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Fate versus free will

Fate in simple terms is the sum total of what we have done in the past with our bodies and minds, and which have not got exhausted by coming to fruition. Free will is the facility granted by God to all souls, to think, desire and decide as they please.

columns Updated: Sep 18, 2013 01:15 IST

What is there between fate and free will? Can one’s ‘free will’ change one’s fate? To understand their relationship, let us first know what fate and free will are.

Fate in simple terms is the sum total of what we have done in the past with our bodies and minds, and which have not got exhausted by coming to fruition. Free will is the facility granted by God to all souls, to think, desire and decide as they please.

Even God does not interfere in this. We all know that we can think what we like; we can desire what we wish; and, ultimately, it is the individual only who decides his or her course of action. Even when compelled, an individual has to decide whether to go along or rebel. And, of course, face the consequences.

Both are absolute except in the case of devotees of God; God does intervene in favour of His devotees— those who are surrendered souls. We cannot change anyone’s fate; neither can anyone change ours. So what do we do with our relatives and friends, who are on a collision course with harm.

Relations are persons brought together due to their respective karmas, i.e. we deserve them. Relatives are not our extensions, as we erroneously assume them to be like we do with a son or a daughter. We are together for a limited period and then go our separate ways, i.e. we are separated either by death or even earlier by other means.

The question that arises is: Can we influence them with their free will and fate? We can only try but in the ultimate analysis, they have to agree to be influenced. Therefore, you should not be greatly disturbed when a relative or a friend is bent upon committing ‘hara-kiri’. That is his or her free will. You are safe with your own fate. And if you happen to be a devotee of God, you enjoy double protection — God’s and of your pious karmas. And, the choice is yours as much as the will is yours.