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Does hinduism disagree with evolution?

My arguement for disagreement Bhagvad gita 4.1 ।।4.1।। The Supreme Lord Shree Krishna said: I taught this eternal science of Yog to the Sun God, Vivasvan, who passed it on to Manu; and Manu, in turn, instructed it to Ikshvaku.

Maharishi manu is son of surya dev and didn't came from apes

The Mahabharata states

And in Manu's race have been born all human beings, who have, therefore, been called Manavas. And it is of Manu that all men including Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Sudras, and others have been descended, and are therefore all called Manavas.

Source:Mahabharata Book 1:Adi Parva:Sambhava Parva:Section LXXV

Even in the narshima avtar, people existed like prahlad , in vaman avtar king existed like raja bali.

So,can Dashavtara coincidence with Darwin's evolution be rejected or am I misinterpreting something[humans didn't came from apes/monkeys or any other organism]

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  • Tip : you can divide your answer in two parts 1) science of evolution, 2) scriptural interpretation
    – user32378
    Jan 6 at 15:43
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    Mahabharata is a smriti and hence is supposed to have poetic relaxation from best of my opinion. The fundamental philosophy of Hinduism what I see as advaita vedanta, in my opinion very compactible with science. Early Hindus were known to personify various things - agni as agni dev, vayu as vayudev, sun as suryadev, etc. It is most probably a personified description of something in the form of a human. So, best of my opinion from which I can put my comments in the favor of evolution is - they could be made compactible with a lot of scientific stuff.
    – User 29449
    Jan 6 at 15:58
  • Hi, hope so Darwin's theory is based on old physical fossil evidence, direct perception of the variety of animals, and inference from these truths. This is likely the Paramana classification. It's Darwin would state because there is no physical, empirical, or measurable proof of a creator, that humans are based on evolution. From a faith-based perspective, Sri Krsna has scriptural and reliable testimony on his side.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 6 at 19:49
  • This question already has an answer. Read this: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/2816/… Jan 7 at 4:27
  • @PradipGangopadhyay doesn't answer contradict with bhagvad gita 4.40,if I say prahlad didn't exist during narshima avtar am I right
    – user32378
    Jan 7 at 6:27

4 Answers 4

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Hindu scriptures can't be used to contest scientific theories. This is the teaching of scripture itself. Read the post below to know about this teaching of Hindu scriptures.

Does Science contradict Hinduism? How to deal with scientific discoveries that don't line up with Vedas?

Questions in the comment section

Doesn't this contradict with bhagvad gita 4.40?

Let us check Gita 4.40.

Dangers of extreme Doubt

An ignorant man without any positive faith, who knows only to doubt, goes to ruin. To such a doubting soul there is neither this world nor the world beyond. There is no happiness for him.

Gita 4.40

What has Gita's statement about doubt to do with the theory of evolution? There is no connection at all. Gita is asking the reader to attain mental purity through the practice of Yoga and attain moksha. The theory of evolution is not part of the teaching of the Gita.

You may argue that Hindu scriptures talk of Hiranyagarbha (Brahma) dividing into two to give birth to Manu and Satarupa. You may then claim that this goes against the evolution theory. You would be wrong to arrive at that conclusion. Hindu scriptural story of Manu and Satarupa is a metaphor and should be taken in a figurative sense. There is no reason to take it literally. The metaphor is reinforcing the idea that the consciousness of all living creatures are ultimately from Brahman. It has nothing to say against the evolution theory. No Hindu scriptural statement can override scientific knowledge.

Hindu scriptures definitively affirm that Consciousness (Brahman or Purusa) is different from the material universe. Theory of evolution applies only in the world and so is not a subject matter of Hindu scripture.

Difference between Consciousness and the world

As a matter of fact, Caitanya (consciousness) or the Atman is neither Maya nor the Vital Breadth. Just as the relation between light and darkness cannot be deemed possible, so is the relation between Prapanca (the visual illusory world of diversity) and the Supreme Soul.

Kurma Purana II.2.10-11

Just as the shade and the sunlight are mutually distinct and different in this world, in the same manner, the world and the purusa are intrinsically and factually different.

Kurma Purana II.2.11b-12a

If I say prahlad didn't exist during narshima avtar am I right?

Why not? Stories about Prahlad are only literary devices according to the Puranas. They are meant to convey spiritual truths and there is no reason to read them literally.

