Modern biologists today can list and name around 1.3 million species of life forms on planet earth. But modern biologists also agree that this number is a significant underestimate of the actual total number of species on this planet, so millions of species and life forms are yet to be identified, named, listed and studied. Even today every year around 15,000 new species and life forms are discovered which keeps adding to the number of known species mentioned above. For centuries Taxonomists around the world have been trying to get an approximate definitive figure about the total number of species on Earth and to list them all. Now let us see what the ancient Hindu scriptures have to say about the total number of species on planet Earth.
Ancient Hindu Texts on Total Number of Life Forms
Bhagavadgita – 5000 year old text
The ancient Hindu text Bhagavadgita which which is atleast 5000 years old and dates back to the times of Mahabharatha says in (2.22) that just as one gives up an old shirt to put on a new one, the soul gives up an old body to acquire a new kind of a body (vasāmsi jirnāni yathā vihāya). And that a soul can be born as any of the 8.4 million species on this planet one of which is humans, the greatest of all life forms. Since being born as a human is such a rare opportunity, one should make complete use of this human life, and devout one’s lifetime to do good things, earn knowledge, help others, serve the society and try to attain moksha (salvation).
What is quite obviously hidden in this message is a statement which says that there are 8.4 million different life forms on this planet!
Padma Purana – 5000 year old text
Another ancient Hindu text Padma Purana which is also a contemporary of Bhagavadgita not only says that there are 8.4 million different species on Earth, but also goes a step ahead and categorizes or classifies them as follows.
Jalaja (Water based life forms) – 0.9 million Sthavara (Immobile implying plants and trees) – 2.0 million Krimayo (Reptiles) – 1.1 million Pakshinam (Birds) – 1.0 million Pashavah (terrestrial animals) – 3.0 million Manavah (human-like animals) – 0.4 million
8.4 million life forms in all! The actual Sanskrit verse from the Padma Purana explaining the above numbers is as follows