Thought for the Day


Fate & Free Will*


Often, we blame fate for our failures. Are our lives governed by fate? Can free will shape our lives? Which is stronger, fate or free will? Both are karma or action – fate is the result of past karma, and present karma is free will. So, the two are one. Fate is hidden. So it is called adrishta or unseen; its intensity is unknown.

Just as we created our own fate by exercising our free will in the past, it is within our power to overcome it by exercising our free will in the present. The attainability or otherwise of a particular thing is not an absolute characteristic of the thing itself but is relative and proportionate to our qualification, capability and capacity to attain it at that time. By increasing the intensity of our present karma we can override the intensity of our past karma.

This is illustrated with the following analogy: Just as we do not know the length of a nail that lies inside a piece of wood that we had earlier driven into the wood, we do not know the extent of our fate created by our earlier karma. But with sufficient effort we can take the nail out of the wood. The intensity and number of attempts to pull it out must be greater than that of the strokes that drove the nail into the wood. Because we cannot see the length of the nail inside the wood, we do not know how much effort will be required to pull it out. Since fate is adrishta, before a venture, we will not know the quantum of effort required to succeed. So we must ignore fate and continue to exercise our free will till our objective is reached.

One is born with the vasanas accumulated from past lives. Retribution for a past act is unavoidable, but vasanas can be managed by exercising our free will correctly.

Scriptures and teachings of sages tell us which vasanas are bad and which vasanas are good. But with determination it is possible to overpower all vasanas and, in time, we will cease to be swayed by bad as well as good vasanas. At that point, when both fate and vasanas disappear, we become free, free from the results of our actions. This freedom is moksha or liberation.


- Sri Chandra  Shekhara

Bharati Mahaswami

* Always I used  to wonder that if the fate is already determined based on the past karma then where is the scope for initiative to do better in this birth. The above message deals with relationship between Fate & Freewill or initiative.

- Ed.