purvajanmakritam karma . . . (Hitopadesha)
The consequences of actions performed with free will in past lives is called fate in the present life. In this way, whatever action is performed with free will in the present life will be called fate in the future. This obviously implies that we had the freedom to act in the past. Now, if we were free to act in the past, how is it that the laws of the spiritual government have changed in the present and we have lost that freedom of action? Is it not absurd to hold such a view? The past was the present once upon a time, and the present will be the past in the future. Thus, if we were free to act in the past, then we are free to act even in the present. And if we claim that we are not free to act today, i.e. we are bound by fate, then we must not have acted freely in the past either. Even a person with a little common sense can understand this logic.
In other words, using fate as an excuse for negligence in spiritual endeavour is even greater foolishness. Neither the scriptures, nor worldly people advise you to do nothing on the grounds that fate will take care of everything. When it comes to worldly matters we neither consider God the doer and renounce work, nor do we become lazy and leave everything to fate. We work diligently for the sake of wealth and for our children, etc. all the time, but use this philosophy as an excuse to make no effort to attain God . . .
The fact is that every individual is personally responsible for his actions or inaction.
An extract from:
Prema Rasa Siddhanta - Philosophy of Divine Love
Chapter Three, The Grace of God, p. 54-5
Originally written in Hindi by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj