Number of Human Species

Forums Topics on Vedic Science Number of Human Species

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #8831

    The Padma Purana states there are 900,000 species of aquatics; 2,000,000 species of trees & plants; 1,100,000 species of insects & reptiles; 1,000,000 species of birds; 3,000,000 species of beasts; 400,000 species of humans.
    Yet in SB 3.10.26 we read “The creations of the human beings, who are of one species only…” This follows a few verses which state that the trees are of six varieties and the lower species of 28. How to understand this? A difference in definition of species?


    There are at least three ways to classify living entities — based on their body type, based on their guna or desires to enjoy and suffer, and based on the environment they live in. It is also possible to combine these methods of classification. E.g. first classify by environment, then subdivide by guna and then subdivide by body type. Accordingly, which methods are combined, and the order in which they are combined, can lead to many different methods of classification.

    The quote from Padma Purana seems to be primarily based on the environment (e.g. water for aquatics, air for birds, land for plants, beasts, reptiles, and humans). Notably, living entities in the fire environment are not described here, but in other places, they are noted (agni-kopa). However, this description is not solely based on the environment, because if it were, then the living entities on land would not have been subdivided (i.e. as plants, beasts, reptiles, and humans). This second subdivision is probably due to guna rather than the environment.

    The description in Srimad Bhagavatam you have quoted is based on the body type rather than environment or guna. You can see a description of the number of hooves, nails, etc. in prior verses. From this context, we can infer that the definition of ‘human’ here is a body type, rather than the environment in which they are placed, and the types of pleasures they enjoy. In later verses, the demigods (which are of 8 separate varieties) are distinguished from humans. In the description of Padma Purana, however, the demigods are included in the human form.

    I don’t see a contradiction, but I do see multiple methods of classification.


    Thank you. This makes sense.


    Hare Krishna prabhuji

    Does the 4 lakh species division of humans include demigods, gandharvas etc.


    There are different narratives in Vedic texts that make an answer difficult. First, both demons and demigods are children of Kashyapa who is son of Marichi who is son of Brahma. Second, what we call “human” is understood as children of Manu. But Kashyapa is also a “human” in some sense. So it is possible that both groups are included in humans. It is also possible that “humans” just includes the sons of Manu. It is not clear one way or another. But since 8,400,000 is all the species in the universe, therefore, I’m inclined to think that there are at least two separate parental lineages but both these lineages are included in the category of humans, which includes both demigods and demons. They are humans but not the children of Manu.

    One source of the confusion is that Vivasvana or sun-god is the father of Vaivasvata Manu. From him comes Iksvaku and then sun-dynasty. Vivasvana is an Aditya so he is a son of Kashyapa. Thus, Vaivasvata Manu is both a demigod (as son of an Aditya) and a human (as the parent of the humanity). Maybe the explanation is that the lower parts of the universe are destroyed at the end of reign of each Manu, and a new Manu is established after that. That Manu always comes from some demigod or rishi from the upper planetary systems that have not been destroyed in the partial annihilation, and therefore, the term “human” applies to both categories: (a) at the beginning of each Manavantara there is a new Manu who establishes humanity, (b) but that Manu comes from a demigod or rishi who survived the previous partial annihilation. This is why we have to have a guna science to establish a comprehensive tree of life.


    Thank you prabhuji

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.