Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 01 Jan 2019

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Soul’s Freedom And Salvation

Discourse Podcast

 

Dr. Nikhil asked: Padanamaskarams Swamiji! I have two questions related to Your discourse given on December 23, 2018. I request Your kind clarifications on the same. Your servant. Nikhil.

Question-1: I feel that that only God is completely free; not souls. The freedom of the soul is always restricted by several internal and external factors on earth. So, it cannot be called as total freedom or the freedom to act in all directions. The restrictions by the internal and external factors put tremendous force on the person’s mind and influence the person’s decision. The choices made by a person are largely determined by these various forcing factors. Hence, in spite of knowing and wanting to do the right thing, a person may often be forced, by the internal or external factors, to do the wrong thing. Duryodhana’s statement from the Prapanna Gītā (Paṇḍava Gītā) clearly brings out this internal force acting on a person’s mind “Jānāmi dharmaṃ na ca me pravṛttiḥ jānāmi pāpaṃ na ca me nivṛttiḥ ॥ 57॥”. Arjuna also says something similar in the Gita “Atha kena prayukto’yam pāpaṁ carati puruṣa”. Lord Krishna answers Arjuna “Kāma eśa, krodha eśa rajoguṇa samudbhavam”. Lord Krishna’s words point to the internal factors which force the mind of a person in choosing an action. Similarly, there are strong external factors too. They might be related to the influence of other people such as other people forcing a person to do something. They may also be related to external situations such as poverty or life-threatening situations, which force a person to act in a certain manner. So, I feel that the human being is never free to decide. The so-called freedom or free-will of human beings is a highly constrained freedom at best.

In any case, there is at least some relative freedom for those souls on earth who have got a human birth. But in the upper worlds, especially in hell, there is absolutely no freedom. Their freedom is taken away and souls must suffer. So, there is only physical force and zero freedom in hell. Also, animals and plants on earth are completely pre-programmed and have hardly any freedom. God clearly uses physical force on souls, to punish them in hell and sometimes on earth too for their intense sins. Could You kindly clarify how souls could be said to be completely free in this world and the upper worlds and that God never uses any force?

Swami replied: The word freedom used by Me in the earlier discourse does not mean the absolute freedom possessed by God-in-human-form as described in the Veda (Aapnoti svaaraajyam). Such absolute freedom exists only in the case of God and no soul can even imagine it. The freedom enjoyed by a soul presently is limited by several factors as mentioned by you. But the freedom granted by God to the soul in the present age is greater than the freedom enjoyed by souls in the Kruta Age. The basic fact that is common to all ages is that the freedom of the soul is highly limited compared to the absolute freedom of God. This basic fact has nothing to do with the little freedom given by God to the souls at the end of the Kruta Yuga. This little freedom given by God to souls is further limited by the factors mentioned by you. But these factors are the results of choices made by us, souls. God did not create these factors to restrict the freedom already given to the soul. We were given full freedom to choose our actions by God. God gave us ample advice on choosing our actions through the scriptures, devoted messengers, and Human Incarnations. Through them we were warned that choosing wrong deeds will give rise to such negative factors, which will restrict our God-given freedom. Actually, God did not want to give souls the freedom to choose negative actions. But souls deeply yearned (craved) for complete freedom. So, He gave them the freedom to choose even the negative factors if they wanted. But He strongly advised them not to select such factors by repeatedly blowing these warnings into their ears! If this freedom to choose the negative were not given, the state would be the same state of strict discipline as in the Kruta Age. Even in this strict discipline of the Kruta Age, when the freedom to choose the negative was absent, the freedom to choose anything good or positive was present.

