“When the man met the woman of his dreams, he said it was kismet. ” “Perhaps it was kismet Jim won the lottery right after he lost his job.” “If kismet does not interfere and allow someone to see the smoke signal, the injured man will die in the freezing canyon.” “So this is your fate destiny kismet you must rise up to it because no one else can take this job.” You have probably heard of such sentiments or read such statements .
The Urban Dictionary says: The word Kismet is of foreign origin and is used in Turkish, Urdu, Hindi and Arabic. In Hindi it means “fate” or “destiny” and the meaning is exactly the same in English. So instead of saying, “it is fate”, you could say “it is kismet“. According to Merriam-Webster, Kismet’ comes from the Arabic word ‘qisma’, which means “portion” or “lot.” Kismet was borrowed into English in the early 1800s from Turkish, where it was used as a synonym of fate. This was an expansion on the meaning of the original Arabic word qisma that led to kismet and one early 18th-century bilingual dictionary says it’s a synonym of “fragment.”
Kalyan Kumar, Vice-president of Human Resources at India Uniper, opines that ‘we often tend to view the word Karma through the prism of Kismet, or fate or destiny. Fundamentally, the roots of these two terms, namely, Karma and Kismet, are from entirely different cultural moorings. The word Karma is native to the Indic civilization, and is common to all of the spiritual traditions that were spawned by the Indic civilization. Kismet has its roots in the Semitic middle east, more specifically in Islam.’ According to him, ‘Karma is much more than Fate, Destiny or Kismet. The term Kismet or Destiny is in common man’s parlance that God alone determines everything. He is the creator, mover as well as the final judge! In the Karmic world on the other hand the doer alone is responsible for all the consequences arising out his actions. Karma by its very intent makes one responsible for one’s actions as well as its attendant consequences.’
In my South Indian dialect of Tamil, one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world, the word often used to explain the inconsequential happenings of life is ‘vidhi’ – It is all her vidhi that these things happened to her. Vidhi is explained as fate, which is written on the head, and is used both positively and negatively, to deal with the unexplainable incidents of living and being.
The negative connotation of the word often results in a fatalistic and simplistic acceptance of negative conditions or circumstances found in someone’s life. It produces a passivity that accepts, with a dejected finality, even what could, with a little more will and effort, be surmounted and overcome. It is the root cause of a defeatist mentality and frequently, the impulse and impetus for suicide and self-immolation.
The positive nuance of the word, on the other hand, recently struck me as being such a help to accept what cannot be undone or unmade. It assists in tiding over the sense of defeat at the missed opportunities, lends comfort when feeling loss at the lapse of time and acts as balm to the deep grief felt for what could have been. It provides the stimulus for a positive and constructive outlook and produces a beneficial and effective attitude. A posture of acceptance and compliance is then birthed, helping to release a free flow of forgiveness. Rather than fostering negative emotions of resentment, rancour and revenge that fester into unforgiveness, it assuages the emotions of antipathy and hostility .
Able to say to the guilty, ‘it is okay, it is just vidhi (or kismet), helps pave the way for bridging the gap betrayal has created and promote relationship by offering the olive branch over the hurdle of hurt. It can create a conducive atmosphere to accept the offender, foster an understanding of the offender and enable an acceptance of the delinquent. It can also prepare the wounded and the offended to receive the one who has wronged and deceived them. It will help to view those who are especially overwhelmed by the enormity of their action or inaction and overcome by the consequences of their participation or abstinence, with the right attitude of clemency and mercy. At the end, it would help offer pardon to those who are overpowered by the guilt of their commission or omission and a way out of defeat into dignity.
The victim would be able to rise above petty feelings of retribution and recrimination to heights of nobility in thought and attitude towards the perpetrator. It would relieve the aggrieved party of rages and grudges, ensuring well-being rather than ill-health born of harboring negative emotions. Forgiveness and reconciliation are powerful restoratives of wholesomeness, both to the injured and the assailant.
It is not that the former deny or sweep away the effects of the crime or violation, but are able to put it aside and move on. It is not that they condone or gloss over the crime, but are enabled to bear with the culprit. It is not that they overlook or just condemn the transgression, but are endued with the ability to bear with the transgressor. They are powerfully motivated to not linger in or camp around the hurt, but start the process of rising phoenix-like from the ashes of their disappointment and distress to new life and being.
May be this seems to be a cop out or a denial or a disassociation, but I see it more as a coping mechanism that enables health and healing on both sides. It actually helps to come to terms with the issue, grapple with its impacts and move on to a virtuous frame of mind. Instead of squatting around wasteful emotions that tear at the soul, fracture the mind and destroy the physique, it helps build on a negative situation and utilize ‘what was meant to be evil’ to become a success, a strength and, in the end, a triumph of the spirit over animal instincts!
In today’s parlace, the word kismet conjures up pictures of a musical, a movie, a computer progam or a company, but in real life it is a lodestar of treasure. In truth, kismet or qismat in Persion, as in the story of Rumpelstiltskin, spins gold out of straw, converts dung into fuel and transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary and other worldly. Like the waves wiping smooth the ruffled sand, it smoothes the wrinkles of life and levitates normal human beings to be more like and closer to the Creator, Who causes the sun to shine and rain to fall on both the good and bad. Not surprising, since, by definition, Kismet is being sure that God is Sovereign over all and that you are under His rule!