Bhagavad kr^pa (grace of God)

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Mon Jan 12 18:16:30 CST 1998

On Mon, 12 Jan 1998, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

> 1. We all know bhagavad kr^pa (whatever that parameter) is the same toward
>    all jeevas. If not, that is not God (as Shri Sadananda said). Yet, the
>    karma concept says that depending on jeeva's past actions, the jeeva's
>    future lives and actions are determined. This, I would assume, in spite
>    of the bhagavad kr^pa toward all jeevas ? Does it mean that the jeeva's
>    past action has a stronger impact than bhagavad kr^pa ? Can it be
>    possible ? Isn't there a contradiction negating the sameness of
>    bhagavad kr^pa ? The explanation, that we are seeing different jeevas
>    at various stages of their spiritual evolution, and bhagavad kr^pa is
>    the same for all, does not hold either. Thus, the only explanation is
>    that the duality we see, and the whole (concepts of karma, and
>    bhagavad kr^pa) all belong in the realm of mAya. Anyone, care to
>    comment ?

Murthy garu, none of these notions will make any sense unless one relates
them to the I-notion. If you know yourself to be brahman, there is no more
karma, no need of bhagavad-kRpA, and in fact, you are no more an
individual jIva. If this brahman-knowledge is not known, then everything
falls into place, doesn't it?

Part of imagining one's self to be a jIva involves the notion of agency.
So long as one feels that one is a kartA (doer), karma will take place.
Also, so long as there is the notion of kartA-hood, the jIva continues to
act. Therefore, past karma does not fully determine future lives and
actions. There is such a thing called Agamin-karma, the action yet to
be performed, over which the jIva has control. So where do ISvara and kRpA
fit in? The answer is that the Lord arbitrates over the fruits of karma,
and like a merciful judge, can alleviate suffering if necessary. The
notion of God is like that of law and justice - everyone is considered to
be equal, but that does not mean that a thief goes unpunished or that
honest effort is not rewarded - this is the ancient Vedic concept of Rta.

I think the best work to read in this connection is the Yoga-vasishtha.
It is very long, but reading a few excerpts from Swami Venkatesananda's
translation should be very useful. The very first chapter, where Goddess
Sarasvati teaches queen Lila, talks of karma, daivam, effort etc.

> 2. In more or less analogy to this, there is another concept on which I
>    seek clarification. A few months ago, I was attending a lecture by a
>    swamiji belonging to viShishhTa-advaita tradition. At the end of the
>    lecture, I asked a general question concerning mAya. The swamiji's
>    response (of course completely disregarding the concept of mAya)
>    included a statement to the effect "How can mAya be there ? Is mAya
>    so powerful as to completely mask the Brahman ? Or is Brahman so weak
>    as to be masked by mAya ? Thus mAya cannot explain what we see."
>    Any elucidation on this point, which I would assume is a standard
>    vishishhTa-advaita argument against the concept of mAya ?

The only thing I would like to point out is that mAyA does not completely
mask brahman, but is brahman what we see? Don't we all see the plural
world? Remember that Sruti says that all this is brahman, but also says
that brahman is the Atman, and that it is partless and changeless.

vidyAraNyasvAmin's pancadaSI has a very pithy verse regarding mAyA, which
essentially says - if one correctly understands the Vedas (Srauta), it
does not exist (asat); by reasoning (yuktita), we conclude that it is
indeterminate (anirvAcyA), but for the worldly minded (laukika), it is
real (vAstavI) indeed.


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