Birth as human being a rare privilege
THIS IS A COLLECTED LIST OF INTERVIEWS AND TALKS BY THE SRINGERI ACHARYALS ON VARIOUS RELIGIOUS TOPICS DURING THE 1990’S. THEY WERE PUBLISHED IN “THE HINDU” NEWSPAPER.
Birth as a human being is rare to attain. It is the result of good deeds performed in countless lives. All living beings have many functions in common and what distinguishes man from other creatures is his capacity to follow the path of dharma( virtue) since his faculties are specially equipped for higher pursuits.
All living beings perform actions only for the preservation of their bodies, but man acts mainly with ulterior motives and hence all his actions are ultimately motivated for his own benefit and fulfillment of his desires. If his entire life is wasted without utilizing this birth for realizing the ultimate goal, by adopting the path of dharma it is futile existence. Moreover there is no guarantee that one will be blessed with a human birth again.
Man's ignorance about the privilege of his present birth must be removed and his goal in life made clear to him. Suppose an ardent student finds that a text-book which he needs for his course is out of print and when he borrows the same from the library he is told that he can peruse it only for one month, one can imagine the seriousness with which he will study the text within the short period which normally he would have taken to complete in one year.
Likewise the scriptures tell us that this birth is very rare to get and there is no certainty about the condition of our future lives. So a lot of effort is necessary in daily life to realise the goal of human existence (liberation) for which adherence to dharma is of paramount importance. Man's life is led on the path of what he believes in. Only when there is belief that by adopting dharma one will be able to achieve higher values (shreyas) in life, will he remain true to the goal.
In his benedictory address, Sri Bharathi Theertha Swami of Sringeri Math said, scriptures classify human beings as believers (asthikas) and non-believers (nasthikas) according to their propensities. A believer in rebirth, karma (effect of good and bad deeds) and existence of God is an asthika, whereas a person who believes in leading a life of hedonism denies all this. So we must only exercise the choice and make efforts to follow the path which will be for our good.
With full conviction that the path of dharma will confer merit we must perform the enjoined duties. Even the desire that we should have a good comfortable life in the next birth must motivate us to do only good deeds and the prescribed duties according to our station in life. Gita also reiterates: