Destiny or Free Will?

DestinyVinod Sharma, one of my readers, got my phone number and called me last week: “Sir, is there destiny? Some people say there is no destiny, but free will – I am totally confused…”

He has lost his elder brother in the Jharkhand tragedy. He lost hope and was very sad and depressed.

“Vinodji, I am not an expert in answering that question. I just share my experience and my understanding about life in my website…”

“Please sir – I know you are not biased to any concepts and beliefs. So I hoped to get an objective answer. Is life about destiny or free will?”

“Both theories are vague. The question is a metaphysical one beyond the laws of physics…”

“What do you follow?”

“In spite of best efforts (karma) with free will, if results could not be achieved, it can be attributed to destiny. So I feel the theory of destiny is more useful, as it helps a person in accepting results without being frustrated. And it does not make a successful person egoistic, if he thinks the role of destiny in his success.”

“Can destiny be predicted?”

“Yes, if somebody can read the DNA. Unfortunately, science is not yet developed to that extent…Many things and traits are caused by events and genetic makeup which are beyond our control. You may call it a destiny. But there are enough options for us to choose from that will steer us to a less damaging position. That can be termed as free will…”

“Such tragic destiny was in-stored for me…was it result of my karma or destiny?”

“We cannot avoid many challenges, misfortunes, accidents, and surprises…When something happens, theist would say it is ‘god’s wish, god’s blessings or god’s punishment’; atheist would say ‘it is just a chance or coincidence or random incidents in life’. People with awareness would say ‘it could be result of your karma’….”

“Uday sir, I don’t understand, how does life go by both destiny and free will?”

“I think life is a wonderful package of destiny plus free will. Both are logically compatible from a pragmatic relativistic viewpoint too” I said.


“The cosmic has provided us a great, flexible but limited bandwidth in life…For e.g. – a rubber band. You can stretch it to the maximum – up to its elasticity limit. If you stretch it further beyond the limit, it would break…this is the limit of free will and then the destiny takes over…”

“How’s it applicable to life?”

“Suppose, you are destined to have diabetes at the age of 40.”


“By sedentary life style and junk foods, you can pre-pone it to the age of 25-30. And if you go in for proper diet and exercise you can post-pone it up to the age of 50-55. In short, your destiny is to have diabetes at the age of 40, but your free will and efforts (karma) gave you as much flexible bandwidth as 25 to 55 age range…”

“I understand. But is it applicable to everything in life?”

“For most of us, destiny comes with flexible pack. Destiny can be compared to a destination for your vacation. The free will comes in on which path you take (with multiple choices in air, rail or road) or unscheduled stops to see the sights or taking a detour or how long you take to get to your destination etc…But the difference with real life is that the karma never fails, although it appears to have failed in achieving the immediate result.”

“How will we know such things – for instance how will I know I will get diabetes?”

“Being aware – if your parents or ancestors have a history of diabetes, you might also get it…”

“Anyway destiny would control you – it is a matter of time only. So what’s the point in altering karma or being good to counter the bad effects of the destiny?”

“What are the three forms of matter or all the materials on earth?”

“Solid, liquid, and gas” he said.

“What are three forms of H2O?”

“Solid: ice, liquid: water and gas: steam (vapour)”

“Now, suppose, H2O is destined to get 10 lashes of a whip. If you lash on it, ice will break. If you lash on water, what will happen? Just splashing, right? What is the result of swish of a whip lashing through the air? Whooosh – just a sound.”


“Similarly, you are destined to get a punishment similar to the 10 lashes. If you are in the solid state (body level), the whip-lash would create pain and hurt. If you are in the liquid state (mind level) physical pain would be lesser. And if you are at the level of air (conscious stage), you won’t feel pain at all…You can reduce the damage of destiny. You won’t be affected by it. In short, destiny won’t change- but the state of being of the receiver can be changed…”

“Conscious level means?”

“Being aware”

“Yes- you told earlier also about being aware. How can I be aware?”

“Don’t just see, look at things. Don’t just hear, listen to everything. Don’t react, respond. And don’t develop sympathy, be empathetic…this is my understanding.”
“How will I know I am aware?”

“You won’t live a superficial life. You will be compassionate. And you will be ready to share and care with fellow beings- be it human or non-human”

“So, once I am aware, I will be happy, come what may as destiny…”

“Yes – that’s my understanding and my experience…”

Udaylal Pai
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4 Responses


    Law of Karma certainly decides what we are likely to face later on, because as we sow, so shall we reap.Nevertheless, there are many matters beyond our control, which is capable of influencing our way of thinking & working.For example, if a person is born in a poor family due to past deeds, it will require opportunity to come up in life, even if a lot of effort is put in.So free will perhaps has a limited role, just as a cow tied to a tree by a rope has a limited area of green grass to graze on!

  2. Parthasarathy says:


    I would suggest that reader could read the book of swami parthasarathy called vedanta treatise. he has put across this question in a very nice manner.

    Destiny is like the river
    Current action are like swimming

    If a person destiny is good and the river is flowing at 10km per hour, even if he swims against the flow of river up to 9 km per hour, the destiny will take him to the right direction.

    If a person destiny is bad and the river is flowing at 10km per hour, even if he swims against the flow of river up to 9 km per hour, the destiny will take him to the bad direction.

    This explains why at time good people suffer before our eyes and the bad are enjoying the life. It is well explained in our scriptures. Ravana had a boon that no man can win or kill him. During his period there were four great warriors where there and who was not covered by the boon :

    Vali, – Vali actually took him as a prisoner and then ravana made friendship with him
    Kartaviryarjunan – Ravana’s father got him released from this king who was the devotee of tatatreya

    However ravana was allowed to live till he completes the fruits of the good action and then the bad action started giving the results which is his punishment by rama.

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