Each Soul possesses three bodies – Gross, Subtle, and Causal.  Before birth, the Soul lies in its causal body.  This causal body, material in nature, contains the germ of the subtle and gross bodies.  The subtle body [along with the Soul’s Karma deposit] lies in the causal body in potential form.  The causal body is the container, while the subtle body [with Karma deposit] is the contained. After the development of the subtle body, the Soul is endowed with the gross body at the time of conception.  It is the Soul’s Karma that determines the nature of its subtle and gross bodies and, also, the external conditions in which it is born.  This gross body is renewed each time the Soul is ‘born’. The subtle body, lodged in the causal body, endures throughout its transmigrations until it attains liberation.  Every living creature, including the plant, has this three-fold body developed.

 

There are five kinds of gross bodies in which souls are born, as follows:

  1. Jaraayu-ja: Those born from amniotic sacs – like humans, quadrupeds, etc.
  2. Anda-ja: Those born from eggs – like birds, fish, reptiles, etc.
  3. Sweda-ja: Those born [from, and] in moisture – like lice, mosquitoes, etc.
  4. Ud-bhi-ja: Those that spring from the soil – like trees, creepers, etc.

Let’s bear in mind that plants do have souls. Plants live and feel, even though there is the least manifestation of consciousness in them. The presence of Souls is to be recognized wherever there is livingness and sentiency. Differences in gross body type may cause differences in the manifestation of consciousness. Close observation will prove that plants feel, animals feel, and cognize, while human beings feel, cognize, and think.