September 30, 2017; added video in #8 on October 8, 2017
1. Modern science and technology, especially the internet, is a very useful resource to understand and confirm some concepts in Buddha Dhamma. All of us can now access rare events in remote places, that we would never have known without the internet.
- I started thinking about this post when I received a youtube video of a “strange looking animal” sent to me by Mr. Tobias Große from Germany. Then I did a Google search and found that there are many such “abnormal” human and animal birth reports from all over the world.
- Such observations can be explained with the concept of gandhabba, which is an essential concept for describing the life in the human and animal realms. I have two sub-sections at the website devoted to the important concept of gandhabba: “Mental Body – Gandhabba” and “Gandhabba (Manomaya Kaya)“.
- Of course, gandhabba is NOT a Mahayaṃa concept, see, “Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipiṭaka“, and without that there will be many inconsistencies, including the observed fact that there are gaps of several years in between successive human rebirths; see, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein“.
2. As we have discussed in those posts, a human bhava (existence) could last for many hundreds or even thousand of years. Within that time, one could be born with a human body many times. When one is born with a human body and when that “physical body” dies, the “mental body” or the gandhabba state could have many hundreds of years of life left.
- Thus, unless the kammic energy for that “human bhava” has been exhausted, the mental body (gandhabba) comes of the dead physical body unharmed. Since we cannot see that very fine body, it is said that the gandhabba lives in “para loka” (other world, sometime called nether world), compared to “this world” that we can see.
- That gandhabba has to wait for a suitable womb to become available, and at that time it is pulled into that “matching womb”. This is why there is normally a gap of several years in between successive rebirths per rebirth stories; see, “Evidence for Rebirth“.
3. During one’s lifetime, the kammaja kaya of the gandhabba changes, and sometimes those changes can be drastic. If one kills a parent, that kammaja kaya does not change instantly only because it is “enclosed” in the dense physical body.
- But when the physical body dies, the gandhabba is automatically kicked out of that body, and will instantly transform to a kamma kaya suitable for a being in an apāya. Therefore, even if the original gandhabba had more kammic energy left for the human bhava, a cuti-patisandhi to a “hell being” will occur, and he/she will be instantly born in an apāya.
- There are such ānantariya kamma that can instantly lead to births in rūpa and arūpa lōka: If one had cultivated jhāna, then when the gandhabba comes out of the dead body, it will instantly undergo a cuti-patisandhi transition to a brahma and will be born instantly in the corresponding brahma realm.
4. Sometimes, a human gandhabba starts making the transformation to another bhava while in the gandhabba state after coming out of a dead body. This happens especially for those who are engaged in highly immoral deeds.
- For example, if one is cultivating “animal gati” (thinking and behaving like an animal), then the gandhabba will continue to generate such “animal saṅkhāra” after coming out of the dead body, and may gradually transform to an animal while in the gandhabba state. Then, if a matching animal womb comes available, that half-human creature will be pulled into that womb.
- Now, by “matching womb” what is meant is the mental state of the mother at that time. She could be a “good moral person”, but if for some reason her mental state at that time became “abnormal”, then it could become a matching womb for that creature, who could be half human, half animal.
- Depending on how far that transformation had taken place, that gandhabba could be pulled into a human womb or an animal womb, i.e., be born to a human or animal mother. Here is the video sent to me by Mr. Tobias Große on an animal birth that looks partly human:
5. The following are some more examples of (both abnormal human and animal births) available as youtube videos (of course, in some cases “photoshop” may have been used; there are many on the internet and I have picked a couple that appear to be genuine):
- Here is more information on the above “beast”:
- Thanks to Mr. C. Saket from India for the following video. Some abnormalities shown there could also be due to gandhabba transformation together with bad kamma vipāka:
- Please send me any good videos that you come across, so that I can add them to this collection.
6. Anything and everything in this world happens due to a cause, or more correctly due to multiple causes. The foundation of science is causes and effects. If things happen arbitrarily, then there is no way to predict the outcome of a scientific experiment.
