You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : December 1996

"Do we need to ask/beg Him"

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Tue Dec 03 1996 - 08:09:19 PST

srimathE sri lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta guravE namaha

Dear bhAgavatOttamas,

It was very interesting to read some of the lively comments on the above
subject in the past days.

Please permit me to share a little reflection of mine on the matter which
might throw some light or perhaps elicit more discussion.

The question,"Is it necessary to actually ask the Lord for "moksha"" is no
doubt one of extreme importance to us mortals because none of us wants to
ever "miss the bus" only for the reason that we simply failed to stick out
our arms and wave it to a halt. Hence, it is but natural that a question of
this sort raises so much scope for scriptural interpretations and debate.

But my personal belief is that when in doubt about "technical and
legalistic" aspects of "prapatti" such as the subject one, it is much easier
to draw conclusions from 'purani-c' and purely devotional sources of our
"achAryAs" rather than from the more difficult sources, passages and
citations from their highly specialized, sometimes even arcane, treatises,
commentaries or interpretations.

I say this because even in my secular or professional life I often find
myself in the same situation. For e.g. back home in India I sometimes used
to find an "Income-Tax Ready Reckoner" a much easier handbook of quick
clarification to, or easy interpretation of, the complexities of the Indian
taxation laws than the more exhaustive and authoritative commentaries of
even Sri.Nani Palkhivala or Sri.Mulla ! This is not to belittle the great
Palkhivala or extol the virtues of a simple "ready-reckoner" beyond
proportion. Rather, what it means is that our choice of sources of
clarification must be guided more by the purpose for which we seek such
clarification rather than by their mere availability or accessibility. If it
is merely correct position of "established law" that I am seeking to know,
then the good little "Taxation Hand-book" will suffice. Instead if my
purpose is to raise a great issue of fundamental jurisprudence I intend
litigate against in the highest councils of justice then, no doubt, I have
to naturally consult the great tomes of Mulla & Palkhivala. If I were to use
one for the other purpose then it would be like taking an axe to swat a fly !!

Now to the question "Do we need to actually 'ask' the Lord for "moksha""
which has been raised in the group, the answer I think can be found in the
easy "reference manuals" or "ready-reckoners" of our epic 'The Ramayana'
itself which was just a few days ago discussed so wonderfully through Sriman
Sadagopan's postings on the "Raghuveera-gadyam" of Swami Desikan.

In the Ramayana there are clearly three classes of 'prapanna-s' who obtained
"moksha" from the Lord.

CATEGORY A: Those who "asked" for it and being supremely eligible, attained
it from the Lord e.g. Visbheeshana, Kakasuran. 

Here "mOkshA" was granted against "saranAgathi". 

CATEGORY B : Those who never "asked" for it and yet the Lord thought it fit
to grant it to them SUO MOTO.

 Here the most dramatic example is that of the Great Bird Jatayu which was
in its death-throes when Rama chanced upon its wounded remains and learnt of
the deadly battle it gave to Ravana in preventing him from abducting Sita.
Now it is obvious that Jatayu gave battle to Ravana, hundred-percent
unselfishlessly, without the least thought of "moksha" or with any intention
of making itself eminently worthy of "mokshA". Even in its dying moments the
Great Bird did not "ask" the Lord for "mokshA" (although it would have been
perfectly natural to do so) and used all its dying energies and faculties
only to express to the Lord its utter remorse and frustration in being
unable to save the Lord's Consort. We know the Lord wept uncontrollably in
great anguish for the Bird that had given its very life to prevent an act of
"a-dharma" being committed in its presence.Which is why, we know, the Lord
performed funereal rites for Jatayu, a singular honour which He did not
bestow even on His own father, Dasaratha !!
 
 Poets here point out that in this case the Lord granted "mOkshA" without
being "asked" not because Jatayu had given its life trying to save His
Spouse but because the Great Bird had died a martyr for "DHARMA". When an
act of "a-dharma" was being committed the bird, in spite of being old,
infirm and simply no match for the superior might of its adversary, Ravana,
had yet not just sat around and watched helplessly the crime take place; nor
did it simply fly away in the modern attitude of "none of my business!" or
"why bother? It's Rama's problem!". The Bird instead had unhesitatingly gone
to war to protect what was its "VISHESHA-DHARMA"! Since we know that
"dharma" is dear to the Lord (vide the Gita), it is hence no wonder that He
gave Jatayu "mokshA" even without being "asked" for it.    
 
 Thus in this category "moksha" is essentially given unasked because a
'prapanna' has died a martyr for "dharma".

CATEGORY C : Here the Lord is neither asked "mokshA" nor does he give it
unilaterally. Now it may be asked if there was ever INDEED such a situation
when a 'prapanna' neither sought "moksha" nor was he granted it 'gratis' !!
And yet the devotee experienced 'moksha' ! Incredible, isn't it ? 

Of course it isn't, dear bhAgavatOttama-s !!

If you go to Shloka 41 of the "aranya-kanda" in the 'Raghuveera Gadyam'(so
dear to Sriman Sadagopan) you will read :

"avandhya-mahima munijana-bhajana-mushita-hrudaya kalusha shabarimOksha
sAkshi-bhuta !!"

The above shloka of Swami Desikan describes clearly that the Lord merely
"witnessed" the event of Sabhari attaining "moksha" : "sabarimoksha
sAkshi-bhutha !!". Swami Desikan, the "kavi-simham", here does not use the
Sanskrit equivalent of "Sabari attained "moksha"" or "sabari was granted
"moksha"'. Desikan specifically employs the expression "sAkshi-bhuta" !!
implying that Rama was mere "mute witness" to Sabari attaining "mOksha" !

 In this category you could say "mOksha" is verily commandeered by
"paramEkAntin-s" like Sabari and in their cases they have the right to
simply "grab" "moksha" as a matter of right from the Lord who has virtually
no say in the matter !!

So by simply referring to Swami Desikan's simple and handy "ready-reckoner"
called "Raghu-veera Gadyam" one can easily arrive at answers to the question
"Do we need to ask HIM?" by posing the counter-question :

 "Which category does the "prapanna" belong to? A, B or C above ?".

Dear bhAgavatOttama-s, please try it on yourselves and an answer might emerge !!


srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha.

sudarshan
       

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha