Saturday, August 15, 2009

Free will vs Fate

This debate between freewill and fate is by default never-ending - because the proponents of free-will will ever exercise their free-will in explaining their position and the determinism of those determined to defend determinism is of course pre-determined!
In the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagvan Krishna makes his stance ambiguously clear!
First he emphasizes this (18.59): yada ahankAram Ashritya na yotsya iti manyase mithyaisha vyavasAyaste prakRRiti tvAm niyokshyati
If by harboring or resorting to a notion of doership, you think "I will not act (fight)", then this is your error; you will be impelled - nay - compelled to act by your own intrinsic nature.
Shankara too in his bhAShya adds - na mantavyam - don't think - svatantra aham - I am free (to act)!
Krishna again reiterates (18.60) svabhavajena kaunteya nibaddhaH svena karmanA kartuM nechChasi yanmohAtkarishyasyavashopi tat
What through this delusion (of freedom) you don't desire to do, bound by your own work (which have led to vAsanA-s) borne of nature, you will inevitably do.
Krishna also emphasizes next (18.61) that it is ever the Lord alone that causes all beings to revolve as though they were wooden puppets mounted on a machine yantrA rUdhAni (the robots of that age!)
But just when you take this as a clear and unequivocal endorsement of determinism by the Lord, he advises Arjuna very soon (18.63) "yathaichChasi tathA kuru" - after taking into consideration all these 18 chapters of advice that I have patiently given you, "please act as you wish". You alone have the freedom - nay - the responsibility to decide what it is that you need to do now - to do or not to do - to fight or not to fight - the choice is yours. The Lord Himself, has just told Arjuna, that as the wielder of mAyA, he impels beings to act as though they were mere puppets. And the very same Lord now tells Arjuna - "please now think, and then do as you see fit". Whence is the need for these words from Krishna if, as the All-knowing Lord, He knew full well that Arjuna would have no choice but to fight?
Thus it is that we see Krishna emphasizing the twin concepts of determinism and free will in almost back-to-back shloka-s in the Bhagavad Gita. We can "freely" draw our own conclusions and hopefully come to our own "pre-determined" understanding!

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