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Friday, September 7, 2018

Human effort or Destiny? - Maha Bharatha Series 89

Yudhishtra asks: “what determines the fruits of one’s action: one’s effort (purusha kara) or destiny (daivey)."Bhishma answers in the form of a conversation between Vasishta and Brahma. 

The question is worded a little differently now. Vasishta asks whether karma of actions in this life or that acquired in previous life (destiny) is more potent in shaping one’s life. Brahma's answer starts with some simple statements. "Nothing comes into being without a seed.  From seeds spring more seeds. Fruits come from seeds. Good seeds bring good fruits and bad seeds bring bad fruits. If you sow nothing, there will be no fruits however well you take care of the soil."

Similarly, destiny is the seed. Efforts are like preparing the soil. If there is no effort there will be no fruit. Good results come out of good deeds and bad effects from bad deeds. Nothing can be gained by destiny alone. But everything can be gained by efforts.

"Riches cannot be gained by the idler. If one’s karma did not bear fruit, all actions become fruitless. Why act at all? If everyone depends on destiny alone for results, everyone will become lazy.  Men’s powers can only follow his destiny, but destiny alone cannot yield fruits, if effort is lacking."

Good and bad manifest themselves through karma. Karma and destiny feed on each other. However, destiny does not affect those who have attained virtue and righteousness.

Brahma concludes by saying: “Men attain to heaven by the influence of destiny and by putting forth individual effort. Combination of destiny and effort lead to efficacy”.

I have heard a wise person say: “Effort from below and grace from above.”


Ramesh said...

Great analogy of seed and taking care of the soil for action and destiny.

The trouble for most of us, mere mortals, is we cannot understand and appreciate the correlation between cause and effect when events happen in our lives (especailly difficult events). When we cannot understand what "caused" them, we attribute it to destiny, isn't it.

Your summation of effort from below and grace from above is very apt.

Balu said...

Thank you, The seed and soil analogy is from the text, although not a word-for-word translation.
The philosophy of Cause and Effect of phenomena is a complex one with different points of view. Buddhist ideas are different from the Vedic ones. Physicists are questioning the idea itself in studying natural phenomena.
One other point. We use the term "luck" if the effect or outcome by destiny is favorable and the term "fate", if it is unfavorable to what we want or expect.