(The writer is from Sri Silchar Gaudiya Math, Silchar)
We are born as humans. There are numerous other lives apart from the human race on this earth. Even before taking birth as humans, we have taken birth in various other species and have met with death. This has been confirmed in Vishnupurana – “Jalaja nabalakshani sthabara lakshabingshati Krimayo rudrasankhaka pakshinang dashalakshanam. Trinshalakshani pashaba chaturlakshani manaba.” (Meaning is we are born 900,000 times as aquatic animals, 2000,000 times as plants etc, 1100,000 times as insects, 1000,000 times as birds, 3000,000 as animals and 400,000 times as humans.)
So we take birth among aquatic animals and gradually are born as plants, insects, birds, animals and finally as humans based on our upgrade of consciousness. But even among humans we are not directly born in civilized society. We are gradually upgraded to civilized human body after surpassing 400,000 bodies.
But the main feature of taking birth in a civilized human body is that only in this body can an individual discuss transcendental topics relating to God. This is not possible while the soul is residing in the body of a dog or an ass. These species are busy sleeping, eating, defending and mating.
Humans can understand dharma (theology) and adharma (unrighteousness) because the humans have got rationality of thought and their consciousness is quite developed in comparison to the lower animals. If the humans don’t follow dharma, then they are as good as animals.
The next factor that arises is the meaning of dharma. Here dharma means the eternal nature of the spirit. Bhagabat dharma means serving the entity with which it is eternally related to Godhead.
We must enquire first who I am. I means the atma, the soul. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita says, “Jiver swaroop hoy Krishner nitya dasa” (Madhyaleela/20), meaning the constitutional position of a jivatma is the eternal servitor of Sri Krishna. The eternal dharma of the spirit soul is thus to render service unto the supreme Lord Sri Krishna. Since the spirit soul is energy of the eternal Lord who is referred as Bhagaban (the Supreme Personality of Godhead), so the dharma of the soul is to serve the whole of whom it is part of. Hence service towards Sri Krishna is the eternal dharma of all living entities.
In Srimad Bhagabat Gita, Sri Krishna says, “Yada Yada hi dharmasya…” Here dharma means Bhagabat dharma pertaining to the soul, which is singular in number. Can we attain the ultimate goal of life – obtain self-realization in any other birth? The answer is no. Hence we must utilize this rare human birth to the fullest by associating with those who possess serving temperament towards Sri Krishna.