Question: In the Ramayana, was Jambavan a bear?
Jambavan belongs to a species called “vanara”. According to the Vedic texts there are 400,000 human species, some higher and some lower than our selves. 99% of these species exist on higher dimensional planes of existence, and thus we have no experience of them. The vanara species resembles a cross between a human and an animal (usually a monkey or bear). Hanuman is another example of a vanara. The main body resembles that of a human, but the head and other features are that of an animal. They are actually much higher than our own species in many aspects (such as knowledge, strength, etc.) Some other similar species described in our scriptures are the kimpurusha and the kinnara. In Sanskrit kim-purusha literally means “What kind of human?” This is because from a distance they resemble a human, but as they become visible one is shocked and asks, “Is this a human? What kind of human is this?” These three species – vanara, kimpurusha, and kinnara – are closely related. Vanara actually means “sub-human”.