Tales of Imagination

Brahma tells Narada "This brief account of the manifestation of the Lord is what is called the Bhagavata. The Supreme Being Himself gave the knowledge of it to me. I have also given to you a brief account of the Lord's glories and attributes. You elucidate it with the help of your imaginative power in a way that will generate devotion in the mind of men for Sri Hari who is the soul and support of all."

Bhagavata Purana II.8.51-52

The Supreme Lord is said to be fond of such figurative expositions of spiritual truth through stories. (For it is understandable even to common men while an abstract philosophical statement can be understood only by a very few.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana IV.28.65

In times past I learnt this wonderful allegory, which teaches the truth of the Atman indirectly in a story form.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana IV.29.85

O great King! I have narrated to you the stories of many who lived to make their names famous in their lifetime and then to pass away and become a memory or a mere name soon after. These narratives are only the literary device I have used with a view to instil into you the importance of renunciation and realisation. They have no ultimate significance in themselves (or are not to be taken as literal facts.)

Srimad Bhagavata Purana XII.3.14

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    One of the very excellent answers to a very misguided question!
    – User 29449
    Jan 8 at 5:54
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    Exactly! All intension of Hindu scriptures is to show consciousness apart from matter. How matter evolves is not our concern. Jan 8 at 14:37
  • > Theory of evolution applies only in the world and so is not a subject matter of Hindu scripture.| Wild mental gymnastics at show here. Are you suggesting that Mahabharata is not a 'subject matter of Hindu scriptures', the same would apply to many Puranas as well as to Dharmashastras. You cannot just bring 'spirituality' into clearly material things (that disagree with the scripture) and then use it as an excuse to avoid the fact that either the scripture or the contemporary scientific consensus is wrong. To anyone sensible, this looks like a cheap way to dodge the question. Jan 8 at 22:08
  • @DushyantShreyaskar No. But puranas aren't a matter of Hindu scriptures in the way shurits (Upanishads) are. Puranas are mythical, extrapolated, sectarian texts for devotional means only. Shrutis aren't that way. Even Adi Shankar held this belief of direct inference over texts.
    – User 29449
    Jan 9 at 4:33
  • But these are ithias granths, not purans . Purans are source of imagination. Mahabharat is history so I think you have mixed up purans and ithiass granths
    – user32378
    Jan 9 at 10:57
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Except neither Science nor Darwin ever said that we came from apes/monkeys.

What Science/Darwin said is that apes/monkeys and us humans came from a common ancestor. A common ancestor.

enter image description here https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/what-darwin-actually-said-about-man-and-apes/article61491686.ece

And what Mahabharata says in totality is -

It hath been already said, that Marichi, Angiras. Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, and Kratu--these six great Rishis of great energy--are the sons of Brahman.

And the son of Marichi is Kasyapa. And Kasyapa's offspring are the gods and the Asuras. And, therefore, is Kasyapa, the Father of the worlds. ...

Source:Mahabharata Book 1:Adi Parva:Sambhava Parva:Section LXVI

Kashyapa, the son of Marichi, fathered on the eldest of his thirteen wives, the Adityas, Devas endued with great energy and having (Lord) Indra as their head and >also Vivaswan (the Sun). Of Vivaswat was born the lord Yama. Maartanda (Vivaswan) also fathered another son after Yama, gifted with great intelligence and named Manu.

Source:Mahabharata Book 1:Adi Parva:Sambhava Parva:Section LXXV

In Manu's race have been born all human beings, who have, therefore, been called Manavas. And it is of Manu that all men including Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, >Vaishyas, Sudras, and others have been descended, and are therefore all called Manavas.

Source:Mahabharata Book 1:Adi Parva:Sambhava Parva:Section LXXX

And, O tiger among kings, the sons of Pulastya of great wisdom are Rakshasas, Monkeys, Kinnaras (half-men and half-horses), and Yakshas.

Source:Mahabharata Book 1:Adi Parva:Sambhava Parva:Section LXVI

So Hinduism clearly states that both, humans (Manavas) and Monkeys/apes (Vanaras), have descended from a common ancestor (Brahman). Which is what Darwin said, without anthopomorphizing of course.

Ergo, Hindusim does not disagree with evolution.

