Spiritual Questions and Answers with Radhanath Swami

If we are governed by Laws of Karma, do we really have a choice in life? Radhanath Swami Answers…

By on February 22, 2011 in Insights with 57 Comments

KarmaQuestion to Radhanath Swami: If everything is fixed by our previous karma, i.e. ‘whatever is destined to happen will happen,’ why should we bother about doing the right things in life?

Radhanath Swami: Not everything is ‘fixed.’ What we have done in the past has fixed our present destiny. But now, how we react to that destiny will create our future destiny. For example, one may get one million dollars due to his past pious work.But what he does with that money decides his future destiny. If he invests that money in heroine or cocaine and makes ten million dollars, his future destiny might be that he gets smashed in a car accident, or gets robbed of everything. Conversely, if he uses it to feed the poor or to hospitalize the sick he gets pious results, and if he uses that one million for illuminating people’s hearts in service to God he gets tremendous spiritual benefit. One should never mistakenly think that what one does with that money is also fixed by one’s past karma. This is a very serious and dangerous misconception. We always have free will and it will never be taken away from us, though we may use it for a wrong purpose impelled by strong inclinations which we have developed because of our previous activities.

It is very important to associate with people who have pure aspirations. Because in their association it is easier to overcome our previous conditionings and use our free will in a beneficial way than in a harmful way. There may be a drug addict and due to his/her previous conditionings the natural state of his/her mind is to be on drugs 7 days a week. And if he/she lives with other drug addicts, that association will only perpetuate that consciousness. But that person always has a free will to give up the addiction and if that person has some sincerity, the first thing he/she will do is to associate with people who are not taking drugs. That will give him/her the strength to give up those strong tendencies.

Similarly, if with our free will we choose to associate with people who have pure and spiritual aspirations, we get the strength to use our higher self to conquer lower propensities. If we nourish our lower propensities, the divine virtues become weak and helpless. Then it is very difficult to make the right choice.

Finally, if we had no free will and whatever was going to happen would happen, why did Lord Krishna speak Bhagavad Gita? Why did Prophet Mohammed give the holy Koran? Why did Jesus Christ give the New Testament? Why there are so many incarnations, prophets and yogis that descend in the world to teach us how to live, how to make the right choice—if we have no choice at all?


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  • Vinay Malani

    brilliant commentary by Radhanath Swami on the ‘Laws of Karma’. I liked the cartoon as well – depicts in a humorous way the saying ‘What goes around comes around’ 🙂

  • Vinay Rachh

    Perfect answer

  • Madana Kishore Das

    Brilliant article!!

  • Radhanath Swami Maharaj shows us how our free will can be used favourably…

  • “if with our free will we choose to associate with people who have pure and spiritual aspirations, we get the strength to use our higher self to conquer lower propensities. If we nourish our lower propensities, the divine virtues become weak and helpless. Then it is very difficult to make the right choice”.
    I would like to follow the former point, latter point is practically observed in the lives of general populace.
    Thank you Maharaj for Enlivening us with proper wisdom.

  • Vishvesh

    very nice. Thank you maharaj for the perfect answer

  • Arjun K Ramachandra

    That is simply brilliant! Radhanath Swami is expert at the art of answering such difficult questions in such a simple lucid manner that anyone and everyone can understand without diffiuclty.

  • Milind M Churi

    What a fantastic and convincing answer by Radhanath Swamiji.Thank you very much.Yes free will given by God is to decide our future course of action and choice entirely remains with us that what to choose,evil or good.

  • Servant

    A wonderful answer which is very satisfying and pleasing by His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj.

  • deepak

    Radhanath Swami can answer any question so convincingly!!!

  • Sumit

    Very true. Our activities are not destined, only the conditions/propensities are, and which are decided based upon our previous activities. Thank you very much Radhanath Swami for this clarity.

  • Kuldeep Soni

    Thanks you much Maharaj.

  • Siddeshwar Bhat

    A complete answer….

  • Meera Sharma

    Thank you Maharajah for your unparalleled guidance.
    If we sincerely follow this instruction, we would not lament or bewilder when difficult situation comes and take responsibility in all the situations.

  • Aishwarya

    Enlightening answer clearing the misconceptions about free will and karma.

  • Kuldeep Soni

    Very clearly explain by radhanath Swami.

  • Vidya Patham

    A thoroughly brilliant and clear discourse on free will and karma. Thank you Radhanath Swami.

  • Ravi Garg

    Really, as described by Swamiji, association is very important in one’s life…….it mou;ds ones character & life…..

