Fate and Free will - How both co-exist

Hare Krishna,



Dear devotees, this question is from very beginning in my Krishna Conscious life, that how we have free will for doing everything and at the same time everything can be predictable. I mean to say that "Trikaldarshi" can predict our future, and Krishna also says in Bhagavad Geeta that He knows the past, present and future of everyone. Now my question is that when everything about our future is predictable than what is the value of our free will? Recently I tried to hear two lectures on this topic (Fate and free will- how both co-exist) by Rasaraja Prabhu on his site (http://rasaraja.org/). But because of low sound quality I could not understand it. Kindly clarify this doubt.



You need to be a member of ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT to add comments!

Join ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT

Replies are closed for this discussion.


  • when Krishna says "I know the past, present and future", He does not mean that he knows the exact state of universe (and of any living being) at any point of time. Just as if one of your friend does not study properly, does not attend classes, you can predict that he will not get good marks i.e you can predict his future to a certain extent. Krishna's prediction is similar. Now suppose one day your friend becomes sincere and remains so till the end of exam, then he may get good marks by the grace of Krishna. When Krishna sees us changing our attitude and efforts, he changes his mind accordingly. Just like us, Krishna is a person who can change his mind. The onus of changing is on us.

    Imagine a large field. Somewhere in this field is a cow tied to a pole with the help of a rope. The radius of circle that the cow can move along can be understood as the extent of its free will. But it can't move beyond that. That is fate. When we live a bad life or take bad decisions, Krishna decreases the size of our "rope" and restricts our free will. This is done so that we do not accidentally harm others or ourselves. Similarly when Krishna sees us living a good Krishna conscious life, he extends the range of our free will by increasing the length of our "rope" so that we may do more good work.

    Hope it answers your question!

    Hare Krishna

  • prabhu g,i think you are mistaken of the meaning of ruling with iron hand.It means micromanaging every aspect.

    You definitely don't want to say that he governs everything for some and goes easy for others..

    This domain may be for sale!
  • of course ceo of a company can go to sleep after giving the control to the manager...

    same is the case with Krishna,he in his shyamsundar swaroop enjoys his pastimes in vrindavana while managerial duties are delegated to the purush avataras..

    Prabhu g nobody is denying that Krishna is master of everything and everyone..it's just that he is not the master with an iron hand..

  • Dean prabhu,

    your statement "dont you think that powerful rishis, celestials and others,

    couldnt establish peace and vedic rules in on earth in one day if they want ?

    of course they could. "  does not make sense if you make Krishna as ruling with iron hand.

    Going by your philosophy nobody can or could do anything as Krishna is moving things in his own way at quantum level for everybody and everything!

    I doubt that such is the case of things and events happening.

    lets c if this understanding makes sense:

    Krishna is the master of universe like CEO is master of a company...

    Krishna knows whatever is happening anywhere just like CEO knows what happens in any deptt. of the company

    I guess you might like to think about the importance of narayana,3 Vishnu types,pradyumna,maya devi etc. if Krishna is micromanaging everything..

  • Thank you prabhuji,

    but if this would be the case, then Prahlad Maharaj's statement  that "as for as material happiness and sufferings(sense gratification) are concerned they will come and go automatically but one should endeavor for the thing which is not available in the higher and lower planetary systems" would have become useless. I am completely agree that Krishna and some of His pure devotes like  Lord Shiva and Narada, etc. know the future of all universe. But that does not mean that every thing is already written and even if things are already written still we have full independence to make our spiritual future and how these two contradicting phenomenon are going on, this is inconceivable. This is because of the inconceivable energies of the Supreme Lord.

    And if we accept that we are instruments of already written future of the universe, then some one may counter argue that Whether to become krishna's servant with krishna consciousness or to become krishna's servant with material consciousness(i.e, maya's servant) has also already written in our future book. So we should not worried for our spiritual progress, it has already written. 

    So this philosophy is in contradiction with the statement of Prahalad Maharaj, because he is instructing us to endeavor for spiritual progress. From him we are not getting any clue that spiritual progress is already written.

    kindly forgive me prabhu for any type of misunderstanding and for any offensive words.

