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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Free will


I found this excellent essay about free will on my laptop, I cannot remember who wrote it, I will acknowledge him/her when I found out -
We have the innate ability to desire, but not the free will to carry out that desire. Bhakti is about purification of desire by the destruction of avidyā (ignorance) and ahaṅkāra. We don’t have the free will to choose what path we go down in anything we do or experience. People take birth after birth deluded by avidyā and ahankāra until their desire is purified. Their desire shapes their actions, not by their own free will, but by the will of Paramatma in deciding what the jīva needs to experience to become free from aversion to God’s control. Often karma is seen as a simple action-reaction; if you do bad you are punished. The reality is that karma is designed to purify the desire of the jīva. It’s not about vengeance; it’s about changing aversion to acceptance of God’s control. As for free will, we need to understand what that means — it’s the concept of being able to act independently of some other controlling factor. The śāstra is quite clear that free will is an illusion. We simply don’t possess the knowledge or the ability to think or act independently.

ajno jantur anīśo‘yam ātmanaḥ sukha-duḥkhayoḥ
īśvara-prerito gacchet svargaṁ vāśv abhram eva ca

“The ignorant living entity is not God – his happiness and distress are prompted by the Supreme Controller and so he goes either to heaven or hell.” (Mahābhārata 3.31.27)

eṣa eva sādhu-karma kārayati taṁ yamebhyo lokebhya unninīṣate. eṣa evāsādhu karma kārayati taṁ yam adho ninīyate (Kauśitaki Upaniṣad 3.8)

“The Lord makes whomsoever he wishes to lead up from these worlds do good deeds and makes him whom he wishes to lead down from these worlds do bad deeds.”

It is said in the Vedānta sūtra and Govinda Bhāṣya 2.1.34-35 -

vaiṣamya-nairghṛṇye na sāpekṣatvāt tathā hi darśayati

“There is no partiality and cruelty in the Lord, because the pleasure and pain suffered by the living beings, has regard to their karmas - that is shown thus by śāstra.” (2.1.34)

na karmāvibhāgād iti cen nānāditvāt

“(The theory of karma cannot explain the inequality and cruelty seen in this universe, because when the creation first started) there was no distinction (of souls and consequently) of karmas.” This (objection however) is not valid, because there is no beginning of karma and the mundane creation.” (2.1.35)
In his Govinda Bhāṣya commentary, Baladeva quotes Bhaviṣya Purāṇa –

puṇya pāpādikaṁ viṣṇuṁ kārayet pūrvakarmaṇā
anāditvāt karmaṇaś ca na virodhaḥ kathañcana

"Lord Viṣṇu causes the living entities to engage in pious and sinful acts according to their previous karma but there is no contradiction because karmas are beginningless."

The idea of having no free will, of there being a destiny set in stone that cannot be altered, for everyone and the world, seems so counter-intuitive only because we are ignorant on how we function. It’s not easy to come to terms with the reality of having no control, of there being a controller over everything you do and think, and of what everyone else does and thinks. When we’re ready, all the truths of God’s ontological presence and control in our lives is gradually revealed to us. Usually through religious philosophy, and ultimately through Vedanta.

mayādhyakṣena prakṛtiḥ  sūyate sa-carācaram

prakṛti (matter) works under my supervision, O son of Kunti.” (Bhagavad Gītā 9.10)

prakṛtyaiva ca karmāṇi  kriyamānāni sarvaśaḥ
yah paśyati tathātmānam  akartāraṁ sa paśyati

“All activities taking place, in all respects, are performed by material nature. He who sees that the ātmā is not the doer, he sees.” (Bhagavad Gītā 13.30)

na kartṛtvaṁ na karmāni lokasya sṛjati prabhuḥ
na karma-phala-saṁyogam svabhāvas tu pravartate

“The jīva is not the doer nor is the cause of actions, nor is he connected to the reactions from actions (not the controller, doing or doer), nevertheless they take place because of the nature of the jīva.” (Bhagavad-Gītā 5.14)

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravarti comments - nāpi tat-kartṛtvena karmāṇy api, na ca karma-phalair bhogaiḥ saṁyogam api, kintu jīvasya svabhāvo’nādy-avidyaiva pravartate.  taṁ jīvaṁ kartṛtvādy-abhimānam ārohayitum iti bhāvaḥ
“He does not make the jīva do activities nor does He give the jīva the results of his activities. Rather the nature of the jīva in the form of his beginningless ignorance alone produces this. That ignorance makes the jīva assume the false identification as the doer.”

