Archive for the ‘Sharir – in General’ Category

Body in Hinduism I

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Sharir – In general

The creation of God, also known as the Nature, is called “Shrishti” (also spelled as Shrushti) in Hinduism. Hinduism believes in Prakruti and Purush (Controlee & Controller), Jad and Chid (Matter & Energy), Achetan and Chetan (Non-divine & Divine), Kshetra and Kshetragna (Field and Fielder), Brahm and Parabrahm (Sharir & Shariri), Body and Soul (Insentient & Sentient), and Deh and Jiv (Anātmā & Ātmā) theory. According to Hinduism, the cosmos (universe) consists of body (Virāt) and its life force (Virāt-Purush). The life force of the Prakruti (Nature) is known as Purush. Similarly, the body of an individual living organism also consists of a body and its life force. The life force of the body (sharir) is known as jiv, ātmā, or jivātmā. In English, “jiv” (also spelled as jiva or jeev) is generally translated as “soul”. Hinduism believes that all living things have souls that control their own bodies. Souls are many.

According to Hinduism, all souls are similar in strength and in elemental composition. They all make their own category of fundamental eternal reality, called Jiv category, consisting of similar philosophical element (tattva). According to Hinduism, from the tiny bacteria to demigods all are of Jiv category. It is said that by worshiping God a trivial fly has elevated to the level of Sun. It is saying that, “This jiv has been elevated from the level of fly to the level of Sun.” The soul of an ant or mosquito is similar in characteristics of the soul of an elephant or lion. But, because of the limitations of the body their potential or power differs. Once detached from the body and after becoming brahmanized (brahmrup) all souls become equally powerful. Hinduism believes in the concept of transmigration of the soul or rebirth. Reincarnation (punah avatār) and rebirth (punah janma or punarjanma) are two different things. Rebirth means the same soul is reborn again. The word “incarnation” means “avatar” and it should be used for the manifestation of God only. Reincarnation of God means God manifests or appears, by His Godly power, on this earth or anywhere in brahmands in different physical forms, for different purposes, never ever leaving His abode. In both these processes of rebirth and reincarnation, soul and God, elementally, never transforms, only their body or external appearance changes. In rebirth soul gets different body. In reincarnation God reveals Himself differently while remaining in His abode in His original form. Thus, the word “reincarnation” is supposed to be used restrictively for God or divine power only and not for common un-liberated souls. After death of a living being the soul goes through the cycle of transmigration – the cycle of birth and death, also known as “Samsār chakra”. This cycle is also known as “Lakh Chaurasi” meaning the cycle of 8,400,000 lineages of life forms. The concept of 8.4 million species of life forms existed for many millenniums in Hinduism. It Graur and Li in their “Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution,” page 436) estimate the number of extant species to be 4.5 – 10 million. Currently new species are being discovered every day.

It is said that the current systems of classifying forms of life, known as “rank-based scientific or biological classification”, descend from the thought presented by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who published in his metaphysical and logical works the first known classification of everything whatsoever, or “being”. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. The current rank-based classification of organisms is attributed to Linnaeus and is known as Linnaean taxonomy. It was first presented by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae (1735) and his subsequent works. In his Imperium Naturae, Linnaeus established three kingdoms, namely Regnum Animale (Animal Kingdom), Regnum Vegetabile (Vegetable Kingdom), and Regnum Lapideum (Mineral Kingdom). Thus, Carl Linnaeus (Carolus Linnaeus, 1707 –1778) laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy.

Most possibly, the concept of classification of living things goes back to Vedic period of Hinduism. Long before Carl Linnaeus (1707 –1778) and Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), if it is not incorrect to say, Hinduism has classified living things or organisms into three or four major groups or divisions based on birth similarity. Chhāndogya Upanishad divides all life into 3 classes in this way: “Tesam khalv esam bhutanam triny eva bijani bhavanti, andajam, jivajam, udbhijjam iti.” Meaning, “In truth, beings have here three kinds of seeds, born from the egg, born alive, and born from the germ.” (Chhāndogya Upanishad 6.3.1). Not only that, Shrimad Bhagavat Puran has even classified the so-called animal kingdom of Carl Linnaeus in 3 major subdivisions as shown by this shlok: “jarāyujaḿ svedajam aṇajodbhidaḿ carācaraḿ devarṣi-pitṛ-bhūtam aindriyam dyauḥ khaḿ kṣitiḥ śaila-sarit-samudra-dvīpa-graharkṣety abhidheya ekaḥ” (Shrimad Bhagavat 5.18.32.)

Thus, these four groups are: Jarāyuj, Andaj, Swedaj, and Udbhij. Jarāyuj (also known as Pindaj) are placental (jarāyu means outer covering of embryo or placenta, also translated as womb) or mammals which are born directly from the body or occurring by means of a placenta or placenta like organ; such as humans and other animals. Andaj are born from an egg (anda means egg) such as birds, fishes, and amphibians. Swedaj are born from or out of the sweat, dander (material shed from the body of various animals), shed skin cells and flakes, organic detritus, biotic material, or moisture generated by breathing, perspiration, saliva, and other secretions (sweda means sweat) such as insects and other tiny or microscopic creatures. Udbhij (also spelled as Udvij) are born from the ground or grow out of earth (udbhud means comes up, created, or born from bhu means ground or land) such as trees and plants. First three groups belong to animal kingdom (Kingdom Animalia) and the last one belongs to the plant kingdom (Kingdom Plantae).