Grace and Karma in Nammāḻvār's Salvation Author(s): Patricia Y.

Mumme Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1987), pp. 257266 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/602834 . Accessed: 09/06/2011 19:18
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which are no less complex and fascinating than those of its Christian counterpart."The theological ramifications of the grace and karma issue in Srivaisnavism. The Vatakalai school. and 2) its schism between the Tenkalai and Vatakalai schools which. these works have only touched on the ways in which the understanding of the Alvars-particularly Nammalvar-affects the Srlvaisnava theological dispute. He affirms that Nammalvar's salvation was precipitated by his performance of a sddhana-prapatti or self-surrender to the Lord-which culminated a long chain of previous good karma. Vedanta Deiika objects to interpreting causeless grace to mean that the Lord acts arbitrarily. use the example of Nammalvar's salvation to explain their respective doctrinal positions concerning the Lord's causeless grace (nirhetukakrpd). In their writings of the 13th-15th centuries. The baby monkey must make some effort to hang on. but the Thnkalai-Vatakalai theological dispute and schism has not received the same kind of attention. The TUnkalai school affirms that God saves the soul in the way a mother cat carries her kitten the soul is completely ISee Norman Cutler. and the understanding of the Lord's sovereignty (svdtantrya) and mercy (krpd)." History of Religions 24 (1984) 91112. and no effort or action on its part can help the process. erupting in the 18th and 19th centuries. This simple and charming analogy. passive. Nearly every student of comparative religion has heard of the Srlvaisnava sectarian schism as the dispute between the "cat" and "monkey" schools over the understanding of salvation by grace. To him.GRACE AND KARMA IN NAMMALVAR'S SALVATION PATRICIA Y. SrTvaisnava dcdryas of both camps often use the salvation of Nammalvar-the author of the Tiruvdymbli and the foremost of the Alvars-as an example to explain the relationship between Lord's causeless or spontaneous 257 . though it does not appear in any Srfvaisnava literature before the 18th century. 29-X7. this threatens both the Lord's mercy and sovereign perfection with the faults of cruelty and partiality. points accurately to the central doctrinal issue of the dispute as seen in the works of the dcdryas of the 13th to 15th century: does human action play any part in salvation by the Lord's grace? The "grace versus works" debate that has plagued the history of Christianity-with all its attendant theological problems-seems to have a South Indian parallel in the Srfvaisnava dispute over "graceversus karma. but these have not explored the importance of Nammalvar's salvation in the theological dispute which led to the Thnkalai-Vatakali schism. on the other hand. "The Tamil Veda of a SUdra Saint: the Srivaisnava understanding of Nammalvar" in Contributions to South Asian Studies 1. a-calryas Alakiyamanavala PNrum-al Vedanta Degika. Srivaisnavism is best known for two distinguishing features: 1) its esteem for the hymns of the Alvars alongside of Ramanuja's Vedanta. OF INDIAN bhakti TRADITIONS. ed. the relative roles of grace and karma in salvation. They defend the Lord's sovereign right to bestow His saving mercy on whomever He chooses for no reason other than His own will. disregarding the individual's karma and His own gastriccommands. MUMME ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY The rlivaisnavaunderstanding of the Alvars has been the topic of several recent publications. The Thnkalai dcdryas affirm that Nammalvar was saved strictly out of the Lord's uncaused. In focusing on the Alvars. believes that God saves the soul in the way a mother monkey carries her young. and Friedhelm Hardy. has its roots in the theological dispute between the Srirangam and Kanchi dcdryas of the 13th to 15th centuries. Gopal Krishna (Delhi: Oxford University Press. of the Thnkalai school. even though the mother does the work. The importance of the Alvars for grlvaisnava piety has been investigated in several recent publications'. In this work I intend to bring to light the theological aspect of the Tenkalai-Vatakalai dispute by using a device which the Srivaisnava theologians themselves have used: the example of Nammalvar. 1979) pp. "The Devotee's Experience of the Sacred Tamil Hymns. and Nayanar and Manavalamamuni. need to be made accessible to comparative historians of religion. gracious will-unprompted by any good karma on Nammalvar's part. foremost theologian of the Vatakalai school.