The statement “yathecchasi tathā kuru” (“Whatever you like, you can do”) in Bhagavad-Gītā 18.63 does not indicate free will. The Lord has already told Arjuna to act according to his adhikāra and svabhāva, 3 verses earlier. Therefore, the statement means, he must understand his adhikāra and act according to that adhikāra. If he does not, he will suffer and that too has been pointed out in previous verses -

svabhāva-jena kaunteya  nibaddhah svena karmana
kartuṁ necchasi yan mohāt  kariṣyasy avaśo‘pi tat

“Out of illusion you do not wish to act, but due to your nature which binds you to your actions you will act helplessly anyway.” (Bhagavad-Gītā 18.60)

Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtanam  hṛd-dese‘rjuna tiṣṭhati
bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni  yantrārūḍhāni māyayā

“The supreme controller is in the heart of all beings Arjuna, prompting the movements of all living beings, who are mounted on the machine of his deluding potency.” (Bhagavad Gita 18.61)
Free will seems another Christian insertion into Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophy so popular with western rationalists. There is anādi karma (Vedānta-sūtra 2.1.35) and there is no question of free will when there is anādi-karma. The entry into bhakti is not due to free will.
As to Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa's ṭīkā to Bhagavad Gītā 18.14, there is a difference between free will and agency or being the doer of things (kartṛtva). If being the doer is not there, scriptural statements will become meaningless. The will of the jīva is not beyond its svarūpa. This is said in Brahma-sutra 2.3.39.

kārya-kāraṇa-kartṛtve hetuḥ prakṛtir ucyate
puruṣaḥ sukha-duḥkhānāṁ bhoktṛtve hetur ucyate

“Material nature is said to be the cause of all material activities and phenomena, while the living entity is the cause of its happiness and distress.” (Bhagavad-Gītā 13.20)

The line puruṣaḥ sukha-duḥkhānāṁ bhoktṛtve hetur ucyate in this verse does not refer to free will, as the results of activities are prompted by Bhagavan or the jīvas’ svabhāva. Vedānta Sūtra 2.3.39 and 40 says -
parāt tu tacchruteḥ

“Activities of the living beings come from (are prompted by) the Supreme. The scriptures declare it so.”

kṛta prayatnāpekṣas tu vihita pratiṣiddha avaiyarthyādibhyaḥ

“The Lord makes the soul act and the results are accordingly, so that injunctions and prohibitions of the scriptures may not become meaningless.”

The jīvātma has kartṛtva (power to act), but that kartṛtva is granted by God only. It is limited kartṛtva. An object in darkness cannot get into the sunlight unless the sunlight falls on it. Free will is like the will to see. The eyes can see - that much capacity is there. But the eyes can see only that which is within its field of vision. If the eyes are in darkness, they can only see darkness. They cannot see light. Bhagavān prompts the jīva according to his svabhāva, karma, saṁskāras etc. The jīva always has the capacity to will, feel and act, but what he wills, feels and does is restricted by his own karma, svabhāva and the Lord's sanctions. By free will, one who is under bahiraṅgā-śakti cannot come under antaraṅga and vice-versa. His free will under bahiraṅga śakti is restricted to acting within bahiraṅgā śakti.

Sanātan Goswāmī says there is freedom for the siddhas in Vaikuṇṭha, but that is freedom compared to this material world - freedom from the bahiraṅgā śakti, but not freedom to leave/fall from Vaikuṇṭha. The jīva is then under the antarāṅgā-śakti and it will be impossible for him to fall. The mamatva (possessiveness) has changed from a dead body to parama-saccidānanda-vastu. It will be impossible for mamatva to change again. siddhi is siddhi - otherwise it is not siddhi - perfection.


  1. Your sharanagati to Sri Bhagavan and Sri Guru, is absolutely your free will decision.
    Bahiranga shakti is not some enemy of the atma, its the enemy of the mind if it wants to dominate maya permanently and rule over it permanently.
    You are implying that our freedom and freewill is simply restricted to the cage of maya, and yes of course it is, because our purpose of freewill is not to be the ruler of maya.
    Infact, if you just say and claim that you are surrendered to your Guru, but dont truly mean it, then you will not enter the transcendental realm.
    Free will in bhakti is absolutely essential, otherwise its just a game without meaning.
    To not have free-will in maya because you dont know that maya is the bahiranga shakti is one thing.
    But to not have freewill in choosing to express true Prema towards the Divine Couple, is not supported by any shastra.
    I take objection when people claim that there is no free-will anywhere. Sounds more like sour-grapes mayavaad to me.

  2. Anon, my blog was jam packed with scriptural evidence while your comment contained not even one single scriptural quote to back up your ideas. Please prove your points with shastra, as we conditioned souls are having four human defects.

  3. Where is the scriptural evidence Advaita DasJi which proves that the tatastha shakti-ansha's, aka the jivas, dont exercise free will in choosing to do sadhana to cultivate Prema Bhakti in any of the 5 bhavas?
    Prema towards Sri Yugal Kishore, is sustainable and meaningful only by freewill.
    Afterall, the jivas are choosing to rebel against the forces of maya, and they will of course not succeed in dominating and ruling over maya completely or eternally, because afterall its the bahiranga shakti of Bhagavan not jivas.
    But, i take objection to your interpretation that suggests that even Prema is somehow controlled and not a choice. It cannot be predestined.
    Its a conscious choice, to surrender.
    Even Sri Bhagavan, cannot force you to express Loving Seva towards Him.
    That would defeat the whole purpose.
    True nishkama & ananya & nirantar Prema, cannot be messed with or coaxed or cajoled or pre-determined, and will never be.

