07 March 2010

GATI (State of Existence of life)

What are different kinds of existence of life?Why is someone born in different kind existence of life? Can we predetermine our next existence?Why should one be born as human?If we look around us, we see not only men and women, boys and girls, butalso cats, dogs, birds, bugs and plants, etc. It can be seen that thereare various forms of living beings in this universe. Nothing ispermanent because every minute someone dies and someone is born. Thismakes us wonder what happens to those who die and who decides what oneshould be born as. Jainism explains that, as a result, of karmasassociated with their souls, living beings have been going through thecycle of birth and death since times immemorial. Unless the soul getsrid of its karmas, it will never be free. When a living being dies itcan be reborn into one of four destinies. These four destinies or Gatisare as follows:(1) Human beings.(2) Heavenly beings.(3) Tiryancha beings.(4) Infernal beings.Present science is inconclusive about the life after death or so calledrebirth. But Jinas, however, have explained that there is life afterdeath and it is you and no one else who decides what will happen to youafter your death. No God or super power decides your future. Your pastand current deeds trigger the accumulation of the karmas, which inturn, govern what you will be reborn as. Let us learn about thesedestinies.(1) Human Beings: As human beings we have been endowed with the ability to think and wecan differentiate right from wrong. We can decide what is good for usand what is not. We also have the capacity to control our mind andactivities. We can learn about the wholesome religious principles ofJainism and put them into practice by adopting appropriate vows andrestraints. We can also renounce worldly life for the monkshood whichcan lead to liberation or salvation from the worldly life (Samsar).(2) Heavenly Beings: As a heavenly being one has, of course, superior physical capabilities,various supernatural powers, and access to all luxuries. Heavenly lifeis transient and when it comes to an end, heavenly beings feel veryunhappy. They cannot adopt restraints or renounce their lives to becomemonks or nuns. Therefore, certainly their is no salvation in heavenlylife and such beings will have to be reborn as human beings in order toattain liberation.(3) Tiryanch Beings: As a tiryancha (being born as an animal like lion, elephant, bird,plant, etc.) one is considered to be a lower form of life. Animals andbirds may be able to think, but not nearly as well as humans, and theydo not have the ability to differentiate right from wrong. There is agreat degree of suffering and dependency in their lives. Only animalsand birds having minds may be able to observe a lower levels ofrestraint, while the rest of the tiryancha passively undergo thesuffering destined for them. A life of this type is not analogous to alife aimed at attaining salvation.(4) Infernal Beings: As an infernal being (living in hell), one has to continuously suffer.Most of the time infernal beings fight among themselves, and cause moresuffering to one another. Such a life is, therefore, absolutelyunsuitable for spiritual pursuit.Thus, it is clear that out of these four Gatis or destinies only humanlife is suitable for spiritual pursuit and freedom from the cycle ofbirth and death. Let us now consider what leads to birth in thedifferent destinies.Those who enjoy excessive violence, lying, stealing, and sensuouspleasure or are too possessive, angry, egoistic, greedy, deceptive, orintensely attached to worldly life are likely to be re-born as infernalbeings in hell.Those who are simple and disciplined, observe vows and restraints,behave well, have good character, have faith in true teachers, attemptto gain true knowledge, and follow a good moral life are generallyre-born as heavenly beings.Those who are selfish, cause trouble, or wish evil onto others arelikely to be re-born as Tiryancha.Those who are simple, straightforward, and admirers of the truth, haveonly a slight attachment, have a controlled level of anger, greed, ordeceptiveness, and try to follow religious teachers are generallyre-born as humans.Conclusively, we are the masters of our own destiny of existence of lifeand we should not blame anyone or anything else for our destiny. Let usbe inspired to lead a spiritual life without delay, so that we may bereborn as human beings and may continue to tread on the path ofliberation.

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