We are the makers of our destiny, but not the masters of our destiny

When we strive to achieve something challenging, we soon realize that the results don’t depend on us alone. For example, in cricket, our favorite team may play brilliantly, but if rain washes out the match’s decisive portion, that team may not win. The unknown factor that shapes results is conventionally called destiny. 

We may wonder: What determines destiny? We do. Or rather, we have determined it, by our past actions. Destiny is essentially the sum total of our past karma, good and bad. A portion of that karma stockpile combines with our present actions to determine the results of those actions. Sometimes, we may do a small good deed and reap a windfall. Why? Because destiny is favorable; our past positive karma is coming into play. At other times, we may make a small mistake and face a catastrophe. Why? Because destiny is unfavorable; our past negative karma is coming into play. Thus, three factors determine the result (phala): our present action (karma), destiny (daiva) and time (kala).  

Put mathematically, Karma + Daiva + Kala = Phala 

Because destiny is nothing but the combination of our past actions, we are indeed the makers of our destiny. However, because we don’t determine whether destiny will manifest positively or negatively at a particular time, we are not the masters of our destiny – the Supreme Lord is. Thus, the role of our present actions in shaping results is contributive, but not definitive. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita urges us to do our duty, but not be attached to the result (02.47).

Understanding that we are the makers of our destiny, we feel inspired to do our part wholeheartedly. Understanding that we are not the masters of our destiny, we learn to gracefully accept whatever results we get.  


Think it over:

  • Which factors determine the results of our actions? Explain. 
  • How are we the makers of our destiny, but not its masters? 
  • How can understanding destiny properly help us? 



02.47 You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

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Stop blaming your outer world, start building your inner world
The mind is omnivorous – it devours whatever is present and feels pleasant
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