You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1997

Re: Discussion of grace

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Thu May 15 1997 - 01:33:31 PDT

At 05:46 PM 5/13/97 -0700, you wrote:
>> MokshA is 
>> not a goal to be won by effort , but it should  come as a gift of God out
>> of His grace .
>If I am not mistaken, this sentence represents the ``opposing
>viewpoint'' in S.M.S. Chari's discussion of grace. In other 
>words, Sri Srinivasa chari is of the opinion that the sentence
>above represents the "thengalai" view against which Vedanta
>Desika is opposed.

I think  this is quoted out of context.   A thorough perusal of this whole
chapter makes it clear
.  Quoting only the sentence above :MokshA is 
>> not a goal to be won by effort , but it should  come as a gift of God out
>> of His grace .

will be wrong representation of his ideas.  After having discussed with him
several weeks, I am sure his views are not so wrong as to go against the
fundamental principle :

Naasti akritah krtena (karmana).... tad vijnanartham gurum evaabhigacchet
srotriyam brahma nistam - the very famous sentence of mundakopanisat which
is the basis for 1st sutra of Bramha sutras.  The meaning of this sentence
is : by works one cannot attain Brahman; hence to attain brahman by
knowledge one has to seek it through an appropriate qualified teacher.

Sri SMS Chari is not intending that grace is won by effort, eventhough a
portion of the sentence states so. There should be some reason for God's
special grace so as to award a high spiritual status for an aspirant
instead of this ghora-samsara.  For that reason an individual effort
becomes a sahakari- or associate cause (not the main cause, since main
cause is God's grace alone). If one reads even the whole of what Sri
Sadagopan has written from SMS chari's books, it will be clear that the
stated view is not intended by him.

>I think it should be abundantly clear from my previous post
>that Desika himself is emphatic that moksha cannot be "won
>by effort", and in this specific instance, all acharyas
>of Sri Vaishnavism are agreed.  There are countless instances
>of Desika ascribing everything from the gift of existence to
>final salvation as flowing from God Himself.
>Making this a focal point of argument is not a correct one.
>One can easily play semantic games and say that the everpresent
>compassionate nature of the Lord is a "guNa" rather than
>"grace", as Krishna K. indicated.  I don't think this is a
>meaningful distinction, and certainly not one that I find
>in Desika's or Pillai Lokacharya's words.

I dont understand how grace and guna are separated . Of course Grace is a
guna of Lord only, whether it is common grace or special grace.

>In the munivAhana bhogam, Desika's anubhavam of ThiruppaN's
>amalan aadhi piraan, he writes that the Lord is "sarvOpakArakan",
>always favoring us.  Everything from establishing us in
>goodness (sat Adi sthApanam) to finally releasing us from
>samsAra and giving us the joy of effervescent bliss in the
>form of kainkarya or service is a result of His upakAram
>or favor.  I don't think it matters whether one calls this
>upakArakatva grace or part of His nature.

If Lord is sarvopakarakan, what is the answer to this:  why so many
billions of jivas are stuck in this samsara? Is God a tyrant enjoying the
plight of imprisoned souls and still a sarvopakarakan? (that is conflicting
if some form of sahetuka krpa, is not resorted to and one  will logically
end up in fatalism or some form of arbitrariness of God.)

>This trend to think of moksha as being caused by one's own
>effort, or "won" by one's efforts, strikes at the very heart of
>Sri Vaishnavism, since it tinges the process of self-surrender
>with egoism.  It does not matter if selflessness is preached
>at the same time, since preaching contradictory things does
>no one any good.

This is a mis-representation of SMS chari's views .  He has never meant
that effort wins Grace or effort wins moksa.  effort is a vyaja and without
it God can be ascribed as arbitrary or partial to some.  I am quite
surprised of such an representation of SMS chari's views, which I happen to
know very well. I even spoke to him today about these views.

>It is also clear that thinking or theologizing about some
>being "deserving" of grace through self-surrender is also 
>against Sri Vaishnava philosophy.  In what sense does someone
>deserve the Lord's grace, or deserve moksha? 
>>From our perspective, it appears that great souls such as
>Vyasa, Suka Maharishi, Sanaka, Nammalvar, etc., deserved the
>Lord's grace.  But this is once again just a matter of 
>perspective.  From their perspecive, which is all the more
>relevant since they were farther along the spiritual path
>than we are, they felt that nothing they had done or could
>do could deserve the grace of the Lord. 
>Ascribing everything to the grace of the Lord is never
>an exaggeration; thinking that nothing on our part forces
>the Lord to grace us is also no exaggeration. These two
>principles, it seems, form the very heart of Sri Vaishnavam.

By the way, Mani, Please call SMS chari, 818-348-8182, He may come to San
Jose in a few days. He wants to talk to you before he leaves.

Krishna Kalale
619-658-5612 (phone)
619-658-2115 (fax)