To explain this more clearly, we can say that in the strict discipline of the Kruta Age, we were advised to eat any good fruit. But we were restricted from eating any poisonous fruit. After a long period, we got bored with the strict discipline and so to satisfy us, we were given the freedom to eat any fruit that we chose, including poisonous fruits. Along with this new freedom, repeated advice was given to us to eat only good fruits and not eat any poisonous fruit. In spite of all the excellent advice given by God, the granted freedom caused us to eat some poisonous fruits. It led to the inevitable punishment, suffering, and the restriction of our God-given freedom. Note that this freedom to choose the negative was our desire. Even though God gave us this freedom, as an antidote, He gave us more than sufficient advice to avoid bad and negative things. This completely frees God from any blame. On one side, we blame God for giving this freedom to choose the negative. On the other side, we criticize God if He does not give us that freedom! God showed the best balance by giving us our desired freedom while simultaneously giving us a strong warning about avoiding the misuse of that freedom. Still, we manage to blame God! In that case, we should suggest a better way than what He did!

Why was bad created?

One question immediately pops up. Why did God create negative or bad fruits? Why did He not create only good fruits? The reason is simple. Good and bad are relative. Can there be good without the relatively bad? Can there be day without night? The recognition of the positive requires the presence of the negative. Leave God’s creation aside for some time. Do we prepare our meals without any hot dishes? Do we produce movies with only pleasant scenes, without a single tragic scene? Is there any game where there are only winners and no losers? If God had created creation with only good and no bad, we would be the first to blame God for creating such a meaningless one-sided creation! Hence, God planned creation consisting of sattvam which is good qualities, and rajas and tamas, which are the bad qualities. This plan of creation is just like the storyline of a movie which is fixed before the production of the movie.

Kruta Yuga the childhood of humanity

The Kruta Age was like the childhood of souls. Parents take complete care of the child, without giving any freedom to the child so as to protect it from bad factors. As the child grows into a youth and an adult, he or she aspires for full freedom. The youth wants the parents to only provide good advice and not force him or her to do anything. God did exactly what good parents do to their children. Some grown-up children listen to their parents’ advice and enjoy peace and happiness in their lives, whereas some grown-up children do not listen to their parents and end up in problems. Do you blame the parents or the grown-up children for their mistakes? If we blame God for the sins and suffering of souls it is exactly like blaming parents for the mistakes of their grown-up children. When parents are not expected to control their grown-up children using force, how can we expect God to control souls using force! If all grown-up children in the world were not listening to their parents, there would at least be a possibility of thinking that there might be something fundamentally wrong with the system. If all the students in a class were to fail, and not a single student were to pass, it might point to a possible defect in the teacher. But we know that there are several grown-up children who listen to their parents’ advice, and there are several students in any class, who pass the examination with a distinction. Even in this worst age, which is called the Kali Age, there are several good devotees, who totally surrender to God. They follow His divine scriptures which are properly explained by His devoted messengers and His Incarnations. There is a chance that the human parents and teachers might be defective or wrong. But the omniscient God can be never defective or wrong. Even then, God never tells us to follow His advice blindly. He wants us to logically analyze His words thoroughly. This is the last statement told by God Krishna to the soul, Arjuna in the Gita (Vimrushyaitadasheshen—Gita). God has already given us a powerful intellect to analyze and decide what is good and bad. He also clearly preaches to us again and again regarding the fruits of good deeds and the fruits of bad deeds.

Coming back to our starting point, in the Kruta Age, the souls were acting, speaking and even thinking as per the direction of God given to them through the divine scriptures. They were like babies in the hands of their parents. With reference to that disciplined state, I had said that souls were given full freedom to choose their actions by God in the subsequent ages. The full freedom given to souls means the maximum freedom that can be given to souls. As such souls can never have absolute God-like freedom in any of the four ages. In the Kruta Age, the souls were like robots working as programmed by God. They did not have the full freedom to act as they chose. So, God took the total responsibility for their thoughts, words, and deeds. After a long time, the souls were very bored with that perfect and total discipline. It is just like a child on growing up becomes reluctant to follow the strictly enforced discipline of his or her parents. Neither did the souls want the absolute freedom of God nor did God give His absolute freedom to the souls. The full freedom given to souls, means the maximum freedom initially granted to souls. Later, souls, using this very freedom, chose bad deeds which reduced their freedom and caused suffering to themselves.

