[Advaita-l] A Conversation between Divine Will and Free Will

praveen.r.bhat at exgate.tek.com praveen.r.bhat at exgate.tek.com
Sun Mar 13 00:23:07 CST 2005

praNAm-s all,

Yesterday, I thought of shifting this discussion into another thread, but
not knowing if this thread will ever end, I didn't. Now that Prof VKji has
done so, I'm adding my two cents of confusion :) (I reckon this has been
discussed before in various threads in bits and pieces)

Maheshji, the very reason that you are the *nimmitta* for this thread causes
me to say that you too fall into the category TD that VKji created and not
DDW as you projected (sorry, no pun intended). I believe most of us do fall
in TD. If we're really one of DDW or DFW, I strongly feel that the
discussion itself wouldn't arise! So, I'm just going to call myself a TD and
give only that point of view. Here goes...

TD: As long as one says I do things out of my free will, s/he will keep on
doing so and whatever the results; be it the law of land or karmaphala, s/he
has to fight out on his/her own. While in trouble, praying for help causes
this free will also to go for a toss, except for the will to pray! The other
way round, attributing everything to be divine will, means immense bhakti
and no matter what the act/results are, one must take it as (karma)phala or
prasAda only! Since there are doubts that one of these paths is possible at
all times, people keep on shifting tracks many a times knowingly or

I was dicussing "karmaNyevAdhikAraste mA phalEshu kadAchana, mA
karmaphalaheturbhoor mA te sangostvakarmaNi" with someone a month or so back
and he gave an interesting opinion. He comments on the Shloka thus: since
its difficult for many to actually try to do anything without expecting any
results, it is meant not to expect *so and so much* results. As in, the
*quantity and quality* of results is upto God, but one may expect results
(in one form or the other).

I recall a story from my satsangA with a sathya sAi disciple. He said that
there was this man who couldn't give up his liquor habit, but did go for
sAi's darShan-s. During one darShan, he mentioned this to sAi that no matter
what, he couldn't give the habit up. sAi asked him to continue drinking if
he feels like, but offer it to him or God before drinking. In a few days,
the person couldn't continue his drinking habit since every time he tried to
consume liquor after offering it as mentioned, he felt nauseous.

So even if one does think of working with a free will, the results are still
a divine will. Perhaps, thats the reason, Adi ShankarA says in the UpadeSha
sahasri that karma and jnAna cannot go hand in hand.


-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
[mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org]On Behalf Of Mahesh
Sent: Sunday, March 13, 2005 2:02 AM
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] A Conversation between Divine Will and Free


Though Prof V K Krishnamurthy has invited scholars to continue the
conversation and I am sure, they would, without doubt, be able to
quote specific scriptures to validate any points they make, I would
fall short on that front. However, though I may not be able to quote
specific scriptures at this stage, I have been immersed in the
thoughts of various Gurus (Sri Ramakrishna being the primary one) and
so do have a taste of the essentials of the scriptures and so I take
the liberty to continue for a while...

-----Last part of Prof V Krishnamurthy's addendum------
> TD: This other Power within us is not God. It is our own
> individualised PrakRti (SvabhAva – our own nature) for
> which we are ourselves the architect, by means of the way
> we thought and lived in all our past lives and also in this
> life up to the present.

