All of us are inseparable from the baggage of our individual karma that dictates the vicissitudes in our lives. Should this view (that places destiny above human effort) be accepted or challenged has been the age-long dilemma for man.

The Ayodhya Kanda in Ramayana features a discussion between Lord Rama and Lakshmana when they review the pros and cons of the arguments pertaining to this crucial issue in man’s life, said Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal in a lecture.

Lakshmana is upset by the turn of events but Rama remains unperturbed and puts forth his views and belief on the play of fate over human endeavour. Rama speaks of ‘ishwara sankalpa’ as the highest force that controls the thought, word and deed of individuals. Else how would Kaikeyi, who was full of love for Rama, now turn against Him?

From the fruits of fate we can surmise its nature, though fate as such is not tangible. Its effects manifest as joy, sorrow, calmness, anger, gain, loss, creation, destruction, and those sins for which we do not know the cause. Great sages like Viswamitra fell victims to destiny and slipped from their austere penance by giving in to desire and anger. Any disruption to one’s plans is to be attributed to fate.

Lakshmana reacts to this point of view with angry and impassioned words. Only those who have no courage and those who are deluded to believe in destiny will talk in this fashion. A kshatriya’s inherent valour never meekly submits to the challenge destiny poses. Is not man’s will capable to survive the odds?

If Rama is not able to see the clear case of a plot that Kaikeyi has wrought to win the kingdom for Bharata and that Dasaratha has played into her hands, Lakshmana says, he is forced to think that Rama is deluded into believing their acts as honest. Lakshmana vows that he can disprove Rama’s theory of an overpowering destiny that has not sanctioned His right to the throne. He can easily nullify the efforts of those who planned against Rama’s coronation. But Rama reiterates His arguments on the righteousness of upholding His father’s words and that He would have to renounce the kingdom.

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