A young boy Gopal was very eager
to know what his destiny had in store for him.
He would go and visit many
astrologers palmists and yogis of the land. They would all reveal to him a
different destiny; some would draw it as very optimistic and others would paint
it as very bleak.
Finally, the young Gopal decided to put the issue at rest, spend
some money and consult the most famous diviner Astrologer(Jyotish) of the land. He went up
to that astrologer and asked him to look into his destiny and reveal it.
That Astrologer took two pieces of chalk, one black and one white. With each of them he drew a
circle on the floor, he then went into the next room picked up a tortoise and
brought it in his hands and said “Young man it’s time for you to pray. This
tortoise will decide.” I will leave it on the ground, if it walks into the black
circle your destiny is terrible and awful and if it enters the white circle it
is bright and positive.
That boy watched with bated breath as the tortoise was
placed on the floor it slowly stuck its head out and began crawling towards the
two circles then the most dreaded awful thing happened. It turned towards the
black circle and was inching forward towards it by the second.
Gopal. “This cannot be.”
He went and picked up the tortoise. What are you doing
said the diviner?
Gopal boldly placed the tortoise in the white circle. The
diviner said, “how dare you interfere with my predictions”. Gopal said, “What do you
expect me to do, wait and watch while this tortoise destroys my future in front
of my very eyes?”
He then understood that his destiny was in his own hands, like
the tortoise he had lifted.
This question to what extent is our life
decided by destiny, and to what extent is it decided by our Purushartha or
self-effort is a widely debated one. Even in philosophical circles.
They say five things are determined upon birth itself:
Ayu= Our Life
Nidhan=The moment and nature of our death
They say whatever is written in your destiny
will come to pass, there is nothing you can do about it.
However, ask these people
who swear by destiny; sir can you please tell me what is Bhagya or Destiny?
Most will reply, “I don’t
know, it’s something that the astrologer or the numerologist tells us.”
The karmas we did in our past life, are what created our
destiny in this life.
So if we could do karmas out of our free will in our past
life, it means that in this life too we possess the freedom of choice, to act in
accordance with our free will.
There are three kinds of karmas that we need to
The first is Sanchita Karma
It is the stockpile, the accumulated karmas
of our endless past lifetimes.
We are responsible for them and will have to bear
Now every time God sends us down, he takes a portion of those
karmas and gives them to us. This part of your Sanchita you will have to bear in
the coming life. That becomes fixed as our destiny.
But at the same time, at every
moment we have the freedom to do karmas by our free will.
They are called Kriyaman Karma.
karmanam sanchitadinam jivodhinas tathapihi
swatantrataha kriyamaniwai krito bhagwatabida
Prarabdh and Sanchota are fixed. But in doing your Purusharth, you have the freedom.
So what you get in life is a combination
of Purushartha and your destiny.
If the destiny happens to be poor, you don’t
stop there, you put in more effort and transform that poor destiny into a bright
So the message then is at every moment we have the freedom to act. This is
how Lord Krishna closes his teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita.
He tells Arjun
iti te jnanam akhyatam guhyad guhyataram maya
vimrishyaitad asheshena yathechchhasi tatha kuru
Thus, I have explained to you this knowledge that
is more secret than all secrets. Ponder over it deeply and then do as you wish.
Let’s see what he’s trying to say here:
The commentary: This free will to choose
between available alternatives have been given to the soul by God. The freedom of
choice is not infinite.
One cannot decide, “I choose to be the most intelligent
person in the world”.
Our choices are limited by our past and present karmas.
However, we do possess a certain amount of free will. We are not machines in the hands of
Sometimes people question that if God had not given us free will, then we
would not have done any evil but then we would not have done any good either.
The opportunity to do good always comes with the danger of doing evil. More
importantly, God wants us to love him and love is only possible where there is a
choice a machine cannot love because it does not have freedom of choice.
created us with free will and provided us with choices so that we may choose
him and thereby exercise our love for him here.