Dharma preaches that the purpose of human birth is God-realisation. The religious scriptures therefore impart guidance on how to undertake spiritual practice so as to be able to get closer to God in every incident of life, right from birth till death. Sanskars should be performed to get closer to God in the sixteen rituals in life from conception to marriage. These sanskars later help in improving spiritual practice.
Sanatan Dharma first narrated the theory of evolution. As per Sanatan Dharma, after taking birth in eighty-four lakh species, one gets a human birth. Darwin’s theory of evolution reflects the same principle; but as per his theory, human birth is the peak of evolution. As per the Sankhyashastra (Science of numerology), human birth is an important step in evolution; because all other living beings do not have the freedom of thought and action. Humans have freedom of thought and action. As per Sankhyashastra, nature evolves all living beings step-by-step and ultimately takes them to Supreme God. As per Nature’s principle, each individual undergoes ups and downs and finally reaches Supreme God. Humans will have to take lakhs of births if they follow nature in this manner; but due to the individual’s freedom of thought and action, if he has proper direction and determination, he can get liberated in this birth itself.
Apart from the present birth, every individual has gone through many human births. At the time of death, the subtle-body leaves the gross body with the mind, and the gross body dies. At the time of a new birth, it acquires a new human body. In each birth, the mind evolves slowly.
1. Despite experiences from many births, why does every human have to again learn how to walk and talk ?
Many times, the interval between two births can be as vast as 500 to 1000 years. Not being in a habit of staying within a body for many years, the mind forgets the regulations of the body.
Even if the interval between two births is short, due to the new body, the mind takes time to adjust to the new brain, new blood vessels and to the movement of muscles in the body. Similarly, time is required for the thoughts to get expressed into words by using the brain and blood vessels through the voice box and other muscles.
2. Sanskar and the advancement of science
If an individual lives in a jungle right from the time of his birth and never comes into contact with humans, he will never be able to speak. A child learns to speak by listening to other people around him and understanding the emotions expressed through language. Furthermore, his language may have been different in the previous birth. It is obvious that his mind will take its own time to get accustomed to the new language. Even if it is the same language as in the previous birth, the dialects keep changing. For instance, there is a great difference between Marathi language spoken 600 years ago and the one spoken today.
Even if the mind is same, it is dependent on the body since it is related to the systems governed by the body; for example, till one reaches the stage of youth his sexual desire remains unexpressed. The mind manifests in the functioning of the brain and body, and hence, depending on the actions and skills of the body, the thoughts and skills are more widely expressed.
Due to advancement of science, especially in past one hundred years, there is a lot of change in equipments, techniques and facilities. If a man who died 600 years ago is reborn today, he might feel as if he is in heaven when he witnesses the technological marvels such as television, computers etc. He will have to get educated to become familiar with the working of these gadgets. Though Spirituality is a complete science in itself and has remained unchanged, the technological inventions will be very useful in comprehending spiritual science. In addition, while studying Spirituality, the examples will have to be taken from the modern times instead of those from the earlier times.
3. With the new body, the mind also needs to be trained to act accordingly
If the members of the family where a child is born use filthy language while communicating with each other, the child will also learn to speak the same language. If he takes birth in a family where chanting of God’s Name, devotional songs, singing of hymns etc. go on daily, he will be habituated to chanting, and will imbibe good sanskar.
With this, the education and sanskars of the previous birth will be of help in this birth as well. For example, if an individual was a master musician in the previous birth, he will be able to make exceptional progress in learning music in a short time in the present birth. If an individual was spiritually evolved in his previous birth, he will be naturally inclined towards Spirituality in this birth. Adi Shankaracharya used to teach Vedas and explain their meanings from the age of eight. Bhagawan Shrikrushṇa says in the Shrimadbhagwadgeeta –
शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे योगभ्रष्टोऽभिजायते ।
– Shrimadbhagwadgeeta, Adhyaya 6, Shloka 41
A Yogi (Spiritually evolved individual) who has not reached the state of self-realization in the present birth takes rebirth in the house of a sattvik (Sattva-predominant) or a wealthy individual. Normally, most Saints are born in families that have spiritual inclination.
An individual addicted to alcohol or cigarettes in the previous birth will take birth in a family where its members are addicted to alcohol or cigarettes. Conversely, a sattvik individual will take birth in a family where the environment is sattvik. Hence, if we want our children to be good, we must have a sattvik diet, habits and conduct and be sattvik in our thoughts and attitude.