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Chapter 3 Vedic Wisdom: The Privilege of Humanity
Human Life vs. Animal Life
Have you ever wondered how a human being is superior to an animal? The activities of human beings and animals are similar - eating, sleeping, producing children, defending themselves etc. In what way are humans superior to animals?
Someone may reply 'Reasoning Power' or 'Rational Thinking'. But reasoning power is there even in lower animals like dogs and cats. Suppose a dog comes up to you, and if you say, "Hut!" he will understand that you don't want him. So, he has some reasoning power. Similarly if a cat wants to steal some milk from your kitchen, she has very nice reasoning power; she is always looking to see when the master is out, so that she can steal and drink the milk.So the four propensities of animal life - eating, sleeping, mating and defending - indicate that there is reasoning power even in the beasts. Then what is the special prerogative of the human being over animals? The special reasoning power that the human being has is the ability to inquire, "Why am I suffering?" The animals are suffering, but they do not know how to remedy their suffering.
Generally, people are just like animals. They simply do not know anything beyond the necessities of the body: how to eat, how to sleep, how to mate and how to defend. An animal eats filth and garbage in a street; we may eat in a five-star hotel. An animal may sleep in a corner of a street; we may sleep on a Dunlop pillow bed or on a water-bed. An animal may mate without shame in the middle of the street; we may have sex in a skyscraper building. An animal may defend with claws and teeth; we may defend with bombs, scuds and missiles. If human beings use scientific, philosophical, cultural and religious advancement just to perform these four activities better, then such a human civilization is in no way superior to an animal civilization. The Mahabharata therefore says:
ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam cha, samanyam etad pashubhir naranam
dharmo hi tesham adhiko vishesho. dharmena hina pashubhih samanah
"The activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending are common in animals and human beings. The human beings are considered superior only when they inquire about the Absolute Truth, otherwise they are considered as good as animals."
Majority of human beings are wasting their time in useless activities imitating animals. People organize competitions to award one who can eat maximum number of bananas or gulabjamuns. But can we compete with an elephant in eating? Can we compete with an eagle in seeing objects miles away? Can we compete with a dog in smelling and detecting thieves? Can we imitate a pigeon who can have sex a dozen times in one hour? Can we compete with a kangaroo in high jump? Can we compete with a horse in atheletics? If we are proud of producing offspring, a dog can beget dozens of puppies and a mosquito can produce thousands of offspring. Animals are better than humans in the aforementioned activities. In fact, these abilities are in-built in their system by the arrangement of God. If it is so, what is the special ability awarded in a human body? If we are proud of social organization, even honey bees have a complex social set up where worker bees go for collecting honey (and they never go on strike like their human counterparts!) while the drones take care of the queen who begets offspring.