Often we stumble upon the question: do we need to perform any karma (action) or is it all destined? Let me attempt to answer this question through an incident. Although the incident dates back almost 2 decades ago, while I was at school, but the lesson I learnt then has helped me throughout these years. Hence sharing.

I was in the ninth standard and in a few months, and we were to start preparations for the much dreaded tenth standard; the results of which would decide our career paths – Arts, Science or Commerce. During one of our geography classes, our teacher started the conversation about preparing for the boards. And towards the end of the conversation, she mentioned “There are two things which will work for you – hard work and prayers”. These words somehow just struck me.

Until eighth standard, I admit I was a mediocre student. My grades were merely average, and I never featured in even the top ten rankers. Could be because of my casualness or lack of hard work. But from the beginning of the tenth standard classes, I started putting in my best efforts. Apart from the preliminary exams, I had solved five sets of board papers for the previous years. I scored very well in those papers and was witnessing a constant improvement in scores after each set of papers.

The board exams arrived. There was a temple of Lord Hanuman right opposite my exam centre, so before each exam, I would pray my humble obeisance to Lord Hanuman and seek his blessings. There was certainly nervousness before each paper, but perhaps the blessings helped me to subdue it to a large extent.

The exams were finally over and it usually took about two months for the exam results to be declared. So our summer vacation was on. While I enjoyed the vacation playing cricket, watching television and spending time with friends, but every day I also prayed for almost an hour. I also maintained a register, so if for some reason I missed praying on any of the days, then I would cover up the next day.

The vacation time passed rather quickly. I believe that is the case with all of us. Whenever we love doing any activity, we are least aware of the passage of time. My school friends and I had all assembled in the school. It was the result day. Morning had turned into evening, waiting the whole day for the results to be declared. Finally, we all assembled in the classroom and the class teacher, with little ado, started with the name of class topper. She said “And the class topper is”. With all eyes set on her, everyone curious to know the topper, she took a pause and then proclaimed – “and the class topper is Kunal”. I couldn’t trust my ears. It took me a few moments to digest the news. Not only were my marks impressive, but were assuring a confirmed seat in the best of the colleges. 

This incident was my first experience of dealing with karma and destiny. While I did not understand the concept of karma back then, but when I think about it now, I relate my hard work to karma. And what about destiny, right? The way I look at it is, there is perhaps nothing called as destiny. What others call destiny or luck, I term it as universal cosmic energy guiding and helping us. In my case, they were the prayers and my faith, which were a medium of connecting to higher spiritual energy.

So answering the question: whether it is karma or destiny which works? I strongly believe it is a combination of both. Neither karma nor destiny can work in isolation. So whenever we work on a goal, we should put in our best efforts, i.e. do our karma, but have equal faith and stay connected to the universal energy, i.e. destiny.