A few questions remain unanswered for many of us. Can we get answers for every question we have? We do get answers to some at some point in our life though some remain unanswered till the last breath we take.
‘Destiny is one such aspect on which questions kept occurring to me –
Is there something called ‘Destiny’?
If something is destined to happen, can I change it?
Can I make that incident not happen at all?
If I can change my destiny, how do I do that?
I have been asking people these questions and they have attempted to give me their thoughts; however, none was convincing to me. In the last few years of my journey in vedAntA, though I may have not got a concrete answer (is there one at all?) I have got different perspectives in the direction of answers to this question.
When I heard the word prArabdhA, I connected it to the word ‘Destiny’ (whether this is right or not, I don’t know). This made me understand better the way events unfolded in my life. Many of my reading on vedAntA and listening to discourses brought in another word – Free Will.. I tried seeking answers to the meaning of Free Will and its connect to prArabdhA.. The answers I received did not convince me. It made me wonder if I was seeking a specific answer which I also was not conscious of. However, I observed that the word prArabdhA struck a chord that was more meaningful than the word ‘Destiny’. The words prArabdhA and Free Will started occupying my mind space as I continued to seek answers.
While I was trying to pen this article, I came across an earlier article of mine that was published in chakra news which set the tone for this one. Sharing a couple of paragraphs here..
‘The prArabdha karma controls whether the next jenma will be in an animal / human body, whether it would be a man / woman, parentage, place of birth, status, duration of life etc…
Every experience a person undergoes in life is due to that person’s prArabdha / AgAmi karma… The past ‘I’ is responsible for the present ‘I’ and the present ‘I’ is responsible for the future ‘I’.. The past ‘I’ cannot be corrected while one can influence / control / direct / manage the future ‘I’ by handling the present ‘I’.. ‘I’ am responsible for ‘my’ future.’
A paragraph I read recently in the Bhagavad gItA Home Study by pujya swAmi DayAnanda Saraswati gave me a different perspective of the words prArabdhA and Free Will. I have more questions after I read this yet this reading seems to ring in knowledge J. It reads like this..
prArabdha karma is generally accompanied by Free Will that a human being has. This Free Will can interfere with the prArabdha karma in many ways – modifying it, mending it, working against it and doing anything else to it that Free Will can do. Given that prArabdha karma and Free Will go together. Every situation is prArabdhaA based and Free Will based. Where prArabdhA stops and where Free Will begins, no one can say. There is no way of knowing which one brought you to a particular situation.
prArabdha karma is the portion of the sanchita karma (karmAs earned in the several births) that fructifies, and we have no control in the unfolding of this karmA. If the result is in the form of punyA, then we may not question it. We will perhaps welcome it with both my hands. However if the result is in the form of a pApa and we have to face a time in our life that is not positive, then we ask, “Why?”. We may also not think of Free will when we face a punyA in our life.
If prArabdhA and Free Will go together in every situation, where does Free Will come in when we have no control over a situation that unfolds in our life. Is it in the way we handle the situation? Is it in the act of prayer / japA that we do everyday that helps us to anticipate a situation and handle it when it comes? Is it in the act of prayer / japA that we do when we are in the situation, which gives us the strength to handle it?
I have tried to understand prArabdhA and Free Will by mapping two incidents. As I try to connect the incidents to prArabdhA and Free Will, there are more questions that got raised.
- This is an incident that was faced by an 18 year old boy who was selected to play for a national level under 18 sport tournament. He was one of the 15 selected (from about 500 children, after many rounds of matches and being under observation). It was a moment of pride for him as years of his effort and working towards his dream paid off. When he went to play for the tournament, he was pulled out by the authorities and was told that he was over age as he was physically well built. The authorities sent him for an x ray and they found his bones were developed more than that of an 18-year old. They refused to allow him to play in the tournament. His parents rushed to the state where the tournament was being held, with all the documents (the report of his birth in the hospital and the doctors summary at that time which also carried the date, month and year of his birth, his birth certificate and his passport). The boy was still not able to play in the tournament. It was later came to be known to them from reliable sources, that such ‘politics’ happen every year and some children become the scapegoats of these ‘politics’. Was this the boy’s and the parent’s prArabdhA to face this tough and traumatic situation? Where was the Free Will here? In his choice to pursue his desire? In the choice of the parent’s to rush with the documents and help their son? Was it their Free Will in the way they rallied around him, to give him strength to help him thru the emotional moments? Did his Free Will to do his Sandhya vanadanam and gAyatri japA (the chanting of mantras of a person who has had his upanayanam done) everyday help him in handling the situation? Is Free will in the way he chose to bounce back and move on in life? Or is all this also prArabdhA?
- I went thru a challenging phase recently when I had to undergo two major surgeries within 20 days of each other. While the first surgery was a planned one, the second one was unexpected. I assume it was my prArabdhA to go thru both the surgeries. While the first one was also my Free Will as I could have chosen not to go thru it, the second one however, I am not sure if I had a choice. The recovery phase was filled with a lot of emotions and questions. Again prArabdhA at play? How does the Free Will to go with the prArabdhA here? Was my Free Will in my choice to keep praying all thru the tough period? Was my free will it in the way I spent my recovery period reading books on vedAntA and listening to discourses? Was my urge to learn vedAntA that got deeper during this recovery period due to my Free Will? Or is all this also prArabdhA?
Both these incidents that I have narrated have certainly raised many a question on prArabdhA and Free Will. I am yet to find answers to these questions. If I find them, I consider myself blessed and if I don’t, is it my prArabdhA?
As an answer, these sentences ring louder in my ears, “Where prArabdhA stops and where Free Will begins, no one can say. There is no way of knowing which one brought you to a particular situation”.