the reputed founder of the Thnkalai sect. abbreviated TVM. or with the significance of the "grace and karma" issue for the Thnkalai-Vatakalai dispute. One has to do with the authority of Nammalvar's Tiruvdym6li and the entire corpus of the Alvar's hymns. a fact which argues strongly for the priority of grace. Vedanta. wrote an elaborate commentary on this cryptic work which clearly declares that Nammalvar's salvation was totally due to the Lord's causeless grace. and Dharmasastra. 1290-1305). What really made Nammalvar's salvation such a major concern in the minds of the Srivaisnava dcdryas of the 13th to 15th 3 The background for this aspect of the dispute has been discussed by K. It seems that there are at least two kind of issues at stake in this disagreement. The key issue they raise is: Was the grace of the Lord which overwhelmed Nammalvar. bhakti. Many scholars have said that the root of the Thnkalai-Vatakalai dispute lies in the conflict between the Thnkalai dcaryas' greater reverence for Tamil scriptures-the Alvar's hymns or Ndldyira Divya Prabandha-and the Vatakalai Jcdrya's preference for authoritative Sanskrit scriptures-Vedanta. and filled his heart with devotion due to any meritorious karma-past or present-on his part? Or was the blessing which uplifted Nammalvar and caused him to pour out his bhakti in song strictly an act of the Lord's spontaneous grace. Paficaratra. The assertion of the Acdrya Hrdaya. op.258 Journal of the American Oriental Society 107. 20-21) that when Nammalvar speaks of grace. in manifestation of his supremely autonomous will?2 This question is first posed by Alakiyamanavala Perumal Nayanar.2 (1987) Alvar. K. the younger brother of Pillai Lokacarya. at first glance. rescued him from samsara. there are many more passages denying that. But it actually steers a course in between the position of Acdrya Hrdaya and Vedanta De~ika's Rahaysatrayasdra. . "Passages denying the conditional character of grace are not balanced by others denying its spontaneous character. criticizes the arguments put forth in Acarya Hrdaya in his Rahasyatrayasdra (written c. De~ika also admits (see pp. Perhaps another way of saying the same thing would be: When grace is not the primary focus of attention. with standard verse numbers). but when attention is directed to grace per se. cit. If Nammalvar's hymns are admitted to be strictly a product of the Lord's grace-in which Nammalvar's contribution was negligible-then this would give them an authority comparable to the Sanskrit gruti and the gdstras which the Lord himself revealed. Nammalvar's salvation. His conclusion. 1350-70). A little over a century later Manavala mamuni.1. and in Friedhelm Hardy's article. and ?dstra. and not precipitated by any good karma on the part of the 2 David Kaylor's article on "The Concept of Grace in the Hymns of Nammalvar." Unlike the present study. Nammalvar's authority is however not the only issue involved in this dispute. Vedanta Desika.or akasmika-krpd) and the soul's karma. (hereafter. seems to support the Tenkalai interpretation of Nammalvar. that Nammalvar's Tiruvdymbli (and the Ndldyira Divya Prabandha) are divinely revealed scriptures which are at least as authoritative as Veda. the understanding is clearly that grace is spontaneous and unconditional. But his prose theological works clarify his doctrinal position. the foremost theologian of the Vatakalai school. exaggerating divine grace at the expense of his own contribution to his salvation. A. Kaylor concludes that though there are passages in the Tiruvdymoli suggesting the Lord's grace could be prompted by human action. In his own poetic works. But he disagrees with the Tenkalai theologians who conclude on this basis that Nammalvar's karma had no effect. He insists that though the salvation of any soul is ultimately a result of the Lord's grace. initiated strictly out of the divine will. "Tamil as a Vehicle of Revelation. was occasioned by the ripening of certain karmic tendencies which prompted him to surrender to the ever-merciful Lord and thereby win his saving grace. 4 Nammalvar's Tiruvdym6li 1. in his Acdrya Hrdaya (written c. Venkatachari in his article. that Nammalvar's salvation was "by grace alone" plays a key role in buttressing its argument. etc. January 1981.. References to this and to Nammdlvdr's Periyatiruvantati are as found in Nd/dyira grace (nirhetuka. that grace is granted in accord with past karma and present performance. according to Desika. Vedanta Deiika tends to do the same thing. statements may be made which could signify an understanding of grace as conditioned by ritual.1. It is understandable that the Vatakalai dcdryas would object to this exaggerated view of Nammalvar's importance as a threat to the absolute authority of ?ruti and ?dstra." presented at the 5th World Tamil Conference. perhaps in imitation of Nammalvar. he tends to ignore the role of his own karma in order to emphasize the greater importance of the Lord's grace. This is indeed the main argument advanced in Acdrya Hrdaya. Kaylor's work does not deal with the interpretations of Nammalvar's statements in the later theological works of the Srivaisnava dcdryas." (JAAR 44/4 [1984] 649-60) is a which attempts to answer study of Namrnalvdr'sTiruvdyvm6li the question whether Nammalvar saw grace to be spontaneous or prompted by a person's character or deeds.3This is surely one reason why Vedanta Desika was interested in propounding the view that Nammalvar's own karma played some role in obtaining the "boon of illusionfree knowledge"4 which both saved him and inspired the Tiruvdym6li.

but also their lesser known (but more fundamental) theological differences concerning the understanding of divine sovereignty and mercy. then he might not be able to save an individual soul even when he so desires. grrmad Rahaysatrayasdra. this duality in the Lord's nature is commonly discussed in Srlvaisnava circles in terms of the relationship between divine sovereignty (svdtantrya) and mercy (kdrutzya. John Carman has shown how the polarity between the Lord's supremacy (paratva) and accessibility (saulabhya). burdened with good and bad karma.MUMME: Grace and Karma in Nammdlvir's Salvation 259 centuries is how his example brings into focus not only the most important soteriological differences between the two schools. If the Lord is merciful. omnipotence (sarvasakti). to refer to distinct categories of divine qualities pointing to a duality in the Lord's nature. Vedanta Degika prefers the term prasada. As the supremely sovereign Lord of all. 86-87. is a delight to himself and to all who resort to him. The Lord's sovereignty or autonomy (svdtantrya) consists in his qualities of supremacy-onmiscience (sarvajfidna). the recognition of these two aspects of the Lord's nature and the importance of reconciling them becomes explicit in the writings of