(Extracted from talks at Vikasa, Rishikesh, December 2016) In the Mahabharata, Krishna beautifully tells Arjuna,”What is fate to human beings, is the purushartha of the devas.” What this means is, purushartha also means self-effort. You put in effort to achieve a goal, right? That is called effort-driven achievement. Now, fate or destiny means, it is set, “Okay, this is it. This is how it will be.” Now what we assume as fate or destiny, is a consequence of previous effort that we have put in. And that is how it is built up. But that is maintained by the powers that be, in increasing orders of subtlety. So you have subtle powers maintaining that order giving it a semblance of order, exactly like a leader does. Why is leadership so important? They maintain that space, where there is a semblance of order. There is a semblance of progress, trajectory, a path. That is the role of a leader. Like that there are many leadership positions open, you can compete for them. Even Brahma’s position is open. Actually so, you know, just that you need to qualify for it. So that is maintained and that is called prarabdha, or fate, or what is called destiny, that provides the boundary conditions under which your life happens. For example, a human body provides certain boundary conditions through which life happens, right? It provides boundary constraints. You cannot exceed it without significant effort, and that effort is called tapasya. With significant effort, you can actually expand these boundary constraints, you can almost break through boundary constraints. You can get into a more expansive boundary constraint. So this boundary constraint if we look at it, that is called prarabdha or fate. But that is the active effort of the devas to maintain in place. So Krishna beautifully explains, this is a very very insightful explanation. He explains to Arjuna, “Hey, Arjuna, Don’t get bogged down by all this.” He refers to the repeated miseries that the Pandavas have undergone.
“Fate is something that can be overcome by effort, intelligent effort.” That is what Krishna's advice is to Arjuna. Why? Because fate is held in place by the devas. It is the purushartha of the devas or the effort of the devas.
There is no rule that the effort of the devas should succeed. You understand? Is there any rule that our efforts should succeed? Similarly there is no rule that fate has to succeed, because fate is again the effort of the devas to hold it in place. So there is no rule that…see! That shows the depth and expanse of Krishna’s consciousness. Generally everyone bows down to the devas. Ivaru agaye verala vittu aatitirupar — “Avan periya Indrano?” (Krishna can even play with the devas — ”Is Indra some big guy?”) But not exactly in those lines. You have seen Govardhana giri? He lifted the mountain just to show the people that, you can bow down to nature as well, it need not be only to a raja of the three worlds. What is Indra after all? A position. You don’t need to…because he found (pride) in that Indra, that guy, if I may call it. Indra is an awesome being, I definitely bow down to him, but it was to show, illustrate to the people that,”Hey!” Break a certain psychological conditioning which they had, to liberate them from that psychological conditioning, he demonstrated the Govardhana giri. Now, these all might seem too miraculous to happen, “How can one lift a mountain? Can anybody lift this mountain?!”. That might be the question. It is not wrong. But that is where I would suggest that you put in effort, you will see, what seem miracles right now, at least it will be fluid, you will not be so bigoted against that, you will not be conditioned so much against it. Many things might happen in your own lives that you at least become open-minded.”That, okay” At least, you will not have a set idea. You will not have concluded as yet. That is real openness. You will see, that provides the possibility for all expansive progress and growth. All vikasa. If you are set,”I am like this. Nothing can happen.” Then that itself is a lock-in. Likewise if you are set,”Oh, this cannot happen. How can it happen? How can Krishna…then why can I not do it?” Exactly that, but not in a cynical manner,”Eh! Why can I not do it? How can he alone do it?” That is not the tone in which you ask. You’ll say,” Oh, if he can do it, why can I not do it? And hence, what is the trajectory by which I can also do it?” That is exactly called role models. We all adopt that. That is definitely possible.