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    This is one of the reasons I disapprove religious apologists so much - you guys have such a bad understanding of Sciences. All humans and apes come from a common 'APE-LIKE' ancestor, Brahman doesn't fit the description. And all living beings come from the same primordial soup 3.5 Billion years ago from biosynthesis which finds no mention in any religion. Please stop spreading misinformation. Jan 8 at 3:36
  • The very understanding of the Theory of Evolution requires - mutation of genes. This very part is wrong here.
    – User 29449
    Jan 8 at 4:35
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    @SuradoeUchiha It certainly doesn't fit the modern scientific theory and the primordial soup theory is based on the evidence that there is no creator which is fine scientifically. He is just mentioning how the various other Hindu mythological species including Vanaras and men are descending from a common ancestor suggesting a possible and rudimentary concept of such, not a literal one for one copy of it.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 8 at 12:30
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    Suradoe Uchiha - And you guys have such a bad understanding of Hinduism, which is why I disapprove pseudo scientists so much. Brihadarankyaka, Atreya and Chandogya upanisahds (not to mention Purusha Suktam from Rik Veda) do state that out of the all pervading cosmic presence (anthromorphized as 'purusha' or 'brahman') was created the cosmic soup as you call it (anthropomorphized as 'virat'). And it was from Virat that all existing organisms (including later day Humans) arose. So, don't be hasty in critiquing Eastern religions using the lens you use to do the same to Abrahamic religions. Jan 9 at 0:34
  • @VijaySharma You understanding of Upanishads are as wrong as science.
    – User 29449
    Jan 9 at 4:34
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The position of advaita-vedAnta is that theories of creation should not be taken literally. This is stated by Sri Adi Shankara, when commenting on the Mandukya upanishad Karika of Sri Gaudapada.

The relevant part can be found here, Mandukya Karika 3.15 with commentary

mṛllohavisphuliṅgādyaiḥ sṛṣṭiryā coditānyathā | upāyaḥ so'vatārāya nāsti bhedaḥ kathaṃcana || 15 ||

  1. (The scriptural statements regarding) creation as illustrated by examples of earth, iron, sparks, etc., or otherwise, (only) serve the purpose of (ultimately) explaining the unity (of Jīva and Brahman). (Really speaking) multiplicity does not exist in any manner.

Shankara Bhashya (commentary)

(The commentary is very detailed. Relevant portions are highlighted).

(Objection)—Before1 creation all this might have been unborn, one and non-dual; but after creation, all this evolved world and the embodied beings (Jīvas) denote multiplicity.

(Reply)—No, it cannot be so. For, the scriptural passages dealing with creation have another meaning. This difficulty raised here has already been solved by the statements that2 the aggregates (entities) of body, etc., like dream-objects, are produced through illusion of the subject (Ātman) and that creation and the differences of the Jīvas are like the creation and the differences of the Ghaṭākāśas, i.e., the bits of Ākāśa enclosed in different jars. The scriptural statements dealing with creation and differences (of the created beings), have again been referred to here in order to show that such statements regarding creation have the purpose of determining the unity of Jīva and Brahman. The (theory of) creation has been described in the scripture through the illustrations of earth, iron, sparks, etc., or otherwise; but all these modes of creation are meant for enlightening our intellect so that it may comprehend the identity of Jīva and Brahman. It is just like the story of the organs of speech (vāk), etc., being smitten with evil by the Asuras (demons) as described in the chapter on Prāṇa (vital breath), where the real purpose of the Śruti is to demonstrate the special importance of Prāṇa.

(Objection)—We6 do not accept this meaning as indicated.

(Reply)—Your contention is not correct. For this story about Prāṇa, etc., has been differently narrated in different recensions of the Vedas. If the story of Prāṇa were literally true, there should have been one version only in all recensions. Different versions of contradictory nature would not have been narrated. But we do come across such different versions in the Vedas. Therefore the scriptural passages recording stories of Prāṇa are not meant to serve any purpose of their own, i.e., they should not be taken literally. The scriptural statements regarding creation should also be understood in a similar manner.

(Objection)—There have been different creations in different cycles. Therefore, the scriptural statements regarding creations (of the universe) and stories (of Prāṇa) are different as they refer to the Creations in different cycles.

(Reply)—This contention is not valid. For, they (the illustrations of earth, iron, etc., as well as the stories of Prāṇa) serve no other useful purpose than clearing our intellect as stated above. No one can imagine any other utility of the scriptural statements regarding creation and Prāṇa.

(Objection)—We contend that these are for the purpose of meditation so that one may ultimately attain to that end.