the Srlvaisnava dcaryas following Ramanuja (d. Vedanta Desika brings this out clearly in one of his slokas: The sovereignty of one without mercy is oppressive. But if he is merely sovereign. for it allows him to remove their pain and grant their desires. ed. 5 Ramanuja himself does not use these terms in the same way that his later commentators do. but unable to act autonomously. The compassion of one who is sovereign. (New Haven: Yale University Press. whatever he desires or wills comes true. implicit in Ramanuja's thought. The compassion of one who is not sovereign is of no help to others and brings pain to himself. Viraraghavacharya (Madras: 1980) ch.5 As Carman has pointed out.) 7 The Srlvaisnava acaryas do not make a consistent terminological distinction between the Lord's general and particular grace. However." Can this grace ever be completely spontaneous? Or is it always to some extent conditioned by the soul's karma?7 The doctrinal positions of the two schools are complicated by the fact that both sides admit that accidental good deeds-yddrcchikasukrta-and the act of prapatti or ?arandgati (surrender to the Lord) play some sort of role in the salvation of a particular soul at a particular time. 1981). Venkataswami Reddiyar (Madras: Tiruvenkatattan Tirumunram. rather it is unconditional (niraupadhika) and innate (sahaja). and published by U. (The terms karunya and krpd are used in both senses. (Hereafter abbreviated RTS. How are these karmas to be Vedanta Degika. ed. This choice of words is 6 . The Theology of Rdmanuja. from the verbal root pra-sad. This is where the soteriological issue of "grace versus karma" opens up the potential for different understandings of how the Lord manifests his dual nature. To refer to specific instances of saving grace. perfection (puirti). krpd) include his accessibility. he functions as the judge of karma. SrCvaisnavatheologians explain that the Lord's qualities of mercy or graciousness (kdrunya. These qualities give him a "true-will" (satyasahkalpa). autonomous will. 23. and commune with them. with chapter and page numbers for this edition. The Lord's gracious compassion is not based on anything outside himself. Carman feels that Ramanuja's Srivaisnava interpreters "have correctly designated a crucial polarity in Ramanuja's theology. glance or notice-thus suggesting that the Lord's special grace can be as capricious and spontaneous as a glance. samsdra could never hope to reach him merely on his own efforts. uplift them. without mercy and accessibility. His desire to save the souls who are his subordinates (sesas) is nothing but a manifestation of his own sovereign. however. K. The Srivaisnava acdryas recognize that both the Lord's sovereign autonomy and his merciful accessibility are necessary for him to be an effective savior.' The Lord's sovereignty and mercy converge-and must be reconciled-in the concept of uncaused grace or mercy-nirhetukakrpa. p. meting out rewards and punishments depending on whether he is pleased or displeased by the jTva's action (karma). sympathy (dayd) forbearance (ksdinti) and his ability to mingle with inferiors without stain (sausTlya). By the thirteenth century. There are two ways of interpretingthe "causelessness"of grace. Both Tenkalai and Vatakalai dcdryas accept that the Lord's general quality of mercy is uncaused. is a fundamental dynamic underlying the grivaisnava conception of God. The Tenkalai acaryas prefer to use the term kataksa-literally. 1974) pp. to appease or conciliate. (saulabhya). Because of his gracious and merciful aspect." John Braisted Carman.krpd). and works to reveal himself to them. since he can accomplish whatever he intends. The point of dispute is whether the saving grace given to a particular soul at a particular time can be deemed "uncaused. the Lord takes pity on souls hopelessly sunk in samsdra. that is.) But we sometimes find a significant difference in their choice of words when the context is clearly saving grace in a specific instance. In his Theology of Rdmdnuja. 1137). T. a soul caught in Divya Prabandham. 640.

.. ruler of Lanka after the demise of Rdvana. which cannot be known or understood even by the Lord's consorts as He lies in their close embrace."'3 the "boon of illusion-free knowledge. and through the dcdrya's acceptance.. as stated [in scripture:] "Not because of mediation or any other reason but My will alone do I glance at something at some time. It is concluded that Nammalvar was the result of the merit of the One who sleeps on the serpent couch. . and the delicate balance between the Lord's sovereignty and mercy. THE TENKALAI VIEW: Nammalvar's Salvation According to Acdrya Hrdaya... Out of their attachment to the material world and their selfish desires. ed. Lord Rafigandtha."'2 This grace descended on Nammalvar. the role of karma in occasioning salvation in any particular instance.. which view the length and breadth of everything.. Manavdlamdmuni. 105..260 Journal of the American Oriental Society 107.] caught in the midst of the ocean of sathsdra whose shores cannot be seen.8 it was natural that his eye would fall towards the south... VibhIsana. 10 Manavalamamuni. indifferently taking up whatever body was dictated by his karma. Then he realized that he had to fashion an object for this task. Since he always reclines [facing south] out of his affection quite significant."' Such is the karma-destroying understood in relation to "uncaused" grace? Are they precipitating factors which evoke divine grace? Or are they the results of that grace? What implications does each position have for understanding how the Lord's sovereignty and mercy are related? It is in this context that Nammalvar's salvation is used by the Thnkalai and Vatakalai Jcdryas as a kind of "test case" to illustrate their distinctive theological positions concerning the causelessness of the Lord's grace. performing wondrous deeds and proclaiming the gdstras which teach the way to salvation. Several times the Lord assumed animal form to reveal and revive the Vedic truths. as he himself states." and "O wise one. the reason for Nammalvar's greatness-the exemplary devotion (bhakti) that he expressed in his hymns-is stated to be the special grace or "notice" (visesakakatdksa) granted him by the Lord who saw fit to use the Alvar to help rescue souls from samsdra." interpreted by the Tiruvdvrn6li commentators to mean bhaktirupapan- This is a popular explanation for why the idol of Visnu at Srirangam. Similarly. His majestic eyes. .. 13 TUM 1. capacity of the Lord's gracious glance. in SrTmadVaravaramunindraGranthamdldvol.. they obtain the highest abode. no matter what j]di or varna. the compassionate Lord continued his efforts. In Acdrya Hrdaya 94. Annangarachariya (Kanchi: 1966). which "makes it such that all sins which should be destroyed only by experience are dissolved. This special grace. 