By Niraj Bidawatka

According to the Vedas, there are 8.4 million species of life and the conditioned soul is continuously passing through the different species according to his karma, under divine supervision. The Bhagavad Gita (2.22) says that just as one gives up an old shirt to put on a new one, the soul gives up an old body to acquire a new kind of body (vasāmsi jirnāni yathā vihāya). Thus there are 8.4 million (84 lakh) types of bodies, out of which the soul assumes a body at the time of death.

If one spends his lifetime in sense gratification, then one may become a cat or dog. If one is attached to eating meat, he gets the body of a tiger wherein he gets full facility for eating flesh without the encumbrance of cleaning and cooking the meat. If one’s stock of pious activities is high, then he gets elevated to the heavenly planets, where he gets the body of a demigod (devatā). However all the bodies within the ambit of the 8.4 milion species, including that of the demigods, are subject to birth and death. All such bodies have a limited period of life, after which one has to give it up to assume a new body. This process of giving up one type of body and assuming a new one is called death. It is pertinent to note that it is the body that dies and not the spirit soul, who is occupying the body.

We are not these bodies but individual spirit souls occupying our respective bodies. I am occupying my body and you are occupying your body, just as you are residing in your house and I am residing in my house. This does not mean that I am the house. I am different from my house. Similarly I am not the body but I am the spirit soul, who is residing within the body. When the body becomes old, I (the spirit soul) have to leave the body just as I have to leave my house, when it is destroyed, to occupy a new one.

The new house that I will occupy will depend on the bank balance that I possess – if I have huge amount of money I can buy a palace or conversely, if I have limited resources, I may have to contend with a lowly hut. Similarly, the body that we will get after giving up the present body will depend upon our stock of past karma (activities). If we have a stock of sinful activities we will have to assume an animal’s body or even lower forms whereas if we have a stock of pious activities we may get a human or a super-human body (demigod’s body). When the house is destroyed, it does not mean its residents are also dead; they leave the old house and occupy a new house.

Thus we can understand that when the body is dead (destroyed), the soul is not destroyed. It leaves the dead body and occupies a new body. The spirit soul is eternal and immortal, i.e. it neither dies nor takes birth (na hanyate hanyamane sarire: Bg. 2.20)

We get information from the Padma Purana that the 8.4 million species of life are divided into six groups, namely acquatics, trees, insects, birds, animals and humans. There are nine hundred thousand (9 lakh) types of acquatics, two million (20 lakh) types of trees, 1.1 million types of insects, a million types of birds, three million types of animal bodies and four hundred thousand types of human bodies. These aggregate to 8.4 million.

All the bodies within the ambit of the 8.4 million species are sure to degenerate and ultimately die. Therefore one who is really intelligent understands the futility of all the activities that one carries out during his lifetime, the results of which will be finished at the time of death. Therefore he tries to understand the real purpose of human life and when he makes such an inquiry, the Supreme Lord, Who is seated within his heart, guides him on the transcendental path, where he understands that one has to get out of this cycle of 8.4 million species of life.

Liberation (mukti) means putting a stop to the journey within the cycle of 8.4 million species. When one breaks this cycle, one is liberated from repeated birth and death, and is transferred to the spiritual sky, where he gets an eternal body. This body that he gets in the spiritual world is free from birth and death, because it is made of sat (eternity), cit (knowledge) and ananda (bliss). Once we reach the spiritual realm, there is no chance of our falling back into the miserable cycle of 8.4 million species of life [yad gatva na nivartante: Bg. 15.6]

The chanting of the holy names of God, viz. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, is the sure shot remedy to get out from the miserable cycle of 8.4 million species of life.









5 thoughts on “8.4 MILLION SPECIES OF LIFE

  1. Pingback: What happens after we die? Where does our soul go? | The Hare Krishna Revolution

  2. When Aryabhatta introduced 0 it was which century. Then he gave place value system. Numbers orginated and 84 lakh orginated later may be 500 years before. Shri Krishna was 5000 years back and he didn’t says about 84 lakh species. Yes, our purans says so but Shri krishna never said I will become cow, whale. Human will become human, but it’s better to become Tree, if its possible, check the population now, human becoming human and introducing humanity to other species. please reply


    • Dear Mr. Gurdeep,

      Krishna does speak of re-birth at many places in the Bhagavad Gita. He specifically states punarjanma na vidyate (Bg. 8.16): “But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” In fact the entire Bhagavad-gita talks about how to stop rebirth.

      The human population is nothing at present. It is said that in the battle of Mahabharata 64 crores (640 million) soldiers died. So you can imagine how much the population would have been considering the fact that only a small percentage of the population joins the army. The current political leaders mismanage the affairs and try to give the excuse of population explosion to hide their inefficiencies. And because we are not properly educated in the Vedic science, we fall into the trap of modern statesmen, who from the beginning of our education instill the false notion in small innocent children that all problems of food shortage, lack of infrastructure, etc. are due to high population.

      As far as your point that Krishna never talks about becoming a cow or a whale in the Bhagavad-gita – well, you are wrong! In the eighteenth verse of the Bhagavad-gita’s Fifth Chapter’s (5.18) Krishna says that a truly learned man does not make any distinction between a brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog or a dog-eater. This is where Krishna speaks about the various species.

      As far as giving detailed explanation of how the cycle of 8.4 million species works, it was not necessary because Arjuna already knew about it. If you read a tenth standard English Literature book and complain that the basics of English grammar are not given, then such a complaint is not sustainable because the tenth standard student already knows about those basic rules. He has already learnt them previously. Similarly, the Bhagavad-gita is talking about how to stop the cycle of birth and death because its student already knows about the details of how that cycle works.

      Hope this satisfies you.


      Niraj Bidawatka, Editor
      The Hare Krishna Revolution


  3. SIr my dog is died he is so cute and pure. We love him a lot but i have a one question in which yoni he is now going to enter. Is he in good environment?


  4. Instead of inquiring about our deceased dog, we should be more concerned about the yoni, which we may obtain after our death. Just as the dog has died, similarly we shall also die. Therefore we should at once start practicing bhakti-yoga, so that we may be transferred to a good environment after death. Only if we serve God, can we be assured of a good environment. This applies to all living beings in all species (yoni) of life. Therefore we should start chanting Hare Krishna right away.

    Yours in the service of Krishna
    Niraj Bidawatka, Editor
    The Hare Krishna Revolution


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