At times we interpret Destiny as the same as Fate. But is Destiny the same as ‘Fate’? A quote by Kamran Hamid brings out the difference beautifully Fate is for those too weak to determine their own destiny. When we speak of fate it implies a ‘fait accompli’ situation where we are virtually helpless in averting a situation.

An interesting Zen story

“During a momentous battle, a Japanese general decided to attack even though his army was greatly outnumbered. He was confident they would win, but his men were filled with doubt. On the way to the battle, they stopped at a religious shrine. After praying with the men, the general took out a coin and said, “I shall now toss this coin. If it is heads, we shall win. If tails, we shall lose. Destiny will now reveal itself.”

He threw the coin into the air and all watched intently as it landed. It was heads. The soldiers were so overjoyed and filled with confidence that they vigorously attacked the enemy and were victorious. After the battle, a lieutenant remarked to the general, “No one can change destiny.”

“Quite right,” the general replied as he showed the lieutenant the coin, which had heads on both sides.

The moral of the story is to be optimistic and confident rather than leave things to fate.

Control your destiny

The other day I had parked my car in our military cantonment where I saw an old but spruced-up wall with a quote painted on it. The highly inspiring quote was on ‘Destiny’. My guess is the wall must be a remnant of a demolished old squash court.  The quote below encourages us to believe that we do have a say in our Destiny and changing it is very much within our power.

So  what is destiny to you???

About Dilip

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are music and growing culinary herbs. Love to play golf and do yoga regularly. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

33 responses

  1. InfiniteZip says:

    destiny, to just be, to not worry about what may be (one of my biggest struggles) but to be positive, manifest it in your head and actions, and i do believe in the thoughts become things element. Choosing the good ones if at all possible.


    • dilipnaidu says:

      Thanks for your beautiful comment. Yes the only way to manifest and maintain positivity is to practice the art of calming the mind. It works to a great extent.
      Cheers and best wishes always 🙂


  2. Dilip says:

    You are right! The Zen Master Rinzai has also said the whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of the Now – not slipping into the past nor into the future.

    Appreciate your comment!


  3. brar ajaib singh says:

    katrina!s success story is a good example to understand our so called destiny. it is living in the moment and be guided by our inner instincts or you may call it intuitions. majority of people in her situation would have discussed with friends or relatives and guided by them not to take risk. it is her intuitions which made her pack up and cometo indian film industry. . all happiness and freshness lies in this very moment. let us live this moment and make our destiny.


  4. brar ajaib singh says:

    all depend in what state we are in the moment. be in the moment and see the result. everything around us have no complain and is existing in harmony. nothing seems to be in confrontation. only man has the habit of showing different shades and opinions mostly driven by the ego. just drop the ego which in realty is nonexistant and see everything is beautiful and harmonious. looking at thing as they are without any label is the key. it comes with positivity. in the moment it is all positivity. more and more awareness keep us on the track of positivity. fate and destiny are all mind games . reminding oneself of five things will help.1. all the rules in the existence are my rules. responsibilityis limitless. 3. the way it is right now is the wayit is. 4.i am not the body; i!m not the mind. 5. i!m the mother to the world.


    • Dilip says:

      Hello Ajay wow that’s quite a philosophical take on Destiny! The other day I read an interesting article in Indian Express of 18 Sept 2011 by a Bollywood movie star by a Bollywood star which is reproduced below:

      ‘I didn’t feel it was my birthright to get a big film’

      I’m a big believer of destiny, by the way. I really think God has a plan for all of us. I think it was destiny that made me come to Mumbai. Even when things were bleak, I didn’t for once think that I should pack up and leave. I believed that things would work out.

      – Katrina Kaif



  5. Nice post! You’re right, it does make us think as there are no definite answers. But to differentiate the two, its like answering two questions, Where and How? For me, destiny is simply WHERE we end up and fate is HOW we end up there. Fate happens unexpectedly. With destiny, it allows us to choose what we want to be in the end.


    • Dilip says:

      Thanks. That’s a perfectly clear explanation – Destiny does allow us to choose what we want to be. If we do good things chances are that the long-term outcomes are likely to be positive.

      Many thanks for dropping by!


  6. Dear Sir,

    Destiny is the controller of present activities of an individual that leads to a bright future.And ensure a maximum utilisation of availabe limited resources like time,money,etc. Ofcourse fate also play a vital role but it favors to the optimistic,confident, focused & hardworker one.Destiny:Fate-99:1.If any deviation comes on one’s path that will get rectified immediately.

    Warm regards,
    Your dear Sashi


    • Dilip says:

      Hello my dear friend Sashi and a warm welcome after long. Yes your interpretation is very convincing indeed. I especially liked the last line.

      Hows your new role as regional head in Bangalore getting on? Wish you all the best!


  7. Dear Sir

    This is topic which I am personally observing on myself “Do we have believe on our destiny or not?” and finally u put this topic on your blog. I am mesmerizing about this topic. At the end of the day, I have learned from my personal experience that we can not fight with our destiny but we have move on with it.

