Fate and Destiny vs. Free Will

Chapter II, Verses 26 and 27

 

Sri Nerode’s Translation:

26

Even if thou considereth that the soul is constantly coming to life and disappearing into death, even at that thou must not grieve.

27

Birth ends in death and death ends in birth when such is the inevitable (law) why must thou weep?

Helpful Translation:

26

Even if you believe that the soul is subject to death and rebirth through the law of reincarnation, don’t be attached to that process.

27

In the creation of duality, birth and death, beginning and end, these are inevitable and cannot be changed. It’s a waste of effort to be attached to anything contrary to an immutable law.

 

Commentary:

No matter how ignorant Arjuna the student might be, by now he clearly knows that Krishna abhors mourning. On the surface, Krishna offers several arguments against attachment to physical death, especially to death in battle of self-improvement. The individual consciousness, the soul, never dies, so don’t mourn that which is not lost.

There are other themes at work in these verses. One of the greatest sub-themes of this section of the Bhagavad Gita is the concept of “destiny versus free will”. Western society is consumed with the idea of liberty. Most egotists believe that the ability to make any choice in the moment is “freedom”. The egotist typically believes that the concepts of fate and free will are at odds with each other. Attached to his own mistakes, the ego-enslaved human denies the negative outcomes made apparent by harmful choices.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that his destiny is to fulfill his unique role in the world. Arjuna is symbolic for the human who seeks wisdom and enlightenment. Fulfilling one’s role is the way to unending bliss and unlimited wisdom. Arjuna has free choice. He can choose to expand his understanding and joy by making the choices that fulfill his destiny, or he can avoid his destiny with wrong choices and reap the pain and ignorance that will follow.

In the commentary of verses 24 and 25, a quick phrase was given for each verse from 11 through 30 regarding each verse’s relationship to mourning physical death. Mourning symbolizes attachment to ignorance. Attachment to ignorance leads to wrong choices. In the context of making the best choices to become joyous and wise, reconsider verses 11 through 30. In each of these verses, Krishna is making the argument for choices that fulfill Arjuna’s joyful destiny. In simplified phrasing each verse states:

Verse 11: Attachment to physical things and intellectual ideas prevents wisdom.

Verse 12: Everyone has a unique role. The role of each soul always was and always will be the same.

Verse 13: Attachment to change – change by definition is ephemeral – creates ignorance.

Verse 14: The senses report past changes. Do not react to these reports from the past.

Verse 15: The experience of one’s destiny is above the average joys and sorrows of an ignorant human.

Verse 16: One’s destiny never changes.

Verse 17: The human manifestation of the soul cannot destroy truth, it only creates change in the illusion of life.

Verse 18: Be attuned with the Intuition and Wisdom of consciousness versus the rationalizations of the blind mind and limited intellect, and choose wisely.

Verse 19: While deceived by the show of change in the ephemeral universe, it’s impossible to arrive at the best choice by reason.

Verse 20: The role of the individual soul never changes.

Verse 21: One who embraces his role understands the truth.

Verse 22: No amount of unhappy choices can change one’s destiny.

Verse 23: The elements of material creation cannot stop one from fulfilling his destiny.

Verse 24: Destiny supersedes experiences.

Verse 25: Understanding which choices bring joy and wisdom, it becomes pointless to remain attached to those choices that bring sorrow and ignorance.

Verse 26: If one chooses sorrow and ignorance, that individual will face the same choice again.

Verse 27: The individual consciousness is unique, so anything that is not aligned with a soul’s exclusive role will pass.

Verse 28: The ability to observe change offers proof that individual consciousness is present.

Verse 29: The ignorant deny the concept of fate and declare life is transient.

Verse 30: The wise know that each individual destiny is part of the whole and that at the end of the grand illusion, each will be fulfilled.

Krishna might sum this up by saying “Humans have free will to choose limited experiences, but it is their destiny to become blissful and wise.”

 

Easter Eggs:

Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:

Mahabaho – Arjuna as the “mighty-armed”. A general epithet of warriors that is applied to both Krishna and Arjuna at various points in the Bhagavad Gita. One with omnipotent arm strength.

The deeper meaning relates to the anatomy and physiology of the nerve/nadi/chakra systems of energy and consciousness and must be examined by specific usage. In these verses, the mighty armed one begins at the spiritual moment of physical birth. A person is “born” when the spermatozoa unites with the ovum creating the first cell of medulla oblongata. From that point forward, cell replication creates the warrior armed with the tools required to fulfill a personal destiny.

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Ancient History

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