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Re: Punah Janmas

From: Mohan Sagar (msagar_at_worldnet.att.net)
Date: Sat Jan 11 1997 - 15:42:10 PST

Sumanth writes:

>1. Is one's birth is determined by chance, by law, or by one's free
>will? Provided that a jivam has not taken any of the five-fold
>paths to moksha, does the jivam, at the time of death have the
>"choice," of the next womb that it will enter?  If it has no
>choice, is the next womb determined by random chance? or is it
>determined by a set of "rules" for which a jivAtma has no control?

It has been sometime since I have thoroughly studied such scriptures as Sri
Bhagavad Geetha which discuss this topic.  But, from my understanding, the
whole process of birth and re-birth is not by chance but is based on a
complicated series of laws based on the jiva's experiences and actions.
Through its experiences in various bodies, and its responses to these, the
cetana's subtle body, which shrouds it in ignorance, gains certain gunAs,
which direct its actions and consequently, directs its future birth.  A
complicated series of debits and credits, papams and punyams,
quasi-controlled by the choices the soul makes, define where the soul goes
next.  

Popularistic beliefs hold, though, that while the choice of where the cetana
goes next is based on these defined laws, the Lord out His compassion allows
like minded souls who developed attachments for each other in one birth, to
continue to remain together in another birth.  Although this is a somewhat
sentimental theme, it does provide some interesting thoughts into how
friendships sometimes crop up when they are least expected, and how our
arranged marriage system has, in general, worked so well.

It is important to note, though, that throughout the countless births the
Lord is always there, guiding and protecting us, and slowly cultivating in
us the devotion that hopefully, will remove the ego and ignorance and allow
us to realize Him.  The Srirangam Acharyas liken this to a farmer planting
and harvesting crops.  The Lord as the farmer carefully tills the soil by
protecting the cetana through its many experiences, plants the seed of
devotion in the soul's heart, and continues to care for and feed this tiny
seed until devotion blooms in full.

>2. Is one required to be a Sri Vaishnava  to attain moksha? I know
>one can quote Bhagavad Gita and say that all paths lead to Sriman
>Narayana. But these passages only establish this in the  "asymptotic"
>limit; namely, one will *eventually* find Sriman Narayana regardless
>of the path. However, they say *nothing* about what happens at the
>conclusion of any given birth. 

This question is a somewhat difficul one, since many of the world's
religions claim to have exclusive rights to the path to salvation. I
personally do not think it is for us to judge which is right.  From our
perspective, however, it must be understood that Moksha can only be provided
by the Lord, Sriman Narayana, and is a direct result of only His Grace.
Consequently, it can be argued that one's jAti, one's religion, one's race,
is all irrelevant.  What is only required on our part is to transcend our
guNa controlled egos, which delude is into thinking that we are responsibile
for our own survival and salvation, and simply ask for and accept His
Unfathomable Grace.

However, for the purpose of not making our religion seem completely
unnecessary, I should point out the view that correct wisdom is required to
achieve such a mood of humility.  Such a knowledge can only come about
through a proper understanding of prapatti as it is discussed in our three
rahasyas.  As this traditionally is provided only to initiated
SriVaishnavas, it can be stated that the practice of SriVaishnavism as a
religion (i.e., one need not be born into this) is required to lead one to
salvation.

Daasanu Daasan,

Mohan