    Thanks for upload for such a nice topic



  8. Quite a thought provoking post Dilip. I really enjoyed this and will think about it for a while. Margie


    • Dilip says:

      Howdy Margie and thanks for stopping by. I am happy you liked this post. Yes it does make us think as there are no definite answers.




  9. Geetha says:

    Dear Sir,

    “Fate is for those too weak to determine their own destiny.”

    I learnt this lesson very early in my life from the true life story of my own father. A young lad of just 13 years, born and brought up abroad as the privileged eldest son in a very rich family, he came to India with his family during World War II, lost his father very suddenly, overnight, the family went from riches to rags, and my dad, at just age 17, undertook a lonely journey in the unreserved compartment of a train that took him from his small village in South India all the way to Calcutta. He did this when he was armed with a mere SSLC and shorthand-typing certificates. He took up a job and went on to support his young widowed mother and three younger siblings, got his two sisters married, then, set up his own family and eventually, through sheer hard work and perseverance rose admirably well in the Corporate Ladder. He worked in the same organization with utmost dedication and loyalty for close to four decades.

    Not once did I hear him moaning about his fate. Instead, he took firm possession of the steering wheel – have borrowed Lubna’s beautiful analogy here! – to create his own destiny.

    To me he was the embodiment of what we learn in the Upanishads:

    You are what your deep, driving desire is.
    As your desire is, so is your will.
    As your will is, so is your deed.
    As your deed is, so is your destiny.
    Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV 4.5

    I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around, accidental like, on a breeze. But I think…. Maybe it’s both. Maybe both are happening at the same time. ~ Forrest (Tom Hanks) in Forrest Gump, 1997.

    Thanks and regards,



    • Dilip says:

      Dear Geetha,

      I am quite touched to read your revered fathers inspirational story he indeed is a great human being. The verse from the Upanishad is a beautiful explanation:

      “As your will is, so is your deed.
      As your deed is, so is your destiny”.

      So in a way we do have a say in our destiny.

      Thank you and kind regards.


    • Dilip says:

      Hi Geetha,

      Both Bob Moawad’s quote and Shombit Sengupta perspectives provide beautiful insights to understand the true nature of what we mean by Destiny.

      Shombit’s passion and courageous pursuit leaves no doubt in our minds that destiny favors us when we are deeply committed to our purpose.

      Many thanks for your time and for the interest. Regards.


  10. girish says:

    Hon’ble sir

    Thank you for a very powerful and learning the concept of fete which is in our control with god to much extent.




  11. girish says:

    Respected sir ,

    It is indeed very true as I was attending the discourses on Gita by Chinmayananda society in Simbiosis which the essence of Gita they taught is your word or your karm is your destiny. Moreover if you don’t do the puja say to Bhagwan that bhagwan i am doing my job in office or i am studying and it is my worship to you and that becomes the worship when you do every karma of your become a powerful mediator to form your destiny. So it is rightly said that I am the master of my fete or destiny.

    The artical is very interesting and gives learning.

    girish Kohli


    • Dilip says:

      Dear Girishji,

      So kind of you to invoke Swami Chinmayananda learning. Among his many teachings one that I like is “More important than what is Behind you and what is Ahead of you is what is In you. Seek IT. Centered in it, act and live”.

      Thanks you friend and wish you well.


  12. suhas says:

    Hi Dilip,
    It is interesting to read your blogs. Let me start by telling a story about Lord Mountbatten. I don’t remember where I read it.
    Like the Japanese general, he too had a British Pound with heads on both sides, and used it to his advantage to avoid controversies.
    Coming to destiny; I liked Sri Ram’s references to Gita and other great scholars.
    One more ex. from Ch. 6 verse 5. It says,” One should try to go to higher levels and never fall down. (In doing so) only you are your friend & you are your enemy.”
    Also in Ch.10 verse 42 the lord asks Arjuna,” Why do you want to know about all my powers? It is enough to know that I control the universe by just a fraction of my ability.”
    The contradictions are meant to make Arjuna (and all of us) think.


    • Dilip says:

      Hello Suhas its always refreshing to read your comments and the fact that you invoke the Gita makes it very interesting!

      Many thanks and regards.


  13. Sriram says:

    PS – The Japanese were ‘fated’ to win so the General was ‘destined’ to dream up his ruse!


  14. Sriram says:

    Dear Sir,

    Lets first do an etymological exploration of the two words –

    fate – comes from the Latin fatum which means a prophetic declaration – so its a prediction about how things are going to be.

    destiny – comes from another latin word destinare – which is to determine or to choose and be firmly established.

    So the fundamental difference is that one is a passive word and the other is an active word – one is reactive and the other is proactive.

    Let’s then look at some ‘contradicting’ views by our Masters – Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, according to his horoscope was to be married twice ( as he would lose his first wife to death and therefore re marry) – but he used to tell his parents and elder brother that he has the will in him to change his horoscope and hence not go by what has been ordained for him – he did wonderful ‘miracles’ to prove to his brother that there is something called will and humans can really make things happen. (these exciting stories can be read from the Autobiography of a Yogi – by the Master)

    Sri Ramana Maharishi on the other hand is often quoted for his declaration ‘ whatever has to happen will happen, however hard you try to make it not happen, and whatever has not to happen will not happen however hard you try to make it happen, so its wise to be in an actionless state of equanimity’. (This is a loose translation of the original in Tamil) Here apparently the Master is instructing us on fait accompli.

