“The common religion of all classes of human beings, regardless of whosoever and whatsoever one may be, is devotional service. Even the animals may be included in devotional service to the Lord, and the best example is set by Shri Vajrangaji, or Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Shri Rama.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.8.18 Purport)
“I often hear His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada compare and contrast the different kinds of birth. As soon as there is birth there must be death, and prior to birth the living spirit lived someplace else. This obviously means that placement is up in the air; we are not entirely sure where we will end up in the future. Someone else makes the decision, and hopefully everything is properly adjudicated, taking into account desire and past action.
“There is a distinction with the human birth. It specifically carries the increased potential for understanding spiritual life and the source of it. Just making an inquiry into those matters represents significant progress. Not every human being will strive for perfection in understanding, and out of those who try hardly one will succeed to a sufficient level.
“The idea is that the potential is simply not there in other births. A common comparison is to the dog, as spelled backwards it is God. The criticism is that man places too much significance on the dog, replacing the Almighty from His proper position. There is merit to this argument, as what can the dog really do for us? It cannot speak. It cannot provide wisdom. We will not maintain its association after death.
“At the same time, the acharyas explain that connection with God is never fully restricted based on circumstance. That is to say, even the dog can be liberated. From Vedic literature we read of amazing monkeys who befriended Shri Rama, an avatara of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu offered the greatest benediction to wild animals in the forest.
“How do we square the two? Are we superior as human beings or are we not? Is birth as an animal hopeless or is there still a chance?”
We are in the human species now. We cannot make a proper comparison to life as an animal since we will not be able to remember the experience at present. Perhaps we were in such forms prior, as confirmed through dreamlike experiences where we fly through the air or swim easily underwater, but memory gets erased with each subsequent birth.
The acharyas stress the importance of taking advantage of the human form. This is our best chance for liberation, for escaping the cycle of birth and death. Otherwise, we have this theoretical reset button that gets pressed. We have to start over again, in the future. As if we were in the middle of building a house, leaving it for some time, only to return to see that the progress has been erased.
We are human beings today, so let us find the proper way. Let us accept the shelter of the Divine and make Him our top priority. He is the sun to our existence, no matter where we live. Even in the spiritual world He is the source of the splendor, and so there is no need for external lighting.
न तद् भासयते सूर्यो
न शशाङ्को न पावकः
यद् गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते
तद् धाम परमं मम
na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)
His causeless mercy extends to the animals. No living being is forever restricted from the connection in yoga. This is because they are spirit soul at the core, the same in quality across the numerous instances, but still maintaining a separate identity.
Shri Hanuman appears in this world as a forest-dwelling monkey-type living being. He and his friends do become eternally dear to Shri Rama, Sita Devi and Lakshmana. We find derogatory remarks made about their features, tendencies, and habits, but these do not influence their standing in the eyes of the Supreme.
Rama looks at devotion only, and so even the small child has the opportunity for success in approaching and coming closer to the one who is an endless ocean of compassion and mercy. Let us take advantage of this amazing opportunity provided by the human birth to always stay connected: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Though as human to be,
Even the animals can see.
Vanaras serving aware,
Travel to commanded where.
Chaitanya in the forest liberating,
Extensive mercy proliferating.
So right now advantage taking,
For successful completion making.