    And i dont see what purpose will be served, by saying that there is no scriptural evidence that supports freewill in pursuit of Prema. Everything that Sri Bhagavan talks about Sharanagati in the Gita, in 15.19, in 14.26, in 12.8, in all these shlokas, they work ONLY WITH FREEWILL EXERCISED BY THE JIVA, FULLY CONSCIOUSLY.
    Sharanagati cannot be slammed down upon the heads of the jivas by pre-determination.

  4. Where is the scriptural evidence that proves that Nishkama Ananya Prema expressed by jiva's towards Sri Yugal Kishore is predetermined and a function of destiny?
    Maya shakti is in itself jada, and has absolutely no say in who can express Prema towards God and who cannot.
    Maya can determine everything else, but not Vaishnav Krupa, because it is causeless.
    As far as quotes are concerned, lets take the Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
    4.10, 6.47, 8.7, 9.27, 9.34, we see that NONE of the advice that Sri Bhagavan gives to Arjuna, is possible without freewill to accept it.
    Its not like Prema can be thrust on the head of unsuspecting jivas like a ton of bricks because of some "destiny" or "predetermination".
    Karma has its limits in Maya, and as far as wanting to control maya permanently, its an exercise in futility.
    But aspiring for Prema, is not something that maya has ANY control over.
    No force in Maya can deny or force true Prema aspiration towards Sri Bhagavan by a willing jiva.
    Prove otherwise.

  5. Anon -
    The evidence that there is no free will is in Caitanya Caritamrta –

    Brahmanda bhramite kon bhagyavan jiva Guru krsna prasade pay bhaktilata bija –

    “Some fortunate soul who is wandering through the universe will get the seed of the creeper of devotion by the grace of Guru and Krishna.”

    Now let us look at your evidence for free will -

    Bhagavad gita 12.8 -
    mayy eva mana ādhatsva mayi buddhiṁ niveśaya |
    nivasiṣyasi mayy eva ata ūrdhvaṁ na saṁśayaḥ ||8||

    Concentrate your mind only on Me. Fix your intelligence on Me. You will without doubt dwell close to Me after leaving the body.

    Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s tika-
    “Since this is so, concentrate your mind upon Me alone (mayi eva mana ādhatsva), not on your ātmā. Offer your intellect to Me. Doing this, you will live very close Me, Kṛṣṇa (mayi). You are not like the saniṣṭha devotee, who, after realizing the enjoyments of Svarga, attains Me in a majestic form (but not close to Me). “

    Visvanatha’s commentary –

    “The word eva excludes the impersonal aspect of the Lord. Concentrate your mind on Me only, remember only Me (mayy eva mana ädhatsva), that form of Çyämasundara, with yellow cloth and forest garland--and not the impersonal Brahman. And also, fix your intelligence, which has the power of discrimination, upon Me. This means to continually reflect on the statements of scripture using intelligence, which will result in meditation. Such contemplation is called manana. Thus, you will attain residence near Me. Nivasiñyasi is a poetic form of nivatsyasi (future of nivas) for metrical purpose.”
    Nothing here about free will.

  6. Bhagavad gita 14.26 -

    māṁ ca yo ’vyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena sevate |
    sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate ||26||

    He who serves Me alone in pure devotional service surpasses the guṇas, and becomes endowed with his spiritual nature.

    Baladeva’s tika -

    This verse answers the third question “How can one surpass the guṇas?”

    The word ca indicates exclusiveness. He who has attained theoretical knowledge of the difference of the jīva from the guṇas as described in verse 19 does not attain perfection of freedom from the guṇas by that alone. Having attained that state, he should take shelter (sevate) of Me alone, Kṛṣṇa— because though appearing in many forms such as Nārāyaṇa, I am not touched by the guṇas of māyā; I am the controller of māyā; I am composed of pure knowledge and bliss; and I am the abode of precious qualities such as omniscience. He who takes shelter of Me alone by performing the process of bhakti-yoga surpasses the guṇas which are hard to surpass, and attains (kalpate) his own inherent nature (brahma-bhuyāya), the eight qualities of ātmā (no sin, no death, no old age, no hunger, no thirst, no lamentation, fully truthful, and all desires automatically satisfied).
    It was shown previously that the word brahma can mean the jīva. Accordingly, by the topmost process of bhakti, which inherently distinguishes jīva from God, the jīva realizes his svarūpa. By bhakti one does not attain a disappearance of the svarūpa of the jīva through merging with Brahman. Previously the Lord said that one attains similarity with the Lord (sa mad-bhāvaṁ yāti, BG 8.5 and mama sādharmyam āgatāḥ BG 14.2, mad-bhavam so ’adhigacchati BG 14.19). Saying brahma-bhūyāya, the Lord simply explains the previous statements. By the statements such as verse 2 of this chapter (idaṁ jñānam upāśritya), even in the state of liberation the jīva remains separate.
    In such śrutis as nirañjanaḥ paramaṁ sāmyam upaiti: being free of contamination, he attains similarity with the supreme (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 3.1.3), there would seem to be oneness with the Lord indicated. However, by examination, one must still conclude difference of the jīva from the supreme Brahman because other śrutis show the inherent difference between jīva and the supreme Brahman by describing qualities such as smallness and greatness, which are eternal. Therefore, the phrase brahma-bhūta means that the jīva attains the state in which he manifests the eight qualities and still remains distinct from the Lord.
    The statement brahmaiva san brahmāpyeti (Being Brahman, he attains Brahman) (Bṛhad Āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.6.) does not mean that he becomes the Lord. It must only mean that he becomes similar to the Lord and thus attains the Lord. The Viśva Prakāśa says that eva can mean resemblance (similarity) as well as exclusiveness (alone). Amara Kośa also says that vayā, yathā, tathā, eva, evam and sāmye (likeness) are equivalents. Thus brahma eva san brahma api eti means “he, becoming like the Lord with eight qualities, attains the Lord.” If this meaning were not taken the rest of the sentence would not make sense. There would be no meaning to “He, being Brahman, then attains Brahman.”