9 The source of these quotations is unknown. Lord Visnu then took various human avatdras. (Hereafter abbreviated AcHr with standard czirnainumbers. reclines facing south. by My uncaused grace.. this time trying a new tactic: Those who hunt birds and animals take a tame bird or animal of the same kind with them as a decoy when they hunt..1. and published by P. Still he saw that all these efforts to win these souls to himself had been in vain. 1."9 Thus the reason for Nammalvar's aforementioned excellence has been clearly explained. for Degika's basic doctrinal position is that the innately merciful Lord bestows his saving grace on those who have appeased His anger against their bad karma by performing some act or acts of conciliation. Vidira.2 (1987) for Vibhisana. B.... in the form of "mayarvaramatinalam. in AcHr 95. found no one anywhere who was suitable for this. is without any cause but His own will. the Lord looked for someone suitable for this task-someone of the same kind to use as a decoy. The place where the Lord's glance falls becomes devoid of faults. Alakiyamanavala Perumal Nayanar and Manavalamamuni explain that in the beginning of this era the Lord endowed all creatures with bodies and the capacity to act. Thus it fell on this one soul who was shuttling back and forth in any and every kind of birth. Both the animate and inanimate residents of Gokula and Kosala were granted special knowledge and love for the Lord "without any reason..) AcHr 95.'0 Can the mere glance of the Lord suffice to free one as lowly as Nammalvar from all his sins and give him this kind of glory? Accdrya Hrdaya cites Puranic incidents where Krsna's attention resulted in moksa for SramanT.. He does so as a favor to his devotee. He took and transformed into a channel for the flood of His grace. [This one soul. like a farmer who refuses to give up when his crop fails. but may be Pfiicardtra literature. . But. When individual souls or cetanas continued to stray. in his commentary on Acarya Hrdaya 94. and the wives of the rsis.1. they resisted all the Lord's attempts to convert them... 8 .

or performed any of the three yogas in this life or before. By His will which derives from grace AcHr 97. "IEvara has instigating agency (prayojakakartrtva) and grace has direct agency (saksatkartrtva).. for no reason other than the Lord's own will.'4 Acdrya Hrdaya 101 and 102 argue that this gracious gift given by the Lord could not have been a result of Nammalvar's practice of any sadhana in this life or in past lives. then everyone should have already been saved. the plowman of bhakti (bhaktiyulavan) who toils for the salvation of all . Taking my mind which was meant to be a field for cultivating bhakti. as Thus the bhakti which this limitless as the sea... Two vivid analogies are used to illustrate this doctrine: But if [the Lord's] acceptance is uncaused in this way. He shouldered my burden and ruled me.. and guarded the field from the predators of the senses.1. My mind and heart were a complete wasteland. all the others who are present are not to ask. He established himself [in my mind] so that my five sense organs . ever making efforts to cultivate devotion toward Himself in them.. by his own authority he chooses one woman to dencies(vdsana-) andthe siderootsof desire(ruci)[for those weeds of sins] so that they could not branch out again.. which affirms that the Lord. "that crop of bhakti came to fruition. The actions of a royal elephant and a king cannot be questioned. plucked out the weeds of egoism and possessiveness. 15 TUM 1. bow and prostrate to the One who is my designated Master (sesO).. Annangaracharya in five volumes (Kanchi: 1975-76) on TUM 1... In an extended analogy. the one that he picks becomes king. which the Lord freely bestowed on him (AcHr 101). edited and published by P. 6 After the Lord sowed the seeds of loving attachment to himself. Manavalamamuni's elaboration. by virtue of his sovereignty. worship. once he has become king. Taking that very mind [of mine] which had been completely wasted in this way as His foothold. "What is the reason for his picking this [particular] man when there are so many others present?"Similarly. it is shown that whatever the One of unconstrained sovereignty (nirankugasvatantra) does by the pride (cerukku) of his Lordliness (Isvaratva) cannot be investigated. I did not do it. planted with the seeds of devotion..MUMME: Grace and Karma in Nammdlvdr's Salvation 261 najfdna. and tended till it produced a crop of bhakti. then everyone should have been accepted.10. were completely destroyed. See Bhagavad Visayam. 106. As deedas a foothold(parfa-cu) stated [in the verse]. How can the Lord save just one individual like this for no reason? This objection is answered in carnai 106. In a country with no king. . for Nammalvar himself denies that he ever practiced any vow or austerity. knowledge in the form of bhakti. Acarya Hrdaya 104 describes Nammalvar's complete depravity in terms of a dense thorn thicket of karma which the Lord cleared. but which had been lying fallow. much less cut. put in the first person.. gave any alms. He took His mighty and capable grace and made it into an invincible sword for cutting down the thicket of my sins whose base could not even be seen. Nammdlvdr was unqualified for bhaktiyoga because he was a gidra. . B.. He made ashes of them so that they were completely destroyed. 14 16 AcHr.. in AcHr 104.. 104. as is bhaktiyoga. a royal elephant will be blindfolded and released [in a crowd].5. Nammalvar's devotion was not something he practiced as a means to an end. He cut the taproot of karmic ten- Manavalamamuni brings up a possible objection to the interpretation of uncaused grace proposed herean objection known as the sarvamuktiprasariga: If nothing on the cetana's part is needed for the Lord to save. but an end in itself." 7 for Himto acceptme. reads as if Nammalvar himself is speaking: Even when ordered to praise." 17 Manavalamdmuni.. without even a trace of a good (krpaprayuktasahkalpa) . When that happens."'5 [He wanted] to orient my mind toward Him-that fickle mind which wanders into everything it sees. "Correcting my mind and fixing it toward Him.1. watered them with the beauty of his divine form. Alvar received is the fruit of the labors (krsiphalam) of the Lord of all.. Like a king who destroys evildoers by the authority of his throne. Here Manavalamamuni explains that the carnai uses the causal form of the verb meaning "uproot" to show that in severing the roots of karma. What is the reason for accepting just this one individual? By worldly examples. The Srivaisnava commentators on the Tiruvdym6li explain that Nammdlvar's bhakti was not the bhaktiyoga explained by Rdmanuja in his commentary on the Bhagavad GTtd. has an unquestionable right to choose to save a particular individual and ignore others.

