There are tales in the Puranas that indicate that even the Gods, if they want to evolve and develop, must take birth on earth in a human incarnation. If we look broadly at the evolution of consciousness from the gross material, to the vital, to the vital-mental and eventually to the mental consciousness, we see an ascending series of forms that embody these various levels. For the most part, the beings at each level are what may be called ‘typal’ beings, in that they are not evolutionary in and of themselves in their own lifetimes, but rather, represent and manifest a particular evolutionary stage. Within that stage, of course, there is a certain amount of development possible, but it is limited by the frame of the stage itself and the capacities that are manifested within that stage. It is only when we come to the human range that we see a wider and higher form of development possible. There is also the possibility of self-consciousness, of reflection and of transcendence of the purely mental powers that are so characteristic of the human being. Thus, the human being represents a qualitative change in the evolutionary process which allows the active involvement of the individual to speed up the evolutionary cycle to the next stage in the evolution of consciousness. The human being is an evolutionary, rather than a typal being, in essential capacity; it remains only for the human being to actually align with this larger destiny and carry it out to go beyond what otherwise might be seen as typal statuses even within the human existence.

The human birth is therefore rightly considered by sages, rishis and others who have experienced the transcendence of the mental consciousness, to be a highly valued event which should therefore be honored and respected with consistent effort to carry out the role and mission that attaches to the human existence.

The Mother observes: “And what adds to the interest of the thing is that this kind of work, this harmonisation and organisation of the being around the divine Centre can only be done in a physical body and on earth. That is truly the essential and original reason for physical life. For, as soon as you are no longer in a physical body, you can no longer do it at all.“

“And what is still more remarkable is that only human beings can do it, for only human beings have at their centre the divine Presence in the psychic being. For example, this work of self-development and organisation and becoming aware of all the elements is not within the reach of the beings of the vital and mental planes, nor even of the beings who are usually called ‘gods’; and when they want to do it, when they really want to organise themselves and become completely conscious, they have to take a body.”

“And yet, human beings come into a physical body without knowing why, most of them go through life without knowing why, they leave their body without knowing why, and they have to begin the same thing all over again, indefinitely, until one day, someone comes along and tells them, ‘Be careful! you know, there is a purpose to this. You are here for this work, don’t miss your opportunity!’ … And how many years are wasted.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 142-143

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.