The Four Components To Animal Life

[Shri Krishna]“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)

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सर्व-योनिषु कौन्तेय
मूर्तयः सम्भवन्ति याः
तासां ब्रह्म महद् योनिर्
अहं बीज-प्रदः पिता

sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā

1. Eating

Fuel. Sustenance. The growth of cells. The vitality of the different aspects of the body. Plant life takes nourishment from the sun and water, which through nature’s way arrive on their own. The animals are different in that they can move to some degree to take care of this vital necessity.

From Shrimad Bhagavatam we learn that the most basic law of nature was described thousands of years ago. Known prior to that, even, but documented in written form in ancient times:  the food chain.

अहस्तानि सहस्तानाम्
अपदानि चतुष्-पदाम्
फल्गूनि तत्र महतां
जीवो जीवस्य जीवनम्

ahastāni sahastānām
apadāni catuṣ-padām
phalgūni tatra mahatāṁ
jīvo jīvasya jīvanam

“Those who are devoid of hands are prey for those who have hands; those devoid of legs are prey for the four-legged. The weak are the subsistence of the strong, and the general rule holds that one living being is food for another.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.13.47)

[jungle animals]The principle is that one living entity is the food for another. In the jungle the law is kill or be killed. Every animal has to eat. Even the omnivores live off other living things, namely plants. No one can say that their survival is absent the influence of life.

2. Sleeping

There has to be a period of rest. The animal can only stay awake and work for so long. It is tiring to hunt for food, to set up shelter, to care for family members, and whatever else occupies the entire day. Some species sleep for months at a time, while others can survive on very little rest. Some stay awake at night, while others retire during that time.

3. Mating

This is how the population continues. Future generations come to be due to the mating propensity. One animal connecting with another. It is an instinct; nothing has to be taught. The desire is always there, though it may not manifest immediately after birth. It is something like an itching sensation, and with animals there is little concern over developing relationships or allegiances to this particular partner or that.

4. Defending

This is also described as fearing. The animal is conscious enough to know that there is danger. Others will attack. Especially if living in the jungle, there is the potential for danger throughout the day. Therefore, defense is necessary.

One option is to use gifts provided by nature. Hands, legs, eyes, and ears. The nose to sniff out potential intruders. The nails to defend against predators. The belly to store food and move to a safer place for an extended period of time.

The reason the four basic components of animal life get mentioned so often by acharyas of the Vedic tradition is that human life at the outset is not much different. The nature of eating may be slightly advanced, specifically with the application of discrimination. I can choose to forego animal flesh, if so desired. I may only eat salads and fruits. Perhaps I have a liking for pizza and pasta. Whatever the actual habit, the taste of eating is the same as in the animal, though we may not be aware.

Sleeping takes place on a wide range of surfaces, from the hard ground to the electronically programmed luxury mattress. There may be issues with sleep, due to anxiety, poor digestion, distractions and the like. But once asleep the experience is really no different than what the animals go through.

Mating and defending are also similar. The human being can go to greater lengths, applying more intelligence in these areas, but the tendencies are the same. Enjoy sex life and protect what you have. Since there is enhanced intelligence, maybe these factors are under control more, as scientific studies and personal experience say that uncontrolled eating and sex life lead to problems.

The human being should rise above the animal activities, though. Otherwise, there is no point to the birth. The purusha in the form of a nara is considered auspicious. That spiritual spark manifesting as a person could accept a host of different body types; up to 8,400,000 in fact.

Human life is distinguished by the potential for connecting with the Almighty. Divine life is often misunderstood as merely religion, which is something like blind faith or sentiment. Learn why there are different species. Study the differences between animal life and human life. Acknowledge the harsh reality of death and strive to make the time spent in the human form completely worthwhile.

[Shri Krishna]To help in this pursuit shastra descends from high above, flowing through a chain of realized teachers. This is the greatest mercy of the Divine, as He hopes that the human form is the last stop in a train of migration, commonly referred to as reincarnation. Become fully conscious of God the person even before death and be assured of liberation, where the distinctions between material and spiritual, animal and human, male and female, night and day and other such conditions in duality cease to exist.

In Closing:

Tendencies similar to me,

In animal community to see.

Like for defense the need,

And desire the belly to feed.

At night taking rest,

For sex urge the quest.

Human birth for something more intended,

God understanding through teachers descended.

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