This is a very strange debate going on from time immemorial. The famous Saint Bhartruhari in one of the Shatakas (one hundred verses) has written supporting both the views.
Bhagavan Ramana when asked about the life being predetermined, if moving from one room to another is also predetermined, Bhagavan said, even the blinking is predetermined.
But the same Bhagavan in another place says “therefore it is wise to be silent (inactive)”. But this is strange coming from Him, who came from his home after liying to them. And in a different situation when the Sarvadhikari (the Ashram Incharge, His younger brother) decided to stop the afternoon Narayana Seva (food for the sadhus and poor) decided to leave the Ashram saying, at least they own something whereas I only have this kaupina (loin cloth). And in another instance he Decided against the wishes of the others to let His mother stay with Him. There maybe other similar events in His life.
And Ramakrishna Paramahamsa supports freewill liking it to a cow tied to a rope, one has freewill only as far as the noose string, whatever that may mean.
But then, is it better to “remain silent (inactive)” as Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says, if be asked, it is very difficult, though on retrospect one may feel one could have remained silent. Bhagavan Sri Krishna in Gita says “it is difficult for anyone who is born to remain devoid of any activity “(na jatu thishtati akarmakrt).
So then, is there no freewill, then why do we need a term, or when should we apply our freewill and when to leave it to fate, is a million “whatever currency” question.
For our spiritual growth whatever is prone to be a hindrance should be avoided using freewill and whatever is conducive should be accepted using freewill.
What about our material growth, If one is in the path of renunciation he should leave all the worldly “growth” in the hands of fate. But if one is in the worldly path desiring the worldly growth, he should use freewill for attaining it.
But sometimes even after trying hard, we don’t succeed in attaining the desired or avoid the non-desirable, and other-times even without an iota of effort the same is achieved or avoided. So still this Fate – Freewill remains a mystic mystery.
Whatever it maybe, it is easy to lead the life is we understand, for all that is past is because fate, both good and bad. And whatever is to take place is because of the Freewill.
Smart Mauni says “But it is always freewill of someone to write and fate for the other to read it”.