Arjuna

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Arjuna’s Choice Essay, Research Paper Does Arjuna Have A Free Choice?” Arjuna is one of the two main characters in the classic Hindu religious text, the Bhagavadgita, (or just Gita). The text takes the form of a dialogue between Arjuna, a warrior prince and Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu who is an aspect of the Supreme Being or God. Throughout it, Krishna tries to persuade Arjuna into fighting a battle against his cousins, who overthrew the rightful rulers. Arjuna does not know whether to fight or not, as he sees a duty-duty conflict between honouring his family, and obeying his social role as a warrior. However, when reading the Gita it becomes unclear as to whether Arjuna DOES actually have a choice when it comes to fighting or not. If all our actions are caused,

then how can Arjuna have any free will? If God knows the future, and if God is omniscient, then how can Arjuna have any choice as whether to fight? If this is true then why does Krishna have to bother trying to persuade Arjuna at all? This would imply that he DOES have some free will. However the text, along with some other Hindu texts provides us with some answers to this. If we follow this system of belief, then I believe that Arjuna has no free will as regards his physical actions, but as to HOW he does something, his motivation behind his actions, he has a choice; and this is what Krishna is trying to influence. The Gita appears to be advocating the theory of free will that is now called determinism. Determinism is the theory that all events are caused, and therefore all

future events are fixed. There is no free will, and therefore no choice. The Gita seems to put forward at least 5 different arguments for this case. Firstly there is the natural causal determinism as implied by the Hindu belief in the three gunas. The three gunas are goodness or thought (sattva), action (rajas) and inertia or darkness (tamas). These are the three constituents of all things in the world, they are nature, and they determine everybody s attributes. So it seems that our characters are already decided, and it says about this in the Gita, Everyone is made to act helplessly by the impulses born of nature i. The gunas would have made Arjuna into the warrior (ksatriya) caste, and therefore he can do nothing but fight, because you cannot change your caste. Another natural

cause of determinism is that according to the Gita (18.13), there are five factors that are present in every action. The factors are the material basis; the doer; the instruments of the action; effort or motion; and daivam or fate. The important member of this list is fate, the fact that all actions are predestined anyway. This however is not conclusive evidence as fate is only ONE of five factors. Sharma puts it that fate is acting in a given environment and free will is represented by the doer and efforts ii. This may be why Krishna has to try and persuade Arjuna, even though it is fated, effort on the part of Arjuna is missing and so the action cannot take place. But an action cannot take place unless it is fated, and surely Arjuna s effort is an action and so surely is fated

as to whether he acts or not. This argument is not clear. The other evidence stems from the role and powers of God in the Bhagavadgita. One is divine foreknowledge, since Krishna knows that Arjuna will fight, it must be true, and there is no changing it. God cannot be wrong! The second is divine decree. If God has told you to do something, then you cannot disobey. The third is the fact that time is said to be created by God (11.32) and so the past, present AND the future are all his to control and create at his will. All of these aspects of divine determinism are brought about by the powers that are attributed to the Supreme Being in the Gita. These powers were first described in the Gita, before God did not govern the whole of cosmic action iii. According to the Gita, The Lord