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ dadāti sva-padāntikam.
So the translation again:
A living entity who as a result of attachment to a woman in his previous life has been endowed with the form of a woman, foolishly looks upon Maya in the form of a man or husband as the bestower of wealth, progeny, house and other material assets.
So this is the counterpart of the previous verse as mentioned yesterday. So, for a man, a woman represents Maya, and for a woman and man represents Maya or material illusion, which attaches one to the cycle of repeated birth and death. So the real aim of human life is to become free from this entanglement. And so then therefore one is warned about the dynamics of the process of entanglement. So, the real goal of human life is to attain self-realization, which means to know what you really are.
So it’s explained that this male or female form is merely an external dress for the living entity. So, we tend to be attached to these bodies and to identify ourselves with our physical body. And the result then is that we tend to accept the entire program of activity, which is dictated by that particular bodily form. And we tend to think, well, this is what I want to do and these are my rights and these are my opportunities and so forth. And if I don’t get to do this, I will be frustrated. But this is based on the illusion of thinking that I am the body. As a matter of fact, one’s real interest is completely different.
The Brahma-samhita has an interesting... sheds some interesting light on this in the description of the creation of the material world. I’ll just read a few verses here. There are some interesting points which emerge. So we’ll start here. It is stated that, “The Lord of Gokula is the transcendental Supreme Godhead, the own Self of eternal ecstasies. He is the superior of all superiors and is busily engaged in the enjoyments of the transcendental realm and has no association with his mundane potency. Krsna never consorts with His illusory energy.
Still, her connection is not entirely cut off from the Absolute Truth. When He intends to create the material world, the amorous pastime in which He engages by consorting with His own spiritual [cit] potency Rama, by casting His glance at the deluding energy and the shape of sending His time energy, is an auxiliary activity.” [Bs. 5.6–7] I’ll explain a bit about what these verses are saying once I get to the punchline here. Then there’s further description. Here are the secondary process of association with Maya is described: “Ramadevi, the spiritual [cit] potency, beloved consort of the Supreme Lord is the regulatrix of all entities. The divine plenary portion of Krsna creates the mundane world.
At creation there appears a divine halo of the nature of his own subjective portion [svamsa]. This halo is divine Sambhu, the masculine symbol or manifested emblem of the Supreme Lord. This halo is the dim twilight reflection of the supreme eternal effulgence. This masculine symbol is the subjective portion of divinity who functions as progenitor of the mundane world, subject to the supreme regulatrix, niyati. The conceiving potency in regard to mundane creation makes her appearance out of the supreme regulatrix. She is Maya, the limited, nonabsolute [apara] potency, the symbol of mundane, feminine productivity. The intercourse of these two brings forth the faculty of perverted cognition, the reflection of the seed of the procreative desire, of the Supreme Lord. All offspring of the consort of the great lord [Mahesvara] of this mundane world are of the nature of the embodiment of the mundane masculine and feminine generative organs. So I’ll explain a little bit about what was said there.” [Bs. 5.8–9]
So we begin here with the reference to Krsna, the Lord of Gokula. So it’s pointed out that He is engaged in enjoyment in the transcendental realm and He has no association with His mundane potency. So actually the principle of male and female is to be found even in the transcendental realm because the Supreme Godhead in fact is Radha and Krsna. So,Krsna is engaging in eternal pastimes with His internal potency, Radharani, in the spiritual world. But this is quite a different situation from the material world. So the next verses describe how the material world is created basically and what happens.
So first of all, there’s the question of Krsna’s illusory energy. So what is that? Well, there’s reference here to Krsna’s spiritual [cit] potency. Rama. Well, that is another name for Laksmi, who was expanded from Radharani. So Krsna’s internal potency is Radharani, the female counterpart of Krsna. So an expansion of Radharani is Rama or Ramadevi. So it is said that she is the regulatrix of all entities. That means controller or regulator. So, it is stated here that from this supreme regulatrix, the conceiving potency in regard to mundane creation makes her appearance. So from Ramadevi, Maya is produced. So this Maya is the controlling power of the material world on the female side. So there’s also a controlling power of the material world on the male side. So it’s explained here how that also comes about.
It says the divine plenary portion of Krsna creates the mundane world. Well, this is referring to Maha-Visnu, who’s an expansion of Krsna. So at creation there appears to divine halo of the nature of His own subjective portion. This halo is divine Sambhu, the masculine symbol or manifested emblem of the Supreme Lord. So Sambhu is the prototype Siva for all of the universes. He expands into each universe in the form of Siva. So he actually comes in contact with the material energy. So, that is what is being described here. The intercourse between, of these two beings brings forth the faculty of perverted cognition, the reflection of the seed of the procreative desire of the Supreme Lord.