in the same way that a royal elephant and king act according to their desire." Nammalvar says.8. Acarya Hrdaya cites passages from the Tiruvdym6li which demonstrate that even these "came about from the Lord alone . which he records in his hymns. respectively.7. 25 Manavdiamamuni. Even though there are many women there of equal worth people don't ask. respectively. the "boon of illusion-free knowledge" '9 that the Lord granted him enabled him to see clearly all his past lives and even the deeds of the avatdras. he would have revealed them. banishing all my faults. italics mine. This is countered by citing passages attesting to Nammalvar's omniscience. 26 TUM 2." and "Me-the one who was made to consent. B.1. they were done unwittingly.3 and 10. in AcHr I 10. Therefore. aisvarya) are unquestionable". it is the Lord who forcibly superimposed [merit] 23 22 . saying.9. 1969). Annangaracharya (Kanchi: Granthamala Office. Otherwise. If-for His own use and by His own will which is based on His pride of lordliness-He accepts one soul among those who are dependent on Him as His property."2' He received no answer. quoted by Manavalamdmuni in AcHr 108. TUM 2.7. 10 and PNriyatiruvantdti 26.8. they cannot reasonably be said to merit the supreme result of the Lord's acceptance.7. "What is the reason why he chose her?" [Kurega's SrTvaikunthastava] says.7. "You gave me a mind to approach and worship You" and "You destroyed my evil mind. "If he had previously given permission or consent. thus the supreme Lord has the qualities of aisvarya and svdtantrya which cannot be investigated. Since we don't find that he has mentioned any [such deeds]. Therefore they can't be the cause of it. "By permission I placed Him in my heart" and." The Lord entered into Nammalvar and forced his consent in order to keep him from escaping."24 Manavalamamuni interprets Nammalvar to be saying that "it was with difficulty that He made him consent."25 In two passages. even though there is no reason.1. abhimukya) which might have served as the basis for Nammalvar's salvation. "His sovereignty and lordliness (svdtantrya. not on the basis of his good karma.1. If it be argued that he had a lack of aversion to the Lord or a slight inclination toward him (advesa. They were not intended as loving invocation of the Lord or his shrines as prescribed in the gastras. and since we do find that he has said many times that the Lord's grace is the sole cause."26A cdrya Hrdaya 11l answers that these statements were merely made to designate an individual and describe a certain place." "I simply said 'Tirumaliruficolai'[mountain] and the Lord came and entered fully into my heart. it is established that he had none. in Stotramdld. These accidental deeds are only "good" because the Lord seized upon them and imagined merit in them. .20 Nammalvar himself asked whether there was some good deed that he might have done to merit his fortune. and 2. 20 AcHr 107. quoted in the carnai of AcHr 108. 24 TUM 1. 'I never agreed' or 'made to consent'.6.8.27 21 TUM 10. 27 "Even though he made these statements. saying "What good thing have I done for the Lord that he shines in my heart. Even if they are admitted as having some small goodness. "I and my mind consented [and my sins] were destroyed. Manavalamamuni concludes: All these deeds he reveals clearly and flawlessly. as one who participated in them.8." He is the one on whom all bondage and release is dependent."22 In several verses the Alvar seems to admit that he gave his consent to the Lord. P. so there must be nothing unknown to him.7 and 5. Nammalvar seems to claim that the Lord entered his heart when he called out one of his names and the name of the mountain where his temple stands: "As soon as I said 'Madavan' He fell on me and entered my heart.262 Journal of the American Oriental Society 107.'8 Alakiyamanavala Perumal Nayanar and Manavalamamuni continue to substantiate their case by raising and refuting possible objections.. respectively.2 (1987) be his queen. Though Nammalvar speaks of his total lack of good karma. if he had had any accidental (yadrcchika) or other good deeds which were the basis for the Lord accepting him.7.7. the reason for this [choice] cannot be questioned even though there are others present who were not chosen. This confirms that He has the power to make whatever He desires to be the way He wants it whenever He desires. TUM 8. AcHr 106. This premise is rejected on account of two other verses: "I never agreed to place him in my heart. 19 TUM 1. The quotations are from the stotras of two of Rdmdnuja's immediate disciples."23 Perhaps these were the basis for the Lord's grace. [Nammalvar] would not have said. perhaps the bhakti he received was precedented by some good deed he did in a past life. ed. As stated [by Bhattar in his SrTrangardjastava]"A creature is brought into being [in samsara] and released by You alone. Kurega's ?rivaikunthastava 55 and Paragara Bhattar's Srirangardjastava 98.

