Do we make our own destiny or it is governed by the super-conscious? It is not easy to find an answer to this. Stephen Hawking would have us believe that we are no better than robot, controlled entirely by laws of nature. Sri Krishna in verse 27, chapter 3 of the Bhagvat Gita had conveyed to us almost the same message:
“All action is universally engendered by the attributes (Gunas) of primordial nature (Prakriti). A man whose self is deluded by ego thinks, ‘I am the doer’.”
Now the question is, to what extent our destiny is pre-determined. According to the Vedanta, Upanishads as also Buddhism, our destiny is substantially pre-determined by our past karma (action). In other words, our life is virtually programmed. The question is, whether our destiny is programmed by laws of nature randomly as proposed by Stephen Hawking, or judgmentally with reference to our past action/deeds by the mandate of the super-conscious. More importantly, whether there is any scope for discretion in our action or whether our action like our destiny is also programmed.
As for random programming of our destiny, it simply does not appeal to our rational mind, even while accepting for argument’s sake that we are no better than robots. Robots are pre-programmed, and there is a rational mind behind every programming. As a matter of fact, every natural phenomenon such as rain, earthquake, drought or volcanic eruption has a causal connection and, therefore, each such phenomenon can be logically explained and is also predictable. There is no reason why the same logic would not apply to the destiny of human beings. It would stand to logic to think, therefore, that whatever happens to an individual has a causal connection to his Karma or past deed. There is no wonder, therefore, that the destiny of a man should also be predictable, subject to our proficiency to know and decode the causal link.
Let us now turn to the last follow-up poser, viz. whether our action is also pre-determined. The answer is an emphatic NO. If our action is pre-determined, surely we cannot suffer its consequence logically. If a man is programmed to rob or steal, obviously he does not deserve punishment for robbery or theft. This would lead us to the inference that our action is not pre-determined though our fate or destiny is. The above inference finds support from the pronouncement of Sri Krishna in verse 47, chapter 2 of the Bhagvat Gita:
“Your right is for the action alone, not for the results.”
A question may arise whether there is any contradiction between the verse 27 of chapter 3 of the Bhagvat Gita, that says “I am the doer” concept is a self-delusion, and verse 47 of chapter 2 ibid that says that we have a right for action. As a matter of fact, the perspectives of the above two statements were entirely different. While verse 27 of chapter 3 was essentially a statement made in the cosmic perspective of the Sankhya philosophy delineating the role of the Purusha and the Prakriti, the verse 47 of chapter 2 was in the worldly perspective explaining the role of destiny vis-a-vis Karma (action). We, therefore, do not see any contradiction between the above two statements.
In sum, therefore, our action determines our destiny by the law of the super-conscious. Hence, our action is not programmed, though it may be influenced by several constraints or compulsions caused by our past action or deeds.