Bhagavadgita -Radhakrishnan 33

The Bhagavadgita -S. Radhakrishnan

7. The Individual Self

Neither nature nor society can invade our inner being without permission. Even God acts with a peculiar delicacy in regard to human beings. He woos our consent but never compels. Human individuals have distinctive beings of their own which limit God's interference with their development. The world is not fulfilling a prearranged plan in a mechanical way. The aim of creation is the production of selves who freely carry out God's will.

We are asked to control our impulses, shake off our wanderings and confusions, rise above the current of nature and regulate our conduct by reference to buddhi or understanding, as otherwise, we will become the victims of "lust which is the enemy of man on earth.[1]The Gild lays stress on the individual's freedom of choice and the way in which he exercises it. Man's struggles, his sense of frustration and self-accusation are not to be dismissed as errors of the mortal mind or mere phases of a dialectic process.

This would be to deny the moral urgency of life. When Arjuna expresses his sense of awe and dread in the presence of the Eternal, when he asks for forgiveness, he is not acting a part but passing through a crisis.

Nature does not absolutely determine. Karma is a condition, not a destiny. It is only one of the five factors involved in the accomplishment of any act,

  • which are adhisthana or the basis or centre from which we work,
  • kartr or doer,
  • karta or the instrumentation of nature,
  • cestd or effort and
  • daiva or fate.[2]

The last is the power or powers other than human, the cosmic principle which stands behind, modifying the work and disposing of its fruits in the shape of act and its reward.

We must make a distinction between that part which is inevitable in the make-up of nature, where restraint does not avail and the part where it could be controlled and molded to our purpose. There are certain factors in our lives which are determined for us by forces over which we have no control. We do not choose how or when or where or in what condition of life we are born. On the theory of rebirth, even these are chosen by us. It is our past karma that determines our ancestry, heredity and environment. But when we look from the standpoint of this life, we can say that we were not consulted about our nationality, race, parentage or social status. But subject to these limitations, we have freedom of choice.


References and Context

  1. III, 37; VI, 5-6
  2. XVIII, I4.