    • E-Counselor

      Hare Krsna Prabhuji,


      I will try once again to answer this mail of yours -

      But that does not mean that every thing is already written and even if things are already written still we have full independence to make our spiritual future and how these two contradicting phenomenon are going on, this is inconceivable. This is because of the inconceivable energies of the Supreme Lord.

      You are right. At any given point in time, we are in a position to choose bhakti or the path back to Godhead. This is independent of our prarabdha karma. This usually happens with the mercy of devotees of the lord. Thats why mercy is called causeless. When we are living our life, the problems or obstacles we face are due to prarabdha karma. But bhakti is consciousness, it can be done in any situation in life. Regardless of the obstacles, if we can manage to keep Krsna Consciousness, we will still be delivered.

      There are two types of jivas - nitya mukta (forever liberated) and nitya baddha (forever in bondage). The nitya baddha jiva can become a sadhana siddha bhakta with his own choices and sadhana. This is true for all living entities in this material world.

      To give you an example - I know someone who never earned or worked in his life. He spent his time sitting, reclining or lying down on a bed. He had 4 children. He and his family were fed by his brother who had his own family to look after apart from joint family responsibilities. He thought he was too superior to work - he was on the path of so called spirituality and even dabbled in a bit of astrology. People would even go to him at time and gave him money for seeing their charts (this was not often, only at time, through known people). His sister once told me - he has raja yoga in his kundali, then why he is without work and why he and his family are living in penury? I understand that now - he had raja yoga, therefore he didnt have to move a finger and still he and his family were fed, the children got educated, even the daughter got married and he still had to do nothing except curse his brother.

      If he had endeavoured, maybe he could have been an IAS officer or in top position somewhere and maybe his family life would have been much better. That is the combination of fate and effort - something is there as per fate, we still have to do effort to get it.

      Similarly, we have the choice at any given point in time to choose spirituality - in its true spirit and not the way this man in my example did. The more we endeavour on the path of spirituality, the more our karmas will be without reaction and the more we will get further onto the path of spirituality.

      I hope I have been able to convey.


      Your servant,


  • Hare krishna to all.
    I think both free will and destiny are part of our life. Our life is like a kite and its command is in the hands of krishna. Where maya is the wind that blow and force our senses to get in controle of it rather than krishna so there comes our free will to chose the master maya or krishna. Who will be what so ever will be risponsible for our welfare and distruction. Risponsible to instruct path in life . And its our choice to fly in controle of maya in the sky with lost senses and situation or in hands of krishna where there will be maya and unctroled situation but being risponsible he would help us controle our senses and will be there with us forever . I hope my answer will help you to understand that I have given .
  • Hare Krishna Prabhu & all glories to Srila Prabhupada,

    Im  not as qualified as other members here prabhu so I hope the following is acceptable:

    ' this question is from very beginning in my Krishna Conscious life, that how we have free will for doing everything and at the same time everything can be predictable'

    There may be two answers to this prabhu. One is : since the Lord is Independant supremely, we being the parts and parcels are independent minutely. Second is : acintya-bheda-bheda. 

    'Now my question is that when everything about our future is predictable than what is the value of our free will''

     our future is predictable prabhu, not Predicted already (ofcourse, Lord Krishna knows all future , past and present but material world, the mahat tattva may not and we the Jivas, most of us definitely dont). For example some prarabdha karmas ( karmas from previous births) may be there that may produce fruits in a p-articular birth. But with ananya bhakti, karma is destroyed so anyone  performing devotional service is very highly fortunute. Any person doing bhakti , he has been taken in control by Sri Krishna. This question is actually answered very very clearly in the Gita.  

    But it is very clear from previous acaryas that although karma may be present in varying amounts in varying persons, karma is destroyed in total by suddha bhakti . Guna and Karma determine a person's body. So all persons are qualified for bhakti if he has faith/devotion, Bhakti being beyond the modes. Lets say a person is born brahmana / sudra probably because of guna ad karma variants.  BUT both are eligible for bhakti because it totally smashes karma and is beyond the gunas. So chanting the maha mantra is the only way for release from this cycle of birth and death in this age prabhu regardless of karma. 

     Based on previous karma it may be possible to predict the future. For example there is a temple in Chidambaram India,where futures of most people are charted/present in 'Olai's a kind of ancient paper. But the thing is until some action is done, there is choice. That choice is available for a person until the verge of acting.  

    Hare Krishna ,


    • Hare Krishna pr.

