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Who Evolves

by Swami Sivananda

Further, what is the cause of growth or evolution? Why should an entity which was sometime ago in the vegetable stale now appear in an animal body? Is its advancement or promotion to a higher state of being only accidental? If not, in what way did it merit the promotion? Is the vegetable capable of doing any responsible act or Karma for which it is rewarded? If it is itself not capable of doing any, is its ascent in evolution compulsory and due to the act of another agent? If so, does it mean that the fruits of action may go to one who did nothing to merit them? Among the lower animals themselves one is found happier throughout its life-span, from the moment of its birth, than another? Why should it be so? The differences in the animal's experience of pain and pleasure must have their own causes. What are they? The causes must relate to the previous existence of every such Jiva in question. This previous life could not have been that of a lower animal, for lower animals can do no responsible Karma. The law of Karma and justice, if it is true at all, shows unmistakably that there is no real foundation for the notion that there is evolution going on below the stage of man. Every brute, every little insect and every one of the plants and trees, all were, and are going to be again human beings themselves. They are all temporarily only suspended from the class of humanity for some offences.

It may be asked, if all non-human states of being are only the results of the previous human Karma, in the beginning stage of the universe, there must have been only men and nothing else; is there any authority to show that there was a time when there were men alone and that the non-human states of being appeared only later on? The question assumes that there was a beginning for the universe. It may be that every Kalpa or Cycle of the universe has a beginning; but at the beginning of a Kalpa the universe takes the appearance in the condition in which it was just before the Pralaya or dissolution that preceded the Kalpa in question. The universe, with this alternate existence of Kalpa and Pralaya has had no beginning at all. None can say that there was a beginning for the existence of the power of Maya in the Self. As there was no beginning for the universe, there could not have been any period of time when there were men alone. At all times there have been human as well as non-human states of being in the manifested universe.

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