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Get Above Predestination – Fate – Destiny – Hinduism Teachings

There is another idea deep-rooted in the heart of a section of our people that Vidhata Purusha (the dispenser of fate) determines all about a man’s life beforehand, and writes every detail of the same on the forehead of a baby when it is born. Whatever vicissitudes of fortune, whatever adversity or prosperity the child will pass through in its life, is predestined. Even the strongest efforts on its part cannot avert them. The best plan, therefore, is to reconcile oneself to one’s fate.

These slavish ideas of daiva, predestination, fate and destiny should at once be knocked on the head, and the healthy and vigorous ideas of self-help, self-exertion should be taught and practised. These cramping, weakening and false imaginations have reigned long in our society and sapped its foundation, dragging men down to the level of crawling worms. These notions have got rooted so deep in our hearts that it demands most vigorous efforts to eradicate them. Are not these fancies of helplessness in the hands of adrishta quite contrary to the teachings of the Shruti, which proclaims with a lion’s roar the ideas of fearlessness and faith in the power of soul, urging man to stand on his own legs? The idea of fear and the sacrifice of one’s independence at the altar of one’s diseased imagination destroy manhood and the sense of responsibility, reducing man to a lifeless machine. Is there a dearth of real troubles in this world that imaginary ones are manufactured for our misery by idle brains? It is well known that the lazy defend their sluggishness by trying to throw all blame and responsibility on agencies apart from themselves.

The Yoga Vasishtha denies the existence of a supernatural daiva or adrishta and declares it to be the resultant of past karma. The Gita proclaims with potent voice, ‘Let one uplift oneself by self; let not one drag oneself down: for self alone is the friend of oneself and self alone is the enemy of oneself. Self is the friend of oneself for one who has conquered oneself by self, but the unconquered self is inimical like a foe.’ (6.5-6)

What a man has done he can undo. It does not behove one to despair or give up hope of success after a little effort. The remedy must be proportionate to the disease. The accumulated impressions of the actions of hundreds of incarnations cannot be undone in a short time. A screw has been driven into a wall by fifty turns; it requires the same number of turns in the opposite direction before it can be taken out. There is infinite power within man — the Self is the store-house of unending strength — before which the strongest habit, the hardest circumstances and the most insurmountable difficulties are bound to give way. It is a blasphemy to deny the power of the soul. By indomitable will, unflinching zeal, dogged pertinacity and tremendous exertions man can conquer everything.

Mark the difference: a Japanese mother teaches her baby absolute fearlessness and independence, while an Indian mother always frightens her child with ‘there is a bugaboo standing in the corner.’ The result is manifest. Education, an assiduous culture of the sense of responsibility, faith in Soul-power, the spread of the life-giving teachings of the Upanishads and the doctrine of abhih (fearlessness) are the real panacea for our social and moral evils. Whatever is weakening should be mercilessly cut away from the body social, and what is strong and invigorating should be taken irrespective of the quarter it comes from.

Source - 'Destiny and Self-exertion' by Swami Prakashananda in October 1904 version of Prabuddha Bharata.