      Thank you for reply. My understanding regarding this question is also little similar to your reply, but i had started this discussion with an hope of getting some shaastrik evidences (scriptural evidences). Anyway let me try to put my understanding regarding this question.

      one thing is clear that everything is not predestined. Because any of our Acharyas (whether he be Sankaracharya or Acharyas of our Vaishnav sampradayas) never supported this type of idea, neither any scripture has supported this philosophy. so in front of these two authorities we are exactly like an ignorant child. on the other hand both the authorities are action oriented, they say 'if we perform devotional service we will go back to godhead and if we want to remain in this world for eternal suffering then also it depends on us.' so to act or not act, to chant or not chant, to do good or to do bad all this depends on us.

      Now regarding the second part i.e "Predictions", we should try to think over on it with a different angle of vision. As we know that soul is beyond time and the liberated souls make their predictions from the level of soul realization. This means they predicts past, present and future but they are situated beyond past, present and future. It is said that in spiritual world there is no past and no future, time always remain in present.  By our present intelligent we can not understand this because we have no experience of it. Therefore for us at present we can accept this as achintya. But achintya does not mean achintya for all, to pure liberated souls like Prabhupada and other acharyas thinks are not achintya. They know the 'Tattva' completely. And after knowing the truth completely they are telling us to perform devotional service. so we should put our faith in them that everything is not predestined, it depends on us whether we want to go high in our life or want to go down.

      The above mentioned is my present understanding regarding this topic. And with the hope of further strengthen this understanding by taking evidences from shastras especially on this topic, i had started this discussion.

      Hare Krishna

      • TEXT 20

        daityasya yajiiiivayavasya maya­
        grhita-viiriiha-tanor mahiilmana�
        kauravya mahyiirh dvi§ator vimardanarh
        didrk§ur iigiid r§ibhir vrta� svarii.t

        daityasya-of the demon; yajiia-avayavasya-of the Personality of God­
        head (of whose body yajna is a part) ; maya-through His potency;grhtta­
        was assumed; viiriiha-of a boar; tanoft-whose form; mahiitmanaft-of the
        Supreme Lord; kauravya-0 Vi dura (descendant of Kuru); mahyiim-for the
        sake of the world; dvi§Uto�-of the two enemies; vimardanam-the fight;
        didrk§uft-desirous to see; iigiit-carne; r.sibh*-by the sages; vrla{t­
        accompanied; svani_t-Brahrna.


        0 descendant of Kuru, Brahma, the most independent demigod of the
        universe, accompanied by his followers, came to see the terrible fight for

        the sake of the world between the demon and the Personality of Godhead
        who appeared in the form of a boar.

        The fight between the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and
        the demon is compared to a bullfight for the sake of a cow. The earth
        planet is also called go or cow. As bulls fight between themselves to ascer­
        tain who will have union with a cow, so there is al.ways a constant fight be­
        tween the demon and the Supreme Lord or His representative for supre­
        macy over the earth. Here the Lord is significantly described as yajnavAyava.
        One should not consider the Lord to have the body of an ordinary boar.
        He can assume any form, and lie possesses all such forms eternally. It is
        from Him that all other forms have emanated. This boar form is not to he
        considered the form of an ordinary hog; His body is actually full of yajria,
        or worshipful offerings. Yajna (sacrifices) are offered to Lord Visnu . Yajna 
        means the body of Lord Visnu. His body is not material; therefore He should
        not be taken to be an ordinary boar.
        Brahma is described in this verse as svarat. Actually, full independence
        is exclusive to the Lord Himself, but as part and parcel of the Supreme
        Lord, every living entity has a minute quantity of independence. Each and
        every one of the living entities within this universe has this minute indepen­
        dence, but Brahma, being the chief of all living entities, has a greater
        potential of independence than any other. He is the representative of
        Krsna, tire Supreme Personality of Godhead, and has been assigned to pre­
        side over universal affairs. All other demigods work for him; therefore he
        is described here as svara(. lie is always accompanied by great sages and
        transcendentalists, all of whom came to see the bullfight between the de­
        mon and the Lord. 

        Please find the quotations from Bhagavatham above. From SB 3.2 - Text 20.

        Apologies for my ignorant replies above prabhu..Im still a beginner so please bear with me.

This reply was deleted.