The Jiva's Freewill

BY: CAITANYA DAS - 28.3 2019

I find many devotees are under the impression Lord Krishna knows everything in terms of what we choose to do or not to do. Our Acaryas clearly tell us we have free will, and free will means what it says. Srila Prabhupada has said "we are not dead stones". He also gives the example of the high court judge, who knows the destiny of the crook, or for that matter the outcome to some degree of the reformed criminal.

In Bhagavad Gita Krishna's words are,

matra sparsas tu kaunteya 
sitosna sukha duhkha dah
agamapayino nityas 
tams titiksasva bharata

"O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed."

The very statement tolerate means you have choice, you can tolerate your bad karma and take shelter of Krishna and religion, ethics, morals, or you can drown your suffering by accruing more suffering in the future by taking shelter of sinful actions or dubious behaviour.

In the case of good karma, one should understand it's due to previous good actions, that good fortune arises, so one should not consider the goal of life is to live a life solely of pious actions. Rather, one should choose to educate oneself to actions pertaining to development of pure devotion.

The point is, in all cases in our lives free will and determinism is going on, although we are forced to act according to the modes we acquire, and our reactions are constantly coming to us, but how we respond to them and what our immediate choices and actions are, are solely our choice and responsibility.

As soon as we act within matter in any shape or form, either gross or subtle, the vast cosmic machinery clicks into place. The moment we make the choice and act it out, Krishna knows the outcome.

If we persistently meditate on anything it will come about, whether good or bad, therefore Krishna says make your mind your friend by surrendering it to Guru, who represents Krishna.

So although Krishna is all knowing, how He is all knowing should be understood in detail, and how His cosmic machinery is working in detail must be understood. It is of course understood Krishna knows of every blade of grass that moves, and it could be argued He knows what choices we may make, as a father when offering his child a choice of coloured balloons can know which balloon he may pick, based on knowledge of the son's favourite colour. But the child's taste in colours may change, or because of His mood or because of the individual spirit within the child he may spontaneously change what the father expected him to do.

Further, in Srila Sanatana Goswami's Brhad Bhagavatamrta, Krishna tells Gopa Kumar: "I was waiting for you to return back to Me." This implies choice.

The jiva originates either from Lord Balarama, from the halo of Srimati Radharani or from Mahavishnu, according to Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur, and those originating from Lord Balarama or Srimati Radharani never come to the material realm. That does not imply they have no free will, but rather appear to have the spontaneous spirit of love and attraction for Krishna to such a degree, separation from Krishna never crosses their minds. And the question of direct expansions come to mind, as the close associates of Srimati Radharani's gopis are Her expansions.

It appears those jivas expanding from Mahavishnu are sometimes attracted to the material energies, but two thirds of them are not.

In all cases free will and independence is an eternal inherent quality of the jiva, and theoretical speaking, any jiva could leave the spiritual world, Srila Prabhupada says.

And finally, I would suggest that it is a form of subtle mayavadi influence on the consciousness of those that consider the Lord is fully aware of all choices that the jiva makes before the jiva makes them. To me it suggests too much oneness in one's thinking without consideration of the differences, however small that difference is. Srila Prabhupada makes the point of our tiny independence, which is fully dependent on The Lord.