    Nothing about free will here.

  7. Visvanatha cakravarti’s tika of 14.26 –

    In this verse, the Lord answers the third question about the method of surpassing the guṇas. Ca in this verse means eva: “only”. He who serves only Me (mama ca)--in My form as Śyāmasundara, the Supreme Lord--by bhakti-yoga, he alone is qualified for becoming Brahman, or realizing Brahman (brahma-bhūyāya kalpate). This statement is supported by the use of the adjective ekayā in the statement bhaktyāham ekayā grahyaḥ: I can be attained by bhakti alone. And in the statement mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etām taranti te: those who surrender to Me surpass the material world, from use of the word eva (only), it is confirmed that without bhakti (to the Lord only), realization of Brahman cannot be attained. It cannot be attained by any other method.
    What type of bhakti-yoga is this? It should be without deviation (avyabhicāreṇa). That means it is without mixture of karma, jñāna or other elements, because there are statements rejecting niṣkāma-karma, and statements rejecting even jñāna by the jñānī in his final stage. jñānaṁ ca mayi sannyaset: One should surrender that jñāna to Me. (SB 11.19.1) But there are no statements about the rejection of bhakti-yoga anywhere. Thus, by bhakti-yoga, after giving up even jñāna-yoga, just as he has previously given up karma-yoga, the jñānī surpasses the guṇas. There is no other means. However, the ananyā bhakta is already beyond the guṇas, as understood from the statement in the Eleventh Canto nirguṇo mad apāśrayaḥ: one who surrenders to Me is beyond the guṇas. (SB 11.25.26)
    Here is the principle.
    sattvika kārako ’saṅgī rāgāndho rājasaḥ smṛtaḥ
    tāmasaḥ smṛti-vibhraṣṭo nirguṇo mad-apāśrayaḥ
    A worker free of attachment is in the mode of goodness; a worker blinded by personal desire is in the mode of passion, and a worker who has completely forgotten how to tell right from wrong is in the mode of ignorance. But a worker who has taken shelter of Me is understood to be transcendental to the modes of nature. SB 11.25.26
    It is understood that those who are free from attachment are practicing either karma-yoga or jñāna-yoga on the level of sattva. And the person who is beyond the guṇas, having taken shelter of the Lord, is practicing sādhana-bhakti. The jñānī, having reached the perfection of jñāna, becomes transcendental to the guṇas by then giving up the level of sattva. But the devotee, even at the beginning stage as a sādhaka, is beyond the guṇas. This is the meaning of the Bhāgavatam verse.
    Śrīdhara Svāmī also says that ca gives the meaning of limitation, “only”. Madhusūdana Sarasvatī says the meaning is “He who serves only Me, the Lord, Nārāyaṇa, by undeviating bhakti-yoga as described in the twelfth chapter, qualifies for liberation.”

    Nothing about free will here

  8. Bhagavad gita 15.19 –

    yo mām evam asaṁmūḍho jānāti puruṣottamam |
    sa sarva-vid bhajati māṁ sarva-bhāvena bhārata ||19||

    He who without confusion knows Me as the Supreme Person according to what I have just said is the knower of everything. He worships Me by all methods, O descendent of Bharata.

    Baladeva’s tika -

    The results for those who know the Lord as the Supreme Person are described in order to highlight the meaning.
    Thus (evam), understanding the facts according to the derivation of the word spoken by Me rather than according to mere dictionary definitions of ordinary words, a person no longer has doubts (asaṁmūdḥaḥ) regarding My position as the Supreme Person. Knowing the meaning of these three verses, he is the knower of everything (sarva-vit), because these three verses are the purport of the Vedas. He who knows My position as the Supreme Person worships Me by all methods (sarva-bhāvena). He who gets My mercy can know the meaning of all the Vedas and perform all the aṅgas of bhakti.
    But he who doubts My position as the Supreme Person, even though he has studied all the Vedas, is actually ignorant. And even if he worships by all methods, he is not a devotee.

