[Advaita-l] Birth as a human being is rare

Sriram Krishnamurthy asksriramjobs at gmail.com
Thu Aug 23 06:45:44 CDT 2007

 Birth as a human being is rare to attain. It is the result of good deeds
performed in countless lives. All living beings have many functions in
common and what distinguishes man from other creatures is his capacity to
follow the path of dharma( virtue) since his faculties are specially
equipped for higher pursuits. All living beings perform actions only for the
preservation of their bodies, but man acts mainly with ulterior motives and
hence all his actions are ultimately motivated for his own benefit and
fulfilment of his desires. If his entire life is wasted without utilising
this birth for realising the ultimate goal, by adopting the path of dharma
it is futile existence. Moreover there is no guarantee that one will be
blessed with a human birth again. Man's ignorance about the privilege of his
present birth must be removed and his goal in life made clear to him.
Suppose an ardent student finds that a text-book which he needs for his
course is out of print and when he borrows the same from the library he is
told that he can peruse it only for one month, one can imagine the
seriousness with which he will study the text within the short period which
normally he would have taken to complete in one year. Likewise the
scriptures tell us that this birth is very rare to get and there is no
certainty about the condition of our future lives. So a lot of effort is
necessary in daily life to realise the goal of human existence (liberation)
for which adherence to dharma is of paramount importance. Man's life is led
on the path of what he believes in. Only when there is belief that by
adopting dharma one will be able to achieve higher values (shreyas) in life,
will he remain true to the goal.
 In his benedictory address, Sri Bharathi Theertha Swamiji of Sringeri Math
said, scriptures classify human beings as believers (asthikas) and
non-believers (nasthikas) according to their propensities. A believer in
rebirth, karma (effect of good and bad deeds) and existence of God is an
asthika, whereas a person who believes in leading a life of hedonism denies
all this. So we must only exercise the choice and make efforts to follow the
path which will be for our good. With full conviction that the path of
dharma will confer merit we must perform the enjoined duties. Even the
desire that we should have a good comfortable life in the next birth must
motivate us to do only good deeds and the prescribed duties according to our
station in life. Gita also reiterates, ``Better is one's own duty, though
devoid of merit, than the duty of another well-performed; for performing the
duty ordained by his own nature man does not incur sin.''

Source : Discourse of Shankaracharya of Dakshinamnaya Sringeri Sharada
Peetam, Sri Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamiji

Om Tat Sat,

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