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Re: Swami Desikan's view on karmas

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Tue May 06 1997 - 11:16:15 PDT

I think what has been quoted from Patricia Mumme's translation is a post
prapatti karma issue. This is not the subject of the controversy here. The
issue is that, does a jeeva or can a jeeva do any action towards a
spiritual goal.  In other words does a jeeva has freedom to choose a path
or set of actions that can positively (or negatively) affect his progress
towards moksha? I answer this with an YES.

Please do not confuse this with "is Moksa a fruit of action?" for this, it
is clear, that action is only a VYAJA and it cannot be the direct cause for
moksa. In fact no action can cause moksa.  prapatti itself is a jnana-rupa
not a karma-rupa. ie. it is of the form of jnana and not an action. in the
vedanta desika's view, prapatti is a prarthana purvaka yachana - ie. an
ardent request (begging) using a prayer.  prapatti is also not a cause for
moksa but vyaja only.  It is Lord Srimannarayana who is the direct cause
for an aspirant's moksa.  He is the "muktido mukti bhogyaha" - ie. giver of
moksa and the object of enjoyment in moksa.  

Note, if we assume that karma has nothing to do with moksa, what is the
problem?.  Then how would you explain God giving moksa to a particular
individual X?.  Is it because he likes X as opposed to Y arbitrarily.  It
cannot be, since Lord Krishna states :samoham sarva bhutesu na me dvesyosti
na priyaha" - All are equal to me, none my enemy and none who is dear to
me; Those who pray me with devotion are in me and I am in them.- please see
Sri Ramanuja Bhasya for details on this verse.  The idea is He cannot
discriminate.  Then on what basis other then "karma" does god base his
selection of an individual for moksa.  If it is completely God's grace, he
has to be impartial in offering one a moksa and others this horrible cycle
of birth and death.  He can be impartial only if The basis is karma and the
doer has some freedom to choose the path.  I am not saying that by karma
Lord's favour can be bought.  This is definitely wrong. In fact, such a
trivial thing such as prapatti cannot be powerful by itself to achieve
moksa.  It is God's grace which is the main cause. As per the shastras, by
the grace of God and some individual effort, one advances spiritually.
This karma has to be done with sattivika tyaga. So should  karmayoga,
jnanayoga, bhaktiyoga or prapatti, be done with satvika tyaga.  Satvika
tyaga is a mental attitude while working.  This is not the issue of my
initial mail.  

All I said was based on Sri Sundararajan's statement that "one cannot
strive for one's spiritual progress".  All I stated was, if everything is
God's grace, then it will be identical to fatalism, which is against
hinduism.  If god has laid down shastras, if one does even an do
infinitesimal effort out of his own accord to follow that shastra, then he
has done an independent effort towards spiritual progress. Even if one does
not hinder, god's grace to fall on him, if he does it consciously, then he
is working towards spiritual progress. One might argue that even jeeva's
freedom is dependent on God.  Yes Jeeva is not independently, free; but
verily has freedom- which is dependent on God.  Jeeva still has some
lattitude, which he/she chooses and god consciously does not interfere with
that portion of jeeva's freedom.  

Note when I say karma, I also include karma to mean even conscious mental
will or a conscisous thought.

Note that if one does not accept individual freedom, all the shastras will
be futile which state "this is to done" or "such and such should be
avoided" (hana and upadana).  That is exactly why in the brahmasutras, it
is stated "karta shastrarthavatvat" = jeeva is a doer, or agent since it
makes the shastras valid.  in panini's view, an agent is "svatantra" = as
per "svatantrah karta".  this means that an agent should have some level of

All I am saying is that if you elevate grace to its highest extent, you
cannot logically, allow God be just and impartial.  If you end up
supporting fatalism, God's grace will be superfluous and will lose its

I think both Mani and Mohan, might have read too much into my email without
concentrating on just the concept grace vs. freedom, which I addressed in
my first mail.  Well, if they had not mistaken, we could not have had these
set of emails to clarify and make us focus on such important issues as
concept of grace.  Even, without considering the concept of grace and
individual freedom, there was nothing wrong, philosophically in my first
email, atleast as per Sri Vedanta Desika's views. I read my email again and
confirmed it to my knowledge.  I think Mani, took offense to my capital
lettered email that it was offensive and mistakenly ascribed the contents
of it as erroneous, unless there is something which I dont understand.  I
want to learn, if I have stated a blunder. This forum is for us to learn
via some arguments.  If there are no healthy debates then, probably we may
be blamed as philosophically inert (jadam).  Hope this clarifies some issues.

At 01:50 AM 5/6/97 +0000, Mohan Sagar wrote:
>Mr. Dileepan writes:
>>Remember, to show that Sri Krishna's views were misconceptions you must
>>show, with Swami Sri Desikan's words, that our Karma has absolutely no role
>>for mOksham. 
>I must admit that I have not read RTS in much detail, so, what I write is
>based on western scholars' comparisons between SD and MM.  However, from
>what I have read on the subject, there is evidence to suggest that Swami
>Desikan did not consider the performance of karmas as a means to moksha,
>but, instead, saw these as part of the upeyam of serving the Lord.  For
>---begin Mumme's translation---
>Verse 29:
>[Kainkarya is to be done] for the purpose of the Lord's pleasure, without
>even desiring Moksha as a reward for the pleasure rendered.  Recognizing
>that Moksha is has been gained by the Grace of the Supremely Merciful One
>which arose because of his previous prapatti, he performs this service just
>as Mukta serves to please the Lord, and like a healthy person drinks milk
>[as its own delight.]  This must be taken to be the culmination of
>Sattvikatyaga....the service he does according to Sastric commands and
>permissions do not stary from the course of bhaktiyoga, he does not do them
>as upayas for any other purpose such as svarga or moksha, but only for the
>pleasure of the Lord.  In this way, he does not violate his state of having
>no other upaya or no other purpose...
>---End quote
>Daasanu Daasan,
Krishna Kalale
619-658-5612 (phone)
619-658-2115 (fax)