So, Siva or Mahesvara comes into direct contact with Maya or Durga. And, so there is offspring and that is described here as the faculty of perverted cognition. But that’s an interesting point. In the spiritual world you have true cognition. That is reality is seen as it truly is. But the result of the intercourse between these two, material beings who’ve been produced is the faculty of perverted cognition or false ego or ahankara. So that is described, and this is said to be the reflection of the seed of the procreative desire of the Supreme Lord.
So the Supreme Lord desired to create the material world. And as a result, he generated all the living beings in the material world through the effect of His glance. So this is procreative desire, but a reflection of this results in this faculty of perverted cognition. So perverted cognition has something to do with procreative desire. That Is what is being indicated here. And then the next verse says that all offspring of the consort of the great Lord Mahesvara of this mundane world are of the nature of the embodiment of the mundane, masculine and feminine generative organs. So this is the description of what happens next.
So what develops is that Mahesvara or Siva and Durga have intercourse. And the result is that many beings are produced, and they are the embodiment of the masculine and feminine, generative organs. So the whole thing is sex from then on. That’s basically what’s going on. And these bodies that are produced are basically arrangements for sex, which in turn produces more bodies of the same type. And in this way, the whole process continues. So that is the description.
Now, there are some interesting points here which come up in a couple of further verses. This one struck me as interesting. It is said, “The function of Sambhu in relation to jivas is that this universe enshrining the mundane egotistic principle is originated from Sambhu.” [Bs. 5.16] Now the statement being made here. The jiva, where jiva, of course, refers to the soul. So these beings who are experiencing perverted cognition are the conditioned souls, and they have been injected into this material matrix, and they’re being given bodies, which are basically male and female generative organs with apparatus to allow those to function. So, what are they doing in that situation? Well. So it’s stated here the function of Sambhu in relation to these conditioned souls who have been put into that situation is that he’s the one who created this universe with this faculty of perverted cognition. That’s the only relationship. So you don’t really have a personal relationship with Sambhu or with this universe. Your relationship is simply, he’s the one who is responsible for creating this situation. Now, then again, it is stated in another verse a little bit later on.
“The same jiva is eternal and is for eternity and without a beginning joined to the Supreme Lord by the tie of an eternal kinship. He is transcendental spiritual potency.” [Bs. 5.21] So it is stating here that this jiva soul has an eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord. That’s the original Supreme Lord that we started with, the Lord of Gokula. So, this is the tie of an eternal kinship. Now in this world, we tend to be very concerned about kinship. People are concerned about their relatives, and if they don’t have relatives, they’re concerned about generating some new relatives through this sex reproduction process. But it is stated here that actually you don’t have any relation at all with this universe or with the one who is originating it, namely Sambhu. You’re only relation is that he’s the one who’s put the whole thing together. But you do have a tie of an eternal kinship with the Lord of Gokula. And your true nature is that you are a transcendental spiritual potency.
So what this is saying then is that our relationship with this world, in which these bodies created for sexual reproduction, proceeding to reproduce successive generations and so on, we actually have nothing to do with that. It’s completely foreign to us, and we only think we have something to do with it because of the faculty of perverted cognition, which has trapped us in this situation. But our real relationship is with Krsna in the transcendental world. So that’s the basic point that is being made here. So it’s interesting to see how, in one sense, to see how mechanical the whole thing is.
Actually Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati makes the point concerning this verse about the masculine and feminine generative organs. He points out, let’s see, where does he first say this? Oh yeah. Let’s see. Yeah. He says, “The feature that is of special significant is that all those such expressions of the generative organs of male and female are indecorous yet in the scientific literature, these words expressing the above mentioned principles are exceedingly wholesome and productive of abiding value. Indecorum is merely an entity pertaining to the external custom of society. But science, and especially the highest science, cannot destroy the true entity by deference to social customs. Wherefore, in order to demonstrate the seed of mundane desire, the basic principle of this phenomenal world, the use of those identical words is indispensable.” [Bs. 5.9, purport] So he’s saying that basically what we’re having, what we’re seeing here is a scientific presentation of what is really at the root of this mundane world.
