Chapter 8 — Invalidation of Destiny

Vasishta continued saying that:—

What does “destiny” mean? It has no form, no act, no motion or might. It is only a false notion rooted in the (minds) of the ignorant. “Destiny” is a word that has come into fashion from the idea of karma, the idea of future retribution for one’s past actions and the like. From this, ignorant are led to believe that there is such a thing as destiny, something incapable of explanation, which has led them to a fallacy much like mistaking a rope for a snake.

Yesterday’s misdeed is rectified by the following day’s good action. Therefore let this day supersede the past and employ yourself today to action. The perverted understanding that believes in destiny is grounded on false conception. One may as well enter fire with the conviction that it will not burn unless it is so destined. If destiny is the sole cause of everything, then why should a man take actions of bathing and making his offerings, sitting and walking, all of which may be done by his destiny? What then is the need to advise another to do something if destiny is the director of all? Let them all be silent and say nothing to nobody.

There is none to be seen on earth who is motionless except the bodies of the dead. If it is action that produces anything, then it is useless to believe in destiny. Nor is there any co-operative power of invisible destiny that is perceptible in the actions of men. Destiny is only a meaningless word.

10 Instruments and hands are two things joined together. Each has its separate action, but if the hand is lacking, nothing can be done by destiny. 11 Whether in the mind and intellect of a (learned) pundit or (illiterate) cowherd, there is no such idea of destiny. Hence it is a mere non-entity. 12 If destiny does not mean agent, it must mean something else. If it is the same thing as agent, why give it a different name (i.e., “destiny”)? If it can be proved to be an imaginary term, why not imagine your effort to be the agent?

13 Immaterial destiny, like a void, has no connection with the material body. If it had form or figure it would be visible. Therefore destiny is nonexistent. 14 If destiny were the mainspring of the movements of all beings in the three worlds, then let all creatures rest at ease (with assurance) that destiny will perform their parts. 15 The belief that we are guided by destiny and do as we are led to do is a deception and an excuse. In fact, there is no such thing as destiny.

16 It is a fool who fancies a destiny to himself and relies upon it to his own disadvantage. The intelligent raise themselves to better states by means of their effort. 17 Say, who is there in this world among the mighty and brave or the intelligent and learned who looks or waits upon destiny? 18 Destiny may be said good if it had the power of saving a man from being beheaded whom fortune-tellers had pronounced by their calculation to be long lived. 19 Again, O Raghava, if a fortune-teller predicts that a man will become learned and he does without being taught, then we can believe fortune is true.

20 Mark, O Rama, how the sage Vishwamitra has cast away his destiny and attained the state of Brahma rishi by his own efforts. 21 Look at us and others who have become sages. It was by our industry that we became wanderers in the ethereal regions. 22 Remember, O Rama, how the chiefs of the Danava race discarded their destinies altogether and used their prowess to establish their empires on earth. 23 Look again how the chiefs of the gods have wrested the extensive earth from those demons by their valorous deeds of slaying and harassing them (in battle).

24 See Rama, how people use their own industry to make wicker vessels so handsome that they hold water, all without the aid of any destiny. 25 In all our works of giving and receiving, walking, resting and the like, we see no causation by destiny in their completion, just as we see medicines causing healing. 26 Therefore, O Rama, give up this destiny of your mistaken fancy, which in reality is devoid of its cause or effect and is a false and ideal nothing. Give yourself to your best efforts.