Free Will of the Jiva Soul

Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara MaharajaSrila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Goswami Maharaja: One of the points I have been seeking regarding our book is somehow the jiva is forced to stay within the temporary physical body.

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhara Dev-Goswami Maharaja: He is not forced. The first starting point is that of free will. We have to accept that and we have to find that out. Otherwise God will be responsible for the jiva’s misery.

na kartrtvam na karmani
lokasya srjati prabhuh
na karma phalam-samyogam
svabhavas tu pravartate

Translation: The Lord does not generate anyone’s ego of considering themselves ‘the doer’, nor their actions, nor their association with the fruits of their actions. These are all a result of their external nature of ignorance since time immemorial. (Srimad Bhagavad-Gita 5.14)

“I am not responsible for the suffering of the jiva. I am aloof. I am left with freedom and freedom is their intrinsic qualification.” Whatever is conscious, that is free. It depends on the magnitude. Anu-caitanya (minute consciousness) – freedom is also anu. The jiva is vulnerable and by a trace of their imperfect freedom they come to the world and nothing forces them. Then, when the jiva comes in cooperation with Maya, the force of maya is applied first. First is free will, and then Maya’s grasp takes him. In this way transaction with this world begins and not by the interference of the Supreme. It is by the small free will of the anu-caitanya, the defective consciousness. There are many–some coming this side, some coming that side from the marginal plane.

Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Goswami Maharaja: So at what point does the jivatma begin to recognize his use of free will in a very negative sense?

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhara Dev-Goswami Maharaja: The possibility is there in the tatastha. There is possibility of positive participation and possibility of negative participation is also there. These two functions are in germinal form when he is in the marginal plane. There is possibility of negative and positive. By free choice – that one side, one possibility, he is given recognition and it starts. The journey begins. Then by the handling of the sadhus, of the divine agents, that can be modified when wandering in the world. When the positive aspect awakens, then that gives the jiva a chance to go towards the divine realm.

Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Goswami Maharaja: That is also dependent on free will?

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhara Dev-Goswami Maharaja: Yes, free will is there. Consciousness means to be endowed with free will. All atoms of consciousness are endowed with free will. Without free will consciousness may not be complete and then it is matter, material existence. Conscious spirit means to be endowed with free will.

Generally when the jiva is here, independent of his free will, the divine agent can help him. That is sukrti. The first stage is ajnata-sukrti – unknowing acquisition of the favor of the Lord through the sadhus. Just as when a patient is unconscious – the doctor may give an injection perhaps, then later the patient regains consciousness, cooperation begins and the treatment goes on. But when he’s unconscious, even at that point treatment is possible. So when the jiva becomes engrossed in material consciousness, the divine agents come and utilize his energy in some way for the Lord. Ajnata-sukrti means it is beyond his consciousness.

Then there is jnata-sukrti, then sraddha (faith) comes to the surface and then cooperation. When sukrti develops into the stage of sraddha, then there is cooperation of the sadhus and that is the development of proper spiritual life. But before that, there is work underground – that is ajnatasukrti and that is done by the sadhus, the divine agents.

[It is an edited excerpt from:]