IIT Bombay: Is life predestined?

Acharya Prashant
6 min readJun 15, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): There are some scriptures in the Hindu tradition which suggest that everything we do is predestined and we are actually being controlled by Brahman. If that is the case, what is the incentive for me to put any hard work into my life?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, there is no such scripture, please. Or if there is I do not know; kindly come and quote! At least over the last decade, in fact, more than that, I have been absorbed in scriptures, and never have I come across anything that suggests that Brahman controls the strings of this universe. No, no way. All that is just popular iconography. Those things are figments of popular culture and imagination. This is not spirituality. This is some kind of fatalism that Vedanta has nothing to do with.

You, as you are, are the ego — the first thing — and the ego is characterized by choice. If there is no choice, the ego is gone. So, you have a choice. Nobody is operating you through a remote control from some other loka (world). You have a choice. Now, that choice can be a boon or a bane. It depends on you. Choose rightly, and life is heavenly. Choose wrongly, and you will live as commoners do.

So, you are aham (ego), and aham is aham precisely because it at least thinks it has a choice. And you are choiceless in having a choice. Even if you tell yourself you don’t have a choice, it is a choice you have made. You are condemned to be a choosing agency.

So, choose rightly and do not play the dirty game of attributing your wrong choices to some god. If you suffer today, it is because somewhere you have been making wrong choices. Now, do not say this is what God has had in store for you. No, it is not about your horoscope or God or something; don’t even call it a random event. Random events can inflict pain on you; suffering is always a choice. You chose wrongly, therefore you suffered.

Advaita Vedanta is a thing of immense power — immense power. It takes away everything that is feeble within you. It won’t allow you to continue feeling like a victim of circumstances. It will take away everything from you that makes you lifeless, dull, insipid, fragile, fearful — none of that will be allowed to remain. That’s…