- But modern science deals mainly with the properties of material objects. Also, material objects only have a short “history”; a building or a car is assembled and eventually destroyed. Thus it is easier to see the link between causes and effects.
- But living beings have minds and each living being has a past that extends to the deep past (due to rebirth). So, the causes that bring about results now, may have been done in the deep past. That is why it is hard to see the connection between causes and effects for living beings.
7. My late Noble teacher, Waharaka Thero, has mentioned in several dēsanas how he saw such “gandhabba transformations” while in samādhi.
- When an immoral human dies, the gandhabba that comes out will keep cultivating those “bad saṅkhāra“, and if they get strong enough the fine body of the gandhabba will start changing to match those “saṅkhāra” and thus “gati“; see, “Gati and Bhava – Many Varieties” and “Gati to Bhava to Jāti – Ours to Control“.
- For example, he had seen how a human gandhabba transforms to a bird. It started with the head getting longer and forming a beak. The rest of the body then changed gradually from top to bottom. When I heard that, those Egyptian pictures seen on pyramids of “bird men” with bird heads immediately came to my mind.
- It is entirely possible that mythical figures like mermaids (half fish half human), kinnaras (half-horse half human) are real; they are just very rare.
8. By the way, even some normal people can see those gandhabbā with fine bodies; this is due to “puñña iddhi” due to some past good kamma.
- There are different types of “puñña iddhi“. Surviving without food and water is known as “breatharianism” and has been documented or claimed by many. an extreme case of a Hindu yogi, Prahlad Jani, is baffling to many modern scientists:https:
- Thanks again to Mr. C. Saket for sending this video and the related comments above.
- The ability to have very detailed memories from this life is also such a “puñña iddhi“, see, “Recent Evidence for Unbroken Memory Records (HSAM)”, where a woman describes her memories from this life going back to many years. The level of detail she can remember is amazing.
- In fact, I am beginning to believe that in those early Buddhist Councils (Sangāyana), where Arahants recited the whole Tipiṭaka, they were likely to have VERIFIED then by actually re-visiting each sutta‘s delivery by iddhi power. When you listen to the woman describing past events in such detail, it is as if she is re-visiting that event.
- The ability of some people to see gandhabbā with fine bodies could be responsible for the misty “ghost figures” like the ones that we see in popular culture (in books, movies, and on the internet).
10. A human gandhabba is a finer version of a human. When a human, say a middle aged person dies, the gandhabba that comes out looks very similar to that person (if one can see it). Then with time it will show normal changes that could be expected of a human: His hair and fingernails will grow, for example. In a few years, that gandhabba WILL look like ghost with long hair and long finger nails. Imagine what will happen to one’s human body if one doesn’t cut one’s hair, finger nails, or shave. One will look like a ghost. That is why some gandhabbā look like ghosts, according to Waharaka Thero.
- Some of them get a bit denser by inhaling aroma and may become easier to see for those people with “puñña iddhi” that we mentioned earlier. However, when that gandhabba is pulled into a womb, it will shed all “added” mass (utuja kaya), and only the basic “kammaja kaya” with the hadaya vatthu and the pasāda rūpa (combined to be smaller than an atom in modern science) will merge with the zygote (the single cell formed by the union of mother and father) that is in the womb.
- Now that “new baby” will have a different body than the body in the previous life, because it have many features inherited from the parents (via DNA) in the zygote.
- But it is essentially the evolved kammaja kaya formed at the cuti-patisandhi moment that is still there for that next “birth” in the human world. Thus while the gandhabba keep its kammaja kaya, but the physical body will be influenced by the parents.
- This is discussed in detail in, “What does Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) say about Birth Control?“.
This world is much more complex than we realize, and the “para loka” of the gandhabbā is even more complex; see “Hidden World of the Gandhabba: Netherworld (Para Lōka)“.