Fate and free will

Following is a glimpse into the explanation given by Chandrashekara Bharathi, of the Sringeri Sharada Peetam in response to a devotee's query on the relative strengths and extents of fate and free will.

" Fate is nothing but the sum total of the results of your actions in your previous lives.
Depending upon the nature of your actions, you must endure their results. Fate is the fruit of your past actions and God is only the dispenser of those fruits.

Thus fate is entirely of your own making. But free-will is what you exercise when you act now." Asked whether man should resign himself to fate and desist from making any effort to improve his lot, the master replied thus " No, the present is before you and by exercising your free will, you can attempt to shape your life. The past is behind you and is unseen.

“By exercising your free will, with the right intensity and properly directed effort, you can overcome the effects of your past actions and thus shape your present. Do not try to unravel the past".

"It may sometimes seem that fate places obstacles in our path. By seeming to oppose our efforts, it actually tells us what is the extent of free will necessary now to overcome our past actions. Begin your activity with all hope and optimism that you will succeed. If our encounter trouble, tell yourself that you must have exercised your free will in the opposite direction in the past and must therefore redouble your effort to overcome that counter-influence to achieve your objective.

It is entirely within your competence to overcome your past. Any failure of yours in the present only means that your present exercise of free will is insufficient to counteract the effects of your past exercise of it. Exert yourself to the fullest extent. Your will must succeed finally. But remember that exercising free will does not mean reckless, uncontrolled activity.

This is where religion steps in. Regulation of activities or the directing of free will into channels least harmful and most beneficial to man is the main function of religion. Religion does not fetter man's free will. It only tells him what is good for him and what is not, at the same time allowing him the freedom to act. But the responsibility of his actions is solely his. He alone is the enjoyer of the fruits of his actions and cannot avoid them by blaming fate or God. You are the master of your own destiny. It is for you to make it, better it or mar it."

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