But when you come to Sattwa, there is a farther alternative, another kind of alternative; the very quality of alternative differs. And then, this idea whether there was an apparent freedom, or real freedom becomes much more serious; because here, in Sattwa there is another element, which says: you ought to do this, you ought not to do it. A new element in Sattwic consciousness comes about. In the Rajas it is still only a “desire”, no “ought”, only “desire”, so, “I want to do it, I have to do it”, and all that, but when you come to Sattwa, the ethical element, the spiritual element begins to manifest more, when you say, “I ought to do it”. Now, if you analyse “ought”, you will find that in the very working of things, there is something else than Prakriti: Prakriti is not all. Even beyond Sattwa, there is something, which brings in a new element, and introduces in Sattwa also and even in the Sattwic personality you are obliged to do this or that or that, there is a perception, which goes beyond the possibilities of Prakriti.
That is why Sri Krishna’s teaching is not merely of Prakriti; at the same time there is a great perception of the working of Prakriti; it is a very complex study; it is neither this nor that; it is not saying that everybody is free in every way; or everybody is bound absolutely in a complete way. This kind of an answer is not in the Bhagavad Gita.
There is later on a statement where Sri Krishna will say that for any action, you require the following elements: pratiṣṭhāna, there must be a basis; there must be kartā, the doer; there must be karaṇa, there must be the instrument; there must be ceṣṭāḥ, the effort, and there must be daivam, there must be some kind of an unseen power, either constituted by past action or destiny or whatever you may call, but daivam. You put all this together and only you can really decide what action basically is.
Action is not only daivam, this is the idea of determinism: daivam means that there is only destiny, and according to destiny you work, and Sri Krishna says that is not true: daivam is only one of the factors. What you have done in the past certainly determines; it is not as if you are free to do whatever you like; but it is only as one element. Apart from the element of daivam there is also ceṣṭā, there is also the element of effort; there is also kartā, there is also the self, who does the action; there is also the instrument, the capacity of the instrument; there is also pratiṣṭhāna, there is the very basis of action. What about all these elements? So, if you take the total situation into account, then past is only one of the factors. Even the destiny, which is not only a past, but a planning of the future, is also only one factor.
Man is greater than destiny; man is the maker of destiny. Now, this is a statement, which can be so misunderstood as to say that man is completely free and he can do whatever he likes even that is not true. You can say an individual has to be judged at where he is now. If he is only Tamasic, you cannot say man is a maker of his destiny; if man is Tamasic he will be only doing…there is hardly any possibilities at all! But you can tell him that little by little you grow into the higher stage, just a little, which will be very difficult for a Tamasic man. Even we who are quite developed if you are told that you do a heavy exercise every day…Tamas is so great in us that to do exercise is difficult; so, we are told little by little you do, don’t immediately jump into a restless exercise program, you go little by little. So, Tamas has to be broken but very little; then afterwards when you rise into higher levels, then this capacity increases. In other words what you call freedom is a progressive element. When you say, “man is a maker of his destiny”, you should not make it into such a bold way that it would be not applicable really because man is not entirely the maker of his destiny until a certain stage is reached. But essentially, ultimately, he is.
And the whole proposition stands on this ground that Prakriti is not all. If Prakriti is all, then the whole Yoga can be forgotten because every body will say that at the time of Prakriti as it develops, it will go on developing, and we have hardly any role to play. Whatever is happening is happening because of Prakriti whatever is now done, what can I do, everybody can say I am helpless: prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni you can claim, and therefore I am not to be blamed at all, only Prakriti is like this, what can I do? And the whole idea of ethics, whole idea of spirituality is smashed.