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Muslim invasions and other mysteries

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Fri Jan 26 1996 - 11:08:20 PST

G. Vijay asks:
> Dear Vaishnavas,
> 	I've the following question which I had in my mind for a long
> 	time:
> 		From 1100 C.E onwards many Vaishnava temples including
> 	divyadeshams like Srirangam were overran by Muslim invaders
> 	and many of them were destroyed. Why did our Lord Narayana allow
> 	this to happen eventhough it caused so much distress to his
> 	dear bhakthas [like Sri Vedanta desikar] ?

This question is simply yet another form of ``Why do
bad things happen to good people?'' I am certain that
the answer Sri Ramanuja and other acharyas would give
is a simple one -- these events are due to the previous
karma of the people involved, peppered in part by the
will of God.

At the risk of sounding too much like an Advaitin,
I should point out that even in Visishtadvaita such
events can be considered ``distress'' only from a
particular perspective.  Nothing is inherently good
or evil, so it is only due to our ajnaana (karma)
that we perceive invasions, etc., as being particularly
evil. In reality, they are no such thing, and the
enlightened soul will just perceive it as such. Such
a philosophy is propounded by Ramanuja himself in the

To some, this may appear inscrutable and fatalistic,
but it is not really so.  The fact that invasions are not
inherently good or evil does not mean that we should
not take steps to prevent them. [This fact is stated
in different words in the Gita.]  After all, as
members of this world, we have an obligation to help
those others who are affected by things going on within
it.  I believe this is the primary reason Sri Desikar
composed the AbhIti Stavam -- to calm his mind as
well as those around him.

The person of wisdom, however, is aware of the
true nature of these actions and objects and does not
get personally affected by them.


P.S. In spite of karma or lila, the ``eedu''
commentary on Nammaazhvaar's thiruvaaymozhi
explicitly denounces those who say, ``He deserves
that and much more! After all, it's his karma at
work'' to those undergoing any kind of suffering.
The karma theory is only a means to explain suffering,
not a means to cast judgments upon others.  Compassion
and sympathy, according to the eedu are the primary
characteristics of a Vaishnava.