  • Meera Sharma

    Thank you Maharajah for reminding us that we do have
    free will in all situations, and accrding to the use or misse of that free will we are punished or rewarded.

  • Vinay Rachh

    Thank You Radhanath Swami for clearing this doubt and misconception regarding Karma.

  • Meera Sharma

    ThNK YU Mahrajah for reminding us that we always have free will and it will never taken away from us.

  • Meera Sharma

    we should not lament or hanker because we always have free will and it will never taken away from us.

  • Krishna Burli

    “Datta swatantra” & the way you want to look at life are the perceptions that lead to transformation in OURSELVES. It is like upgrading your capacity of HUMAN COMPUTER.

    If you are 486 & want to remain in that configuration for ever thinking or BELIEVING that you have been given this life with that capacity ONLY & KARMA will take you whether you act or not OR KARMA ALONE WILL INDUCE DOING THE NEXT KARMA IN THIS LIFE..etc..etc…, you WIIL BE THAT ONLY, because you act with your belief & thoughts every moment of your life & where you will be “Next moment” depends on what you talk to yourself this moment.
    Rational Self talk can take you where you want & transform you & your way of thinking.

    LET GOD/NATURE/HUMAN INTELLIGENCE give all of us power to think & talk to ourselves RATIONALLY, which alone can accept things as they are & tranform us to better our lives.

  • Vinay Rachh

    Very nice answer

  • vaishali kamat

    One’s freewill plays such an important role in one’s life that it is better we pray to the Lord that we should be able to use our freewill as per His will.

  • Y.Raja Shekar

    HH Radhanath Swami very nicely exposes and beautifully explains about the misconception of everything is due to previous karma.

  • Sunny

    Free will and Karma seems like contradictory topics. Radhanath Swami clarifies very beautifully….

  • Vinay Rachh

    Practical answer.

  • Oksana S.

    wonderful explanation and easy to understand. Thank you very much Maharaj!!

  • Y.Raja Shekar

    The element of free will is nicely explained by HH Radhanath Swami. Out of five elements explained in Bhagavad gita, i.e. God,living entity, Material nature, Time and Karma, only karma can be changed through the guidance of great saints like HH Radhanath Swami.

  • Nicely explained – how destiny and free will simultaneously exist.

  • madhura

    Thank you Maharaj for enlightening us.

  • Jagdish Majethiya

    Absolutely amazing answer – All glories to HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj

  • Ravi

    Very nice enlightening reply by Swamiji

  • Gurrappanaidu

    Very nice explanation.

    Thank you so much Maharaj for being enlighten us.

  • N.Swaminathan

    Simply amazing reply. If what we did in our past determines what happens now then it is obvious that we must carefully choose our response and actions now. Radhanath Swami describes how every action creates tendencies to repeat. And he has given a wonderful way to come of this impasse – associate with devotees till it becomes a self-perpetuating habit.


    dealing with karma by using our free will in a positive way.thanks radhanath swami for your explanation.

  • prakash .s.chhabria

    thank you radhanath swami for explaining the concept of free will.

  • Pratik Desai

    HH Radhanath Swami’s explanations are so simple & yet so soothing hidden with realizations.

  • Chandrika

    Thank you for this post.

  • Thank you radhanath maharaj ,for such wonderful examples and clearing douts of confusion…..regarding determinism and free will

  • Sanath

    Many people have dangerous misconceptions about free will & karma. Thanks to Radhanath Swami for so clearly explaining this…

  • Deepak

    Very interesting question followed by wonderful answer

  • Pooja, singapore

    Hari Bol. Thank u so much Maharaj for clarifying my doubts and present actions and past karma. Hare Krishna. Hari bol.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    Wonderful and amazing answer!

  • pranjal dixit

    Very very clearly explained. Thank u Maharaj.

  • Sunny Hinduja

    Nice answer!!

  • govind

    thank you veru much for wonderful explanation.

  • surekha

    Thank you Radhanath swami for this wonderful answer.

  • Smriti gupta

    Wonderful explanation.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    Thank for the brilliant answer

  • Sandip Bankar

    Such a wonderful answer. I was searching for this answer from lang back, and finally got a perfect answer. Very nice website.

  • Gokul Sundari Devi Dasi

    Great & v instructive answer. jai Gurudev!!

  • Satish Rane

    a lot of to be learn from this article. Thank you.

  • Ganesh lagad

    Our past karma decides our present situation and our free will which again going to give us future plan so having association of spiritual devotees is very important.it is very nicely explained by maharaj.

  • kams korner

    Eye opening…..

  • kamal

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji i just want to know what is the relation between free will and intelligence and is intelligence less or more is provided by the Lord?