. as taught in the Bhagavad Gita and in Paficaratra. they are not equivalent to the supreme result of acceptance by the Lord. Even though they are prescribed in'the 9dstrasas a cause for certain results." Manavaiamdmuni. the Lord]. But the words themselves could support the opposite interpretation: "He spontaneously gives (literally." See the edition by P. 705-6. Manavalamamuni summarizes the entire argument as establishing five points: I) The Alvdr's excellence. is concluded in Acdrya Hrdaya 113: Even if all this is true. Therefore they can't be a reason for the Lord's acceptance. commentary brings out the meaning: that the Lord is the basis of Nammalvar's fortune of attaining salvation just as he is the very source of the Alvar's life or existence. unconditioned by his own karma.. . vasTkarana) which "aid in pacifying His disfavor which has arisen from [the cetana's] beginningless series of 30 Ibid. 31RTS ch. then all souls should have already been saved. in AcHr II1.3" Vedanta Desika argues that bhaktiyoga and prapatti. If [the Lord]released [thecetana]withouttakingsome deedof his as a pretext(vydja). disregardingthe cetana's karma and the system of rewards and punishments that he himself has laid down in the siistras.MUMME: Grace and Karma in Nammdlvdr's Salvation 263 The argument for affirmingthat Nammalvar's salvation was caused by nirhetukakataksa alone. glossing them to read: 'There is no reason which can be specified as to how my life came to be so sweet'.it wouldunfortunately resultthateveryonewouldbe released If one eternally. Manavalamamuni interprets these verses as firmly substantiating the causelessness of the grace which saved Nammalvar. becamereleased whenthe Lordso willedmerelyout of His sovereignty..8] "Spontaneously (vrite) (He graces those whom He graces)"28 [it means] that there is nothing which can be posited [as a basis] except for the "Good Deed" (sukrta) called the Source of life (vdlmutal) [i. 1979). Lester (Madras: Kuppuswamy Sastri Research Institute. Manavalamamuni's on them. and dismissed because it conflicts with the import of "verite. [Narmalvar] himself ascertains that he became an object [of the lord's grace] without 29 cause. 28This phrase from TUM 8." This alternative interpretation is discussed by Pillai Lokdcdryaand Manavdlamdmuniin Srivacana Bhusana 393-95. . Vedanta Degika does not allow the sovereignty of the Lord's grace to be interpreted to mean that he acts to save arbitrarily.2) that the Lord'scauseless graceis the basisfor it. 3) the uniqueness of the bhakti that he had on accountof [the fact that it was based only on the Lord'sgrace]. 24." meaning "spontaneously. For..the faults of partialityand cruelty would accrue [to Him] and all the sastras which enjointhe variousmeansto moksawouldalso become meaningless. He points out that this interpretation of nirhetukakrpa actually threatens the divine mercy and the very perfection which is essential to the Lord's sovereignty. Rajagopal Naidu. "does") grace to those who do.8-"veriteyarul ceyvar ceyvdrkatku"-is interpreted even in the earlier commentaries as a reference to the Lord's nirhetukakrpi. the Lord can be charged with cruelty to some and partiality to others.7. .. The cuirnai here is playing on two meanings of the word vdlvu-life and fortune. pp. 5) that thereis no other cause for the Lord acceptinghim but that gracealone. 29 AcHr 13. Isn't there some merit or good deed (sukrta) which can be posited as a basis for this? To this he reveals: 113. and 'He gives his grace without cause (nirhetukamdka) to those whom he so intends. . Raghava Ramajuna Swami (Madras: P. according to the reasoning of the sarvamuktiprasafiga.' In this way.e.30 THE VATAKALAI VIEW: Nammalvar's Salvation According to Vedanta Degika. are the means to moksa which the Lord himself has enjoined as "acts of propitiation" (prasddana.. if the Lord is truly merciful to all. there must be some basis for the fact that from beginningless time [the Lord's] grace has not been extended toward this soul and that only today it has been offered to him.7. 1936) or the translation (without Manavdlamamuni's commentary) by Robert C.4) that it was not gained from [Nammalvdrv's] karmaorjhdna. When he declares [in PMriyatiruvantdti 56] "No way of coming (can be told for this life of sweetness) (vdlvu)" and [in Tiruvdym6li 8. Since this is not the case. No "good deed" can be posited as the cause for Nammalvar's existence-or for his salvationother than the Lord himself. They should be merely a cause for some minor result. and if he needs nothing on the part of the individual soul in order to rescue him from samsdra.

is theoretically open to all. he was disqualified from bhaktiyoga and in several verses he claims that the Lord himself prompted his very act of surrender. University of Pennsylvania. accidental or otherwise.deeds done with other resultsin mind. Being a s?idra.33 But even Desika must admit that there are grounds for considering Nammalvar's case as a possible exception."32On the pretext of the performance of one of these upayas or sadhanas-either bhaktiyoga or prapatti. authorized by scripture. Vedanta Degika seems to allow that such accidental good deeds may help serve as propitiations which elicit the Lord's gracious compassion. For no action or result can the individual cetana claim to be the sole. castingaside all bashfulness. Mumme. in AmrtaranijanTRahasyahkal.36 RTS ch. Rahasyatrava Culaka. accidental or otherwise. He destroys the obstacles to the attainment of the final goal with the help of bhakti or prapatti. when Vedanta Degika speaks of the Lord provoking or RTS ch. the Lord is the one bestowing the conditions for that action as a fruit of some previous karma. 1983). the Lord destroys [the jTva's] contracted state of knowledge [and releases him from samsara]. the Lord himself who is the agent of all (sarvakartd) on the analogy of seed and sprout. Therefore we have no right to say that we have saved ourselves. unintentional deeds.. 699. Bhaktiyoga takes longer and has more stringent requirements (such as being a twiceborn male). 3 36 . (Bombay: Sri Vedanta Desika Sampradaya Sabha. In fact. He dispells the hindrances to true knowledge with the help of the dcdrya. simple surrender to God.D. 23. accepts and saves him. placated (prasanna) by such an action.. he does not mean what the Tenkalai dcaryas do. his acceptance by the Lord seems to have been occasioned by an accidental good deed-his utterance of "Madavan" and " "Tirumaliruficolai.264 Journal of the American Oriental Society 107... pt. independent agent and cause. though only in a general sense. saves us. He grants the fruit of some unknown good karma which results in the performance of some good deed. the Protector of all causes us to engage in an upaya and [then]. are both equally valid means (updyas. since the Lord's activities underlie the individual's action as a "background cause. p. On the pretext of the performance of the upaya. it is proper to affirm that . prompted him to do something [which forms] the particular cause [for that surrender] such as an accidental good deed (yddrcchikasukrta) which occurs as a result of the ripening of some particular [deed] in the stream of karma which has been flowing without beginning. Placated by that. This sequence of events is elaborated in his Rahasyatraya offenses. based on deeds which the world considers proper. by a full-blown pretext. "The Theology of Manavdlamdmuni:Toward an Understanding of the Tenkalai-Vatakalai Dispute in Post-Rdmdnuja Srivaisnavism. 