--------Mahesh's addendum 12-Mar-05---
DDW: I am sorry but I have never come across the term "individualized
PrakRti" before. PrakRti sounds quite akin to the Samkhya/Yoga
philosophy but I have not heard of it associated with SvabhAva. As per
my understanding when you are born your SvabAva is governed by your
past Samskaras. These can be looked on as subtle impressions stored in
your soul which tilt your nature in a particular way. This serves to
explain why in a single family, one sibling could are drawn to
spirituality but the other scoffs at it. So, prArabdha-karma and your
past Samskaras together define where you are born, your parents, etc.
so that you can be in a position to exhaust the karma in the way your
SvabAva tends to be.
DFW: Ok, so let us get back to 'choice of action'. As per what you
say, you aren't born with a clean slate and your nature to some degree
is already formulated. And as per what TD said, fate too is somewhat
defined due to prArabdha-karma. But going ahead, are you free to act
as you will?
DDW: A Swami at the Ramakrishna Math who I happened to talk with on
this subject said that the ego is given to a human so as to give him
or her the impression that he or she is the actor. It allows humans to
discuss things like 'Satyam vada'  and 'Dharmam cara'.
TD: Maybe you can tell us what you mean by Ego which might explain who
the doer actually is.
DDW: Hmm….as per Samkhya, ego or Ahamkara is a product of PrakRtis as
she evolves after coming in contact with Purusha at the time of
creation. It is a mixture of the constituents of PrakRti - the three
gunas (Satva, Rajas and Tamas).
TD: So, is PrakRti the doer then? 
DDW: She could well be as she has the power to act and is considered
to be the dynamic aspect of Brahman by some.
DFW: Hang on, coming back to the same point - can she act with an
independent will unbeknownst of Brahman?
DDW: That is impossible! Brahman by it's very nature is the substratum
of all that exists and is knowledge absolute so there is nothing
outside its domain.
DFW: Well, we are back to square one, aren't we? It is ultimately
Brahman (or God) as PrakRti that does everything!
DDW: I have been pondering this question for a while since we last met
and the only way I can explain the apparent mess in the world created
by an all perfect, all loving Brahman is using a story I read sometime
back in this connection: A child was sitting at her mother's feet, who
herself was seated on a chair doing some crochet work. Being a young
child not knowing what crochet work was, on seeing the mess of loose
threads of all colors in disarray from the bottom, she happened to
remark. "What a messy thing you have created"? The mother only smiled
and gently lifted her child on her lap and showed her the beautiful
design on the upper side of her crochet work. The child's eyes shone
as she saw the beautiful creation and she cried - "This is so
wonderful!". So, the unrealized soul is like the child seeing the
world (crochet) with worldly or ignorant eyes and the realized soul is
the child who has got the mother's (or God's) grace and is able to see
the world through God's eyes. And as far is free will is considered,
in my opinion, even while a trace of ego exists in us so that we are
yet not aware of God's will, it would be best to use the Shrutis or
Smritis to guide our actions. Otherwise, we would be lying saying that
what we have done what has been ordained by God because all the time
we really had no awareness of the Almighty in our actions.
DFW: Well, the free will answer seems like a good working solution but
doesn't really solve the problem. Because I could do something against
the scriptures and though I know I am lying, the action is done and as
per your thinking it has to have been done by God! So, you cannot
technically hold me accountable for it!
DDW: I may not but by God's will there will be others like you who
believe in free will and think the action is wrong (possibly by the
law of the land) and punish you for it! Beyond this I cannot say more.
TD, I think maybe you settle this in a more convining manner since I
am out of more ideas for now...