In the beginning, when God asked Adam and Eve not to eat a specific fruit, both were following the order of God strictly like robots. In this initial stage, all souls, both males and females, lived in strict discipline as per the laws given by God. After a long time, they got bored of their disciplined life. God understood their feeling of boredom and gave them the freedom to think, speak and to do whatever they liked. God strengthened the faculty of their intellect. The mind is the mental faculty that brings in doubts or different alternatives. It starts an internal debate (Samkalpa vikalpaatmakam manah). The intellect is the mental faculty that analyzes the various options to arrive at correct conclusions. When logical analysis starts, it is called intelligence. The expected result of the logical analysis is the right conclusion (Adhyavasaayaatmikaa Buddhih). The mind and intelligence did not have much work in the Kruta Age. Later, God gave freedom to the mind and intelligence of souls after which they started working very hard. The mind is not that important since it only starts the basic doubt which is needed for analysis. But intelligence is very important. When its analysis is wrong, it arrives at a wrong conclusion. When the analysis is correct till the very end, it arrives at the right conclusion. Intelligence is the driver and the individual soul is the owner of the vehicle as said in the Veda. Whether the journey will be safe or will end up in an accident is in the hands of the driver. Hence, God started His preaching of the Gita with buddhi yoga or Saamkhya yoga, which is related to the analysis done by a sharp intelligence. A father, seeing his children getting bored at home, proposes to take them outdoors on a picnic to entertain them by providing a change. The careful father instructs the children on the precautions to be taken during their outdoor stay. Similarly, the careful God gave freedom to souls but along with it, He also gave them the scriptures containing several precautions to be taken during one’s life. God also explains these instructions and precautions to every generation through His devotees and even by personally descending as an Incarnation. After that, God does not bear the slightest responsibility for the actions of the souls.

The effects of food on the body and mind

We are talking about the force used by God to influence the thoughts, words, and deeds of souls in the Kruta Age on earth. Earth is called Martya Loka which is a karma loka. It means that it is a world in which souls choose their own actions. It is only in this world that above-mentioned little freedom is possible. The upper worlds are called bhoga lokas in which the soul is destined to enjoy the fruits of its actions without the slightest freedom to alter the fruit. Hence, we need not touch the upper worlds in which there is not the slightest possibility of getting even a trace of freedom. In this karma loka or earth, during the Kruta Age, all human beings ate only the prescribed food, which helps the soul in thinking, speaking and doing good alone. The state of the soul was like that of a hospitalized patient, who has the restriction of eating only the prescribed food. Food is said to influence the physical state of the body as well as the thoughts and the state of the mind (Annaanuruupaam tanuruupabuddhim, Kaaryam nidaanaaddhi gunaanadhiite). Today, after getting freedom from God, human beings can eat any type of food. They can speak and do anything they want. If required, they can even do things that they want secretly! But the scriptures, the preachers and finally the Human Incarnations always exist in every generation to give souls all the information with full clarity about merit and sin. The ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it!

Freedom can be enjoyed while simultaneously taking the necessary precautions of avoiding sin. The freedom allows you to do any type of meritorious action. Within the boundaries of meritorious action, there is a great variety of actions that one can do. Meritorious actions are like sweet, mild and good food which is called Saattvika aahaara. One has the freedom to choose any such good food for good physical and mental health. Hot and spicy dishes are like sins. You must take precautions to avoid all types of hot and spicy dishes in order to maintain good health. There are actually several saints who eat only sweet and mild food in limited quantities. They totally avoid hot and spicy dishes. The majority, like us, chooses to eat some spicy dishes too since God has given us the freedom of choice. Would you not criticize God if He had not given this freedom to us? Further, you may avoid sin and do only meritorious deeds. But if you do the meritorious deeds with the aspiration for heavenly enjoyment, here is a warning for you. It is like eating sweets which causes diabetes. Avoiding sins and doing meritorious deeds must be associated with true devotion to God. The devotion is like preventive medicine. It prevents the disease.

