Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #37 – Can Destiny Be Changed? Part II

September 16th, 2019

After starting this entry, I discovered that it is the second one I am writing on this subject this year. It is a very important subject, so I will continue the article and just tackle the subject a little differently. Last time I broached the subject on how to change destiny in two ways: changing what happens and changing how one reacts. This time I will further divide those categories and then introduce a new one — how to completely eradicate karma by pure devotional service. First, a refresher of what destiny, or the law of karma, is.

 

What is destiny

Destiny is a universal moral force that functions to purify us of selfish desire. After witnessing our past exploitative deeds, Viṣṇu (the all-pervading Supreme Lord) manifests as time to create appropriate situations to help us overcome the egoism those deeds represent. In other words, karma is God’s system to make us selfless by teaching us needed lessons.

 

Changing destiny completely

The degree of selfishness fueling a past deed determines the severity of the reaction required to purify us. The only case, therefore, where we can avoid those reactions is when our selfishness is relatively negligible. A practical day to day example: When we accidentally offend one whom doesn’t even take offense, just regretting our mistake may be sufficient in itself to purify ourselves. For a more serious offense, however, to rectify ourselves we require a reaction such as suffering a loss of reputation or even a punishment. In conclusion, only in rare cases of negligible past offense can we completely nullify our destiny.

 

Changing destiny by partially counteracting the offense

There are rituals of atonement to inspire the universe to yield in its karmic punishment. For example, a man who abused a woman in a past life may have to suffer the reaction of a bad relationship with his mother in this life. To reduce the destined reaction one can offer white cloth in charity to widows on Monday, the day of the moon or the mother.[1] I won’t go into the details here, but I think you can get the general idea. According to the offense one has committed one can get the universe (time or karma) to somewhat relent by performing certain prescribed atonements specifically tailored to rectifying the consciousness that caused the offense in the first place.

 

Changing destiny by using destiny

One can also change their destiny by using it properly. A good example is Vidura from the Mahābhārata. He was thrown out of his life-long residence in the King’s palace by his envious nephew. Instead of trying to eradicate or modify what happened, Vidura simply matched his aspirations with his destiny. In other words, he just changed his goal to suit his present lot. He left on pilgrimage with the goal of increasing his love for God and to further his purification. In conclusion, by reasonably changing one’s goals to match one’s destiny, one can change one’s karma in the most important way — from misery to satisfaction.

 

Changing destiny by changing one’s perspective on life

One can also change destiny by simply changing one’s perspective on life. The cursing of Mahārāja Parīkṣit is a perfect example. He was cursed to die due to offending a forest sage, but rather than expend energy to counteract or modify it, he just accepted it as God’s blessing. By Krishna’s grace he was not only able see how his destiny was accelerating his detachment, but also how it was freeing him and his family from any further reactions. In conclusion, one can change one’s destiny by viewing it through the lens of knowledge as a chance for spiritual growth, instead of seeing it as a cause for despondency.

 

Changing destiny by eradicating all karma

God is not cruel. Destiny has purpose. It is His mechanism to make us selfless and pure. If we achieve the purpose of destiny by fully submitting out of devotion to God’s will, why would God still punish us whimsically? He wouldn’t. One who fully surrenders to Guru and Krishna is therefore free from karma.[2]

 

The question therefore arises as to why devotees still suffer along the lines of their destiny as demonstrated time and time again by seeing their astrological charts. The answer: Karma is God’s law directed at the impurities in our heart to free us from selfishness. Why would God not sanction His law to bring His devotee closer to Him, even for a surrendered devotee? In that case, destiny is no longer karma, an impersonal law, but Krishna’s direct care, and as the devotee is now directly under Krishna’s protection, Krishna can also certainly eradicate one’s karma completely, or at least reduce it to the degree one has been sufficiently purified by devotion.

 

There is a final point about bhakti and the eradication of karma: Our bodies run on karma. To be completely free from karma thus means death and consequent liberation. The problem is that our goal is not just liberation, but to attain prema-bhakti. Thus Krishna keeps the karma-run body going, with its apparent happiness and distresses, even after all karma has been eradicated so that the liberated devotee can continue to practice devotion and achieve prema.

 

I am happy that I elaborated further on this topic. The conclusion is exactly the same as the original article.

 

Can destiny be changed? In the most important way, yes. I will leave you with Rumi:

 

“When providence seems to be digging a hole to throw us in, it is actually planning to quench our thirst by drawing water from the ground.”

 

 


[1] I once took a young man with this problem to a reputed astrologer and this was his recommendation.

[2] There is here is a statement in the Brahma-saṁhitā: karmāṇi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājām (Bs. 5.54). Everyone is bound by his fruitive activities, but the devotees, because they work completely for the satisfaction of the Lord, suffer no reactions. Similarly, the gopīs’ attitude toward Krishna, although seemingly lusty, should not be considered to be like the lusty desires of ordinary women. (Kṛṣṇa, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapter 22)

 

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