How much does exercise,medication interfere with one’s destiny?
From: Abhaycharan das
How much does exercise, medication interfere with one’s destiny?
Transcription: (By Sahil Shuban Khushu P)
Answer: Destiny is not static, it is dynamic. We have to understand that we have a duty towards what we do in this life. Towards our body and our possessions we are duty bound even in this life.
Once Srila Prabhupada got news of a devotee, in America, who had met with an accident due to rash driving and had passed away in the accident. The devotees reported that it was his destiny. Prabhupada said no it was not his destiny rather his carelessness. Prabhupada emphasized the point that it was his carelessness.
Of course, nobody dies unless they are destined to. But Prabhupada was making a point that it is our responsibility to act properly. If we look at the pastime of Vasudev and Kamsa. Vasudev is telling Kamsa that if it’s your destiny to die then how can you stop it? What is the use of killing your sister and trying to avoid destiny which you cannot avoid anyway. But Vasudev is not turning the argument to himself and saying that if Devaki is destined to die then what can my efforts do? Let her just die. What is the point of my trying anything? In the purport by Srila Prabhupada it is mentioned that it is the duty of the person to make his best efforts to save his life.
Further in the Bhagavatam (Bali Maharaj section, 8th Canto SB)there is a reference that only when a tree is alive then can it give fruits. Similarly, only if one is healthy can one practice Dharma and get the fruits of Arth, Kaam and Moksha. The point is that taking care of the body is also our duty.
In the first context, Vasudev is arguing and reasoning to stop Devaki’s death. In the 2nd context Sukracharya is telling Bali Maharaj, don’t give up your Artha to Vaman Dev because then you will have no other way to live. Again the point is, it is our duty to take care of the body. And a part of the duty is to take medication, exercise, etc. Hence they don’t interfere with destiny rather they comprise our duty.
There are other questions on destiny also. But we need to understand, destiny is not necessarily static, it is dynamic. Our Karmic bank account is something which has a fixed quantity from what we have done in the past but what we are doing in the present is also adding to it. If a person smokes recklessly and gets lung cancer the person cannot say it is my destiny. It is that person’s stupidity in this life itself. He acted so thoughtlessly and unintelligently that he got that particular consequence . Similarly, if a person over eats and gets his/her stomach upset then over eating is the cause of it. The person cannot say it is my destiny to get a stomach upset.
We have to understand Karma in terms of its balancing principle of Dharma. Karma means, we will get some Karmic reactions but Dharma is what we are supposed to do. Taking care of the body, doing exercises and taking medications are a part of our Dharma.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport that if after one’s best efforts to try to save one’s life if he/she is not able to save then one is not to be blamed for. Similarly, after doing exercises and taking medications we are not able to get good health then it is our destiny.
The knowledge of destiny is meant for two purposes. First purposes is not to get unduly over ambitious about material things and distract ourselves from spiritual endeavours. The second is that if we endeavor in material life and still don’t get the results we understand its destiny. But it is not meant to be used as a justification for giving up our activity.
If a student wants to study 16-18 hours a day and says I don’t have time for my spiritual life, then he/she has to be told, you have a destiny and by neglecting ones Krsna Consciousness one is not bound to get more marks than what he/she is destined to. But if the student says, by destiny I will get marks whatever I am supposed to get and hence will not study at all then he/she is neglecting his/her duty. Such a person has to be told, you have to do your duty. If he/she does his/her duty and still does not get the result then he/she has to be told that sometime destiny may work unfavorably for us due to some past bad Karma.
In these two situations when one is over endeavoring in material life and the endeavors does not yield desired result, at that time one need to look at the principle of destiny and incorporate in one’s thinking. But in normal situation destiny should not be used as a tool for giving up one’s duty. Because then there is no upper limit to this abdication of duty.
An Infant may be crying for mother’s milk. But the mother may think that by giving her milk she might be interfering with the child’s destiny. Because that crying and suffering might be the infant’s destiny. Where do we stop? Certainly Vedic culture is not absurd and not hard hearted and it defines Dharma as an extremely important principle. Doing our duty is essential hence we doing our duty should never be considered as an interference in destiny.
When do we need to be reminded of destiny? When we are so much caught up in material duty that one does not want to spare time for spiritual life. When one does not want to consider the fact that beyond my control, factors may work out and may never give the desired result. If somebody says, I want to start exercising and take medications and thus have no time to chant Hare Krsna, then he/she has to be told that you need to adjust your life style in a way so that you do both.
Somebody says that I need a fit body and thus have to do body building 6 hrs a day. That is not required, it is over endeavour. There should not be any preyas (short term happiness) and at that time a person can be told about destiny. But in general one should not use destiny as a justification for the neglect of duty.
If we consider that exercise and medication are interfering with one’s destiny then actually what we are doing is creating bad destiny for ourselves.
How is destiny created? It is by bad Karma. If I neglect my body now and don’t take medicine then in one sense I am doing bad Karma. Rather than looking at it as an interference in our destiny, we can see it as a duty. We may go to a doctor and take necessary treatment. This suffering of taking a treatment is also a part of our destiny. Someone may need to spend time to exercise as his/her duty. Now exercise is not something which most people look forward to. But then one has to understand that may be it is by destiny that he/she has got a sickly body and therefore it is a part of one’s destiny to do this exercise.
To conclude, the principle of destiny can be interpreted by anybody in any manner. Hence, how do we understand destiny? We have to look at it with one simple understanding. Whatever is favorable for my devotional service I will accept that. Whatever is unfavorable I will reject.
In general for our long term practice of devotional service health is important. So for the sake of health what is anukul (favourable)? Doing some basic exercise, taking some basic medication, etc. so we accept it. We need not use destiny to neglect our body and then complain to Krsna that You are not protecting me. Krsna has given us dharma and through dharma when we do our duty that is also one way Krsna is protecting us, through the wisdom of the scriptures. And we need not neglect that particular wisdom.
Keeping this underlining principle in mind accept what is favorable for devotional service and reject what is unfavorable.