Monthly Archives: October 1995

Bhakti Song 78 – Church

I wrote this song when I read American poet Emily Dickinson’s letter to her friend about church. As I have the similar view, I wrote this. My aim is not to criticize or condemn the need and role of church for (traditional) Christians. They need it. But as I never fit into it, I shared my view through this song. My intension is not to hurt anyone.

கீழ்வரும் பாடலை (அமெரிக்கப் பெண்கவி) எமிலிடிக்கன்சன் தன் நண்பருக்குத் திருச்சபையைக் குறித்து எழுதியதைப் படித்த போது, அவரைப்போன்றே என்கருத்தும் இருப்பதை உணர்ந்து எழுதினேன்:


தி(தெ)ருச் சபை

கூடுகின்றார் ஒரு சபையாக

ஒருகொள்கை தன்னை அறிவிக்கவே

கும்பலோடு ஓரு “கோவிந்தா”

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Bhakti Song 77 – I Need Your Grace Anew

புதிதாய் வேண்டும்

மீண்டும் எனக்கருள வேண்டும்

முடிவில்லா உன்கிருபை வேண்டும்

தோல்வியுற்ற இவ்வாழ்வில் வெற்றி

தொடர்ந்திட உன்னருள் வேண்டும்

காமம், கோபம், லோபம் எனக்

கணக்கில் அடங்காத் துன்பம்

தாக்குகின்ற போது எல்லாம்

தயவுடன் எனைக்காக்க வேண்டும்

இவ்வேண்டுதலும் புதியதல்ல

மனவேதனையும் புதியதல்ல

ஆயினும் நீ காட்டும் தயவோ

அனுதினம் புதிதாய் வேண்டும்!

13-10-1995. ரீவா (ம.பி)

English Translation

Again you should have pity on me

I need your endless grace

To have success continuously

In this life of defeat I need your grace

You should protect me with mercy

When lust, anger and greed

And other countless sorrows attack me

This prayer is not new

The pain in my heart is not new

But the mercy that you show

Should be new every day

13-10-1995. Rewa (M.P)



Grace and bhakti are intertwined and one cannot work without the other; we cannot understand one without the other. In Hinduism in karma, God could be a facilitator to reward according to our action or as per the result of our action. In Jnana, (mainly in Hinduism) there is no need for God (Sankara on Katha, see BT Song 74). So these two concepts can work independently (like dharma) based on one’s aptitude.

But in our Bhakti we cannot claim that since we love the Lord He must do a favour for us. Of course, in order to glorify bhakti, this concept that bhakti will also make God dance according to our tunes is there in Hinduism — but it’s not very popular. As He is caught in the net of bhakti, He cannot escape from us. I have already quoted few lines on these thoughts (See BT Songs 3 & 49). But as Grace is the undeserving kindness from God for us, we cannot demand it and we cannot even ‘earn’ it. It is not even a by-product which bhakti will automatically produce. It is the complete prerogative of God to give or withdraw.

At the same time, as per my understanding of Muktiveda, faith is the karma through which we completely surrender to God and wait upon Him to bestow His Grace on us. Though I use ‘karma’ for faith, it does not mean that faith works as a cause to produce the effect viz., the grace of God. But it is the ‘occasion’ says Rao. I find his explanation very useful for me to communicate my thought:

…Human aspiration is necessary for grace. ‘It is the occasion, not the condition or the cause.’ Hunger is not the cause of the food, but the condition for the enjoyment of the food. ‘We must choose to be chosen.’….—P. Nagaraja Rao, Essentials of Hinduism, Mumbai, Sudakshina Trust, 1978 p.159.

This subject of grace is very deep and important for me to understand all the Muktivedic teachings on it. In Hinduism too, grace is very important, but the pluralism and relativism allows for anyone to put it in any context he wishes. Whereas in Muktiveda it is purely the undeserving kindness of God having His mercy alone as the cause for it. But both ‘karma’ and ‘jnana’ can add new understanding for a Hindu bhakta of the Lord. It is too much for me to go beyond this. However, I would like to share some points from other scholars which will benefit some of you. My summary of those thoughts or comments to them will complicate more than presenting this clearly. Here are some.

First from a Hindu point of view:

… The author of the Sandilyasutras, after admitting that the subsidiary forms of devotion have to be adapted according to time and necessity, plainly says: ‘Isvaratusterekopibali’, that is, when God is pleased even one of the means is effectual. Therefore there is only one thing that is indispensable, and that is the grace of the Lord. You may practise all the external sadhanas and all the internal sadhanas without exception, you may steep yourself in religious literature and you may acquire the reputation of being a pious man. But all these are of no avail without the grace of God. There is an oft-quoted verse in the Upanishads which runs thus: ‘Not by study, not by intelligence and not by much learning is this Atman to be obtained. It can be obtained only by him (p.79) whom it chooses. To such a one the Atman reveals its true nature.’ This does not mean that grace is capricious. It only means that God is a searcher of hearts. We can deceive the world, we can deceive ourselves, but we can never deceive Him. He sees through all our studies, our clever arguments and our pious poses. He sees what sincerity there is in our hearts, and sends His grace accordingly.—D.S. Sarma, A Primer Of Hinduism, Bombay, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1984, pp.79-80 [the Upanishad verse is mentioned here is also interpreted differently, particularly by Advaitians not as god revealing his grace.—db]

