[Advaita-l] Karma, Prarabdha and Destiny

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Apr 2 04:21:03 CDT 2010

Parables of Acharyal

The fields of two farmers were identical in size and had
similar kinds of soil. They worked equally hard, tilled their lands
well and sowed seeds of uniform quality. The rainfall over the
fields was neither excessive nor scanty and so the crops grew
well. At the appropriate time, they commenced their harvesting.

Before they left for their homes on an evening, they were able
to behold with joy large heaps of grains, the result of their
efforts. There was hardly any difference in the yields obtained
by them.
That night, while they slept, there was a very heavy
downpour on one land and only a light drizzle on the other. The
next morning, when they went to their lands, one was dismayed
to find that the rain had ruined his grains while the other felt
relieved that his heaps of grain were intact.

Thus, notwithstanding the similarity in their efforts, the
results they obtained were markedly dissimilar. It was the
unfavourable destiny of one farmer and the favourable fate of
the other that led to the loss of the former and the gain of the
latter. Those who have faith in the Veda-s and saastra-s and are
logical do not regard the experiences of humans as just fortuitous.

Two students wrote an examination. The boy who had
studied better answered all except two questions well. The
other managed to answer just two questions correctly. The
examiner was an impartial but lazy man. He scrutinised two of
the first boy’s answers. They happened to be the incorrect
ones. Assuming the other answers too to be incorrect, he
awarded the boy low marks.
Then, he took up the second boy’s answer book. The
answers he selected for checking happened to be the correct
ones. Taking it for granted that the remaining answers were
also correct, he awarded the boy concerned high marks. On
seeing the results, the boy who had studied better grieved, while
the other rejoiced. Thus, hard work fetched a poor result and
poor preparation yielded good marks. Here too the hand
of destiny is seen.

Dyumatsena was destined to be blind and live in a forest.
By SAvitri’s efforts, he regained his sight and his kingdom.
Ashvapati was not destined to have sons, but obtained them.
SatyavAn was to die young, but he lived long, he sired sons and
ruled the Shaalva kingdom for many years. This story is a
striking example to show that what is destined to happen can be
markedly changed by human effort.

MArkaNDeya was fated to die at the age of 16 but lived on
because of his devout worship of Lord Shiva. Shuka, the son of
VyAsa, was such a great yogin that he attained disembodied
liberation at the time of his choice. Numerous instances of the
alteration of the course of fate by personal effort and by the
grace of God can easily be cited.

Neither destiny nor personal effort singly determines the
course of human life; there is great interaction between the
two. Destiny or actions of the past that have begun to fructify,
human effort and divine grace together govern what happens
now. Manu has compared destiny and personal effort to the
two wheels of a chariot; a chariot cannot move on a single

Om Tat Sat

On Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 2:40 PM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>wrote:

> Namaste.
> It is a very nice explanation of the concept of Fate and Freewill, Siva
> Senani ji.  Thanks for such a fine exposition of the topic.   Here is an
> excerpt from the book 'Exalting Elucidations' containing a dialogue where
> Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Swamiji of the Sringeri Peetham gives replies to
> questions:

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list