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Sahethuka , Nirhethuka Krupaa : Part 2

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Mon May 12 1997 - 05:15:56 PDT

Dear members of the Prapatthi group :

In his book on " Sri VaishNavism " , Dr. S.M.S. Chari 
has some excellent insights on this subject in the chapter
entitled " Prapathi as means of attainment of VishNu " . 
I will include extensive quotations from his book since his 
analysis of the the relationship between the two types of Krupaas 
in the context of Prapatthi has very good logic . I think direct 
quotations preserve his style of presentation . Hence , I will 
not interpolate too much . 

Relevant Chapte rin his book on Viashnavism 

The chapter in his book on " VaishNavism " entitled
" Prapatthi as means of attainment of VishNu " is the most
important to us in the context of our discussions .The subchapters 
of this chapter are :

** Meaning of the term Prapatthi
** Bhakthi versus Prapatthi 
** SiddhhOpaya and SaadhyOpAyA 
** Conditions of Eligibility for Prapatthi
** Components of Prapatthi
** Meaning and significance of Aatma Nikshepa
** Types of prapatthi 
** Controversial Theories Regardign Prapatthi 
** Justification for Prapatthi as Direct Means to Moksha 
** The theory of Nirhethuka Krupa versus Human Efforts 

I will focus on the last two subchapters , since they are closer to 
the discussions that we are having recently .        

The Justification for Prapatthi as Direct means to MkoshA

The doctrine of Prapatthi is rooted in the concept of God"s infinite 
grace and tight relationship to the Jivan as its Lord (Paramaathman ) .
The relationship is that of Sesha and Seshi . 

The Lord is revealed to us in scriptures as " Sarvarakshakan , 
SaranAgatha Vatsalan , Sahaja Suhruth , Sarvajnan , sarvasakthimAn 
and Satya sankalapan . He is therefore understood as the one ,
who is ready to redeem and come to the rescue of all jivans . 
He has an innate love for those , who seek His refuge ( Saranaagatha 
Vatsalan ) ; He is friendly to all by svabhAvam (Sahaja Suhruth ) .
He is omniscinet , Omnipotent and omnipresent and as Satya -
Sankalpan and Achyuthan does not let his word become false 
or abandon those , who sought refufge in Him as understood from 
the beautiful passages in SaraNAgathi gadhyam of Sri RamAnujA .. 

According to the tenets of Sri ViashNavism , the Jivans belong
to the Lord and they have "  the potential right and capacity to enjoy
the bliss of Brahman . All that stands in the way of the Jivans is 
the accumulated Karma from the beginningless time and it is to be 
overcome by securing the grace of God by the observance of either 
self-surrender or UpasanA  " .

The Theory of Nirhethuka KrupA versus Human Effort 
First the definitons for the two terms are as follows :
Nirhethuka KrupA is unconditioned grace or compassion
of the Lord . Sahethuka KrupA is the grace that is in response 
to some good deed by the seeker of MokshA . 

The " controversy " is over the Lord"s spontaneous 
grace versus conscious human effort to secure it .
The question is whether the grace of God should flow 
freely towards the devotees like the spontaneous 
flow of the mother's milk towards the newly born, 
helpless infant .

" This subject has assumed a controversial character in 
the post-RamanujA period and it is one of the points of 
difference between the two kalais . One kalai views that 
the expectation of the observance of Sadhana by an afflicted
individual for the purpose of MokshA is unwarranted , since 
God , the KaruNAnidhi , is understood as the one , who removes
our sufferings without any selfish-motives .If God were to grant 
Moksham only in response to Sadhana , there would be no need 
for KrupA " --------- " according to this school of thought , MokshA is 
not a goal to be won by effort , but it should  come as a gift of God out
of His grace . If the supreme being Himself is both UpayA (means ) 
and UpeyA ( goal ) , the idea of separate sadhana for seeking His 
grace amounts to self-contradiction " .

The main point of criticism of the other kalai that  " the denial of
human effort as a requisite condition of redemption would amount 
to arbitrariness on the part of God ( arbitrariness and cruely /
Vaishamya and NairghaNyA ) . This kalai holds that God showers 
His grace only on those , who become qualified for it by observing 
the prescribed sadhana or other religious acts  sanctioned by the 
sacred texts . They contend that the grace of God is dependent on
human endeavour . It does not flow automatically to one , who has
been passive . Even in the illustration of the mother and the infant ,
the flow of the mother's milk may be natural , but nevertheless , 
the child  is required to suck it , which involves some effort 
on its part . The need for human effort to receive God's grace 
does not negate the importance of God"s krupA . On the other hand ,
it emphasises the fact that in order to make krupa or compassion 
operative , a valid excuse is called for on the part of an individual 
so that God escapes the criticism of being partial and cruel . "

VyajA or pretext for God to shower His grace 

" The bhakthi or prapatthi to be observed by the aspirant 
for MokshA as enjoined by the sacred texts are intended to serve 
the purpose of VyaajA or a pretext for God to shower His grace .
Even such opportunities to observe spiritual discipline to earn
God's grace are actually provided by God . They are not granted 
arbitrarily to a select few but , on the contrary , they are given to 
those individuals by God in response to some sukruthA or good , 
meritorious deed performed even unintentionally either in the previous 
lives or in the present life . As a universal principle , God"s grace 
comes forth necessarily in resonse to one's good karma , as 
otherwise He would be open to the charge of discrimination .
This is the philosophy of grace and in the light of it , Bhakthi or 
prapatthi are needed to earn it " . 