Regards, Mahesh

On Sat, 12 Mar 2005 07:32:15 -0800 (PST), V. Krishnamurthy
<profvk at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Namaste.
> In the last post on "Kundalini as a product of
> not-yet-understood biology?" Mahesh Ursekar's
> 'conversation' between DDW (the person who believes only in
> Divine Will) and DFW (the person who believes ony in Free
> Will) is interesting and should be pursued as a separate
> topic. So I have started this new thread. I reproduce the
> first four paragraphs of his conversation and go from
> there.
> DFW: Free will is essential for reward and punishment
> otherwise anyone would do anything they wish and say "it
> was God's will, don't blame me!".
> DDW: Ah, but that is not quite a correct viewpoint because,
> you are cheating. God's will has been expressed in the
> various Shrutis (Gita, Upanishads, Bible and what have you)
> and if you follow those actions, you can claim to be doing
> God's will, otherwise you cannot be claim to
> act in Her way.
> DFW: Hold on, even my acting contrary to the scriptures is
> being done by God, right? So I don't understand you
> distinguishing some actions from others.
> DDW: True, but even the consequences of the actions against
> Her will have been described in the scriptures…they are
> present for all to see.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> At this point I introduce a  a third disciple (TD) who
> believes  in  neither of Divine Will nor Free Will
> exclusively and therefore believes in both and has his own
> reasons.. The conversation continues with the TD also
> participating. – VK
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> TD:  I think you are both taking extreme positions. If man
> did not have free will to attempt to do his will, Veda
> statements like 'Satyam vada' (Speak the truth) and
> 'Dharmam cara' (Act according to dharma) would lose all
> their meaning. So I am not prepared to agree with DDW.  But
> what DDW says that it is finally Divine will that expresses
> itself is correct.
> DDW. Then how can you also agree with DFW?
> TD: That is the tricky point.  Without the implied choice
> of action implied in statements like satyam vada and
> dharmam cara we can go nowhere. Man is free to act in the
> way his tendencies (VasanAs) take him. Man is also free to
> resist the bad vAsanAs and act in a way which will purify
> his mind and rid it of the dirt accumulated therein.
> DDW: Then why are the scriptures repeatedly professing that
> it is all divine will? "mayaivaite nihitAH pUrvameva .."
> says Krishna in the eleventh chapter.
> DFW. That quote is exactly what confuses me.
> TD:  Maybe Krishna is talking to an enlightened person!
> DFW: But Arjuna was not enlightened – at least, at that
> point. But wait. What do you say to such expressions in our
> shAstras: "Neither Hari (Vishnu) nor Hara (Shiva) can erase
> what is written on your forehead"?  Does it not say that
> the so-called fate that overrules you is dominant. And is
> not Fate the same as Divine Will?
> DDW: Are you, DFW,  arguing for me now?
> TD: Both of you are confusing me now! Let us go about it
> systematically. That Fate you are talking about is the
> prArabdha-karma. It is the portion of our past karma which
> has started taking effect in  this birth of ours and it is
> this facet of our life where neither God nor anybody can
> intervene.
> DDW:  But that would limit the Almighty's all-mightiness!
> TD:  Here I am with you. To limit His own all-mightiness is
> His own Will!.
> DDW:  Let us come back now to Free Will and Divine Will. If
> prArabdha is so dominant again you come only to my view.
> Nothing can change God's Will!
> DFW: But we have still to answer the question about the
> choice of action that TD raised.
> TD. That is why I said we have to proceed systematically.
> The choice of action is there so long as you believe 'I am
> the doer'. Krishna says "Only the man overpowered by his
> ego thinks he is the doer" (B.G. 3rd chapter).
> DFW: You have now brought in a third belief – namely
> whether one is the doer or not. But if I am not the doer
> and God is the doer, then is He not responsible for all my
> bad thoughts and bad actions?
> TD:  He is not responsible even for your good thoughts and
> good actions.
> DDW: Wait, wait. You are contradicting my theory of Divine
> Will totally and I thought you earlier said that you agreed
> with me.
> TD: There are stages of evolution in a man's life – in
> fact,  several lives. There is a stage when we have to
> grant free will. That is the stage when you are either a
> growing child either in the physical plane or in the
> spiritual plane. You cannot tell a high school student that
> it is all divine will; then there is no purpose in asking
> him to make effort at his education.
> DFW: But even assuming that at the adult stage of a better
> spiritual evolution, to believe it is some other Power
> within us, other than our egoism, that it is the doer and
> the experiencer, is only fatalism. I would not like to
> grant that Hinduism or Vedanta is all fatalism.
> TD: Your equating  the fact that there is another Power
> within us  with Fatalsim is not correct. The recognition of
> this other Power within us is the first step towards our
> spiritual evolution.
> DDW:  What can this other Power within us be except God?
> DFW: But that contradicts your earlier statement that God
> is not responsible for any of our actions either good or
> bad!
> TD: This other Power within us is not God. It is our own
> individualised PrakRti (SvabhAva – our own nature) for
> which we are ourselves the architect, by means of the way
> we thought and lived in all our past lives and also in this
> life up to the present.
> (To be Continued. I would appreciate it if scholars on this
> list also continue this conversation in their own
> different way:  There is 'choice of action'!)
> PraNAms to all seekers of Truth.
> profvk
> DFW: Oh, yes. The Kali Yuga. But, that again is Divine
> will, so why
> blame me?  All your seers have even counted the period of
> time of this
> age and so it indeed is depressing to know that things are
> only going
> to get worse from your Divine will perspective.
> DDW: Let me put this another way - Divine Will is your
> will. What you
> want, the Divine will grant and make possible. There is no
> difference
> between your will and the Divine because everything is the
> Divine. In
> my opinion, the Divine is making you move to your deepest
> desire
> however imperceptibly and sometimes even without you
> realizing it…t
> hey
> do say "as you think so you become".
> DFW: But you are still missing my point - why is God
> causing people to
> behave the way they do in these times? How can you account
> for the
> fact that the world is in such a mess? Why is everyone now
> immersed in
> thinking only of themselves and not the greater good…why
> is this pl
> ay
> of God or Divine play as you call it so cruel as to cause
> such wide
> spread suffering? Why is God who you claim is all merciful
> and kind
> projecting a world that is just the opposite? Can you just
> throw the
> blanket of Kali Yuga and close the chapter of discussion?
> DDW: Can anyone out there help?
> Regards, Mahesh
> Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
> You are welcome to have a look at any of the following  books on my
> http://www.geocities.com/profvk
> 1. Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought Vision & Practice
> 2. Live Happily, the Gita Way
> 3. Advaita Dialogue for beginners.
> 4. Discourses of the Paramacharya on Soundaryalahari.
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