Do Devas have free will? If Devas have free will, can they earn punya and papa? We humans have free will and by using free will, we are earning punya and papa. Devas are doing good or bad things, as per the request of devotees. So I need clarity regarding this.

  • what is free will?
    – YDS
    Jan 9 '19 at 9:05
  • @ChinmaySarupria you mean devas dont have free will please explain with logical examples. Jan 9 '19 at 10:42
  • @harishandroid, even infants and toddlers have free will, but that doesn't mean they gain papa-punya. everything (good or bad) done until age 12 (or 14) accrues to the parents. similarly, animals also have free will and very limited brains, but they don't accrue any papa-punya either. If devas continuously do bad things, rishis will curse them, and god may remove them from their post and replace them with another high-punya atma.
    – mar
    Jan 9 '19 at 13:12

Devas have free will because they are Jivas, and Jivas have free will according to the Brahma Sutras.

Brahma Sutras 2.3.33 to 2.3.39 state that the Jivatma, or soul, has free will.

  1. (The soul is) an agent, on account of Scripture (thus) having a purport.
  2. On account of taking and the declaration as to its moving about.
  3. And on account of the designation (of the Self as the agent) in actions. If not so, there would be change of grammatical expression.
  4. (There would be) absence of definite rule, as in the case of consciousness.
  5. On account of the inversion of power.
  6. And on account of the absence of samâdhi.
  7. And as the carpenter, in both ways.

And Ramanujacharya's commentary for Sutra 2.3.39:

The Self, although always provided with the instruments of action, such as the organ of speech, and so on, acts when it wishes to do so, and does not act when it does not wish to do so. Just as a carpenter, although having his axe and other implements ready at hand, works or does not work just as he pleases. If the internal organ, on the contrary, were essentially active, it would constantly be acting, since as a non-intelligent being it could not be influenced by particular reasons for action, such as the desire for enjoyment.

Here terminates the adhikarana of 'the agent.'


Devas do not have free will, just like humans, they also have to face destiny.

A disciple's conversation with Sri Ramana Maharshi:

Disciple: Are only the important events in a man’s life, such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined, or are trifling acts in his life, such as taking a cup of water or moving from one place in the room to another, also predetermined?

Ramana Maharshi: Yes, everything is predetermined.

Discple: Then what responsibility, what free will has man?

Ramana Maharshi: What for then does the body come into existence? It is designed for doing the various things marked out for execution in this life. The whole programme is chalked out. ‘Not an atom moves except by His Will’ expresses the same truth, whether you say ‘Does not move except by His Will’, or ‘Does not move except by karma’. As for freedom for man, he is always free not to identify himself with the body and not to be affected by the pleasures and pains consequent on the body’s activities.

One who does Good Karma here on earth gets rewarded in heaven.

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda / Volume 3 / Lectures from Colombo to Almora / Vedantism:

Persons who do good works here with the thought of reward, when they die, are born again as gods in one of these heavens, as Indra and others. These gods are the names of certain states. They also had been men, and by good work they have become gods; and those different names that you read of, such as Indra and so on, are not the names of the same person. There will be thousands of Indras. Nahusha was a great king, and when he died, he became Indra. It is a position; one soul becomes high and takes the Indra position and remains in it only a certain time; he then dies and is born again as man. But the human body is the highest of all. Some of the gods may try to go higher and give up all ideas of enjoyment in heavens; but, as in this world, wealth and position and enjoyment delude the vast majority, so do most of the gods become deluded also, and after working out their good Karma, they fall down and become human beings again. This earth, therefore, is the Karma Bhumi; it is this earth from which we attain to liberation. So even these heavens are not worth attaining to.

You see there are a lot of similarities between humans and devas. Both have their world, wealth, desires and after performing predetermined activities, they come back on earth and keep on doing predetermined work.

God knows everything, i.e every single action which will be performed in future, if he didn't, he wouldn't be God.

Ramana Maharshi - If anything exists already in the Divine foreknowledge of an Omniscient God, then it cannot be changed by man’s free will; if not then God does not know what is going to happen and is not Omniscient. If it is a cinema the whole story is already on the film, what has not yet been shown on the screen as well as what has been, even though the audience does not know what is coming; if it is an impromptu television show the operator also does not know what will come next.

The only way out is to not attach with the work being done, body is born to do some work which will be done in any case. But one has the free will not to attach with the activity. This is the free will everyone has. And this is what Sri Krishna preached in Gita - work but do not attach yourself with it.

Ramana Maharshi - The Gita starts saying that you are not the body, that you are not therefore the karta. One should act without thinking that oneself is the actor. The actions go on despite his egolessness. The person has come into manifestation for a certain purpose. That purpose will be accomplished whether he considers himself the actor or not.

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    Jan 11 '19 at 16:26

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