    Then there is the doha by kabir ‘ khudi ko kar buland itni, ki har takreer se pehle khuda bande se pooche, bol teri raza kya hai’ – (make yourself so determined that the benevolent Lord before deciding for you asks you for your permission! – again a loose translation)

    In the Gita, the Lord declares (Ch 11 Verse 33) ‘ you are a mere instrument O Arjuna! I have already felled the Kauravas’

    So then are we fated to be puppets on a chain or destined for greatness?

    In an interesting experiment scientists wanted to test the hypothesis whether the ‘skewed’ income distribution seen globally is by design or by default (desitny or fated) – So they recreated the world economy through computer algorithms to create a ‘sugarscape’ with replicating the random natural resource distribution as found on earth. after several iterations (economic booms and busts) they found that the simulated sugarscape also had an income distribution as found in the global economy. This finding proved that income or wealth distribution is skewed by default! (fated!)

    Lets take the example of the Major from the previous post. He was ‘fated’ to become physically disabled, but he was ‘destined’ to defeat his physical limitations! Let’s read the sentence a little differently – He was ‘destined’ to become physically disabled, but he was ‘fated’ to defeat his physical limitations!

    Obviously the latter statement rings INCORRECT. That’s because we see fate and destiny as two different things. We see fate as disaster and destiny as something positive. So we see Arthur Ashe winning the Wimbledon as Destiny and his contracting AIDS as fate. perhaps he reconciled it best by saying, If I saw winning as Destiny, then AIDS too should be Destiny and If I saw the AIDS as fate, then I must accept winning as fate.

    That’s where our Masters brought out the ‘contradiction’ so well. Fate and Destiny are just two sides of the same coin. And as humans with potential to be Divine, we need to get past this labeling and see through this game of fate and destiny with equanimity and grace. Because the game of Life is not about being a ‘successful’ mortal. The game is to end being ‘mortal’.




    • Dilip says:

      Dear Sriram,

      Another wonderful treatise from you on Destiny and Fate. Your words “Fate and Destiny are just two sides of the same coin. And as humans with potential to be Divine, we need to get past this labeling and see through this game of fate and destiny with equanimity and grace. Because the game of Life is not about being a ‘successful’ mortal. The game is to end being mortal” bring out the essence very well.

      At times people use Fate as an explanation to someone who is or has suffered to placate the person. Whereas Destiny is used when you wish to inspire someone to carry on regardless of results. Yes but we do need to get past this labeling.

      Re: your explanation on the Japanese General did what he did to inspire his men in action.

      Many thanks for the enrichment!


      • sriram says:

        Jaggi’s take on Fate & Destiny – “Destiny is what every human being creates for oneself. Fate is when you fail to create your own destiny”. I think that says it all!!



      • dilipnaidu says:

        Yes Sri … this realy is a simple yet effective way of explaining the fate and destiny. Thanks & regards.


    • Vatsala Naidu says:

      Dear Dilip Sir,
      “khudi ko kar buland itna…..” was a full poem written by none other than Iqbal.The link in fact carries the entire poem.

      I guess Kabir deliberately abstained from commenting on fate and destiny because he was well aware of the limiting effect of both these words on human capability. Had he made an overt observation it would have directly impacted his folIowers’ psyche. As soon as I find something relevant in his regard I’ll put it here.


      • Dilip says:

        Hi Vatsala,

        It’s kind of you to enrich this post with a poem of such intricate depth. Its thoughtful of you to share the link. Fortunately I have friend who is quite well-up in Urdu sher-shayari I’m keen on hearing him on this great poet’s poem.

        That’s a nice one on on why Kabir may have avoided giving his views on Destiny and Fate. In today’s times too the operating philosophy professed by our Master’s is to ‘Be in the present moment’. If we are 100% in the moment then no anxiety of the future and no guilt of the past.

        You are most welcome to share your thoughts in this forum. Thank you!



  15. Lubna says:

    Dear Dilip Sir,
    You have made a very interesting and apt distinction between fate and destiny. Fate may serve the worst scenario, but we should remember that we are the drivers of our own destiny. Thus, a bad pot holed road may be what fate churned for our life path, but if we sit tight in front of the steering wheel, we shall reach our destination sooner or later, after having conquered various odds. I think this is one of the best blog posts I’ve come across recently. Many thanks.


    • Dilip says:

      Dear Lubna on the spot. I liked your simple but apt example on the pothole and reaching our destination. When we come across potholes while driving and if we remain focused in the present we would avoid going into the pothole. To that extent we ourselves are responsible for the outcomes.

      Your compliment does mean much to me. Allow me to say once again that my blogging journey began drawing inspiration from gifted ‘writers’ like you. I appreciate you kind and encouraging words.

      With kind regards and thanks!