Pradhana Hethu and sahakaari kaaaraNaa 
Pradhaana Hethu is the principal cause . SahakAri kAraNa 
is accessory cause . " Bhakthi or Prapatthi by itself does  not
directly confer mokshA because it is a non-sentient activity . 
The main cause of liberation is God's grace . It is the Pradhaana 
Hethu , where as Bhakthi or Prapatthi is sahakAri kAraNA 
or accessory cause " . If we understand this distinction  
between the two types of causes  , there would be no conflict 
between the Nirhethuka krupa held  by one kalai  and  
the sahethuka krupaa held by the other .

Karunya/KrupA and its many purposes 

The krupa behind the  showering of  the grace of the Lord
has many purposes . " It is responsible for the very creation of 
the universe , for the sustenance of all that is created by God , 
for providing a body , sense organs , intellect ,etc., to human beings ,
for providing suitable opportunities for them to pursue sadhana 
for MokshA , for removing the obstacles coming in the way of 
attaining MokshA , for serving as the very means or Upaya in 
the case of prapannAs , for blessing them to do divine service 
and many such things" . One AchAryA uses the expression ,
" pradhaana -sAmAnya-nidAna , which means an important
general cause . This view does not therefore , deny the operation of 
God's nirhethuka krupa . But , in order to become an object of such an 
unlimited krupa , an individual has to exercise his mental faculties 
and general capacity granted by God . Such a human effort , which is 
fully justifiable , becomes the sahakAri -kAraNa or the accessory cause for 
generating the operation of the unlimited krupA of the Lord and its 
flow in the form of anugrahA or grace towards a particular 
SAHETHUKA -KRUPAA . Thus the concept of Vyaaja BRIDGES  the 
so-called dualism between the two . Both are important and are
complimentary  " . 

SMS Chari"s views on the subject again have been very
helpful for me to understand the issues related to the SvaprayatnA
of the Jivan , which is understood as totally dependent on the Lord .
" According to VishaNavA theology , an individual is absolutely 
a dependent  being and has no freedom of his own to function 
independently . He is comparable to a tool in the hands of God.
In the first place , as in the case of an infant , which does not have
to make a request to the mother to feed it , it looks inappropriate 
that an individual should plead before God for protection and 
adopt for this purpose a sadhanA , as if rendering some service in 
return for a reward . Secondly , if he has no freedom of his own , there 
would be no justification to enjoin the observance of Prapatthi for the 
purpose of MokshA . It would also be against the very nature (Svarupa )
of the individual self to undertake the act of self-surrender 
or upasana , which amounts to self-effort (SvaprayathnA ) .
As a subservient being , he has no right to make an endeavour. 

According to Dr.Chari ,the above objections are based on 
a misconception of the concept of dependence of 
Jiva (Paaratantrya ) ."  Although the Jiva is dependent
on God for its existence (sattaa) , It is also an agent of action (KarthA ) .
As an agent of action , it has freedom to function . Otherwise , the commands
of the sacred text would be meaningless. In view of this , the observance 
of the act of self-surrender seeking protection , as enjoined by the sacred
texts , 
is not inappropriate. Even though the supreme Lord regards the jivan as His own 
and knows its needs as the mother understands her child , He has 
to look forward to some kind of an excuse for extending His favour
to do it in order to avoid the arbitrariness on His part. The initative 
taken by an individual in accordance with his good karma to observe
either the act of self-surrender or meditation , is not against his svarupa,
because such good acts do not either annihilate the jiva or even 
cause any undesirable results to him " . 

Dr.Chari goes on to say that  " SeshatvA or dependence of 
an individual on God truly implies that he would have 
been a non-entity but for God , that he possesses nothing 
of his own other than what has been endowed to him by God 
and he does nothing for himself except for the pleasure of God. 
It involves the notion of forsaking the egoism in the form of I , my,
and mine. As Swamin or Lord of the souls , God is always ready 
to take care of his property for his own sake and pleasure  as 
and when an opportunity is provided by the initiative of the Jivan .
-- The act of self-surrender includes the three notions : Svarupa
samarpaNam , the convinced feeling on the part of the individual 
that  the soul is not his , but of God. BharasamarpaNam or 
the thought that the responsibility of protecting the soul is 
that of God. PhalasamarpaNam or the conviction that 
the pleasure derived from such protection is that of God. 

This philosophic truth is expressed beautifully in one verse by 
Vedantha Desikan : svAmin svasesham svavasam svabharatvena 
nirbharam ; svadatta -svadhiya svArtham svasmin nyasyai 
mAm svayam . The meaning of the verse is : O Lord ! I am Your 
dependent (svasesha ) ; I am controlled by You (svavasam ) ; You
have endowed me with with the capacity to think ; You have enabled 
me to know Your nature ; You Yourself have made me surrender
myself to You for Your own pleasure with the responsibility of
protecting it and getting rid of that burden for me " . 

Dr. Chari Concludes this analysis and reconciliation with the statement :
" The (above ) verse connotes the height of self-renunciation 
and utter humility of an individual . This is the inner secret of
saraNAgathi and if this is properly understood , the doctrine  
of Prapatthi accepted by Vaishnavism as a direct mens to 
Moksha stands fully justified " .