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Re: VibhIshaNa saraNAgati

From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian (ramakris_at_erols.com)
Date: Sat Oct 17 1998 - 16:33:00 PDT

Mani Varadarajan wrote:

> The problem with this argument is that we are left
> with no teaching whatsoever. We can no longer make
> any distinction between the Lord's ability to punish
> and the Lord's ability to forgive and protect.
> In any case, the cases of Hiranyakashipu, Ravana,
> Kakasura, et al, are cited as examples of the Lord
> punishing someone for misdeeds; and Vibhishana,
> Kakasura (again), Sabari, et al are cited as examples
> of His grace.  These interpretations are not our
> inventions but (a) fall out naturally from the
> stories and (b) are how our acharyas have presented
> them to us.
> 
> If everything is an act of mercy, we are essentially
> speaking in vacuo. Why differentiate at all between
> the times piraaTTi is present or otherwise?
> 
> In this discussion, we need to keep in mind the assumptions
> set forth in the beginning -- that our acharyas have
> stated that Srimad Ramayanam is the "SaraNAgati veda",
> and that Vibhishana SaraNAgati is the upanishad of this
> veda.  Another assumption is that our acharyas teach
> that Sita (piraaTTi) acts as purushakAra, and without
> her blessing and intercession Rama will perhaps have
> a tendency to exercise his sovereign right to punish
> someone for his misdeeds.  The final assumption is
> the truths embodied in Sriman Ramayanam are not so
> confusing such that we cannot even distinguish between
> punishment and grace -- there would be no point for
> the "avatAra" of this divine work, then!

Sorry, I don't think I made myself very clear. I shall quote from the
VishhNu purANa (VP). As usual, it is very informative. In VP 4.15, the
question is raised by maitreya how shishupAla attained moxa, while his
previous incarnations rAvaNa and hiraNyakashipu did not attain moxa.

There parAshara says:

Hiranyakashipu did not recognize vishhNu in his form of half lion-half
man. He says:

niratishaya puNyajAtasambhUtametat.h sattvamiti
rajodrekaprerita.nkAgramati ..

i.e., though Hiranyakashipu had derived purity from exceedingly good
deeds, his mind was confused by rajas. So because of the intermixture he
attained in his birth as Ravana "only" unlimited power and mastery over
the three worlds (eva-akhilatrailokya-adhikya-dhAriNIM dashAnanatve
bhogasampadam-avApa).

A similar reason is given for Ravana also. Though he did many good deeds
he could not attain moxa because his purity was mixed with passion for
jAnakI. 

As shishupAla, however, at the last moment before he was killed, his
passion and hatred ceased, and he attained moxa, because of his
exceedingly high store of puNya.

The death at the hands of Narayana, came to all three not only because
of their misdeeds, but also because of their exceedingly high store of
puNya. Normally when someone makes a mistake he gets punished by some
man-made agency, else maybe by Indra, yama or someone. But these three
had so much puNya that Lord nArAyaNa HIMSELF had to take an avatAra. So,
the mode of their death as much because of their accumulation of puNya
as their pApa. The grace of the Lord (by grace I mean their being killed
by the Lord, which cancelled out their pApa) did not come for free. It
came only because of their good puNya.

The story ends with an arthavAda statement about chanting the names of
nArAyaNa. But the VP is quite clear, these three (one?) were puNyavAn-s,
but had their mind tainted by rajas, as soon as that ceased, he got
moxa. 

So, I never meant to say that no efforts are necessary or any such, in
fact the deaths of these people show that effort should be made to
obtain puNya and a sattvic mind, after which grace automatically
follows. As you can see the VP does not mention any absence of sItA and
so on as the cause. It claerly mentions the absence of a sAtvik mind.
Which brings me to my original question. Is it held as a fact that the
Lord's grace can separate and go away from him? If so I'd like some
references from Sri Ramanuja or Sri Vedanta Desika's writings.

Rama.

PS: I don't have the time to type up the entire chapter of VP. But, I
think the reference should be helpful.