[Advaita-l] Confusion about free will.

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Thu May 19 04:44:19 EDT 2022

Namaste Visheshji,

On Thu, May 19, 2022 at 1:51 PM Vishesh Bhat via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> What about KAmyakarma, where 'homa' and 'yagna' are carried out to ward off
> poorva papa or dosha, probably based off astrological predictions. Do these
> also work the same way as Bhakti,

Yes, in a similar manner. Each karma results in adRShTha puNya or pApa,
that is held for results in the future.

> although we do appease other Gods here
> such as Indra, Navagrahas and so on.

Ishvara manifests Himself in the form of all Gods for a give-and-take
relation with each individual jIva. The saMskAras of earlier lives makes a
person devoted to a particular deity, ritual, etc.

> What is the meaning behind these acts
> suggested by the Vedas?

Vedas suggest an alaukika remedy for a laukika problem. If one considers
oneself as a particular kind of an individual, then the Vedas guide such a
person to fulfill the wants through kAmyakarma.

> And what of the age of a Jiva in a given life, is
> this based on our previous lives' Karma, or can it be altered through our
> present free will? But some babies die at birth which means this is not

always possible.

Generally, the length of life is determined by prArabdha carved out at
birth. There are many ways to understand how lifespan can change. One is to
see that prArabdha is unfolded every day or moment based on prior karma and
current karma's influence over it. It is also said that the number of
breaths is carved out as a life term in prArabdha. The current karma can
increase the life span by changing the pace of breathing! No one can give
you convincing answers. You have to find a compromise and go beyond these
to those questions which help you cross over saMsAra!!

> Lastly, if the present lives' Karma is governed by our acts of free-will in
> previous lives, then what about the very first life of a Jiva??  As such a
> soul has had no previous lives at all, there can be no Karma accumulated.
> Then there must be absolute free-will. Am I interpreting this rightly?
No, you aren't interpreting this right because there is no first life. The
life is always been there based on karma which was always there because the
cycle is a triad of avidyA-kAma-karma. Since avidyA is always there unless
removed, kAma was always there, leading to karma, thereby avidyA continuing
and kAma increasing and karma increasing. Wash-rinse-repeat. It is like the
seed-tree problem. The solution is given as a cycle of seed and tree.

Bhagavan Krishna says gahanA karmaNo gatiH. karma is extremely difficult to
understand and so we follow what the tradition teaches. The learning
regarding karma or anything worldly should be only sufficient enough to
remove obstacles or questions that block our pursuit of mokSha. Else it
will trap a person into an endless fruitless pursuit that is saMsAra/


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