34 "Dayd Sataka" vs. the Lord both prompts and is prompted by the soul's karma. The Lord's will to punish is cancelled by these propitiations." Therefore. 1. He means only that. the Lord grants the conditions which result in the performance of bhakti or prapatti. Degika's 700th Anniversary Celebration Series vol. for each and every one of the cetana's actions. Once His disfavor is dispelled. in Stotras of Veddnta Desika. according to Veddnta Degika. 3rd ed. sddhanas) to moksa. 4. he becomes extremely placated and. See chapter 3 of Patricia Y. Prapatti. A verse of his "Dayd Sataka" reads: 0 Compassionof Padma'sconsort. depending on the individual's qualifications the Lord graciously forgives the soul for his past offenses. removing the soul's ignorance. He removes the obstacles to adopting [one of the] means with the help of an intercessor." (Ph.you bestowon us our heart'sdesire. Bhaktiyoga and prapatti. 650. or other deeds considereddharmas which were done accidentally. grants moksa and the final attainment. Even before the act of surrender (prapatti) which the individual does for his own protection.34 He even admits that the Lord can be legitimately seen as prompting the performance of these accidental good deeds.35 Thus Desika conceives of the soul's salvation as the result of a continuous chain of cause and effect. According to some passages in the Tiruvdym6li. but Degika emphasizes that one who has all the necessary requirements (including patience) should practice bhaktiyoga. Rather. At every point in the series. the Lord is the sarvakartd-the agent of all-since he gives his cooperating permission and grants the fruits for all actions.2 (1987) instigating an accidental good deed or the performance of an updya.. 24 p. 33 32 Culaka: The extremely merciful Lord waits for an opportunity [to uplift the soul]. 74. 1973). [First] He destroys the obstacles to the growth of the quality of goodness (sattva) with the help of good deeds-unknown. dissertation.

S. In his Rahasyatrayasara. 23: pp."39 ed. and 10. Alakiyamanavala Perumal Nayanar makes a reference to both these passages in the curnai of AcHr 228 which summarizes the argument elaborated in 102-13. the Lord does not save arbitrarily. TUM 10. From absence of the particular effect we must infer that. This must be solely because of His sovereignty. isn't it the Lord himself who is placing His gracious intention upon His servants?"38 Vedanta Desika's refutation shows his interest in avoiding the problems of partiality and cruelty that attend the sarvamuktiprasahga (italics mine): To enlighten those who reason thus we reply: Even though Isvara is indeed sovereign and autonomous. 'Today the Lord has turned His attention on me and placed Himself in my heart. argue as follows: "The Lord. in RTS ch. not by intervening in defiance of it. only today takes loving notice of him. 232.9. Unless the Lord grants fruits according to karma.9. 39 Quotation from TUM 10. The Lord manifests his sovereign autonomy in preserving the karmic order. . depending on that. If You who are inherently omniscient see something that I don't see. If this argument is not accepted. You may ask.8. He is asking. which were not present previously. RTS ch. This answer-that it is because of the manifold complexity of the stream of beginningless karma-applies equally [if the same question of cause is raised] with regard to those who accept the Lord and those who do not. have arisen today. It may then be asked. Ayyengar and V. then doesn't the sarvamuktiprasahga still obtain? At this point. Otherwise. 1965) p. This truth Nammalvar himself revealed by saying "I said 'Tirumaliruficolai'and the Lord came and entered fully into my heart. without anyone being able to prevent Him.8. without regard to the soul's karma.40 Thus Vedanta Desika does not see Nammalvar's salvation as any kind of exception to the general rule that the individual's karma is the decisive factor in determining when a particular individual will decide to perform the upaya and be saved. in order that the faults of partiality and cruelty do not stain him. the Lord "brings about" the pretext at the appropriate time in accord with his karma. nor does the individual soul save himself by his own independent efforts. Srirama Desika (Madras: Parankusa Mantiram. there is no way for anyone to reply if asked why faith and desire for moksa. He brings about a pretext on the part of the individual soul and. 23. in so doing he preserves his own egalitarianism.the fault of partiality will accrue to Him. Desika says it is only because he wished to emphasize the primary importance of the Lord's mercy and sovereignty in causing salvation. why has He not brought it about earlier?"[The answer is:] The endless streams of karma belonging to all these souls go about ripening at various times.1. in confusion.1.MUMME: Grace and Karma in Nammilvir's Salvation 265 In Degika's view. 634-35. pp. Desika appeals to the Degika seems to take Nammalvar's utterance of "Tirumiliruficolai" to his performance of the upjya which acts as a pretext for the Lord to save. When He saves. Gomadan S. Why did He allow me to stray of yore?' he would have revealed some reply other than 'Beautiful clouds in the sky beat a drum roll-boom boom!'37 So how can we say that we perform an updya [for salvation]?. N. Desika makes it clear that even in Nammalvar's case. But if it is the Lord himself who "brings about" the pretext. "If so. . 4' . prior to this.9. 37 TUM 10. 636-37. The Lord manifests his innate mercy by becoming placated and granting the final goal on the basis of such a mere pretext (vydja) as prapatti or bhakti. Nammalvar disregards the particular cause which is the pretext. the particular cause had not occurred. example of Nammalvar's salvation to illustrate how the innately merciful-yet egalitarian-Lord comes to save a particular individual at a particular time. "If even this pretext comes about from the Lord. please reveal RTS ch. pp. 23. then how do you explain the verse saying 'Today the Lord has turned his attention to me'4' and [Nammalvar's] subsequent statements [in which he asked why he got this attention today and received no answer]?" We reply: Because of the primacy of the Lord's innate sovereignty and mercy. In order to refute the view of the Thnkalai dcdryas-that Nammalvar was saved strictly by divine grace as an expression of the Lord's sovereignty-he gives a concise summary of the argument in Acarya Hrdaya: Some people. The Lord's sovereignty allows Him to save when He so intends by some pretext. 635-36. saves him. If Nammalvar ignores the input of his own karma in this process.8. when Nammalvar petitioned him by saying. "For previously neglecting me and now being favorably inclined to me I find no other primary cause than your autonomy and mercy. after neglecting this soul from beginningless time.