…But the dawning of the supra-consciousness which can reveal this truth does not, even so, depend entirely on our own efforts; there is something like divine mercy that must be awaited. This self can only be realized by those to whom it reveals itself. The perfecting of our moral life is a prerequisite; but no method deliberately and consciously pursued is sufficient to bring us all the way into the full realization of the highest truth. In at least one or two of the Upanishads indications of a (p.61) different line of thought and method of realization are to be found. Thus in Katha III….—S.N. Dasgupta,HINDU MYSTICISM, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, (1927), 1992, pp.61-62

Though there is no rationale of divine grace or any limit to the grace abounding, we may venture to state that one must deserve grace by self-effort. We must ascend so that God descends. In fact self-effort and grace are related by reciprocal causation, each being the cause of the other. Unless there is effort, Grace will not come to us; and unless grace is there, no genuine effort can even be begun.–B.R.Kulkarni; The Bhagavada Gita and the Bible. p.34

We know that mere accumulation of facts or incubation does not lead to inventions without that added element, call it intuition, inspiration or the eureka experience which defies rational explanation. In the field of religion we call it Grace.–ibid. p.34


From Muktivedic perspective:

As judgement is God’s justice confronting moral inequity, so mercy is the goodness of God confronting human suffering and guilt….As mercy is God’s goodness confronting human misery and guilt, so grace is His goodness directed toward human debt and demerit.–Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy.

….Hinduism has the idea of a gracious God. But this grace of God is not costly. It is God’s ordinary attitude towards man. Even when He is gracious, God stays outside the problems of human life, and the sin of man does not press hard upon the grace of God or upon the life of God….— FRANK WHALING. An Approach to Dialogue with Hinduism, Lucknow, (Lucknow Publishing House, p.61

Grace is given to a man to teach him and it taken away to train him..—(I think this from Wurmbrand. Little Notes Which Like Each Other.)

And from NT Wright:

I have argued throughout this chapter and chapter 4 that Paul re-thought the very meaning of the word ‘God’ by means of Jesus and the Spirit. There is one great theme which I have not explicitly mentioned, but which I now wish in conclusion to unveil, so to speak, as the very heart of this whole rethinking on Paul’s part.

Paul speaks, in one of the speeches in Acts, of ‘the gospel of the grace of God’ (Acts 20:24). This is, after all, the great theme of the greatest of the letters, which we have studied very briefly in the present chapter. Romans is often regarded as an exposition of judicial, or law-court, theology. But that is a mistake. The law court forms a vital metaphor at a key stage of the argument. But at the heart of Romans we find a theology of love.

We have seen continually that Paul’s redefinition, his fresh understanding, of the one true God came especially through his grasp of the fact that this God was revealed supremely in Jesus, and there supremely in the cross. If we leave the notion of ‘righteousness’ as a law-court metaphor only, as so many have done in the past, this gives the impression of a legal transaction, a cold piece of business, almost a trick of thought performed by a God who is logical and correct but hardly one we would want to worship. But if we understand ‘God’s righteousness’, as I have tried to do, in terms of the covenant faithfulness of God, then there is of course one word which sums up that whole train of thought, and which for Paul perfectly describes the God he knows in Jesus Christ and by the Spirit. In Romans 5 and 8, drawing together the threads of the argument so far, he says that the cross of Jesus reveals supremely the love of God (5:6-11; 8:31-39). If you understand dikaiosune theou in the way I have suggested, you cannot play off justice and love against one another. God’s justice is his love in action, to right the wrongs of his suffering world by taking their weight upon himself. God’s love is the driving force of his justice, so that it can never become a blind or (p.110) arbitrary thing, a cold system which somehow God operates, or which operates God. Because the gospel reveals this covenant love, this covenant faithfulness, of the living God, Paul knows that whatever happens the future is secure. He can announce the gospel in the face of the powers of the world, and they can do their worst to him. The death and resurrection of Jesus have unveiled the faithful love of God, and nothing can separate him from it: 8:38-39

The language of theology, properly understood, gives birth to the language of love. Paul has no problem about a split between head and heart, or between right-brain and left-brain. He has grasped the truth that the one true God is now made known in Jesus and the Spirit. And, grasping that, he knows that he is himself grasped, held, sustained and saved by the faithful love of the faithful God.

But if the true God is as Paul has now perceived him, revealed in Jesus Christ and in the Spirit, this means that Paul’s knowledge of this God can never be a private thing. It is something that by its very nature is shared with a whole community, and flows into a new vocation. How he conceived of this community, its origin, its nature, and its defining unity, and how he conceived of this vocation, this mission—that is the question of justification…..— N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said,: Was Paul of Tarsus the real founder of Christianity, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997, pp.110-11