God’s Justice, Free Will and Choice

Is God unjust?

Question: How can a just God create some souls eternally free, whereas others eternally damned (eternally, backward in time, since everyone agrees that all souls can be saved ultimately). How about reformulating this to “How can a just God approve of souls of unequal status?” I can personally live with that, but  most people who come in contact with Krishna Consciousness need some kind of reasonable answers to such questions.

 Answer: When did He approve of?  Has God approved that they will remain in their conditioned state forever? Does He not make an effort to educate them and get them out of their unequal status?

This question arises because we want to fit God into our logical thinking instead of understanding Him as He is. We think that God must conform to my logic, otherwise He is not God.

My counter question will be: How can a just God approve of souls of unequal status – say gopis of various types, sakhas, servants, and shanta bhaktas in the spiritual abode? They are not all equal. How can a just God approve of the unequal status of different forms of Bhagavan, like Balarama, Kurma and Vamana etc?


 Free Will and Choice in Bhakti

Question: Free will, as totally free, is a ridiculous idea. I also think total determinism is a ridiculous idea. What I have been considering is this: It would seem irrational if God’s or devotee’s mercy would fall on just about any soul, regardless the background or disposition. What is your thought on this?

Answer: Mercy is totally independent, yadrcchyaya. It is not irrational but trans-rational. Why should God conform to my rationality?

Question: As far as I have seen, and as far as I know, Indian thought is usually represented with a deterministic/fatalistic tilt. My question is whether this picture is justified. The Bhakti movement would seem to go against the strong form of fatalism, that birth determines one’s destiny.

Answer: Indian thought is not deterministic, although it may appear so or even some may present it that way out of ignorance. It is discussed very clearly by different scholars. One of the main arguments they give is that if it were deterministic then all the injunctions of sastra would become futile. But Indian thought takes past karma into account. That is what makes it appears deterministic.


Bhagavan’s Intrinsic Qualities

Question: I noticed that in Bhagavat Sandarbha, Jiva Gosvami often emphasizes the topic of Bhagavan’s qualities as being intrinsic to His nature. There are at least 3 to 4 anucchedas dedicated to this topic. May I ask you to explain why Sri Jiva puts so much attention to this issue?

Answer: This is to refute the Advaitavadis (Mayavadis), followers of Sankaracarya, who think that Bhagavan does not have intrinsic qualities but acquired them by the influence of maya. This view was very prominent at Jiva Gosvami’s time. Therefore, he wants to uproot this misconception because this is a blockage in execution of pure devotion. Jiva Gosvami is making his base for Bhakti Sandarbha.

3 thoughts on “God’s Justice, Free Will and Choice”

  1. Pranam:

    Wrt second question, should not the term yadrcchaya be applied with certain conditions than keeping yadrcchaya as totally random and extremely open?

    Infact , http://vedabase.net/sb/11/20/11/ says a person fixed in duty , by chance, obtains bhakti. Hence not all get bhakti by some random means – in that sense GOD does not play dice. Of those who are fixed in duty, some by chance, get bhakti.
    Similarly mere steadfastness in duty does not guarantee bhakti.

    Also when one has taken bhakti , it implies one has completed all duties.

    Hence steadfastness in karma either in this life or previous life makes one eligible for mercy. This does not guarantee one mercy.

    Hence looking at these statements there must be “Then and therefore” rule before the start of inquiry into bhakti. In tradition/olden days learning of vedas by higher varnas is common . In those days there was no western education. Hence a student by default studies the whole veda and gets to know all the fruits spoken in the veda by mere knowledge of sanskrit. However he is not sure which fruit is best. He has only obtained some information based on the language and has not yet undergone veda vichara or detailed study.In order to strengthen and clarify his understanding , he inquires about brahman, if he chooses to know more about it.

    This is the commentary to Brahma sutra 1.1.1 from paramatma sandarbha “yatas tatra atha-shabda Anantarye, ataH-shabdo vR^ittasya hetu-bhAve vartate, tasmAd atha iti svAdhyAya-kramataH prAk-prApta-karma-kANDe pUrva-mImAMsayA samyak-karma-j~nAnAd anantaram ity arthaH | ata iti tat-kramataH samanantaraM prApta-brahma-kANDe tUttara-mImAMsayA nirNeya-samyag-arthe.adhIta-carAd yat-ki~ncid-anusaMhitArthAt kutashcid vAkyAd dhetor ity arthaH ” where pre-requisite for brahma jijnasa is mentioned. We must note that it would have been the same teacher who taught the student vedas, vyakarama , karma kanda etc and now would teach brahma kanda or bhakti based on the qualification of the disciple – here is the place where yadrccaya plays a role.

    In this sense, we see that “Then” is explained as “after performing all duties in karma kanda” and “therefore” is explained as “after knowing the temporary nature of svarga and after getting exposed to information about permanent happiness while studying vedas(upanishads).”

    Also wrt concept of mercy, Govinda bhasya says “iha sad-AcAra-nirato jitendriyo hariM dhyAyaMs tam anubhavatIti krameNa sAdhanAny abhihitAni | tathA ca para-vAkyaikArthyAt pUrvatra bhakti-hetukam eva varaNam avasIyate ” – Mercy to those who have/are sad Achara , jitendriyas etc. If we do not accept this , it would lead to fault of paritiality etc.


  2. In this regard you recently gave the example of rain, which is like God’s grace. In order to receive it, there has to be a proper receptacle. An upside-down pot does not collect any water, and to turn it around takes some endeavor, which has to be made in order to receive the rain / grace.

    I am a little confused here, because in this example, grace is avaible to everyone equally, but there are also statements in sastra like that to King Mucukunda (“When the time has come for someone to leave the material world, he meets a devotee”), which imply very specific and individual grace. Is there a distinction between general and specific grace?

    1. Babaji’s Reply:
      My simple reply is that: It needs grace to understand grace.
      This is the shortest answer I can give on grace by grace.
      The problem is same which I have spoken of repeatedly. We are trying to find/give rational explanations to a trans-rational phenomenon. We absolutely have no faith in the Vedanta Sutra Tarka-apratisthanat (1.2.11). But that does not change the truth.
      Babaji’s Reply: Although our attempt to explain logically may be a good one, it will never be perfect, and completely satisfactory. I can find flaws in all such explanations, even if given by me. In Hindi we have nice saying – a dog trying to scratch its own tail. The gog goes in rounds and rounds without success. He never gives it up because the tail looks so much within the reach.

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