Srila Prabhupada explains the first essential point in understanding the fact of transmigration.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lecture given in Frankfurt, Germany, June 18, 1974
Like a renter in an apartment, we occupy our body, but the owner is someone else.

dehino ’smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” – Bhagavad-gita 2.13

Dehinah means the possessor of the body. There is a proprietor of this body, or possessor. Actually, we are not the proprietor; we are the occupier, just like a renter. Everyone knows that if you rent a house, the proprietor is a different man. The tenant is the occupier. So I am the spirit soul. I am not the proprietor of the body; I am simply the occupier.

The rascal materialists do not know that the proprietor of the body is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He is giving me a particular apartment according to my capacity for paying rent. This is my position. Otherwise, why does everyone not get a first-class body, such as a king’s body or rich man’s body? Sometimes a child is born and immediately he is rich. So there is no arrangement for this to happen? And another child born in the same moment is very poor. Why? This is called karma-kanda. The child is given a room, an apartment, according to his capacity for paying rent.

According to your karma, or work, you get a body, either as a king’s son or a cobbler’s son or a dog’s son or a cat’s son or a tree’s son or a plant’s son. This is the nature of things. This is to be understood.

Krishna said in the last verse, “Don’t think we did not exist in the past. We are existing at present, and we shall continue to exist in the future.” Exactly like that, I live in one apartment, and then if I am able to pay more rent, I transfer to another apartment. Or if I cannot pay the present rent, then I’ll have to move to another, less costly apartment. I existed in one apartment, now I am existing in one apartment, and I shall exist in another apartment. So I am eternal; I am simply changing my apartment, or dress.

Understand this simple thing. In this life I am experiencing that I changed so many apartments. I was a child; that apartment I changed into boyhood; then again I changed that apartment into youthhood; then I am an old man. So when this apartment will be vacated, I’ll have to accept another apartment. Where is the difficulty to understand this? I must possess one apartment, or body. The body is the apartment.

And according to the apartment, one’s intelligence or consciousness is developed – according to the body. A poor man living in a poor cottage or a very unclean apartment has his particular mentality. And a respectable gentleman living in a very nice house has a different mentality. So according to the circumstances, the mental changes are there. But the poor man is a human being, and the rich man is also a human being. Similarly, there are so many apartments, or different types of body – 8,400,000 different types of body – but the occupier, the living being, or the soul, is the same quality. But according to the apartment, or body, he has occupied, he has developed a different consciousness and mentality. Is it clear or not? Where is the difficulty in understanding this?

Clearly Stated by Krishna

The rascals do not believe in the transmigration of the soul, but where is the difficulty to understand the transmigration of the soul? That is very clearly stated. And who is stating? Krishna, the supreme authority. You cannot say, “I don’t believe in transmigration.” You may believe or not believe, but this is the fact. Who are you to disbelieve? You may believe or not believe, but nature’s work will go on. You rascal – believe it or not; it doesn’t matter. Nature’s work will go on.

If you have done nicely to occupy a first-class apartment, then nature will give you a nice body. Therefore I say repeatedly that you Western people are given a very good chance by nature. Therefore, once upon a time the European people were dominating all over the world because they’re very intelligent. They have got good intelligence, good resources, good, nice body, beautiful body. Everything is very good. But don’t spoil it. Utilize it for understanding further good. Don’t spoil it simply behaving like cats and dogs. That is the aim of our Krishna consciousness movement.

The Krishna consciousness movement is teaching that you are misled and simply living in the bodily consciousness of life. Therefore you are fighting. Germany’s fighting England. England is fighting France. France is fighting . . . Why this fighting? You must know, “I am not this body; I am spirit soul. Why am I falsely identifying myself with the land?”

“I am a German because I am born in this land of Germany.” That is false. No land is Germany or France or England. Land is land. You have falsely named it. “This is Germany.” What is Germany? Say, two hundred years ago or three hundred years ago there was no Germany. There was no America. The land was there, but the name was not there. Some Europeans have colonized it. They accept: “It is America.”

The Land Belongs to God

These are all designations. The fact is that the land belongs not to you – not to the German, not to the Englishman, not to the American – but it belongs to God. The land was created by God, so it is God’s property. Where is the difficulty to understand this? You did not create anything. You did not create even your own body. The proprietor of your body is also Krishna, because as soon as Krishna asks you, “Please vacate,” you must vacate immediately. Can you remain in this body? The proprietor asks you to vacate somehow or other, and you have to vacate. Or the proprietor does not repair it. Then you voluntarily vacate. “This is no longer useful.” This is going on.

We have changed so many different types of body even in this duration of life. Now, how this change is taking place, you cannot imagine. Therefore we say that it is the same body, but actually it is not the same body. The body is different; it is changing. Because the person, the soul, is there, it is changing. And as soon as the person is not there . . . Suppose a baby is born in a dead body; it will not grow or it will not change. As long as the soul is there, it will change.

