|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Unit - 01
Lesson - 0102: Superiority of Human Race
By Raja Subramaniyan
That which eats, sleeps, procreates and dies is called a living being. Among living beings, human beings are superior. This superiority comes from the fact that only human beings are aware of themselves as a distinct entity. Arising out of this self-awareness, he has developed a discriminatory power to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and false and such.
The advantage of gaining such discriminatory power based on self-awareness is manifold and some of them are listed below.
1. Human beings presently rule the world using mind power. Although there are many other species of living beings that are far superior in physical strength, human beings have outsmarted them.
2. Compared to other species of living beings, human beings have mastered the art of protecting themselves from a hostile environment by modifying the environment. In addition, the dependency on the environment for increasing life span and size of the population is continuously decreasing compared to any other species.
3. All other living beings are at the mercy of human beings for survival.
4. Human beings are capable of continuously inventing ways and means of increasing comforts and entertainment in life unlike other living beings.
5. Increase in standard of living, formation of society, politics, religion, philosophy, development of art, literature and music are unique to humankind.
Although there are innumerable such advantages, there is one major disadvantage arising out of self-awareness. It is mental suffering due to various negative emotions like, worry, anxiety, fear, jealousy, anger, irritation, frustration, insecurity, guilt etc. Such negative emotions are totally absent in animals since they do not have self-awareness.
Example: Two goats are brought to the butchers shop and one is killed and being sold as meat. Even if the second goat sees the killing, it will 'happily' continue to eat the grass while waiting for its turn.
Animals do not suffer thinking what others will think of them since they do not know that they have distinct identity.
Animals experience disease and death like human beings but they do not have any anxiety or fear. A monkey, with a disease, does not feel sad or inferior. Physical pain is common to both while mental sufferings are unique to humankind.
Hippies wanted to overcome this particular disadvantage by living like animals. They have failed because it is not possible to lose knowledge except through gaining a superior knowledge.
Example: A mother received the news that her son is dead. Until she receives the news, she was ignorant about it and therefore did not suffer. On gaining the knowledge, suffering starts. It is not possible to erase the knowledge to remove the suffering. Only a superior knowledge can erase the old knowledge. If she gets to see her son alive, the old knowledge will go and suffering stops. There is no other way to erase the old knowledge.
Similarly, the self-awareness once gained cannot be forgotten. Therefore, it is not possible to overcome the disadvantage caused by it, by living like animals.
This disadvantage cannot be eliminated or compensated by all the advantages listed earlier. However advanced or developed a human society may be, the mental suffering cannot be avoided except by gaining a superior knowledge.
Animals are ignorant on who they are. Human beings have self-awareness. However, they do not have self-knowledge. This is the cause of all mental suffering. Gita helps human beings to convert their imperfect self-awareness into perfect knowledge so that the only disadvantage, the mental suffering, is removed. It is then possible to live happily all the time.
Gita gives the essence of all the Vedas. It is very difficult for anyone to read the original version of Gita and understand the meaning without mastering the knowledge revealed in the Vedas. It is impossible to read all the four Vedas and decipher the meaning without guidance. Therefore, the only solution is to study the Gita under the guidance of a teacher who has mastered both the Vedas and the Gita by systematically studying the same from his teacher.
It is not possible to understand the message from the Gita without the guidance of a teacher. The Gita is a dialogue between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. Gita has to be learnt in a similar way by the student from a teacher on one to one basis.
Acquiring this knowledge is as difficult, or as easy as gaining competency in any other subject like physics, chemistry or math at the postgraduate level. One should possess the required basic qualifications. In addition, one needs to have intelligence, deep desire and access to a good teacher. When these three requirements are met, this knowledge can be gained easily through hard work.
Only when we do this, our intelligence is used to its full potential and we can truly proclaim that a human being is superior. If we do not do this, our happiness will continue to depend on the environment just as in the case of other living beings.
Thus, Gita helps us to grow to our full potential and enjoy life all the time.