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Bodies are 'Tailor-made' to Satisfy Soul's Desires
The Vedas teach that a soul who aspires to enjoy in a particular way is offered a body with a set of limbs and senses appropriate to the desires from his previous life. The 8.4 million species subdivided into various categories, give a materially tangible dense form to the subtle state of the consciousness of each individual living being. That subtle forms exist in the ether has been proven by modern science by transmission of television, by which forms/photographs of one place are transmitted to another place by the action of the ethereal element. Within the Srimad Bhagavatam is the potential basis of great scientific research work, for it explains how subtle forms are generated from the ethereal element, how the tangible elements, namely air, fire, water and earth are manifested from the subtle form. Mental activities, or psychological activities of thinking, feeling, and willing are also activities on the platform of ethereal existence. Mental existence transforms into tangible form as soon as there is an opportunity. So, depending on the unfulfilled desires stored in the subtle body of the soul, the soul is carried by the subtle body to a particular womb where he eventually gets a gross body.
When a person goes to a cloth shop he can choose from a variety of clothes - shirts, suits, trousers, jeans etc. Similarly there are 8.4 million species for the soul to choose from. The soul may acquire any of them to fulfill his desires. Even amongst human beings there are so many varieties - asuras (unregulated sense enjoyers), rakshasas (demons), devas (demigods), Gandharvas (demigods famous as singers) etc. If a soul wants to enjoy, enjoyment is available in millions of ways, in so many varieties, in permutations and combinations. Lord Krishna is capable of fulfilling every soul's desires. Think of any desire - Do you know someone who likes to sleep a lot? Nature will give him a polar bear's body so that he can sleep for 6 months in a year without being ridiculed by friends or scolded by parents. Do you know someone who likes to eat flesh and drink blood? Nature will say to him, 'Come! Take this body of a tiger!' Do you know someone who likes to be in the water always and keep swimming? (Some swimmers are mad. They want to swim from the Palk strait to the English canal) Nature will say to him, 'Come! Take the body of a fish and swim to your heart's content'. Some people don't want to wear proper clothes in their body; they expose major part of their body to draw the attention of opposite sex. Nature will say to them, 'Take the body of a tree, and stand naked to your heart's content throughout the year.' In this way each species represents a different way of enjoyment. But even in a particular enjoyment, there are subtler differences. There is a difference between the sleeping of ordinary bears and the sleeping of polar bears. There are street dogs who get beaten and driven away wherever they go and there are pet dogs who live a life of luxury with their doting masters. These bodies are allotted to the living entities based on their desires and past karma.
Once the great sage Agastya visited the king Indradyumna. When the king failed to offer the sage proper reception, the sage cursed Indradyumna to become an elephant. Indradyumna behaved like a dull stone and hence was cursed to become a dumb animal, elephant. Similarly once a Gandharva (a celestial singer) named Huhu playfully pulled the leg of the sage Devala from under water and got a curse to become a crocodile. Huhu behaved like a creature of water and hence was cursed to become a crocodile. Of course, great sages have no malice or wrath when they curse someone. Their curses are indirect benedictions for those cursed. By these curses both Indradyumna and Huhu achieved the darshan of Lord Hari in future. Indradyumna returned to the spiritual world and Huhu became a Gandharva again.
It is important to note that independent of the external material body the soul acquires, the soul has a particular form called 'svarupa', which is his eternal form in the spiritual world. That form does not change when the soul moves from one body to another body. For example, a person may wear different types of gloves as per the requirement - surgery, electrical repair or boxing. But irrespective of the gloves he is wearing, his hand remains the same. Similarly, the soul may acquire different bodies as per his desires and activities. But irrespective of the body he possesses, the soul's original form - his svarupa -remains the same.