Krishna said, “We existed in the past.” This is an authoritative statement. So it is to be understood that I existed in the past in a different body. I existed, say, seventy years before in a different body. I was jumping as a boy; now I cannot jump. Now I have to take the stick. This is a different body. So where is the difficulty to understand? If the same body had been here, then I could jump like a boy. I remember that I jumped. But now it is not possible. I have to take help of three men. [Laughter.] So it is a different body. Although imperceptibly it has changed, the body is different.

Those who are intelligent and sober are called dhira, having an undisturbed mind. They are not like the rascals. Rascals cannot understand. Therefore the very word is used, dhira. What is the meaning of dhira? “The sober,” those who have got brain substance, not cow dung for brains. You see? They can understand. Therefore one has to become intelligent, dhira.

For spiritual understanding we have to create the favorable circumstances. To create a healthy body you have to remain in such a way that you’ll not fall sick. Similarly dhira means that if you try to remain just like cats and dogs, then you remain as a cats and dog, but if you want to remain as a human being, then you must remain as a perfect human being. Therefore no illicit sex. The cats and dogs can have illicit sex, and if the human beings also have the same process, then where is the difference between them and cats and dogs?

Therefore you have to be cautious not to become cats and dogs, but to remain as human beings. Then you’ll be dhira, sober, not agitated. Therefore this very word is used. This knowledge is not understood by the cats and dogs. If I say to the cats and dogs, “You are not this body. You are simply possessing this body,” it is useless, because he has got a certain body by which he cannot understand – even if I instruct him for one thousand years – because he has got a different body, a cat’s body or a dog’s body. But in the human form of body there is the possibility of understanding this knowledge. That is the difference between the cat’s and dog’s body and the human body.

Become Dhira

To become dhira means not to use this very important, very useful body, human body, to pass as cats and dogs. That is very dangerous. It is a great loss. We have to be very intelligent to understand, “I have got this human body after many, many births.” That is the evolutionary theory. I can understand that a tree is a living being, but it is standing there for thousands of years. Thousands of years they are standing. So many Napoleons, so many Kaisers, so many Hitlers came and went, but the tree is standing. That is a punishment. But that tree is also a living being. It is also growing. As your body is growing or changing, that body’s also growing and changing. Unless you pour water on the root of the tree, then it will die. Similarly, if you don’t eat, you’ll die. There is no difference. It is simply different methods of living. That’s all. The cats and dogs are living by a certain method. The human being is living by a certain method. The trees are living by a certain method. The fish in the water are living by a certain method. But the eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are there. So according to the different bodies, they’re living differently.

So all living entities, as Krishna said, “They existed.” They existed in a different body; now they are existing in a different body. This is called evolution or transmigration. The evolution theory is there in the Padma Purana. Not theory – fact. It is not Darwin’s invention. As clearly stated, the evolution theory is – evolution fact is – there are 8,400,000 different species of life, and the living entity is passing, transmigrating, from one to another, one to another. This human form of body is very rare. We shall die also. We shall give up this body like the cats and dogs. But I can get sublime knowledge in this body. The cats and dogs cannot get it. Therefore we should utilize this human life. So to understand the importance of this body is explained here: “I am not this body; I am a spirit soul. I have been given a type of body by material nature under the order of Krishna, God.”

How to Understand

So many things are going on beyond our present sense perception. The Vedic instruction is “Don’t try to understand by foolish argument and logic things which are beyond your perception.” Don’t try to understand in that way. Acintyah khalu ye bhava . . . Acintya means beyond your conception. Cintya means within your perception, and achintya means beyond your conception. Acintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet. You cannot understand by rascal logic and philosophy. That is not possible. Then how is it to be understood?

atah shri-krishna-namadi
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah

“No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, qualities and pastimes of Sri Krishna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him.” (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.2.234) With your blunt senses you cannot understand Krishna – Krishna’s name, Krishna’s form, Krishna’s qualities, Krishna’s activities. “Then how can I understand Krishna?” That is said: sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. You engage your tongue in the service of the Lord.

Now, this is also another peculiar thing – to understand by the tongue, not by the mind. We have got two businesses we perform with the tongue. One is tasting foodstuff, and the other is vibrating with the voice. So you use this tongue to vibrate the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and eat krishna-prasadam; then you understand Krishna. You don’t understand, but He reveals Himself to you.

And actually that is happening. All over the world, these young boys and girls, because they are chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and because they are eating krishna-prasadam, now they are developing their Krishna consciousness. They are not Vedantists. They have not studied all the Vedas. But how are they understanding? If they are not understanding Krishna, how are they sticking to this life? In this life everything is forbidden: no illicit sex, no gambling, no intoxication. Everything “no.” Material life finished. Why are they sticking, unless they are understanding Krishna? This is the proof. The more you stick to this principle, sevonmukhe jihvadau, engaging your tongue in two businesses – chanting Hare Krishna and eating krishna-prasadam – your life will be perfect.

Thank you very much.