You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1999

Vedic evolution

Mrgerald_at_aol.com
Date: Tue May 18 1999 - 07:08:47 PDT

Dear devotees,

One point about evolution: It seems to subtly diminish the importance of the 
idea of human duty. If the history of the earth is compared to a 12 hour 
clock, then i believe, the human being appeared at the end of the 11th hour 
59th minute. This suggests that human duty has not been necessary in the 
overall plan for so many billions of years.  

On the other hand Sri Krishna says that human duty (dharma) has been around 
since the beginning: "In the beginning, the Lord of all created beings, 
having created the creatures along with sacrifices, said 'By this 
(sacrifice), may you prosper: be this your cow of plenty for (your) desires.' 
Gita 3.10 (Sampatkumaran tr.)

It may be argued that there were not any souls fit to be human beings until 
this 11th hour, therefore God only created human beings (through evolution) 
only a few cosmic seconds ago. However, the commentary of Sri Ramanuja seems 
to say otherwise:

"In the beginning, at the time of creation, He the Lord, the Lord of all 
created beings, beheld all things, helpless on account of contact proceeding  
from time imemorial  with non-intelligent matter excluded from the 
distinctions of name and form, dissolved within Himself, unfit to realize the 
objects of human pursuit and almost inanimate." Gita 3.10 comm

This seems to indicate that there are souls ready for the human form prior to 
the act of creation. Ramanuja's commentary to 10.2 also indicates that souls 
are ready even for godly forms at the time of creation. (They are "unfit" 
because of being disembodied, not because they are not qualified to be human 
etc.) Out of His mercy He places them in human form (and other appropriate 
forms) along with sacrifices:

"He, the supremely merciful, through a desire to redeem them, placed them in 
the state of creation (lit. created them) along with sacrifices."

The translator Sri Sampatkumaran then notes that Sri Vedanta desika's 
Tatparyachandrika, "cites texts from the Purusa-sukta (RV X.90) to show that 
the creatures are created along with sacrifices.  This may be taken to 
indicate the idea that religion is as old as man."

On the other hand, the idea of evolution says that religion is only a recent 
introduction in the history of the universe. 

The human duty present at "the beginning" is elaborated: "By this, propitiate 
the gods, and may those gods nourish you in return. Thus, supporting each 
other, may you obtain the highest good." Gita 3.11

Thus an important aspect of this world is the god-man dharmic symbiosis. It 
does not make sense that it was only started recently from this context.

Sri Krishna further explains how the people of the world came to be:

"The seven great rishis of yore and similarly the four Manus, who were all 
caused to be born from the mind, whose descendents these people in the world 
are, have their mental states from Me."

Sri Ramanujacharya repeats this: "..*those *four *Manus, the Savarnikas, who 
were established for carrying on perpetual maintenance--in this world 
*composed *of *whose *descendents *all *these *people *are *born, and who 
become begetters and protectors of children every moment from the time of 
pralaya...."

Thus the residents of the earth 5,000 years ago, and therefore us as well, 
were clearly descendents of the Manus etc. This may also be seen as  
evolution: everything comes from Lord Brahma and the prajapatis, Lord Brahma 
of course originating from Lord Vishnu.

Sri Krishna explains the benefit of this Vedic theory of "evolution":

"Whoever knows truly this sovereign power and association (with auspicious 
qualities) which characterize Me, he becomes united with the unshakeable 
discipline (of bhakti).  

Sri Ramanuja explains that "soverieign power" means Lord Krishna's wonderful 
arrangement of everything having its origin, maintenance and activity 
dependent on Him, which was just explained in Gita 10.1-  10.6, of which the 
immediate prior sloka 10.6 describes real evolution.

Almost as if to answer the doubt about the importance of Vedic evolution  in 
a devotee's life as well as the importance of other previously stated ideas, 
Sri Krishna adds:

"(There need be) no doubt about this."

This seems to conclusively refute the need to doubt Vedic evolution as far as 
the devotees of Krishna are concerned.

Some may argue, that all this goes against pratyaksa-pramana. However, the 
idea of inverse evolution can be seen any time in a lab: When certain complex 
cells are deprived of basic nutrients, they become a substantially simpler 
form in order to survive. However in the past 100+ years of scientific 
inquiry, no one has ever shown a simpler form convert into a complex form.

Thus Vedic evolution stands the test of shabda-pramana and can be 
extrapolated from events within our perception, while modern evolution does 
neither.  Most important of all, Vedic evolutionary theory, according to Lord 
Krishna, strengthens our dharma, and bhakti. And modern evolution certainly 
cannot come anywhere near to making that claim.

Gerald Surya