Aug 21, 2010

To what extent does our prarabdh influence our life?

Question asked by a devotee: There is some confusion and I would be really grateful if you would spare your valuable time to help me with it.  I want to know till what depth or what detail does the influence of our prarabdh extend in our life? We are free to do our karma. And what we get as a result of it....is it our prarabdh? And if it is our prarabdh then is it not pre decided? Then what is our control on what we do?

Answer by Swamiji: The matter of destiny and free will is really very simple. What is destiny? It is not something that comes to us out of the blue. Destiny is determined by the karmas we performed previously by our free will. You may even say that it is another name for our own past karmas. Another name for it is prarabdh, and it is decided at the time of birth, based on the karmas of our endless past lives. However, God has also given us a certain amount of free will that permits us to think and act as we wish. Actions performed by exercise of our free will are called purusharth.

Whatever we get in life is a consequence of both our destiny and the present effort. Consider the analogy of a game of cards. The cards that are dealt to you are unchangeable. This is like the prarabdh, which got decided by our past karmas. But how you play is in your own hands. This is like the purusharth, or actions that you perform by your free will. Good players can win even when bad cards are dealt to them, while bad players lose even when they have been dealt good cards.

Fatalists declare that everything is decided by prarabdh, and we do not possess a free will to do purusharth. However, the fact that prarabdh exists, implies that we have created it by our purusharth. If we did not possess the free will to do purusharth, there would have been no prarabdh either.

Now coming to your dilemma, it is not given to humans to know what exactly our destiny is. If you get good results in your exams, it could be the consequence of purusharth or prarabdh, or both. Astrologers do make attempts to predict prarabdh, but these are highly inaccurate and unreliable. Even if they could tell you your destiny, it would not help you. If an astrologer told you a good destiny, "You are going to pass in the exam," you would reduce your endeavour and become lazy. On the other hand, if the astrologer told you a bad destiny, "You are going to fail in the exam," you would become dejected. So while endeavouring, it best not to bring destiny to mind. Simply put in your best effort.

However, remember that the result of your work is not totally dependent on your efforts. So when the result comes, feel contented by thinking, "It may be because of my destiny or the will of God, etc." In this way, if the result is unfavourable, you will not be disturbed. And if the result is favourable, you will not feel proud. Thus, the sutra for work is: prayatna mein savdhan, phal mein santushtha. "Work very carefully, as if the results depend upon your efforts. Be contented in the fruits, thinking, they could be the result of destiny and other factors."