Faith

Goal and Means

Dharma is that which is defined in the scriptures as the means of obtaining good results. Paramatma (the Supreme One) is also a dharma. This is where some confusion is likely to occur. We are told that He is the goal we should seek to attain, for to be at His feet is the only way to get out of the samsaric cycle.

And yet, if He is dharma, and therefore the means, does that imply that the means and the end are the same? While this may seem absurd in any other context, in the case of the Supreme One, it is true. When the Vaishnavite preceptor Vedanta Desika was asked to state crisply the essence of the Vedas, he answered that the essence of the Vedas was this: “To reach Him, He is the means.”

But if it were to be so argued then another question arises. If He were the means, then isn’t surrender (Saranagati) the means, as it is said to be?

The answer is that surrender is the means but so is the Lord, said V. S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse. The explanation is that the act of surrender must come from us, and without surrender there is going to be no liberation. But the act of surrender is just one part. The other important thing is that the Lord must accept our surrender. Our attaining moksha is the result of our act of surrender and of His acceptance of it. So yes, surrender is a means, only because He accepts it. We can be confident that He will accept our surrender, because He has Himself said so categorically, in the context of Vibhishana’s surrender.


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 10:56:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/goal-and-means/article6640393.ece

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