The type of food we consume affects our mind. The qualities inherent in the food we eat produce corresponding qualities in our minds, which force our decision-making. But we must clearly note that it is we who are responsible for these forces acting on our mind arising from the qualities in the foods consumed by us. After all, we use our freedom to choose what we eat. God has given us intelligence and has also described the effects of different types of foods in the scripture such as the last chapter of the Gita. We had the freedom to choose any type of good food. Yet we also chose some food that is not good. Thus, we see that within certain limits, we have full freedom.

We can similarly analyze the association with good and bad people. We have the freedom to associate with bad people just as we can choose bad food. But we can also use our intelligence and follow the divine instructions given by God. With right analysis, we can select the company of good people which is like good food. Among good people, we have full freedom to select any type of good people. In the Kruta Age, souls only had the freedom to choose any type of good company. They had no freedom to choose bad company. Later on, God even granted the freedom to choose bad company. Some souls used that freedom, chose bad company and got spoiled. For that one cannot blame God because He always preaches to us all about good and bad without any partiality.

In the first half of the verse quoted by you, Duryodhana says that he knows what is justice and what is injustice since he has learned it from his preachers. But in spite of it, he is not able to practically follow justice and avoid injustice in pravrutti. This is the state of the soul in the Dvaapara Age, which is the state after getting freedom from God. The preaching of his preachers had removed the Aaavarana, which is theoretical ignorance in his mind. But the practical effect of the ignorance, called Vikshepa was strong in his mind due to the bad company chosen by him. Since he had received correct knowledge from his preachers, he cannot be excused. He had full freedom to choose his company and he had chosen bad company. Their bad influences on his mind caused him to go on the wrong track and commit injustice.

The Cunningness of Duryodhana

In this first half of the verse, it appears as if Duryodhana is being frank in admitting the truth that his bad fate was the result of his own choices. But the second half of the verse reveals the cunning nature of this villain. He says “Tvayaa Hrushikesha! hrudisthitena, Yathaa niyuktomsmi tathaa karomi”. It means that he will act as per the order of God sitting in his heart. But he addressed God as ‘Hrushikesha’ meaning the Lord of the senses of his body (Hrushikaanaam indriyaanaam Eeshah). The Lord of the senses is actually the individual soul. The Veda explains this using an analogy of a chariot. The body is the chariot and the individual soul is its owner. The intelligence is the driver, the senses are the horses and the mind is the reins that control the horses. Souls in the Kruta Age were completely under the control of God. The individual soul which is the owner, the intellect which is the driver, the reins which are the mind, the senses which are the horses, and the chariot which is the body; were all under the full control of God in the Kruta Age. Since God is the controller of the senses of human beings in the Kruta Yuga, it is justified to call Him Hrushikesha, which means the controller of the senses. But after the Kruta Yuga, the situation has changed. In the case of any normal human being, it is the intelligence that controls the whole fate of the soul. God is not responsible for the soul’s fate since He has given the soul the freedom of choice. Right knowledge learned by the person, followed by the right analysis can take the person on the right path to his or her salvation. The clever villain that Duryodhana is, he addresses God as the Lord of his senses so that he can dump the total blame of the injustice and sins done by him on God! The two halves of this verse make a very strong hybrid misinterpretation. This misinterpretation is generally adopted by almost everyone in this Kali Age to justify their sins and put all the blame on God.

Mental forces result from our own choices

The main point is that one should never blame God for giving freedom to souls. In the unfortunate situation of bad forces acting on the mind, one should realize that the bad forces are the results of his or her own choices. The truth here is that God has given full freedom to souls in a limited sense. The person makes his own choices, which have inevitable results that are also known to him. The negative forces in his mind are these inevitable results of his own choices. Knowing that fire burns, he still puts his finger in the fire out of his own choice. Then he blames the fire, God and all the other factors influencing him! When the truth that fire burns is well-known to him and the negative factors influencing him are also the results of his own choices, he has only himself to blame for getting burned! Does any grown-up adult blame his parents for not forcibly preventing him from putting his finger in the fire?