The sovereign autonomy of the Lord is the primary cause of a soul's existence in samsdra. Vedanta Desika concludes that though the Lord's innate and "uncaused" grace or compassion is the primary cause of salvation. but the performance of the propitiating pretext. for they pacify the Lord's will to enforce punishment which has [heretofore] thwarted His compassion. unknown. He is using military terminology here for the main division of an army and its backup troops. conjoined with compassion. Nammalvar's salvation is no exception. though in his devotion and humility the Alvar sometimes disregards the influence of his own karma and his propitiating performance of surrender in praise of the Lord's mercy and sovereign power. 29. The ripening of some chain of good deeds-known. 44 RTS ch. 43 Now we can summarize the difference between Vedanta Desika and his Thnkalai opponents on the causelessness (nirhetukatva) of divine grace and the understanding of the Lord's mercy and sovereignty as seen in the salvation of Nammalvar." By having the Lord remain silent. while the individual cetana's good karmas (including the upaya) which propitiate the Lord. the Lord's mercy has primary causality in salvation. . Degika elucidates how the Lord's sovereignty and mercy are to be reconciled in the light of this doctrine. and decides to save the soul upon the performance of an upaya he himself has revealed in the sdstras. the propitiating action changes the Lord's sovereign will from its previous desire to punish the cetana to an unobstructable desire to save him. disregarding their karma. for no reason outside of his own making. The auxiliary cause for this is [the soul's] endless stream of transgressions of [the Lord's] sovereign commands. unquestionable sovereignty. conditioned by karma. It is the particularacts of propitiation (vaskaranavisesana) which come about by means of grace. can be legitimately considered as an auxiliary cause. Nammalvar revealed to the world the primacy of [the Lord's] sovereignty and mercy. the particulargrace (prasddavisesa) which comes about because of prapatti is the secondary force. if the Lord always has to depend on the soul's karma in choosing whether or when to save him. In Vedanta Desika's view.266 Journal of the American Oriental Society 107. that bear the name of auxiliary cause. the pretext of an upaya. This special grace. act as an auxiliary cause. which had previously served to keep the soul bound in samsdra. grants all fruits of karma according to his pleasure or displeasure at their action. According to the Thnkalai dcdryas. if the Lord chooses to save souls arbitrarily. In the same way. both the Lord's mercy and supremacy are threatened by the faults of cruelty and partiality.2 (1987) that to me. then this compromises his supreme.4' and the [Lord's] unconstrained sovereignty (nirahkusasvdtantrya) stands at the fore to remove all obstacles. based on the soul's particular good deeds. the Lord chose to accept one so utterly unworthy as Nammalvar and grant him a devotion which poured out in songs that uplift all who hear them.43 But doesn't the Lord's sovereignty as well as his mercy operate in salvation? The following passage clarifies that. Therefore [we conclude:] The primary cause for the Lord making him an object of His sport [by toying with him in samsdra] is His sovereignty. is a secondary cause in any particular instance of salvation. If it RTS ch. 23.44 At the close of the above exposition. ignores the [soul's] endless offenses. while the soul's bad karma can be seen as the auxiliary cause. which is conditioned by the soul's karma. The primary cause for the Lord making him an object of his delight [by taking him to Vaikuntha to enjoy communion with Him] is His natural compassion. The innate compassion [of the Lord] is the primary force. accidental or deliberate-culminates in the performance of bhakti or prapatti which appeases the Lord's anger against the soul's offenses once and for all. as Desika sees it. He sees the Lord's attention to karma as manifesting and protecting his sovereign autonomy-not limiting it. the Lord's sovereign autonomy. Once placated. pp. on the basis of a small pretext. pp.42 be asked how this is: Innate compassion. The Lord of all is the one who-by his own supreme will-has endowed souls with bodies and the ability to act. It is in manifestation of both his sovereign autonomy and his gracious mercy for all souls that. 1116-17. now aligns with his innate mercy and functions to clear away all obstacles to manifesting his merciful will to save the soul. 637-40. The Lord's innate mercy is always the primary agent and cause of salvation. makes [the Lord's] unconstrained sovereignty into an instrument for removing all the obstacles of His devotees.

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