(Reply)—This is not correct either; for no one desires to attain his identity with the dispute (in the case of the Prāṇa narrative), or with the creation or destruction (in the case of the scriptural statements regarding creation, etc.). Therefore we have reasonably to conclude that the scriptural statements regarding creation, etc., are for the purpose of helping the mind to realise the oneness of Ātman, and for no other purpose whatsoever. Therefore, no multiplicity is brought about by creation, etc.

Thus, creation theories are not to be taken literally. Hence, there is no contradiction with the theory of evolution.

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  • Do other darshans also say same? If yes please edit your answer when you find. Thanks
    – user32378
    Feb 25 at 20:07
  • @Hope I am not very familiar with other darshanas.
    – estimator
    Mar 2 at 19:27
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Tip: your answer could be better if you discuss parents of wives of manu.

Firstly, you should be aware of the concept of मानस पुत्र or 'mental' sons. Manu did not copulate with someone to create humans, and as far as chances go, neither did Surya Bhagavaan to produce Manu. The Devas have created humans and all other creatures via the power of their minds. So, there's no real need for wives or mothers to exist. I'm not saying that they do not exist, what I'm saying is that they don't need to exist.

ब्रह्मणो मानसाः पुत्रा विदिताः षण्महर्षयः। एकादश सुताः स्थाणोः ख्याताः परमतेजसः॥ - MB 1-67-1 Kumbhaghonam Samskarana

The 6 Maharshis are understood to be the mental sons of Brahma. The seventh was Sthaanu, who had 11 children.

उलूकान्सुषुवे काकी श्येनी श्येनान्व्यजायत। भासी भासानजनयद्गृध्रांश्चैव जनाधिप॥ 1-67-57 The owls are born from Kaakii, the hawk is born from Shyenii, the chickens and the vultures are born from Bhaasii.

धृतराष्ट्री तु हंसांश्च कलहंसांश्च सर्वशः। चक्रवाकांश्च भद्रा तु जनयामास सैव तु॥ 1-67-58 From Dhrtaraashtrii are born swans, geese and all similar creatures as well as Ruddy headed Geese.

And so on, there's ten more such verses for many types of animals in the same chapter, which you can read if you wish. Note that the word used is जनयामास or (न्)अजनयद् which clearly means birthed/created/produced.

This makes it clear that Mahabharata (as well as all other Puranas and Vedas, that I don't plan to reference) support creationism. There's no doubt here, unless people start cherry picking things, doing mental gymnastics (as one other answerer has already done), creating strawman arguments about what the theory of evolution claims (as another asnswerer has done here) or, rejecting the smriti by some sort of claims about interpolation.

Also, I'd like to make a comment about the accepted answer, I will use the words of Suradoe Uchiha here from this thread:

"This is one of the reasons I disapprove religious apologists so much - you guys have such a bad understanding of Sciences. All humans and apes come from a common 'APE-LIKE' ancestor, Brahman doesn't fit the description.".

This is absolutely spot on. If you accept evolution, then you must accept that the Shastras are wrong. There's no two ways about it. But, people do not even understand how the contemporary scientific mechanism works, or even what the hypotheses and theories are or what the evidence is, yet have full faith in it, neither do they understand what the scriptures talk about, and yet have faith in them. This leads to an ideology that I like to call made-up-on-the-spotism, where people fantasize in their minds how to make two completely separate positions come together.

I'm not interested in that, Evolution is wrong, very simply.

First let's define what we mean by evolution, and creationism of the scripture. The key factor that goes against the scripture as far as the current accepted understanding of evolution goes, is that species change, right? The conflict is simply that creature X turns into creature Y, whereas the scripture says creature Y doesn't change, it comes premade via the gods, and neither does creature Y turn to creature Z, it either goes extinct, or continues living as creature Y.

There's no evidence for a specie turning into another specie. Absolutely 0. The assertion of the proponents of evolution is that you take one specie, you add a magic variable called time (millions of years) and then you get another specie. That has not yet been seen to occur, even in bacteria, whom, at a generous rate of 2 hours for one generation, you should be able to observe some sort of evolution after 10 years (almost 44,000 generations). Many bacteria even divide once every few minutes, let alone 2 hours. For reference, humans at an estimate of 20 years per generation, are supposed to have noticeable change in some time over 200,000 years, after that point in history, humans have supposedly remained anatomically the same. 200,000 years amount to only 10,000 generations.

If there's any evidence of change of specie, NOT adaptation to environment, arising via evolution in bacteria, viruses or fungi or anything at all, then feel free to correct me.