    Visvanath’s tika -

    “Though this has been established by You, philosophers will argue over the meaning.”

    Let them argue! They are bewildered by My māyā, and the devotee is not bewildered. He who is not bewildered by the arguments of these philosophers (asaṁmūḍhaḥ) knows everything. Even though he has not studied the scriptures, he is the knower of the meaning of all scriptures. The other person, though he has indeed studied and taught all the scriptures, is really a complete fool (sam mūḍhaḥ). He who knows Me worships Me with complete love. The other person, though he worships something, does not worship Me.
    Please show me here any reference to free will, in either the slokas or in the tikas?

    You speak about jivas rebelling against the Lord – is there any evidence for that in Shastra?

  9. As to your second comment - where did I say or did any shastra say that prema or bhakti is bestowed by maya or karma?

    As to the Gita verses you quoted, I will not tire the readers by copy pasting the verses and their tikas, just quote the words free will or sveccha in any of these slokas or any of their tikas please. It will lighten my burden.

  10. Thank you Advaita DasJi for your consideration. Regarding the "jivas rebelling" i mean the axiom "do what thou will shall be the whole of the law". Everytime the jiva is trying to please himself, and be self-centered, instead of doing the activity for the pleasure and glory of Bhagavan, that is "rebelling". All of use in Maya, are usually doing things for our own selfish pleasure, arent we? Then of course, you have very powerful demons, who consciously choose to rebel against Bhagavan and His Law, and this is found in all scriptures all over the world. We may say that Sishupal and Raavan and Hiranyakashyapu were servants of the Lord, but which jiva is NOT a servant of Bhagavan ultimately? Sishupal was not FORCED or COERCED to utter the words he addressed to Sri Bhagavan in open court. There was no pre-destiny or karma that made him say those things. HE DID SO, OUT OF EGO, AND OUT OF FREEWILL TO CHOOSE TO OR NOT. At any point, he could have stopped and said Sri Bhagavan i am sorry, please forgive me. That did not happen, not because the outcome of his head being chopped off by the Sudarshan Chakra was pre-determined. It wasnt. Sri Bhagavan is fully in control of His universe. He doesn not need to rig anything, He does not need to setup circumstances beforehand, He does not need to rob jivas of their freewill to choose His feet as the ultimate Ashraya. Please, none of the scriptural evidence points to this.
    When Bali Maharaj bowed his own head down, to offer Vamana Deva to place His feet on, THAT WAS NOT A PRE-DETERMINED SCRIPT. IT WAS A CONSCIOUS, FREEWILL CHOICE ON PART OF BALI MAHARAJ. And at the moment, he rebelled against his own Guru Shukracharya. Sri Bhagavan did not make him do it. IT WAS BALI MAHARAJ'S OWN CHOICE, WHICH HE CHOSE IN THE MOMENT.
    Whats so sacrilegious about this?
    What is there to be so worried and afraid of freewill?
    Am i saying there is "absolute freewill" to do anything and everything? Of course not.
    I am free to will to fly to the moon right now.
    That does not mean its going to happen.
    But to express Love towards Bhagavan? To aspire to express Love towards Guru and Vaishnavas?
    Thats totally out of bounds for any pre-determination, or any karmic checks and balances.

    1. Anon, 1. all the demons in Krsna-līlā are the Lord's eternal associates [vide Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta],
      2. if you read my blog carefully, you can see we conditioned souls are driven by svabhāva, and the will of God, not by free will.
      3. You have still not provided evidence from śāstra which mentions the term free will in our action.
      4. if you did, that would contradict the 14 texts I provided from śāstra that prove there is no free will.
      5. I think it is you who is afraid of the absence of free will. I am not afraid of it at all.
      6. Love for bhagavān is a gift of bhagavān Himself, just as a mother gives an infant money to buy her a present for mother's day.

    2. Dandavat Pranaam Advaita DasJi. So, by saying that the demons are the eternal associates of the Lord (which i do not dispute) does that mean, that all those "birds of a feather" who flock together around the demons and their demonic thinking, are also the same category? They are not. But i will come to them in a moment.
      What purpose is served, by justifying that demons dont have freewill to rebel against the gods like Indra etc and rebel against Sri Vishnu?
      It is Gods will? Thats a horrible line of thinking.
      This type of thinking does not help us at all.
      All the thieves and demons etc etc will say
      "Hey, its not us, its God making us do this. Sure, we have the swabhava, and we have independence, but if He wanted to stop us, He would. And He doesnt, because He wants us to be demons to the full extent of our will. To the full extent of willpower that we can muster, he wants us to rebel against Him and conspire against Him and His Svarga and other planetary orders. We are simply following His command."
      Talk about not taking responsibility for your actions!
      What is the point of karma, if the karma itself is pre-determined.
      Nope i think, with all due respect, that this attitude needs to change, because it is totally wrong.
      Its not some amazing insight, to come to the conclusion that "there is no freewill", but its an abuse of the intellect to think that.
      Why was there slavery?
      Gods Will.
      Why did all the temples in Vrindavan get destroyed by the invaders?
      God will.
      Why is there discrimination, sexism, etc etc?
      Gods will.
      Any what part do we, you and me play in all this?
      "Arre bhai, hamare haath me kya hai? Woh saab karta hai, aur sab karataa hai, usski marji! Usske aadesh bina eak patta bhi nahi hilta"
      (Oh brother, what is in our hands? He only does everything, He is only in control. Whatever is happening is His will. Without His approval, even a leaf does not blow in the wind".