Yoga can turn bad into good

You acquired bad qualities by your own free will. Yet God has preached yoga to you. Yoga is the special talent of using your intelligence (buddhi) to analyze and find out the good sides of sins. This good side of the so-called bad deeds can be adopted. The analysis also helps you identify and avoid the bad sides of so-called meritorious actions. This special talent of analyzing and appropriately choosing deeds is the special talent or yoga preached by God in the Gita (Yogah karmasu kaushalam). The person who attains this talent can use his intelligence to turn the sin into merit. He analyzes the good and bad sides of the so-called bad deed and adopts only its good side. For instance, if you possess the quality of anger, which is generally considered to be bad, you can analyze where the use of anger is good and where it is bad. Anger can be used to condemn injustice and control your children and students from going on the wrong path. This is the good application of a bad quality, which makes it good. Similarly, even if you possess lust, it can be excercised in the case of your lawful spouse to generate issues. Even if you are greedy and selfish, you can use that quality to avoid donating your money to an undeserving receiver. Controlling anger, lust, and greed is mainly stressed in the Gita since these three are the main gates to hell. You need not attempt to remove your bad qualities. They have been acquired over several births and have solidified inside you like a huge hill. It is impossible to eliminate them. All you can do is to divert the bad quality to its good side. It will reduce the pressure that the bad quality puts on your mind since any quality gets exhausted when the corresponding deed is done.

God also warns you to be careful of the attraction for merit. Merit also has a bad side. Donating to a deserving person is a good deed that brings merit. However, donating even to a deserving receiver, with the aspiration for some good fruit is bad. It is the bad side of the merit. If you donate to the good receiver without any aspiration for fruit in return, it will help you maintain the same attitude when you worship God. In the Kruta Age, lust towards one’s lawful spouse to produce children was considered meritorious. But having lust even after producing children was considered sin. So, sages controlled their sexual life after producing children and such a stage in life was called as Vaanaprastha aashrama. In that stage, the husband and wife looked upon each other as brother and sister! Of course, there are small changes in the definition of justice or merit in every age. This is done to accommodate the changes in the overall atmosphere of human society. But these changes are small and an outright sin remains a sin in all ages. In the context of lust, the maximum relaxation that can be given in the Kali Age is that avoiding sex with anyone other than one’s lawful spouse itself is the highest merit! Intense lust for one’s lawful spouse even up to one’s dying day need not be considered as sin!

Being peaceful and silent is said to be a good quality. But keeping silent towards a horrible sin in spite of having the ability to control it is bad. Bhiishma and Drona committed a huge sin by keeping silent while the villainous Kauravas attempted to take off the clothes of Draupadi in the royal court. So, we see that God has revealed this talented path of yoga even for the souls who are trapped under the influence of the bad sides of good qualities! Can any human being having even the slightest trace of humanity still blame God?

Was John the Baptist Fully Reformed and Saved?

Discourse Podcast

 

Questoin-2: You had mentioned in the previous discourse that John the Baptist, was like good fertile soil with good seeds, but he could not hear the preaching of Jesus. You also said that this John had received the rain of God’s grace in his generation and was already saved. That is why he was able to recognize Jesus as a Human Incarnation of God. I am confused whether these statements refer to John the Baptist or John the disciple. If they refer to John the disciple there is no problem. But if they refer to John the Baptist, then there is a contradiction.

Before Jesus arrived, how can it be said that the Baptist had received the grace of God? The grace of God is basically the divine knowledge preached by the Incarnation. But the Baptist never learned divine knowledge from Jesus. Then naturally, it is not possible that the Baptist was saved. If the Baptist was already saved, he must be fully-reformed. If he was fully-reformed, how could there be an un-canceled pending punishment for him? The Baptist was not an Incarnation to bear the suffering of devotees upon himself, like Jesus. This means that his death sentence must have been the punishment for his own sin. It means that he was not fully reformed and saved.