Taking the case of dogs, we can observe that breeding different type of dogs and selecting for certain traits creates a huge variety of dogs, yet, the specie remains the same, they can inter-copulate and produce children. The inheritance of form from the parents remains true, and in the same manner, the form of a specie can change, various human races for example, but the specie remains the same.

The human genome project, completed in 2003, was supposed to be the greatest advancement of the 21st century. After the human genome was mapped, people were told, that half the diseases would vanish overnight via CRISPR or a similar gene technology. You were supposed to be able to see which genes decided what hair color or eye color or body type or length of hair or height and so on. What happened? Nothing, 20 years later. And, it's not because of some sort of regulatory blockage or gene tech not being good enough. Forget manifesting into reality and producing a change, it hasn't even done anything theoretically to produce a link between DNA and characteristics of creatures.

Of course, I'm not saying genes don't do anything, there's absolutely a relation to genes and the body. But, that relation isn't complete whatsoever. And, I'm not talking about epigenetics either. Those are important as is, but there's other unknown factors that are outside epigenetics and genetics and the environment, that influence your body and mind and life.

Anyways, You've probably been misled by inaccurate textbooks, so first I recommend you watch this video https://youtu.be/zpIqQ0pGs1E?si=GbDprzyXj_ZfsGvD for a, still incorrect, but more correct view of genetics.

Genetic mutation is real, adaptation to habitat/environment is real, evolution of specie is not. Even if it could be correct, it wouldn't be correct via the mechanism of genetic mutation, simply because genes do not contain the information to make up a human, or any creature.

Another explanation that is held by other intelligent people is that evolution is true, however it is 'directed' and not just based on maximal survival/reproduction. It doesn't quite make sense to me, but that's a position as well.

There's many issues with speciation (one specie turning into another or multiple others). Even noted by Darwin himself:

Why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined? — On the Origin of Species, chapter 6, published 1859.

Very interesting question indeed, that has no answer till this date.

Another interesting issue is that if species turn into other specie, then in fossil records, there should be availability of millions or billions of such transition species, but it's not there. Almost as if... new species are created (by someone) after the old ones die, rather than any transition occurring. This is my current position, and I understand that the scripture agrees with it.

Darwin, in my understanding shouldn't even be treated as some sort of evil authority, the real problem has arisen by the huge swathes of materialist 'believers' in the scientific system, who think everything must be explained by matter and treat certain theories as the word of God.

Anyhow, this is straying from the question. My understanding and opinion aside, the answer to your question, is that the scripture (correctly) rejects evolution. Creationism (via Devataas) is correct according to it.

The Scripture is clear and contrary to the expert consensus. Either the consensus is correct or the scripture, both cannot be so at once. There's many more open questions than you realize, I have more answers, but not all, either. I'll leave it upto you to decide.

PS: The source for the translations is me, you can double check with any Sanskrit speaker if there's an issue, I can assure that everything is done with accuracy, objectivity and in good faith.

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  • Good, but bacteria are seen to evolve and gain resistance to new types of medications and anti-bodies its environmental factors versus just time alone.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 9 at 23:12
  • @Haridasa That is true, and doesn't disagree with what I've said. Just as humans, by living in famines can gain small skeletal structures (take case of Indians or Chinese), yet still remain fully human. Or, by remaining in famines, humans can adapt to not gain muscle, yet get belly fat easily, as a whole group... What you're referring to happens, without a change in the specie. I'm not going against inheritance of acquired characteristics via natural selection (aka adaptation to environment), that is, of course, completely true. Speciation specifically is the crux of the issue. Jan 9 at 23:34
  • I am personally a creationist as in god created every species while still believing evolution to be possible as per many post-vedic scriptures human lifespan shortens and physical changes are made based on each yuga. I am curious if "dinosaur-like" animals are mentioned in scripture.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 9 at 23:37
  • @Haridasa Yes, certainly, the nature of each Yuga and the creatures within the Yuga is different, this is said in tens of places, so there's no doubt, unless you reject the whole of the Smriti itself. Dinosaur like creatures are certainly mentioned, but they're not described just as texts says 'Vyaaghra' without describing a tiger, so there's no way to definitively say anything. I don't think that sort of connection, even if present, would be very believable for most. However, giant lizards/birds being rode on, to go into battle is mentioned in Puranas, as an example. Jan 9 at 23:56
  • I am not saying that they're equal to the modern scientific theory, just they could fit in with some interpretation. But, obviously most Smirtis are theistic ie god created us and not creation.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 10 at 0:12