EVOLUTION OF SPECIES

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    • #8829
      Danakeli Dasi

      What is the proper way to harmonize seemingly opposed statements of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s regarding “evolution” of species. For ex., he often states that life in this universe begins from Brahmā & that other species subsequently appear from higher to lower through the agency of prajāpatis.

      Yet he also cites Padma Purāṇa to say that life begins in the water…

      (from a lecture Oct. 29, 1975, Nairobi):

      “Jalajā nava-lakṣāṇi sthāvarā lakṣa-viṁśati kṛmayo rudra-saṅkhyakāḥ. First of all aquatic. Because the whole world was filled with water, so there was animals, aquatics. So as the land became visible, then jalajā nava-lakṣāṇi sthāvarā lakṣa-viṁśati. Sthāvarāḥ means the living entities which cannot move. That means trees and plants, vegetables. So from aquatics to vegetable life, then worm, reptiles, then birds, and then beast, then human being, then civilized men.”

      Is it that the former is describing the hierarchy of the concepts of the species, & the latter is giving the order of phenomenal appearance? Or is it that the former is describing the appearance of bodies at the beginning of Brahmā’s life, & the latter’s description is of that at the beginning of each new day of Brahmā? Or…?

      • This topic was modified 1 month ago by Danakeli Dasi.
    • #8836
      Ashish Dalela

      I think this is describing the layering of ecosystems upon each other as a pyramid.

      For example, life on land depends on the water cycle, but life in water doesn’t depend on whatever happens in the land. However, even life in water depends on sunlight and air. But, if we exclude the life forms that control the working of the air and sunlight (i.e. the demigods) then our conception of life begins from water. And then we proceed into the life forms on earth.

      Within the life on earth too, there is a sort of food pyramid in which a ‘higher’ species depend on ‘lower’ species. For example, the worms depend on plants, the reptiles depend on worms and plants, the birds depend on plants, worms, and reptiles, beasts depend on plants, worms, reptiles and birds, and humans depend on all the previous life forms and ecosystems.

      As a new layer in the pyramid is added, the base of the pyramid generally widens. For example, as birds are added to the food pyramid, the plant base will widen because plants that depend on pollination will now exist. As beasts are added, more complex types of nutrients will be created resulting in plant diversity, which will then result in worm, reptile, and bird diversity.

      I’m not an expert in ecology, but I think that if we study the dependence between species then we can see how the pyramid of life grows horizontally (the base) and vertically (the layers).

      I see this expansion analogically with the expansion of economic markets, which are layered. The most basic need is plant based food. Once this food is available, then people need clothes. To provide clothes, the variety in plants will increase — e.g. you need cotton. Once you have clothes, then you need housing and shelter. Again, the variety in plants will increase — e.g. you need timber. Then as you have houses, roads and transportation are created. And with transportation, again the variety in food, clothes, and houses widens, because now you can start trade.

      So, this pyramid expands as new layers are added. And because of this expansion, the lower and upper layers become interdependent — the variety in the lower layer is due to upper layer. If you remove the upper layer then the diversity in the lower layer decreases, but doesn’t disappear.

      In the same way, there are some lower-level ecosystems upon which the higher-level ecosystem depends. But as the higher-level ecosystems comes into existence, the lower-level ecosystem expands. If we remove the higher-level ecosystem, then the lower-level ecosystem will shrink, although not disappear. This is a cylical process in which the pyramid grows and shrinks.

      Lot of scientific progress is needed to describe this layering, expansion, and shrinking.

       

    • #8838
      Danakeli Dasi

      Very interesting perspective! Thank you.

    • #8839
      Danakeli Dasi

      A followup question…

      When the land was covered by water, only aquatics were existing. As the land dried out & environmental changes occurred, other species manifested.

      How do the new species appear? I understand that the concept of each species (the “blueprint”) is always existing. Sadaputa Prabhu suggested that higher beings first manifest the lower bodies subtly, then grossly. But do such “new” species just appear on earth out of thin air?! Or does the higher being arrange for the new species to manifest from the womb or egg or seed of a lower being? (The latter would be more in line w/ Darwinian Evol. Theory.)

    • #8840
      Ashish Dalela

      When the land was covered by water, only aquatics were existing. As the land dried out & environmental changes occurred, other species manifested.

      Land did not dry out. From water manifests earth.

      I understand that the concept of each species (the “blueprint”) is always existing.

      It’s not “always”. Lord Brahma makes the blueprint. But it is practically always.

      higher beings first manifest the lower bodies subtly, then grossly.

      In my view, that is part of the process. From subtle the gross manifests, then from this gross new types of subtle manifests, then from this new type of subtle new types of gross manifests.

      In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is described that from ego in tamo-guna the five elements are manifest. Then from these elements the senses are manifest. In BG, Krishna says, indriyani parani ahur which means that the senses are superior to the five elements. But according to SB, the senses are manifest from the five elements. If we followed a strict hierarchy, then elements must manifest from senses rather than senses from the elements. So, this subtle-gross relation is not as straightforward as is often made out to be. The process is somewhat cyclical.

      Think in terms of an inverted tree. The root manifests some branches and leaves. Then as leaves are produced, new branches are created, on which new leaves are created. It is not that a tree has a fully developed fat trunk, fat branches, large number of twigs before a single leaf will manifest. The process is cyclical. Small root leads to small trunk, small branches, and small leaves. Then these leaves result in the strengthening of the root, bigger trunk, more branches, followed by more leaves. So, the gross comes from subtle, but once this gross has manifest, the subtle is enriched, which enriches the gross, and the process continues cyclically.

      Or does the higher being arrange for the new species to manifest from the womb or egg or seed of a lower being?

      That is a lot more detail than I can confidently answer.

    • #8841
      Danakeli Dasi

      Thank you for these clarifications. Esp. the inverted tree explanation was very helpful.

      It will be interesting to see if/when a more detailed description of the appearance of species according to the Sankhyite school is formulated whether it will resemble the current common theory of some religionists who say that evolution as explained by modern science does basically occur (w/one body giving birth to a modified, more evolved body), but that the “hand” of God is invisibly the guiding factor at each step of the mechanism—that is, the biological transformations/mutations would not occur on their own or “by chance.”

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EVOLUTION OF SPECIES

by Danakeli Dasi Time to read: 1 min
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