GATI (State of Existence of life)
What are different kinds of existence of life?
Why is someone born in different kind existence of life?
Can we predetermine our next existence?
Why should one be born as human?
If we look around us, we see not only men and women, boys and girls, but
also cats, dogs, birds, bugs and plants, etc. It can be seen that there
are various forms of living beings in this universe. Nothing is
permanent because every minute someone dies and someone is born. This
makes us wonder what happens to those who die and who decides what one
should be born as. Jainism explains that, as a result, of karmas
associated with their souls, living beings have been going through the
cycle of birth and death since times immemorial. Unless the soul gets
rid of its karmas, it will never be free. When a living being dies it
can be reborn into one of four destinies. These four destinies or Gatis
are as follows:
(1) Human beings.
(2) Heavenly beings.
(3) Tiryancha beings.
(4) Infernal beings.
Present science is inconclusive about the life after death or so called
rebirth. But Jinas, however, have explained that there is life after
death and it is you and no one else who decides what will happen to you
after your death. No God or super power decides your future. Your past
and current deeds trigger the accumulation of the karmas, which in
turn, govern what you will be reborn as. Let us learn about these
(1) Human Beings:
As human beings we have been endowed with the ability to think and we
can differentiate right from wrong. We can decide what is good for us
and what is not. We also have the capacity to control our mind and
activities. We can learn about the wholesome religious principles of
Jainism and put them into practice by adopting appropriate vows and
restraints. We can also renounce worldly life for the monkshood which
can lead to liberation or salvation from the worldly life (Samsar).
(2) Heavenly Beings:
As a heavenly being one has, of course, superior physical capabilities,
various supernatural powers, and access to all luxuries. Heavenly life
is transient and when it comes to an end, heavenly beings feel very
unhappy. They cannot adopt restraints or renounce their lives to become
monks or nuns. Therefore, certainly their is no salvation in heavenly
life and such beings will have to be reborn as human beings in order to
(3) Tiryanch Beings:
As a tiryancha (being born as an animal like lion, elephant, bird,
plant, etc.) one is considered to be a lower form of life. Animals and
birds may be able to think, but not nearly as well as humans, and they
do not have the ability to differentiate right from wrong. There is a
great degree of suffering and dependency in their lives. Only animals
and birds having minds may be able to observe a lower levels of
restraint, while the rest of the tiryancha passively undergo the
suffering destined for them. A life of this type is not analogous to a
life aimed at attaining salvation.
(4) Infernal Beings:
As an infernal being (living in hell), one has to continuously suffer.
Most of the time infernal beings fight among themselves, and cause more
suffering to one another. Such a life is, therefore, absolutely
unsuitable for spiritual pursuit.
Thus, it is clear that out of these four Gatis or destinies only human
life is suitable for spiritual pursuit and freedom from the cycle of
birth and death. Let us now consider what leads to birth in the
Those who enjoy excessive violence, lying, stealing, and sensuous
pleasure or are too possessive, angry, egoistic, greedy, deceptive, or
intensely attached to worldly life are likely to be re-born as infernal
beings in hell.
Those who are simple and disciplined, observe vows and restraints,
behave well, have good character, have faith in true teachers, attempt
to gain true knowledge, and follow a good moral life are generally
re-born as heavenly beings.
Those who are selfish, cause trouble, or wish evil onto others are
likely to be
re-born as Tiryancha.
Those who are simple, straightforward, and admirers of the truth, have
only a slight attachment, have a controlled level of anger, greed, or
deceptiveness, and try to follow religious teachers are generally
re-born as humans.
Conclusively, we are the masters of our own destiny of existence of life
and we should not blame anyone or anything else for our destiny. Let us
be inspired to lead a spiritual life without delay, so that we may be
reborn as human beings and may continue to tread on the path of
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