II-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 16

Topic 16 - The soul in its activity is dependent on the Lord

Sutra 2,3.41

परात्तु तच्छ्रुतेः ॥ ४१ ॥

parāttu tacchruteḥ || 41 ||

parāt—From the Supreme lord; tu—but; tat—that (agency); śruteḥ—so declares the Śruti.

41. But (even) that (agency of the soul) is from the Supreme Lord; so declares the Śruti.

Is the activity of the individual soul independent (free), or does it depend on the highest Self? It is free; for if it were dependent on the highest Self, the whole body of scriptural injunctions and prohibitions would be unmeaning. For commandments can be addressed to such agents only as are capable of entering on action or refraining from action, according to their own thought and will.

This prima facie view is set aside by the Sūtra. The activity of the individual soul proceeds from the highest Self as its cause. For Scripture teaches this. 'Entered within, the ruler of creatures, the Self of all'; 'who dwelling in the Self is different from the Self, whom the Self does not know, whose body the Self is, who rules the Self from within, he is thy Self, the inward ruler, the immortal one.' Smriti teaches the same, 'I dwell within the heart of all; memory and knowledge as well as their loss come from me'(Bha. Gī. XV, 15); 'The Lord, O Arjuṇa, dwells in the heart of all creatures, whirling, by his mysterious power, all creatures as if mounted on a machine' (Bha. Gī. XVIII, 61).--But this view implies the meaninglessness of all scriptural injunctions and prohibitions!--To this the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 2,3.42

कृतप्रयत्नापेक्षस्तु विहितप्रतिषिद्धावैयर्थ्यादिभ्यः ॥ ४२ ॥

kṛtaprayatnāpekṣastu vihitapratiṣiddhāvaiyarthyādibhyaḥ || 42 ||

kṛtaprayatna-apekṣaḥ—Depends on works done; tu—but; vihita-pratiṣiddha-avaiyarthyādibhyaḥ—on account of the relevancy of injunctions and prohibitions etc.

42. But (the Lord’s making the soul act) depends on works done (by it); (thus only would) injunctions and prohibitions etc. be relevant.

The inwardly ruling highest Self promotes action in so far as it regards in the case of any action the volitional effort made by the individual soul, and then aids that effort by granting its favour or permission (Anumati); action is not possible without permission on the part of the highest Self. In this way (i.e. since the action primarily depends on the volitional effort of the soul) injunctions and prohibitions are not devoid of meaning. The 'and the rest' of the Sūtra is meant to suggest the grace and punishments awarded by the Lord.--The case is analogous to that of property of which two men are joint owners. If one of these wishes to transfer that property to a third person he cannot do so without the permission of his partner, but that that permission is given is after all his own doing, and hence the fruit of the action (reward or anything) properly belongs to him only.--That, in the case of evil actions, allowance of the action on the part of one able to stop it does not necessarily prove hardheartedness, we have shown above when explaining the Sānkhya doctrine.--But there is a scriptural text.--'He (the Lord) makes him whom he wishes to lead up from these worlds do a good deed, and the same makes him whom he wishes to lead down from these worlds do a bad deed' (Kau. Up. III, 8)-- which means that the Lord himself causes men to do good and evil actions, and this does not agree with the partial independence claimed above for the soul.--The text quoted, we reply, does not apply to all agents, but means that the Lord, wishing to do a favour to those who are resolved on acting so as fully to please the highest Person, engenders in their minds a tendency towards highly virtuous actions, such as are means to attain to him; while on the other hand, in order to punish those who are resolved on lines of action altogether displeasing to him, he engenders in their minds a delight in such actions as have a downward tendency and are obstacles in the way of the attainment of the Lord. Thus the Lord himself says, 'I am the origin of all, everything proceeds from me; knowing this the wise worship me with love. To them ever devoted, worshipping me in love, I give that means of wisdom by which they attain to me. In mercy only to them, dwelling in their hearts, do I destroy the darkness born of ignorance, with the brilliant light of knowledge' (Bha. Gī. X, 8; 10-11). And further on the Lord--after having described 'demoniac' people, in the passus beginning 'they declare the world to be without a Truth, without a resting-place, without a Ruler,' and ending 'malignantly hating me who abides in their own bodies and those of others'--declares, 'These evil and malign haters, most degraded of men, I hurl perpetually into transmigrations and into demoniac wombs' (XVI, 8-19).

Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'that which depends on the Highest.'