Has the length of a man's life already been determined in advance, even before a person is born?

To answer this question, please be sure to furnish quotations from the scriptures and explain how you see your quotes give the answer to this question.

  • 3
    Yes it is pre-determined, and not only your length of life, but everything that happens. Don't identify your 'personhood' - who 'you' are - with your body. Your jiva is inhabiting your body presently. In future universes when this world and it events are repeated, another jiva will inhabit your present body to experience the experiences of your present body. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 14:54
  • It depends. It is predetermined if you want it to be. 'Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached' by Sri Swami Vivekananda. There is nothing in this universe that can stop you, if you set out towards your goal. Nothing is predetermined. You are the Controller and You are the Master. Do not be a slave to your senses. Be the master and be afraid of nothing. All the best
    – Sai
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 15:24
  • @SwamiVishwananda: But doesn't that create the typical philosophical free will problems?
    – AdityaS
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 18:53
  • Are you just gonna believe some quotations and live your entire life depending on it?
    – sin
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 19:41
  • @sin Yes, when the quotations are from a divine source, living your life based on them is an excellent idea. Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is predetermined. Right when a person is a foetus in the womb, his span of life is already determined based on his past karma. Here's what chapter 32 of the Uttara Kanda of the Garuda Purana says:

O Tarksya, thus, man is born in the mortal world as a result of his own actions. The five characteristics, viz. the span of life, action, wealth, learning and death are created in men even as they are in the womb. The life is born as they are in the womb. The life is born as a result of action; it is dissolved as a result of action. Happiness or misery, fear or welfare are the results of actions. The foetus lies in the womb with the feet up and the face downwards. The foetus lies in the womb with the feet up and the face downwards. The life takes its birth with its association brought about by its own actions.

This excerpt from the Bhumi Kanda of the Padma Purana says the same thing:

Of the fetus in the womb these five are seen: (span of) life, acts, wealth, learning and death. As the doer does (i.e. fashions different images from) a lump of clay, similarly acts that are performed grasp the doer. A being reached the state of a god or a human being or a beast or a bird or a lower animal or an immobile thing due to his acts only. He always enjoys in accordance with what is done by himself. He, having acquired the bed (in the form) of the womb enjoys pleasure or pain ordained by himself (and due to acts) in the former body (i.e. existence).

You can read the rest of the Padma Purana here.

By the way, it might seem strange that even a person's actions would be fixed from the time they're just a foetus, but it doesn't mean that people don't act and make choices. Rather, as the Brahma Sutras discuss, people genuinely act, but it is still the case that Brahman causes them to act; see my answer here.

  • 1
    @@Keshav -Brahman causes the jiva to act, but as per the karmas of the Jiva. This is very important, otherwise, brahman would be consifered as cruel and partial. So, it is as per the karmas of the Jiva, brahman makes him ti act.
    – user808
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 19:02
  • 3
    @Krishna Yeah, I mentioned that in the answer I linked to. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 19:37
  • @KeshavSrinivasan, i think its not always that person's age is only decided at the time he/she is in womb. If you have read the birth story of Sage Markandeya, then his parents were not having child earlier and after they did penance, God while giving them boon asked them whether they wanted a foolish child with longer age or an intelligent child but with less age. They opted for the second option. So, it was decided at that time only. Their child was Sage Markandeya. But even that's not final. When Yamraj came to take away his life, Lord Shiva saved him and blessed him to be immortal.
    – Aby
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 15:55
  • i have read that pranayama by teducing the no of breaths lenthens life.dont temember where.also, people may die before completion of ayu in accidents and so they get pretayoni. Tantra says that mantra siddhas can make death people alive.it is there in tantrasaar.And Ishwara is kartumakartumanyathakartum samarthah meaning that He or She can do whatever He or She wishes.
    – user17294
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 11:57

Well, the answer needs a proper understanding of the concept of Karma. Hindu philosophy divides Karma into - Prarabdha, Sanchita and Agami.

Sanchita Karma is the store house of all past Karmas. It is our Causal body/Karana sharira.

Prarabdha Karma refers to those Karmas which has started to give results. A person gets a birth, takes on a body based on this Prarabdha Karma. Hence, even at the time of birth, the fruits of actions which a person is supposed to face is already decided including the lifeline of a person. But, this is not static. This does not mean there is no role for free Will.

The fruits of Prarabdha Karmas manifest as various situations that a person faces, as various people that a person meets through rina, and as various mental impressions that govern one's decisions. But, inspite of all this, a person has a "Free-Will".

The exertion of free will is called "Agami Karma" and it may give fruit in this life itself or may be stored as Sanchita to give fruits in future lives.

Therefore, though, a general lifeline of a person is decided right at birth, by free will, a person can elongate or shorten it. Example, Markandeya had very short life, but his devotion to Shiva, which was exertion of free will, resulted in Shiva granting him immortality.

Similarly, a person who performs too much adharma and cause sorrow to others, may also have his life shortened.

Hope this helps.

  • But this free will is known to Vishnu and Shiva in advance right?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 15:13
  • I agree with your answer completely. It is the combination of free will and fate that determines the future(past+present=future, though not mathematically).
    – vidyarthi
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 16:49
  • Nitin all the three acharya or any vedantain for that matter doesnt accept freewill for jiva, if you say so than you belong to some other religion..
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 14:28

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