The Human Machine

-By Śrīla Prabhupāda

We are given this machine of the body, but what is the use of simply studying the machine? The śāstra [scripture] says that since the machine will work until it is rotten, you shouldn’t bother with the machine but should search out the Absolute Truth. But people are simply thinking, “Oh, now we have such a good machine.” The dog also has a machine. The ant also has a machine, the elephant has a machine, the human being has a machine—every living entity has a bodily machine. But the śāstra says that this human machine should not be utilized like the animals’.

God has given us a human machine, and now we should utilize it to go to our destination. Nṛ-deham ādyaṁ su-labhaṁ su-durlabhaṁ plavaṁ su-kalpam. This nṛ-deha, this human machine, is very carefully made—not by me but by nature. Nature is the agent of God. I wanted to do something, and so I required a particular type of machine.

God ordered nature: “This living entity wants to do such and such, so give him an appropriate machine.” And she did that.

This human body is a very good machine, and it is very rare. With great difficulty we have gotten this machine, because we had to come through so many other machines—the aquatics, the plants, the insects and trees, the serpents and reptiles, and then the birds and beasts. This has taken millions and millions of years. We have seen trees that are standing for more than five thousand years. If you get that kind of machine, you cannot move: you have to stand in one place. We had to go through this. Foolish people do not know.

Therefore this human machine is su-durlabham, “very difficult to attain.” And it is also su-kalpam, “very nicely made.” Those who are medical men know how nicely it is made—how the nerves are working, how the brain is working, the intestines and heart and everything is working so nicely. It is a grand machine. Therefore it is called su-kalpam, “very well constructed.”

The human machine is not under your control. The machine is made by God, or by nature, God’s agent. It is a very subtle machine. So if you are intelligent, you will ask, “What is the use of simply studying the machine? I have it, so let me utilize it for going to my destination.” That is intelligence.

The śāstra says, “Don’t waste your valuable time in that way. Try to understand God. Use your intelligence for this purpose.” It is also said, tapo divyam … yena sattvaṁ śuddhyet [SB 5.5.1]. You have to undergo austerities so that in the future you will not be subjected to this machine. That is your business.