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

Re: Discussion of grace

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Fri May 16 1997 - 12:04:21 PDT

Let me hasten to state at the outset that I did not
mean to imply that S.M. Srinivasa Chari thinks that
the effort involved behind SaraNaagati "wins" moksha.
However, from reading his words, it is easy to be 
left with that impression, as also with the impression
that the "thengalai" interpretation leaves God as
partial and arbitrary in His graciousness.

I am not comfortable with this characterization of 
either understanding of prapatti; many modern writers 
are not careful enough with their words, leaving readers 
with the wrong impression of the original philosophers' ideas.

For example, I have an English translation of Srimad Rahasya 
Traya Saaram wherein the translator repeatedly uses the phrase 
"winning God's grace."  In Swami Desika's original words, there is
no hint of "winning"; Desika uses the word "hetu", but never
is there even a hint of "winning" or "earning" grace. We 
are best advised to be as careful when we discuss this topic
ourselves.

Krishna writes:
> 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.)

We have covered this ground before.  According to all acharyas,
irrespective of kalai, a vyAja opens the door for the operation
of the Lord's grace, when before it had been shut by the jIva.
No Sri Vaishnava acharya that I know of has denied volition on
the part of the jIva.  The debate between the acharyas themselves
is only whether the mental affirmation of the Lord as upAya 
should be called an action or not -- and this is a very subtle
issue that is not worth discussing at this point.

My point is this: when our acharyas have agreed on nearly
everything, save subtle nuances of understanding regarding 
SaraNaagati, why do we still imply that one acharya's philosophy 
is fatalistic, and the other commercial? 

In any event, it is not I who said that the Lord is
"sarvopakArakan". It is Swami Desikan himself who specifically
says that everything from placing the hint of goodness in us
to the gift of kainkarya all results from His favor.  Now, if
we out of our own ego and God-given freedom push all His favors
aside and refuse to accept His grace, the fault lies with us, not
with Him.

Mani