A human being is a very small creature in this vast universe. We can’t even begin to understand how vast the universe is, with its thousands of solar systems, hundreds and thousands of suns and immense distances. There is one solar system, then a second solar system, then again a third solar system, one sun, then a bigger sun and a still bigger one. If you start thinking about it, you will find neither the end of time nor the limits of space. Where do we exist in such a vast universe?
You have to accept that in such an immense universe everything is predetermined, whatever exists is predestined. There is nothing to be afraid of. If you are afraid, that is also destined. Fear is destined, anxiety is destined, renunciation is destined, liberation is also destined. The time of everything is fixed. All the computer software of this universe is predetermined. This world moves according to predetermined roles. We cannot say that one thing has happened due to our own effort and something else has happened due to somebody else’s effort. Purushartha, self-effort, is a part of destiny, prarabdha. I am not discouraging self-effort or action, but everything is predetermined, from a machine to the mind, the solar system and the entire universe. Now, who has determined it, I do not know.
If things were not predetermined, there would be chaos in the universe. The moon and the sun would rise at their own will, the Ganga would flow from Kolkata towards the Himalayas. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya told Gargi the same thing. Gargi was a realized female sannyasin. Once King Janaka was sitting in his court with his courtiers and scholars. Yajnavalkya was present, and Sulabha, Gargi and others were there too. King Janaka had his minister announce that whoever proclaimed himself to be the most learned of those present would be given the king’s ten thousand cows. There were great scholars sitting in the assembly, but they all remained silent.
Yajnavalkya then stood up and commanded his disciple to take the cows away. As soon as Yajnavalkya proclaimed that he was the most learned, the other scholars began to challenge him. They asked, “How can you be the most learned scholar?” Yajnavalkya said, “Ask me whatever you want and I will answer.” One after another the scholars started asking questions. At the end Gargi asked about purushartha, self-effort. In reply, Yajnavalkya said, Estasya vaa aksharasya prashaasane Gaargi suryaachandramasau vidhritau tishthata – “O Gargi, in this imperishable government the moon and the sun rotate on separate paths according to their own rules.” The law of gravity is predetermined, no one can break it. The sun and the moon rise at their own set times. Every river flows according to its own rules, which cannot be broken.
If the laws of nature are predetermined, then surely our karma must also be predetermined. Karma also comes under destiny. If you work hard, that is your destiny. Destiny means prarabdha, what is predetermined, what is destined. One plus one cannot be three; it is fixed. Nothing can move without a set rule, neither the sun nor the moon, nor the constellations, nor water, nor you or I.
How did you remain alive in your mother’s womb for nine months without breathing? You were submerged in fluid, with your mouth, eyes and ears closed, like a baby fish. Your mother was breathing and you were alive – according to which law? The food a person eats forms his bones, blood, hormones, semen, hair, nails, excreta and urine. Everywhere this law is followed, no alternative or obstacles arise. Therefore, always accept that there is one law according to which everything exists.
When you talk about your karma, remember that it also comes under this law. When you go to the office and work, it is predetermined. Self-effort is predetermined. This means that free will and self-effort, purushartha, are nothing. Destiny, prarabdha, is everything.
What is free will? Who are you? You are a small human being. What is your status in this vast creation? You are like tiny vermin in this eternal universe. In relation to the whole of India, you are nowhere. In relation to the population of Bihar, you are just like an atom.
After reaching this stage of life I have understood that free will or purushartha, self-effort, is nothing. You are performing purushartha because it is in your destiny. You act because you have a mind. The subject of karma has been explained in the Upanishads by the statement: Ekoham bahusyam – “I am one, let me become many.” But even so there is confusion. Everybody is confused. If there is ego, there will be confusion. But after reaching a certain stage, a person knows everything.
When I was a young man of twenty-four or five, I thought like this, but not now. I used to speak in favour of purushartha or self-effort, but now it appears that this thinking was also predetermined. The experiences of seventy or eighty years are before me. Now it appears that I have done nothing, that whatever happened, happened by itself.
Karma is also part of destiny, as are self-will, self-effort, even ego and patience. Everything comes as part of your destiny, but according to rules. The rules are laws according to which one has to move, according to which karma will happen. Ravana and Rama, Kamsa and Krishna will exist. Wars will also happen. You will wish something; he will wish something. All these are God’s dramas and one should move accordingly. Whatever you become in your life, whatever you find, give or acquire is all predetermined. Happiness and pain are also destined. Achievement is destined and failures are destined. It is impossible not to move according to the rules which govern the entire universe. You move according to the rules and I also move accordingly.
No one is denying your willpower, which is free will. But free will is also within the rules. You are free to go to your office but according to the rules of the office. The day you retire, you cannot go there any longer. There are also rules for karmas. The fruit of karmas is fixed. It is predetermined that mangoes will come from a mango tree. Who planted the mango tree is also predetermined.
The thought that I am free and I can do anything is not true. God, the creator of the universe, is also bound by the rules. Ritam cha satyam cha, say the Upanishads. There are two rules, ritam and satyam, and the entire eternal universe is dependent on these two rules.
Rita means natural law. Satya means the reality. An incident happens; satya is what has happened and rita is the rule according to which it has happened. These two are the basis of everything, what we call Brahman. What I have been calling destiny is the same as Brahman, who makes the law, who holds the law and creates the infrastructure of the whole universe. Not only India, not only the world, not only the sun, moon and nine planets, but the whole universe is created by Brahman.
When I was a small child, I was given a book called The Infinite Cosmos. After going through it, I started thinking about the planets, stars, solar system, light years, etc. I became perplexed and decided to close the book. All these subjects are beyond the scope of the mind. What we have been talking about is a great show. We are a very small fragment of this unique show. The mind cannot comprehend time, space and matter. Often it comes to mind whether or not all these things really exist. The word infinite which is used in science is just a concept of reality. Is it really possible? Is this infinity just someone’s dream? Are we all hypnotized by that unique dream?