Fate and Free Will – XI and XII


Compiled by S Nagarajan

Article No.1522; Dated  27    December 2014.


Compiled by Santhanam Nagarajan

Dialogue on Fate and Freewill with Sringeri Jagathguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Swamigal continues (from the previous chapter) :

D: Our ignorance of the past may be useful in not deterring

the exercise of the free-will and hope may stimulate

that exercise. All the same, it cannot be denied that fate

very often does present a formidable obstacle in the way of

such exercise.



HH: It is not quite correct to say that fate places obstacles

in the way of free-will. On the other hand, by seeming to oppose

our efforts, it tells us what is the extent of free-will

that is necessary now to bear fruit. Ordinarily for the purpose

of securing a single benefit, a particular activity is prescribed;

but we do not know how intensively or how repeatedly

that activity has to be pursued or persisted in. If we

do not succeed at the very first attempt, we can easily deduce

that in the past we have exercised our free-will just in

the opposite direction. that the resultant of that past activity

has first to be eliminated and that our present effort must

be proportionate to that past activity. Thus, the obstacle

which fate seems to offer is just the gauge by which we have

to guide our present activities.

D: The obstacle is seen only after the exercise of our

free-will, how can that help us to guide our activities at the



HH: It need not guide us at the start. At the start, you

must not be obsessed at all with the idea that there will be

any obstacle in your way. Start with boundless hope and with

the presumption that there is nothing in the way of your exercising

the free-will. If you do not succeed, tell yourself

that there has been in the past a counter-influence brought

on by yourself by exercising your freewill in the other direction

and, therefore, you must now exercise your free-will

with re-doubled vigour and persistence to achieve your object.

Tell yourself that, inasmuch as the seeming obstacle is

of your own making, it is certainly within your competence to

overcome it. If you do not succeed even after this renewed

effort, there can be absolutely no justification for despair,

for fate being but a creature of your free-will can never be

stronger than freewill. Your failure only means that your

present exercise of freewill is not sufficient to counteract

the result of the past exercise of it. In other words, there is

no question of a relative proportion between fate and freewill

as distinct factors in life. The relative proportion is only

as between the intensity of our past action and the intensity

of our present action.

D: But even so, the relative intensity can be realised only

at the end of our present effort in a particular direction.



HH: It is always so in the case of everything which is adrishta

or unseen. Take, for example, a nail driven into a

wooden pillar. When you see it for the first time, you actually

see, say, an inch of it projecting out of the pillar. The rest of

it has gone into the wood and you cannot now see what exact

length of the nail is imbedded in the wood. That length,

therefore, is unseen or adrishta, so far as you are concerned.

Beautifully varnished as the pillar is, you do not know what is

the composition of the wood in which the nail is driven. That

also is unseen or adrishta. Now suppose you want to pull that

nail out, can you tell me how many pulls will be necessary

and how powerful each pull has to be?

The Jagath Guru gives  a beautiful example and the disciple now asks him how could he fix the number of pulls. What is the reply Jagathguru gives now? We will see in the next chapter.



Fate and Free Will – XII


Dialogue on Fate and Freewill with Sringeri Jagathguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Swamigal continues (from the previous chapter) The pontiff gives encouraging revealation regarding freewill in this part of the dialogue :

D: How can I fix the number of pulls now? The number and the intensity of the pulls depend upon the length which has gone into the wood.


HH: Certainly so. And the length which has gone into the wood is not arbitrary, but depended upon the number of strokes which drove it in and the intensity of each of such strokes and the resistance which the wood offered to them.

D: It is so.


HH: The number and intensity of the pulls needed to take out the nail depend therefore upon the number and intensity of the strokes which drove it in.

D: Yes.


HH: But the strokes that drove in the nail are now unseen and unseeable. They relate to the past and are adrishta.

D: Yes.


HH: Do we desist from the attempt to pull out the nail simply because we happen to be ignorant of the length of the nail in the wood or of the number and intensity of the strokes which drove it in? Or, do we persist and persevere in pulling it out by increasing the number and the intensity of our present efforts to pull it out?

D: Certainly, as practical men we adopt the latter course.


HH: Adopt the same course in every effort of yours. Exert yourself as much as you can. Your will must succeed in the end.

D: But there certainly are many things which are impossible to attain even after the utmost exertion.


HH: There you are mistaken. If there is anything, it is by its very nature capable of being experienced. There is nothing which is really unattainable. A thing, however, may be unattainable to us at the particular stage at which we are, or with the qualifications that we possess. The attainability or otherwise of a particular thing is thus not an absolute characteristic of that thing but is relative and proportionate to our capacity to attain it.

D: The success or failure of an effort can be known definitely only at the end. How are we then to know beforehand whether with our present capacity we may or may not exert ourselves to attain a particular object, and whether it is the right kind of exertion for the attainment of that object.



HH: Your question is certainly a very pertinent one. The whole aim of our Dharma sastras is to give a detailed answer to your question. They analyse our capacities, or competency,and prescribe the activities which a person endowed with a particular adhikara can undertake. The activities are various and numberless, as the capacities also happen to be various and numberless. Regulation of activities or, in other words, the directing of free-will into channels least harmful and most beneficial to the aspirant, is the main function of religion. Such regulated activity is called svadharma. Religion does not fetter man’s free-will. It leaves him quite free toact, but tells him at the same time what is good for him and what is not. The responsibility is entirely and solely his. He cannot escape it by blaming fate, for fate is of his own making, nor by blaming God, for He is but the dispenser of fruits in accordance with the merits of actions. You are the master of your own destiny. It is for you to make it, to better it or to mar it. This is your privilege. This is your responsibility.


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