      Yes, Prema indeed is a supreme Gift. It is causeless, and it cannot be paid for by ANY actions one does in Maya. God is FREE to WILL Prema descend onto a jiva. That condition is met ONLY BY A FREEWILL ASPIRATION, A SINCERE CONSCIOUS ASPIRATION FROM THE JIVA, TO CHOOSE BHAGAVAN.
      IT IS A CHOICE OF THE JIVA, not some pre-determined event thats already decided, no way.
      I mean you are free to think that the case, but i am absolutely convinced that no shastra that you have quoted states this. So i will take your take on freewill not existing as just an opinion, which i respect and of course you are entitled to it. But it is not some stated truth as you seem to be suggesting, and as an insignificant jiva that i am, conscious of the 4 defects, i do have something in my heart, that i am choosing. If i surrender to Sri Bhagavan 100%, He wont have it any other way, than my 100% consent and my 100% choice. He has been waiting for countless eons for me to wise up, as He has waited for all of us jivas.

    3. Anon, with all respect, it seems you have either not read my blog, you have not read it attentively, you are unable to understand or you are unwilling to understand. How can you say it is all just my opinion when I quoted Prasthāna traya pramāna left and right? There are 14 statements from Prasthāna traya, the highest Vedic evidence - Gita, Upanisads and Vedānta. That is not just 'my opinion' is it?

    4. Advaita DasJi, i pray please dont be angry with me. I certainly afraid of angering Vaishnava's so first i am seeking forgiveness from you. You are someone who i admire and respect a lot, and have learned and will continue to learn. Its just that, in my opinion, i dont think the 14 statements are saying anything with regards to Prema being pre-petermined fruit that will awaken at a time and place in Maya. I have to stay true to what i feel, and the only reason i am taking this line of thinbking, is because it rings true to me, to my practical experience. i am an insignificant jiva in the grand scheme of things, however, i do have a voice, with which i have to be myself! When you scale things, even earth and even our galaxy may be termed as "insignificant" when you have billions of them in the known universe. STILL, EACH JIVA MATTERS. We are 1 human family, isnt there enough mess that we have created for ourselves on our small planet? The past is the past, but history repeats itself only when we dont learn from it. What the world is today, couldnt have even been imagined 100 years ago. We cannot predict the future only by looking at the past.

    5. I am not angry. I said 'with all respect'. But before you comment or contemplate deep philosophical issues like the one we are discussing here, it may be necessary for you to go back to the drawing board and realize that śāstra is apauruṣeya, it is not man-made. We cannot trust our minds or our sentiments in matters that are so grave and inconceivable as this. It seems to me you have been led by your mind and at best by your intellect in trying to understand these matters but that is really quite impossible.

    6. Shastra indeed is Apaurusheya, that is why i still maintain that Shastra should NOT be interpreted or interpolated to give it particular slants, vis a vis freewill. Am i saying "absolute freedom to do anything and everything" exists for jivas? Of course not. Is it all hopeless and bleak and already predetermined? ABSOLUTELY NOT, and again, nowhere in Shastra does it say, that OUR MINDS CAN UNDERSTAND GODS MIND AND WHAT GOD SEES. For God, everything may be "predetermined" BUT WE CANNOT EQUATE THAT OMNISCIENCE WITH OUR UNDERSTANDING OF KARMA OR DESTINY OR FREEWILL. We do ourselves a tremendous disservice when we think that God wants us to think that everything including the GIFT OF PREMA IS ALREADY DECIDED BEFOREHAND FOR A SELECT RARE FEW, AND EVERYBODY ELSE IS JUST TAKEN FOR A RIDE AIMLESSLY AND WITHOUT ANY HOPE.
      I dont accept this translation and interpretation at all, and have stated my reasons.

      As far as the impossibility of understanding transcendental matters is concerned, surely there are many Achintya topics that our Acharyas have instructed us not to dwell upon, like for example, the crores of servants of a particular king etc etc. i dont recall the shlokas right now.
      No, even my puny mind and intellect can see that this is very wrong, this is not what the apaurasheya shastra's are saying.

    7. So far you come with your personal sentiments and indeed limited thinking and not a shred of śāstra pramāṇa. I have quoted 14 śruti texts myself.

