Posted on September 9, 2011 by gokulmuthu
One of the common misconceptions about Hinduism is that it advocates fatalism.
Fatalism with respect to individuals is a philosophical doctrine that an individual does not have full control over the events that happen in his life. There are two flavors of fatalism – whether it applies only to the future or to the present also. In the first case, my current action does not have any effect on my future. Whatever I do, I cannot change whatever that “has” to happen. The second case is more severe. I do not have freedom of action now. There is no freewill. I am forced to do whatever I do.
Before talking about Hinduism, let us see two other schools of thought and see if they are fatalistic.
Current science is based on the assumption that the fundamental nature of the world is material. The fundamental particles that make up this world of living and non-living things is matter (and energy). All thoughts are the result of chemical and electrical reactions happening in the brain. So, if all thoughts are the products of material reactions, then there is no place for a freewill, free from the influence of matter. If the fundamental nature of the world is only material, there is no place for freewill. This logically leads to fatalism.
Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) hold that there is a “God” in “heaven” who has created the world and who influences the situations and actions of people. To the question why one child is born in a hut in Africa and another child is born in a big hospital in Canada, the answer given is “because God willed so”. Much of what happens in the life of a child is because of the upbringing. So, the individual is not in control of most of what happens in his/her life. Even to the question of why some people live their entire life without a chance to hear about this “God” (and His Son or Prophet) and some people live in a “pious” society, there is no better...