So that is being explained, so that we can understand what our real situation is and free ourselves from attachment to this mundane situation. So, going back to the verse for today, it’s basically saying that, a woman will be attached to the form of a man and basically to sex life. And this is Maya and a man will tend to be attached to the form of a woman. And, this is also Maya. And we should try to become free of this by limiting that attachment and that association, because our real situation is that we are eternal spirits souls and actually we have nothing to do with this material process of reproduction and so forth. It’s actually foreign to our nature. So what we have to do then is overcome this phenomenon of false ego or perverted cognition. So that’s the thing that is difficult to do. And in that connection, association is very important because we tend to take in patterns of thinking from other persons. It’s a natural tendency. And so we tend to think in accordance with the association that we have.
So Srila Prabhupada makes this point here concerning men and women alternating sex in various births. Apparently this is also something that goes on. So as a result of association one flip flops through different states of consciousness, but basically one remains on the same mundane platform. So, anyway, there are some observations there.
I could also make some observations concerning the theory of evolution. May as well bring that in. Because it is described here . . .
You see, according to the theory of evolution, sex is basic to the process of the origin of species. Because basically what you have is sexual reproduction in which successive offspring that are produced have slight variations in form. They inherit their form from their ancestors, but there will be very small variations that come up and these are called the mutations. And the Darwinian idea is that these are random, that is, they just occurred by chance. And then the concept is that by selection, certain variations will be favored in the struggle for survival. And as a result, the form of the species will gradually change over time. And in this way, all the different species that we know have come to being. That’s the theory. So it’s based on the idea of reproduction.
Of course, one immediate impediment to that is that reproduction is not a simple thing. You need quite a bit of apparatus for that. Until you have that apparatus, how then can you have the process of evolution? And the Darwinists have never really answered this. It’s a bit of a problem.
But anyway, the Vedic version is in some ways similar, but in other ways quite different to the theory of evolution. Because there it is also said that you have this process of sexual reproduction going way back to some original ancestors. In this case those original ancestors are identified here as Mahesvara and Durga. So you have reproduction through sex, and you also have changes in the bodily forms. But there, the changes are controlled by higher power and everything is done by design. And in fact, in the Bhagavatam you can read how different forms are produced by reproduction coming from beings who have quite different form.
For example, look at the bird species. Vinata is one daughter of Daksa. She had human form, and she was a demigoddess. So she became married to Kasyapa, who was a great rsi and prajapati. As a result, well, she laid two eggs. This seems . . . [Laugher.] Well, this seems a bit unusual, but she did that. They both hatched out. From one of them Garuda was born, who was a very large bird, extremely powerful. From another, Anuru was born. He was also a bird and also quite powerful, although it was said that he was crippled, interestingly enough. So Anuru ultimately became the charioteer for the sun god. He needed a job in which he could sit down. [Laugher.] Whereas Garuda became the carrier of Lord Visnu. But, in any case, this is the process. Now from Anuru there were further offspring in bird form including Sampati and Jatayu, who appear in the Ramayana. And from Sampati and Jatayu there were further generations.
Now these were beings with bird form, but an interesting point is they could assume human form. So their bodies were built in a different way than these bodies. We have a very low grade of body, actually. First of all, it has one fixed form, and that’s it. Basically these bodies are made of clay that is sort of stuck together, mixed with a lot of water. And you can see that once it dies, eventually you’ll get clay and water if you wait long enough. But the bodies of these demigods are of a different constitution, so they actually have the power to change form at will.
So even Jatayu and Sampati would occasionally assume a human form and go and talk with different rsis and so forth. But they spend a lot of time in bird form also. So there were successive generations coming down from them, and gradually you come down to ordinary birds, who simply are stuck in their particular species, so they reproduce according to their kind and also they have no highly developed intelligence. So that’s one example of the process of generation of the species according to the Vedic literature. So it does occur by a process of reproduction. So it’s about 8:30, are there any questions or comments? Yeah.
Answer: Yes. Rama, Ramadevi? Yeah, R–a–m–a, with a long “a” . . . Parvati comes from her. That’s what was explained in these verses. The basic explanation given here. I’ll just turn to that. Is that. Yes. Here it is. It’s first stated that from Maha-Visnu, Sambhu expands. And it is said, ”At the creation there appears a divine halo of the nature of his own subjective portion. This halo is divine Sambhu.” [Bs. 5.8] So, he has expanded from Maha-Visnu, and Siva, basically, he is Sadasiva, and the different manifestations of Rudra or Siva expand from him. On the other hand, it is also stated that “the conceiving potency in regard to mundane creation makes her appearance out of the supreme regulatrix” [Bs. 5.8], who was identified just up the page here as Ramadevi. So that is the origin then of Mahamaya or Durga and so on. That’s the situation.