    8. If you say so AdvaitaDasJi, we can agree to disagree. The Shastra pramaan afterall are meant for living, thinking and feeling human beings. All the pramanas that you have listed, none of them insist on Prema being pre-determined on who will and who wont have Gods grace descend upon them.
      So, then those 14 shruti pronouncements dont really apply to this seminal/crucial point that i am making either, even though you are insisting that they do! But nowhere do they talk about Prema being pre-determined in advance for x number of jivas, and them only and no one else.

    9. When will you listen and think? kon bhāgyavan jīva guru kṛṣṇa prasāde pāya bhakti latā bija - kon bhāgyavān means some fortunate soul. Not everyone. koṭiṣvapi mahāmune (SB 6.14.5) yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tenaiva labhya (Śruti) He is only attained by he who was chosen by Him (the Lord)."
      If it were everyone then why are not 7 billion humans dancing in the kirtan all day right now?

    10. Why not? Do these humans know about Goloka, about Sri Krsna? They dont. Thats why.
      Its RARE not because of God, please.
      Its not like Sri Bhagavan is withholding His Love from us.
      We have to have some greed for it.
      Just like any normal boy develops attraction to any normal girl and vice veersa because they think and contemplate over each others qualities, and slowly but surely attachment develops,
      Bhakti also develops just as naturally, OR CAN DEVELOP VERY NATURALLY.

      Practically every single human being has Kama and Lobha and Moha within his heart.
      When you say "not everyone" you are just stating the tragedy of not-knowing, and its nothing that we should be proud of. Bhakti is not something for the privileged few. Thats what the "brahmins" thought in maharashtra,( my state), when Sant Gyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram and others, MADE THOSE ARROGANT FALSE PRIESTS EAT THEIR WORDS.

      Advaita DasJi, you accuse me of not listening and thinking, but could that also self-apply?
      If light bulbs were rare, if TV's and other inventions that we now take for granted, were rare in the 20th century, if they were the playthings of the rich chosen few who could afford them, would you say that that was Gods will? Nonsense. Now everyone can reap the benefit of electricity, because word has spread and people have knowledge of these things.
      You or me or any of our Acharyas, they never claimed to be special, or more intelligent, or more fortunate, or more priviledged than anyone else, they were indeed the most humble, clearly stating that Love to express towards Sri Yugal Kishore was FREE for everyone, its "Jaiva Dharma".
      There is no tax to do manasi seva, nor is it some club or exclusive fraternity.
      Sri Krsna is BIGGER THAN ALL OUR PETTY THINKING, and bigger in a way than we even DARE to imagine. The Controller of innumerable Universes......and we have the audacity to discriminate between HIS own tatastha Shakti ansha's? Who has given us this right? This is dangerous thinking and its unbecoming of us who aspire to see God in everyones heart.

      As to the matter of the 7 billion humans not dancing in Kirtan.....those 7 billion are ALL after Anand. They are all after Sat-Chit-Anand, which is another name of Sri Bhagavan.
      Anand, IS Bhagavan. So they are already devoted servants of Anand, they just dont know it.
      And that can easily be changed by us by breaking down silly barriers and talking amongst ourselves in a real honest matter, about what life is about, and what do we really want. Ask anyone, what does he want ultimately? What will he/she tell you? I want Peace/Happiness/Bliss/freedom from anxiety and pain and suffering etc. Its all pointing to the same solution.

      Perhaps when we understand that there are QUITE LITERALLY COUNTLESS BILLIONS OF jivas in Goloka, nay COUNTLESS TRILLIONS OF GOPIS, then perhaps we wont have any hangups or be impressed by 7 billion of us on earth.
      In the grand scheme of things, lets see 7 billion in its perspective.
      This entire material manifestation, is only one-fourth of His energy.

  11. contd. from above:
    When you quote the CC:
    "Brahmanda bhramite kon bhagyavan jiva Guru krsna prasade pay bhaktilata bija"
    Where in the commentary or translation does it imply that this verse applies to the expression of Prema?
    Prema does not depend on Bhagya. If it did, then Krupa would not exist. Because Kripa means mercy, and if mercy is conditional, then it is not mercy. If the Love of Godhead is not being followed, if people are not aware of the path of Raganuga Bhakti, IT IS ALL OUR FAULT. I THINK WE SHOULD SNAP OUT OF THIS OLD CONDITIONING THAT SAYS OOH IT IS SOO RARE AND I WILL NEVER ATTAIN IT. WHY NOT? YES YOU CAN. ITS THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL THING, THE NEED FOR GIVING AND EXPRESSING LOVE. We are doing it all the time. Mothers love their sons, fathers love their daughters, sisters love their brothers and on and on. All that needs to be done, is find a relation to Sri Krsna that suits you, that feels right for you, and the same way that you express and have a relationship with your relatives, you do that with Sri Krsna in your heart, with Manasi Seva. WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THIS? WHATEVER FRUIT HAS TO BE GOTTEN, THAT IS SRI BHAGAVAN'S PROBLEM. YOU FIRST, OUT OF YOUR OWN FREEWILL, MAKE THE CONNECTION TO SRI KRSNA. Its not like He is not here in your heart RIGHTNOW.
    He IS.
    I am really sick and tired of this stale old thinking, because this is what is preventing our youth from accessing the Love for God that is freely available. So many nonsensical conditions and customs, and the main point of AASAKTI AND APNAPAN (BELONGING) is left far away.
    "No first you chant 16 rounds"
    "first you shave your head, and keep a shikha"
    "first you do this and dont do that"
    "dont eat carrots, dont shave your har in this period, and completely shave all hair in this period"
    The first and only thing, is getting a taste of the beauty and charm of Sri Krsna.
    Nobody can fullly understand Sri Bhagavan.

