“It is not that intelligent human beings did not exist millions of years ago. On the contrary, it is understood that the most intelligent creature, Lord Brahma, was first created. Then Lord Brahma created other saintly sages like Marichi, Bhrigu, Atreya, Vasishtha and Lord Shiva.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.24.73 Purport)
You’ve heard the theory. A long time ago there was only a chunk. Or perhaps it was only chemicals. Everything was in an undeveloped state; there was only potential. The changes kicked into gear with an explosion. The ruins from that event gave way to the progression of the species, leading to the intelligent human being that we have today. With this theory in mind, the guess is that man from past ages was less intelligent. He didn’t know the right way to do things; he wasn’t progressive. From the Vedic perspective, however, everything started with the most intelligent being. In fact, doing a role reversal, the intelligent man from ages past can observe today’s man and have a fun time.
Who is that most intelligent being? The word “God” rings a bell, but this hardly describes His features accurately. The Sanskrit word “Bhagavan” is more preferable. That word breaks down into six categories of opulence, with intelligence being one of them. Those opulences are held in full. Thus we safely surmise that God is the most intelligent person the world has ever seen.
From Vedic texts we get more detail. That explosion the scientists guess to have happened billions of years ago is actually the exhaling of the Supreme Lord. And this occurs through one of His expansions. Think of it like typing with your two hands while holding a conversation with someone else. Think of it like writing the most complex computer program while you are sleeping. This begins to describe the ease with which Bhagavan creates this and many other universes.
As Vishnu He breathes out to get the work done. From the pores of His body emerge the universes. Then within each universe there is a first living entity. Usually his name is Brahma. Brahma then creates everything. He is like a painter with his own palette of colors, except his colors are the three modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. He can mix these three ingredients in any way he chooses, and the result is 8,400,000 different species.
The skeptic will claim that this is all guesswork.
No one knows who Vishnu is. No one has seen Brahma. So how can we know that there is intelligence to the creation?
For starters, we have the ancient texts themselves. They contain not merely historical information. There is the highest philosophy ever seen in this world in those works. The Bhagavad-gita is still studied to this day by people from all walks of life. Though it was last spoken to a distressed warrior on a battlefield some five thousand years ago, the speaker says that the wisdom dates back to the beginning of the creation.
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
So we have a philosophy that persists through time in its effectiveness. The corresponding culture also cannot be matched in terms of the positive impact on those living within it. In fact, even in today’s progressive world many of the conclusions reached concur with wisdom from ages past. A major news magazine puts on its cover that men and women are different. The nutrition experts say that the key to losing weight and maintaining health is to eat in moderation. Those having a difficult time finding a spouse are taking to matchmaking, where compatibility gets judged from the start. Despite increased material opulence, others still feel that something is missing in their lives. They are looking to renunciation. They give meditation and yoga a try.
The typical view of the ancient man is that he wasn’t very wise. He was a Neanderthal. He didn’t know how to do anything. He came up with marriage as a way to subjugate women. The women didn’t know any better. The people lived off the land because they hadn’t yet developed machines. They worshiped God because they didn’t know any other way to get their stuff. They hadn’t yet figured out how to exploit the nature around them.
“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.5)
The person from the past could have equally as good a time observing the people from today; and their observations don’t rely on guesswork. Imagine this scenario. A person from the past time travels to the present, lives among us for a few months and then gives the following report upon returning home:
“I saw many odd things indeed. In order to put food on the table, the people spend upwards of two hours a day travelling. They sit very miserably, crammed inside of these tiny cars they call trains. Everyone rushes towards the train headed for work in the morning, lest they be late. Then they sit in a building for upwards of eight hours, only to rush back to the train to return home. Upon reaching home they are so tired that they can’t think of doing anything.
The people are constantly intoxicated. That is their leisure time fun. Another odd thing they do is pay an establishment to allow them to lift heavy objects. After visiting a few times in the beginning, they cease going, though they still get charged every month. The men and women are always quarrelling. They have invented this thing called divorce, where if the marriage doesn’t go well, both parties split. Marriages now happen as a mere formality, as many cohabitate first upon mutual attraction based on the body. They’ve even developed marriages between men and men and women and women.
Some of the people spend hours a day trying to fix a device that they purchased. These devices allow them to communicate with others very quickly, to read the news from other communities, and to take photographs of themselves. The photograph is like an image in a mirror, only lasting much longer. Though these devices can do so much, the people run into problems with them all the time. Overall, I see that they are very frustrated. No one is happy. They are in decline.”
It is natural to wonder how someone from a previous time lived. The typical fuddy-duddy bemoans the conditions of the present. They speak of how when they were young they endured so many hardships and had no problem whatsoever. They say that the present generation could never survive in similar circumstances.
In any era man can survive with very little. In any era what gives them true happiness is the same: transcendence. To go beyond hankering and lamenting, to feed the hunger of the soul, brings the only real peace. The Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic works give the peace formula, and that formula has been in place since the beginning of time. It works every time it is tried, so despite whatever progression or regression has occurred the chance for true happiness awaits any person fortunate enough to accept the instructions descending from the Supreme Lord Krishna.
If man from past today to have a look,
And back to his time information he took,
Of unhappiness of people he’d say,
How in progression they’d lost their way.
From the start intelligence existing,
Wisdom of Gita to today persisting.
In any age boon of life same to be found,
Transcendence, divine love free of bounds.