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Re: God's Grace

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Tue Jun 19 2001 - 00:00:48 PDT

K. Sadananda writes:
> I have a big problem in appreciating this concept, if it is said that 
> it is predetermined by Him then, He becomes partial - while he 
> declares - samoham sarva bhuuteshu name dveshosti na priyaH|

I agree that the doctrine as described by our previous 
correspondents is problematic.  I should point out, however,
that no one said that anything is predetermined (this is a position
of the Sri Ananda Tirtha [Dvaita] not Sri Ramanuja) -- Sri Malolan
and Sri Vishnu have only said that the Lord's choosing of Yashoda
or Arjuna is pure leela. The conclusion drawn is that this is
arbitrary and no further investigation can or need be done.

God's impartiality and lack of cruelty is agreed to by all, as we 
must, since we would have no hope if God were a capricious tyrant 
bestowing favors arbitrarily on whomsoever He chose without any 
regard to individual circumstance. As the venerable Badarayana says, 
partiality and cruelty cannot be attributed to the supreme 
Brahman because the Veda and allied scriptures are emphatic 
about it (brahma-sUtra 2.1.35). 

Which is where Malolan's and Vishnu's citation of the choice of 
Arjuna being merely the Lord's "leela" becomes problematic. God
is declared to be impartial precisely in the same breath
as the declaration that this world is merely His leela.
These two are mentioned together because to be God's 'leela'
means that God Himself has no *personal* need to be 
fulfilled by creation.  Ordinarily, we perform something
with the idea of fulfilling a desire, because we lack
something. God, on the other hand, is not in want of anything,
i.e., He would not left unfulfilled if He had not done this. 
His essential nature, as Sri Ramanuja writes at once in 
commenting on this topic, is that He is already perfect in 
Himself (avApta-samasta-kAma, paripUrNa).

It does not mean arbitrary or capricious. Which means
that if the Lord has chosen Arjuna, or Yashoda, it must 
have been due to some reason -- even if the Lord himself 
has concocted some pretext out of His own grace unbeknownst 
to the individual upon whom He is bestowing His favor
(cf. Sri Vachana Bhushana s.386 and Daya Satakam v.74).

If, on the other hand, God is gracing a jIva randomly,
it should strike one that such a God *must* be partial as well 
as cruel -- for why did He not pick me; and further, why
did He leave me toiling in samsAra yet take that other
individual to eternal bliss? 

I'd rather avoid technical and emotinally charged terms 
such as 'upAya', 'nirhEtuka', 'sahEtuka', 'prapatti', etc.,
and merely examine the issue using everyday reason.

There is no disagreement that we should never think
of anything that we do as a *purchase* of God's good
station. This is the principle of sAttvika tyAga
or enlightened renunciation enunciated by the Lord 
Himself in the Gita.  For nothing we do can be 
considered equal payment to the gifts that God gives
us. And certainly one who has realized that God alone is 
the Means and the Goal should be even more steadfast in 
this belief. However, to imply that God acts randomly,
and that such action is at the same time impartial
from an objective standpoint, does not stand the test
of reason, nor does it stand up to the careful writing
of our pUrvAchAryas.

Sri Sadananda writes, on an another note:
> I have another problem in grading the souls in vaikunTa in terms of 
> superiority and inferiority of the souls. 

Such a gradation does not exist in Visishtadvaita Vedanta.
All souls which have attained the Lord are fundamentally equal 
and enjoy the same infinite bliss in Vaikuntha.  Once again,
you may be thinking of the Dvaita school where intrinsic differences are 
proposed -- and you are right, this makes it better than samsAra 
only in name.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani




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