Monday, February 1, 2016

Krsna is the Personality of Grace III

In the previous post, we saw how the grace of the Lord towards His jivas is manifested through His formulation of the policies of creation and preservation. To recap:
  • The biggest proof of the grace of the Lord is the fact that all creatures have come to be equipped with a material body providing all the supports and adjuncts necessary for the development of consciousness
  • The material body comes into being and is preserved in the initial stages of its development through the active involvement of Isvara.
  • Finally it is this material human body which by providing an avenue for the expression of the dormant consciousness of the jiva enables him to acquire the knowledge of devotion (through the Guru) and connects him to Paramatma
In this post, we will be looking at possible objections to this theory and also seek, as best as we can, to resolve these doubts. Legitimate doubts should always be welcomed into our study and we should seek to answer these doubts on the basis of our understanding of the text(s). Sankaradeva always incorporated sanka into his rendering of the Bhagavata and also provided the answers. Our study should be a reasoned one; the solutions provided should make sense.
The first of these doubts may be phrased as follows:
Doubt 1: You say that the biggest proof of God's grace is life itself. But can not the development of life, the acquiring of the body by the jiva, be explained on the basis of mere material evolution alone? Life is a purely material phenomenon. Why bring God (or His grace) into this?
The answer to this doubt may be given as follows:
Resolution of Doubt 1: It is true that the human body is developed through the process of material evolution. Embryological development takes place. A single cell grows into a fetus and finally, a (full-fledged!) baby is born. These biological processes are undoubtedly material but would such an evolution not need an initial actuator or initializer or, a driver of this evolution, a programmer and/or a policy-framer? In other words, would it not require a supreme cause, a parama karana? Such a supreme cause, further, cannot be matter (prakrti) for it is dead and unintelligent and dependent on consciousness. It is mere clay for building the universe (microcosmic or macrocosmic); it is mere substance. And surely, substance cannot build, let alone frame policy! (This intuitive fact may be proved through basic observation.) Therefore, the supreme cause driving material evolution has to be a personality (purusa). But neither can it be a personality (purusa) of the nature of those who themselves are trapped within this material process; who are themselves in an unconscious state. Therefore, the conclusion is clear. That supreme cause (parama karana) must be a supreme personality (parama purusa) who, while himself remaining outside the causal processes of prakrti, sets into motion the process of creation (evolution). And that fully conscious supreme personality (parama purusa) is the Lord (isvara). Therefore, like the origination of the external universe, from the ultimate (parama) point of view, it is God, Paramatma, the supreme soul, who drives the evolution of the mini-universe that is the human body. It is He who evolves the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi) (both terms actually referring to the same entity, but in different roles), the vital airs (prana), the basic (gross) organic substances (bhutas), the organs of sense and action (indriyas), etc. And it is He who leads to the development of life (by which term we mean not the innate essential characteristic of the pure personality but rather the working of the body and its various mechanisms in the manner of a well-coordinated automaton).
Now, why bring God's grace into this. Why it has to be His grace. It has purely to be His grace to His jivas because apart from realizing the salvation and happiness of the jivas, such a policy of creation and preservation would serve no other purpose to God. God is the Lord of Vaikuntha, the transcendental realm. What need has He, the Lord of All Opulence, to sport in such a material creation. Also, it is inconceivable that the Lord who is all-happiness and all-joy (ananda) would seek to derive any sort of joy from mundane matter (prakrti). This proves that the compassionate (krpamaya) Lord is doing it solely for the welfare of His jivas.
Therefore, the final conclusion is that the material life of the jiva is made possible only by the grace of the Lord and the very presence of such a life is the biggest and direct proof of the love of the Lord for His jivas.
Next, we proceed to the resolution of another doubt that may emerge over our discussion of the Lord's grace in the previous post. This doubt may be expressed pithily as follows:
Doubt 2: If the Lord is so graceful, then why doesn't He gift the jiva with instant redemption instead of first placing him in a material body and then hoping that he uses his intellect to tide over his ignorance? Why not grant him immediate freedom from material darkness?
Resolution of  Doubt 2: It is true that the Lord can grant the jiva immediate relief from the afflictions of nescience (avidya, maya) and magically, as it were, transform the jiva into a devotee (bhakta) in His eternal service in Vaikuntha. But the Lord, being truly graceful, respects the freedom of choice of the jiva. He is not in favor of a forced conversion. The Lord is the personality of grace and the jivas are the recipients of such a grace of Isvara. For such grace to be truly meaningful, the jiva must first, with a pure intellect, understand the reality of his own existence and, then, knowing Isvara to be the sole object of refuge (parama asraya), on his own accord, surrender before Him. The jiva has the free will to decide. He has only to yearn for the nectar-flavored devotion of the Lord's feet. And the Lord will satisfy his craving. The surrendered one will give (himself) and the Lord will take. This is the way real grace works. Needless to say, through such an arrangement, the compassionate Lord also leaves something for the Guru to do!

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