A: Well, Brahma did also. It’s a question of the level at which you’re looking at the descriptions. So Brahma, created the world in the form of an engineer who arranged the planetary systems, and he generated different mental sons, and so on and so forth. The creation by Siva and Durga, is at a more fundamental level, and it is stated here: “The intercourse of these two beings brings forth the faculty of perverted cognition, the reflection of the seed of procreative desire of the Supreme Lord.” [Bs. 5.8]
So that is prior to the activities of Brahma, because you already have the faculty of perverted cognition when Brahma is engaging in his activities. So on the one hand, the activity of Siva and Maya is more fundamental. It’s at a more fundamental level.
On the other hand, Siva makes his entrance on the stage, as it were, of the material world by appearing from Brahma. For example, in the case where a Brahma was offended by the four Kumaras who refuse to create progeny. Then Rudra came forth from his forehead when he manifested anger. But that’s similar to an actor appearing on the stage at a certain point. So that’s the situation. Yeah.
A: Well, the Sanskrit word put in brackets after that is svamsa, which would seem to say “own part.” Amsa is part. When we say part and parcel, we use the word amsa. It means limb also. Sva means one’s own. So svamsa would seem to . . .It says one’s own part and parcel. And Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati is translating that as subjective portion. Own portion would be another way to put it. Which can simply mean nothing more than the fact that Sambhu is His own expansion. Yeah.
A: Well, yes, vibhinnamsa is used to refer to the jiva-tattva. So svamsa . . . well, of course, it’s also explained that Sambhu is sort of a tattva all of his own because he’s not exactly vishnu-tattva. He’s not jiva-tattva either. He’s a separate tattva, and it’s explained that the relation between Sambhu and Visnu is like that between yogurt and milk. There you have a one way transformation. You can turn milk into yogurt, but you can’t turn yogurt into milk. Yeah.
A: Right. Yeah. Rajendranandana was explaining that, Shambu or Siva has come in contact with the material energy, and Visnu never comes in contact with the material energy, but yet Visnu is the creator and controller of everything. So how does He do that if He never comes in contact with the material energy? Well, He expands himself as Sambhu, who comes in contact with the material energy. So the point of creation of the mundane reality occurs when Lord Visnu manifests Sambhu at sort of the dividing line between the transcendental and the material realm. And likewise, on the female side when Ramadevi generates Maya, that would be the female counterpart of that. So then the result is the creation of the faculty of perverted cognition, then the principle of illusion. And that fits in with the point that Siva is in charge of the false ego and the principle of ignorance or tamo-guna. So he’s responsible for the creation of perverted cognition or illusion. Yeah.
A: So did Brahma. Yes, originally there was only one entity, and that’s Visnu. Well, in fact, Krsna, Visnu is the expansion of Krsna. But Visnu is on the same level as Krsna. That is just Krsna carrying out a particular role. Just as, for example, a human may be seen playing with his family, with his children, but he also may be the high court judge. So when he assumes his role as high court judge, he’s wearing black robes and he’s very formal and very strict. But then you see him getting down on the floor with his children and so forth when he’s not playing the role of the high court judge. So, v is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead. And in his form as Vishnu, He is the controller of everything. So Visnu, the difference between Vishnu and Krsna is that as Visnu, Krsna is manifesting his divine opulence and power, whereas as Krsna, he is manifesting his intimate pastimes.
So that’s the original form. And so in Gokola you have Krsna with His eternal pastimes. And in Vaikuntha you have His expression as Visnu in which He is the, the Supreme King or supreme ruler, and He’s very opulent. So Sambhu is generated from one of the expansions of Vishnu, namely Maha-Visnu, who is the creator of the material universes.
So Brahma is also expanded from Visnu. And very, very often Brahma is a jiva soul who is occupying a particular generated body. And that body is generated from the lotus coming from the navel of Lord Visnu. So both Brahma and Sambhu have an origin. But of course, the origin of Sambhu might be hard to trace out in terms of material time. That’s another thing to take into account, the whole issue of the time potency in the creation. Anyway. So any other... One, one more question.
A: Yeah. That’s true. And when Visnu is referred to in reference to Brahma, Visnu, and Siva. Visnu, in particular, I believe it would be generally Ksirodakasayi Visnu. Specifically the form of Visnu who appears and engages in activity within this material world. And He’s the source of the various incarnations that take place such as, well, Lord Varaha, and so on and so forth. So, okay. That’s it. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.