Swami replied: John, the baptizer of Jesus, was another contemporary Human Incarnation. It is like sage Vyaasa, who was another Human Incarnation along with Krishna. The births of all these Human Incarnations were miraculous. Sage Vyaasa was directly born as a grown-up boy as soon as sage Paraashara met with Satyavati, the unmarried mother of Vyaasa. John was born to a very old barren lady and Jesus was born to an unmarried girl. While Krishna was born, Lord Vishnu, the Energetic Incarnation, appeared before His parents. After the birth of both Krishna and Jesus, wicked kings in their respective places and times, killed several children in search of both. Both Krishna and Jesus did several miracles. Both preached wonderful spiritual knowledge in the form of the Gita and the Bible respectively. When John was to be born, a divine angel told His father that God is sending this messenger to preach about the concept of reformation of the soul. Baptism was the external symbol of this reformation. Like sage Vyaasa, John also lived in a remote forest.

John was very bold due to His strong faith in God and so He criticized a king for committing the sin of unlawful sex. John’s idea was that the king should repent and withdraw from the sin. For his bold criticism, He was imprisoned by the king. The king was actually not willing to behead Him since he recognized Him to be a divine messenger. But the king was trapped by negative influences which forced him to commit such a horrible sin of killing a divine preacher. Even in the case of Jesus, the Roman officer, before whom the trial of Jesus was conducted, could not find any fault with Jesus. But he was trapped in the plot of the priests of the temple, and was forced to order the crucifixion. As Jesus suffered the sins of His devotees through the crucifixion, John also suffered the sins of His devotees through His horrible punishment. Every divine messenger is an Incarnation of God. The difference between actual Incarnations like Krishna and Jesus and so on, and divine messengers like Vyaasa, Madhva, John and so on, is very small. In the case of the Incarnation, God actually merges with the soul, whereas in the case of the divine messenger, He remains very closely associated with the soul. Shankara and Jesus declared that they are God. Shankara said “Shivah kevaloham. Jesus said “I am the truth and the light” It was the God who had merged into them who spoke those words through them. The human being components in the Incarnations did not want to speak such words. No devoted soul, be it the soul in an Incarnation or a messenger, aspires for monism with God. God Himself merges with the specific soul and speaks about His identity, suppressing the desire of the devoted soul acting as His medium. Balaraama was an incarnation of Adishesha, who is a very close servant of God. But he is considered as one of the ten Incarnations of God. It is like an honorary degree granted to a person or a conferred IAS officer.

There is not the slightest difference between a messenger of God, a son of God and an Incarnation of God. The three represent the dualism of Madhva, the special monism of Ramanuja and the perfect monism of Shankara respectively. In fact, the Incarnation of God Himself expresses each of these three states based on the extent of ego and jealousy of His disciples. If the disciples have very high ego and jealousy, the Incarnation says that He is only a messenger of God. If the disciples’ ego and jealousy is moderate, He says that He is the son of God. If the ego and jealousy of the disciples is negligibly small, He reveals His oneness with God.

Even the divine messenger saves His disciples by undergoing the punishment for their sins. The Incarnation is a homogeneous mixture of God and soul, like an alloy of gold and copper. The messenger is a copper rod welded with a golden rod. In both cases, if the gold is heated, the copper also becomes hot. In both cases, the human being-component suffers by the will of God. God, who is represented by gold in the analogy, is invisible and in fact, unimaginable. So, the heating of the invisible gold can only be expressed through the heating of the visible copper. In other words, we cannot see the unimaginable God. But upon witnessing the suffering of the the human-component of the Incarnation, we realize the fact that God suffers for the sins of His devotees. Here, it is very important to note that God suffers for the sins of only His real devotees. He does not suffer for the sins of all humanity. Emmanuel is the one who suffers for the sins of only His real devotees.

 
   

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