A few days ago, I looked through a photo feature called “Zoo Babies” on MSN News.
It showed a monkey mother holding her baby to her chest. It showed a baby anteater crawling onto his mother’s back, and a lioness snarling at the photographer, warning him to stay away from her cub.
“It’s amazing,” I thought. “The bond between these animal mothers and babies seems the same as in humans. Do they feel the same thing?”
A Mother is a Mother, Regardless
My thoughts went back a few years to a conversation with Roberta, a friend in New York. “My cat seems so contented when her kittens are nursing,” I said.
“Motherhood is very rewarding,” said Roberta, the mother of a now grown-up son. Roberta, though neither a yogi nor a devotee, still saw the oneness of her feelings and those of my cat.
“But,” you ask, “thy do creatures of different species like Roberta and my cat feel the same?” Maybe because we have evolved from the animals, as Darwin says?
What Makes All Beings Equal?
But Darwin did not consider the soul, if he even knew about it, and the body without the soul is a bag of chemicals. Now who ever heard of a bag of chemicals having a baby?
And evolution implies higher and lower. A human must be higher than a cat, right? But Krishna has a different idea:
He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and their distress, O Arjuna.⁓Bhagavad Gita
What, then, makes all beings equal?
It is the soul.
The soul? But what is that? It is the life force, the eternal person who lives in the temporary body:
O descendant of Bharata, he who dwells in the body can never be slain. ⁓Bhagavad Gita
Which Beings Have Souls?
The Christians picture the soul as something existing only in humans, but
Krishna tells Arjuna that the soul lives in every species:
The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species. ⁓Bhagavad Gita
My cat, then, once had a human body, but is now enjoying motherhood as a cat.
Huh? A Human Becomes a Cat?
Not like the movies, though, where some creepy guy turns into a mountain lion before your eyes. It’s transmigration, birth and death. . . and birth again.
“O.K. Just wait a second,” says the Darwinist. “A human becomes a cat in a future life? Evolution cannot go backwards.”
But the soul does not evolve when he changes bodies. The soul is no greater in the body of a human than in the body of a cat though it may seem so.
This individual soul is…everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.⁓Bhagavad Gita
“Then why is Roberta more intelligent than your cat?” asks the Darwinist. “There must be some kind of evolution.”
But consider the human child. Is he really more intelligent than a cat?
If you say the animal has no soul, then you must say the child has no soul because they have the same intelligence. ⁓Srila Prabhupada
What is Growth?
But when does the child change his body
As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change. ⁓Bhagavad Gita
What we see as growth, then, is an ongoing change of bodies, similar to death and rebirth.
Since every living entity is an individual soul, each is changing his body every moment, manifesting sometimes as a child, sometimes as a youth, and sometimes as an old man.Yet the same spirit soul is there and does not undergo any change. ⁓Srila Prabhupada
Was My Cat Ever a Human Mother?
The child’s hidden intelligence shows up when he exchanges his body for the body of an adult, and my cat’s hidden intelligence will appear when through the process of nature, she finally attains the body of an adult human.
The soul and the feelings of the soul stay the same. The cat mother was once a human mother, and the human mother was once a cat mother as they traveled in the repeating cycle of birth and death.
Eternally touching my head to the lotus feet of my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada,
⁓Umapati Swami September 28, 2018, revised March 4, 2023
Photo top: Naughty Krishna holding a piece of candy (Jishnu Das)>
Write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2018, 2021 Umapati Swami
Other photos: monkeys: Vinod K A on Unsplash ; human mother & baby: pexels; cat mother & baby: Pixabay.
Scriptural passages © Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the teacher who brought Krishna Consciousness from India to the West and then to the rest of the world. He is the founder of the worldwide Hare Krishna Movement as well as the author and compiler of many works of Vedic knowledge. He left this world in 1977.
One of the first American devotees of the Hare Krishna Movement, he became Srila Prabhupada’s disciple in 1966. Since then, he has preached Krishna Consciousness in many countries and is the author of “My Days with Prabhupada,” available from Amazon. Now 86 years old, he has started this blog to share what he has learned.