Self-effort and Destiny

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

The human being is a small creature, compared to this vast universe in which there are thousands of solar systems, lakhs of suns and such great distances: one solar system, second solar system, third solar system, then one sun, a bigger sun and an even bigger one. If one starts to contemplate, one will neither find the end of time nor the limit of space. In such a big universe, where can human existence be?

One has to accept that everything is predetermined in such a big universe. There is nothing to be afraid of, and if there is fear, that is also destined. Anxiety is destined, renunciation is destined and liberation is destined. The time of everything is fixed. The software of the computer of this universe is love. This world moves on determined roles of love.

One cannot say that something has happened due to one's effort, purushartha, for self-effort is also part of destiny, prarabdha. Without dissuading from self-effort or action, one must accept that everything is pre-determined from machine to the mind, from mind to the solar system and from solar system to the entire universe. It is not known to me who has determined it all.


If nothing is pre-planned, there will be chaos in the universe. Moon and sun will rise at their will and the Ganga will flow from Kolkata to the Himalayas. The law of gravitation is fixed and no one can break it. The moon and sun rise at their own time. No river can break its own rule, but will flow in its own course. This is love determined. If the laws of nature are pre-planned, the laws for human beings and karma are also pre-planned. If a person does hard work, it is his destiny. Destiny means something that is fixed. One plus one cannot be three. Nothing can move without rule, neither the sun nor the moon nor the constellations, nor water, nor you or me.

A child is kept in the mother's womb for nine months. It is drowned in water, mouth, eyes, ears closed, everything is closed like a baby fish. It remains alive for nine months without breath. The mother is breathing and the child is alive according to a law. Out of food, bones, blood, hormones, semen, hair, nails, excreta and urine are made. Everywhere the law is followed, without alternative or obstacle. Therefore, one should accept that there is one law according to which everything exists.

No free will

Free will and self-effort is nothing; destiny alone is everything.We are small human beings for what is our status in this vast creation? We are like tiny vermin in this eternal universe. Even in relation to the whole of India we are nowhere. If we consider ourselves in comparison with the population of Bihar, we are nowhere, just like an atom.

I have understood that free will or self-effort is nothing. If they exist, they are within destiny. You are doing self-effort for it is in your destiny. Many years ago, I used to speak in favour of self-effort, but not now. The experiences of seventy-eighty years are in front of me and it appears that I have done nothing. Whatever happened, happened by itself.

When I was a young man of twenty-four years I was thinking like this about self-effort, but now it appears that this thinking was also pre-determined. Karma comes under destiny, so do free will, self-effort, ego and patience. Everything comes under destiny but according to rules. Rules mean laws according to which one has to move and according to which karma happens.

Ravana, Rama, Kamsa and Krishna, desires and dramas are God's. Whatever one becomes, finds, gives and acquires in life is fixed. Happiness and pain, achievement and failures are destined. Everything moves according to rules.

No one is denying willpower or free will. However, it is also within rules. A person is free to go to his office, but from the day he retires he cannot go anymore. The fruit of karmas is fixed. It is fixed that a mango will come from a mango tree, and the one who has planted the mango tree is also fixed.

Just a dream?

The thought that we are free and can do anything is not true. God, the creator of the universe, is also bound by rules. The Vedas say ritam cha satyam cha. The entire eternal universe is dependent on these two rules.

Ritam means the laws and rules of nature. Satyam means truth, reality. If an incident happens, satyam happened and ritam was the rule according to which it happened. These two are the basis of everything called Brahman. Destiny is the same as Brahman who makes and upholds the laws and creates the infrastructure of the whole universe.

When I was a child, I read a book Infinite Cosmos and I started thinking about planets, stars, solar systems and light years. I was perplexed and shut the book, for all this is beyond the scope of the mind. It is all a great show and we are a very small fragment of the show. Time, space and matter are not comprehensible by the mind. I often wonder if all these things really exist or not. Is the word infinite which is used in science just a concept or a reality? Is infinity really possible or is it just someone's dream? Are we all hypnotized in that unique dream?

12 April 2009, Rikhiapeeth, India