    Advaita DasJi, i appreciate your quoting the Gita shlokas. I would like to know if you think ANY of those "suggestions" that Sri Bhagavan gives to Arjuna, and thru Arjuna to the whole world, ARE POSSIBLE TO IMPLEMENT WITHOUT THE JIVA FREELY CHOOSING AND ACCEPTING TO DO SO, IN FULL AWARENESS AND CONSCIOUSNESS.
    Maya jagat is certainly a prison.
    Sri DurgaDevi is the prison warden of Maya.
    We are prisoners in Maya certainly, BUT WE ARE FREE TO LOVE, WE ARE FREE TO CHOOSE TO LOVE DOG OR GOD.
    If we choose to love Dog, we go to the yoni where the dog goes in the next life.
    If we choose to Love God, then next life, OR THE VERY SAME LIFE, WE ASCEND TO HIS ABODE.
    And if we look at our own dog, and love him as a servant of Sri Krsna, if we look at our own mother and father and sister etc etc, and in our heart see them as servants of Sri Krsna along with you, then YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS NOT A CURSE BUT A BLESSING FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
    Whats so controversial or hard to understand about this?
    Its not some complicated rocket science. It needs sincerity, and an open mind, and open eyes.

    1. The words bhāgyavān and prasāda say it all - he/she is fortunate, because he/she gets prasāda or mercy. If you are 'sick and tired' of the eternal factors that lead to bhakti, then what can I say? Get used to it. prema is not freely available, it is very rare - koṭisvapi mahā mune and koṭi mukta madhye durlabha ek kṛṣṇa bhakta. That is just the way it is.

    2. I challenge this very notion of Prema being rare and difficult to obtain.
      ITS NOT LIKE ITS BHAGAVAN WHO IS MAKING SUCH A LAW, THAT ONLY A CHOSEN FEW WILL REACH HIM. Thats such nonsense, because we ALL are His Shakti-Anshas, we all currently Maya Baddha jivas are eternal and indestructible anyway.
      The hard part, is already done. In fact, we didnt do anything to "BE" jivas, we already ARE.

      THE SIMPLE REASON WHY PREMA TOWARD GOD IS RARE, IS BECAUSE WE DONT YET KNOW "HOW". Even cats and dogs know about attachment and love. Ever seen a cat or a lioness take care of its cubs? She will kill you if you threaten them.
      So, why have such a low opinion of humans? Why have such low expectations from humans?
      Is God not present in everyone's heart?
      Are we in the Gaudiya Vaishnav tradition some "special" people?

      If you can feel selfless love for your child, which all mother and fathers, from all species basically experience, then you can Love God. Its that simple.
      Bhakti and it lati-Beej, is not some secretive rare thing that you need to hide from your fellow human beings. i understand that the bhava's that arise in your heart, will ofcourse be so personal that you dont want to talk about them out in the open, but in functioning, they are exactly like what billions of people on this planet feel for their near and dear ones.
      What the population of earth humans?
      7 billion?
      What 7 billion more in Goloka?

      The only reason why we dont know to try this acience of attachment towards the Divine Couple, is because it is unecessarily burdened with all kinds of things, that make it appeal to less and less as the 21st century goes by.
      Are we doing our fellow humans a favor by hiding all the extremely simple elementary Manasi Seva aspiration from them?
      As if our being so secretive is going to protect them from themselves.
      Our unnecessary secrecy is harming both us and them, becaue of the divisions that we make "oh he is a karmi, oh he is from different caste, oh he is not from our sampradaya" And God is to blame for this? or us?

  12. Hi Advaita, I wrote what you quoted. It is in chapter 2 of my book, The two appendices are also on free will.

  13. Oh, you also seem to quote some from the 3rd chapter as well.

  14. Actually I was just looking through your post, you seem to have quoted from many chapters, for example this paragraph is from ch 31:

    "The idea of having no free will, of there being a destiny set in stone that cannot be altered, for everyone and the world, seems so counter-intuitive only because we are ignorant on how we function. It’s not easy to come to terms with the reality of having no control, of there being a controller over everything you do and think, and of what everyone else does and thinks. When we’re ready, all the truths of God’s ontological presence and control in our lives is gradually revealed to us. Usually through religious philosophy, and ultimately through Vedanta."

  15. Namaste Advaita das and everyone else,

    this might add to the clarity of the subject under discussion: