How does Ishwara’s anugraham (grace) work? Is anugraham (grace) meaning to shower riches (riches are different from wealth)? This topic is very difficult to comprehend and also very difficult to accept. Ishwara’s anugraham (grace) sometimes lead to removing certain joys in life, sometimes it could be the very life itself, sometimes it’s health that is deteriorated, sometimes it is the inability to have children and or diminishing of wealth. All this is still the anugraham (grace) of Ishwara. Let’s try carefully and patiently understand this concept through some examples from Purana. Sri Ram killed Ravana, is that anugraham (grace)? Yes, it is, Sri Ram if after defeating Ravana, left him alive and took Sita Devi home, what would have happened? It would have resulted in great humiliation pushing Ravana to trickle down into the pits of darkness and vengeance. Sri Krishna eliminated Kamsa (his uncle), was there anugraham (grace) in this? From the time Sri Krishna was born, Kamsa lived under constant fear, and it’s through death that he was freed, because living in constant fear is to die each day. Not having children is very painful but sometimes it is anugraham (grace), because the karma that haunts certain people will also haunt their children. This is a very difficult topic to reason with, so let’s leave it at that. Sri Srungagiri Petaadipati, Bharathi Teertha Swamy told a couple to name their son Sri Rama Chandra, when they weren’t even expecting pregnancy at that time. Later they were blessed with a boy and so did name him Sri Rama Chandra. On contrary, He told another couple not to expect since their karma phala was not ordinary. The one who understands Ishwara, dwells in His anugraham (grace) even when receiving something and also when not getting or losing something. Hence only in Sanatana Dharma, death is considered as ‘Devata’ (Goddess). Devata meaning to bestow, then what does death have to bestow? Imagine even after crossing ninety-five years and the body withers, with hanging skin, diminished sight, unable to address bodily functions by self, then in that case death is a blessing. Even with good health if one happens to live twice the normal age then everything with that person and along side that person will start to diminish and disappear right in front, leaving that person alone. Death is the anugraham (grace) that should be bestowed, and hence it’s not a right to inflict upon oneself, which is the reason why suicide is ‘Paapam’ that will haunt many lives to come. A doctor injects saline directly into the blood, though painful, it is for our good, similarly is the anugraham (grace) of Ishwara.
Ishwara’s anugraham (grace) are like clouds, before the clouds and the rain, came the heat, the hot summer that dried the lakes, the ground and our bodies. The phenomena called summer makes the water to vaporize, now did Ishwara keep that water for Himself? He gave it back through a different phenomenon known as rain. In this way Ishwara both takes and also gives, in both cases there is karuna (empathy).
Kalidas a great scholar and poet, composed ‘Megha Sandesam’ (A message delivered by clouds) and gave a sloka about a cloud. Megha Sandesam, Sloka 5,
“ధూమ జ్యోతి స్సలిల మరుతాం సన్నిపాతః క్వ మేఘః !
సందేశార్థాః క్వ పటుకరణైః ప్రాణిభిః ప్రాపణీయాః !
ఇత్యౌత్సుక్యా దపరిగణయన్ గుహ్యకస్తం యయాచే
కామార్తా హి ప్రకృతికృపణా శ్చేతనాచేతనేషు”
“dhuma jyoti ssalila marutAM sannipAtaah kva mEghaah !
saMdESArthAah kva paTukaraNeiah prANibhiah prApaNIyAah !
ityautsukyA daparigaNayan^ guhyakastaM yayAchE
kAmArtA hi prakRtikRpaNA SchEtanAchEtanEshu”
(Eemaata. M. n.d).
Where in ‘Dhuma’ meaning smoke,’joyti’ is light, ‘salila’ is water, ‘mrutham’ means air, and so asked the question how can these four elements constitute a cloud which floats in the sky without support?
He who takes also gives and sometimes makes us wait before giving, all of which is anugraham (grace). One, who notices both these aspects of Ishwara can live a life of gratitude and content. Gratitude is one of the vital aspects of Sanatana Dharma that as a human should cultivate towards everything. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.13)
Shastra states that, in a maasam (month, two moon cycles) it should rain thrice. One rain depends on the dharma of the king of that land, such is the significance given by Shastra towards a king. The second rain signifies the greatness of women in the kingdom and their honesty and ‘paativratayam’ (love and dedication towards husband and family) and the third rain signify the dharma of the rest of the people of that land. Shastra gives such high position and value to King and Women of the kingdom and that their integrity towards dharma will quench the thirst of that land with two rains. A woman becomes a pride as a daughter to someone, and unifies two families by becoming a daughter in law, then moves the legacy of the family forward by becoming a mother. She becomes the first teacher to her child, shares love and wisdom to the child while feeding, which the child never forgets.
Those who have seen drought know the importance of rain and water. We read incidents of many farmers and villagers who sell even cattle and leave their homes in the event of a drought. Without water, even the implementation of dharma gets difficult, as one cannot perfume their daily rituals of Sandhya Vandhanam, Gayatri or aachamaneyam.
When the clouds shower, the rain quenches the thirst of not just us but to all plants and animals of that land, but these clouds expect nothing in return. They sometimes come during the night when most of us are asleep, shower and leave seeking no gratitude. We ourselves do not necessarily show our gratitude to those clouds when it rains. They show no dissatisfaction for having given everything, they become light and float away waiting for no acknowledgment. No one shows the path for these clouds, no one navigates or supports them in the sky. They come, give and leave by themselves. Such is the nature of Sri Vishnu. Such is the analogy of Sir Shankara towards explaining us Ishwara, His nature, making us realize His affection towards us.
Anugraham is grace or blessings that come from the Devatas (Gods). So, another question, how do Devatas shower us their Anugraham? It’s said to be done through their sight or vision. When we offer something to Devatas as Nivedana (Offerings like Satvika foods like fruits) they don’t pick and consume (eat) them, rather they look at our offerings which itself is called Anugraham. Though history shows few rare exceptions where Ishwara consumed food for a devotee’s devotion. This creation and everything in it belongs to Ishwara, there is nothing that we can give that’s not already His. It’s through the act of offering Nivedana, we express our gratitude. And its aspects like respect, humility, compassion and gratitude that make us human and makes us evolve in conscience.
Sri Ganesh(a) is also the only exceptional entity (concept) who when offered (home cooked satvika items) accepts and consumes our offerings, this is the reason He is depicted holding an edible item in His hand. Coming back, it’s through their looks they nourish the worlds and it’s with their look they also dissolute these worlds. In Lalitha Sahasranama Stotram, Sloka 66, Devi is called:
“Unmesha Nimishotpanna Vipanna Bhuvanavali”
(Hindu Temple of Hong Kong. S.L.S.S. n.d., Sanskrit Documents. S.L.S. 2013)
Meaning, She the almighty Lalitha Para Bhatarika, dissolute (not destroys) creation with the blink of Her eyes.
In Soundarya Lahiri, sloka 47, Sri Shankara made multiple references of similar aspect about Devi’s eyes and Her looks:
“भ्रुवौ भुग्ने किंचिद्भुवनभयभंगव्यसनिनि”
“Bhruvau bhugne kinchit bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini”
(Hindu Literature. S.L.L. n.d.).
Meaning when one makes the expression by Narrowing their eyes, it’s to convey anger or dislike, however, Sri Shankara says, the Divine Mother who when narrows Her eyes looks utmost beautiful. It’s always to be noted that the Divine Mother’s beauty in Sanskrit(am) is called Soundrayam, which is not about the physical appearance, but rather the beauty of compassion when seen through the eyes of a son with love towards one’s mother.
So why did Sri Shankara make such a claim by the statement ‘bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini’? Sri Shankara is referring to a Mother’s anxiety towards Her children’s sorrow and Her thoughts of compassion towards their well-being. So, when Sri Shankara is requesting anugraham (grace) from Devi, the question is for whom? It’s rather obvious to say it’s for the poor brahman family. Earlier we discussed that Sri Shankara is singing this stotram not just for that very instance, but for all times to come, and for whoever wishing to recite this stotram. This is the reason why Sri Shankara never uses His own name in the stotram, rather uses the words ‘I’ or ‘me’, which when recited by us, automatically refers to ourselves standing in Sri Shankara’s place. This is one such greatness in Sri Shankara’s compositions.
In a sloka from Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)) composed by a Telugu poet and scholar Bammera Pothana lie a story of Kuchela, a friend and a classmate of Sri Krishna during their academic days, back when they were in gurukul studying under Guru Sandeep Maharishi. Kuchela though in poverty walked the path of dharma. He initially was hesitant when asked by his wife to seek help from Sri Krishna. Noticing his hesitation his wife explained him the generosity and forgiving nature of Sri Vishnu. She continues by saying, “those who don’t recollect Ishwara even in their dreams, yet when in crisis call upon Ishwara for help, giving up all ego, Ishwara will give himself to them without judging their ungratefulness”. One should take a moment and understand the wisdom of a women to help navigate her husband and her family. Kuchela’s wife explaines the compassion of Ishwara as follows, in a sloka from Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)) composed by a poet and scholar Bammera Pothana, said:
కలలోనన్ మూన్:ఎరుంగని మహా:కష్టమూడ్:ఐనట్టి దుర్బలుడు
ఆప్త్:సమయమునం నిజపత:జాతము:ఉల్లంబునం తలఁపన్
ఆన్: తనవచ్చి ఆర్తి:హరుడై తన్నైనా:ఎచున్
సునిశ్చిత భక్తి భావముల భజించు:వారి:ఇతడే సంపత్:విశేషాణతుల్
“Kalalonan mun:erungani maha:kastathmood:eyenatti durbhaludu aapth:samayamunan Nijapatha:jaathamu ullambhunan talapan anthana vacchi arthi:harudai tannaina echun Sunis:chita bhakthi bhavamula bhajinchu:vaari:ithade sampath:visheshonathul”
(Youtube. B.K.S. 2017).
Meaning, those who don’t recall or recognize Ishwara even in their dreams, yet during their tough times, call out for to Ishwara truthfully understanding ones limitations, for them Ishwara will come in such hast that He (Ishwara) will forget Himself. If thaZt’s the case then what about those who are pure of heart, immersed in devotion chant the name of Ishwara? For them Ishwara will bestow riches so special that one can’t imagine. This is the reason why women in Sanatana Dharma take the highest importance.
We have seen many references from Ramayana where Sita devi shared so much wisdom and Her affection towards Rama and devotion towards Shastra.
In Sanatana Dharma, Ishwara is the supporter for those who worship Him and also for those who are ungrateful. Even to curse or badmouth Ishwara, one must have the strength that comes from the very food and facilities given by Ishwara. Yet even after cursing, Ishwara is like a mother who is gentle towards her baby, and forgives with love even if the baby bites Her during feeding. He uplifts those who curse Him, just because they used His name in their curse. From the above, the attempt of such explanation is to help understand the concept of Ishwara, how He operates and how He can be perceived by us. Because, without an attempt to understand Ishwara how can we comprehend the tatva(m) which Sri Shankara is trying to share. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.12-13)
Let’s talk about ability and eligibility of Ishwara. Even with Sri Vishnu having the power and generosity, the question is, are we eligible, and what ability of ours makes us eligible to receive His anugraham (grace)? Let’s think about this for a movement, consider if one attains eligibility for Sri Vishnu’s anugraham (grace) solely based on one’s ability, then what is the need to pray? What is the need to urge for forgiveness? It would be like an examiner grading a student solely based on the validity of the answers. If that’s how reality works, then who do we convey our prayers and Namaskar? The creator (Brahma Deva) has already done His part and thus we exist. In that case if-at-all we must bow and convey our Namaskar, then it’s only to convey our gratitude for our very existence. This leaves only Shiva, to whom we can convey our Namaskar and urge for Gyana(m), with which we can eventually exit and dissolve into Him through the concept known as ‘laya’ (dissolution) which is imminent. Based on this discussion, we can close all doors for any rituals or worship and prayers to many manifested forms of Ishwara. If that’s the case, what is the significance of the concept of preservation, and how can this misconception be clarified? Sri Shankara explains this misconception by stating that, though we reap the outcome of our Karma of current and previous lives, when one walks the path of dharma, in both good and tough times, with truth and honesty, and prays for a dharmic desire, then Sri Vishnu like the readiness of the dark cloud is ready to grant us and uplift us. Like these dark clouds when they shower, drenches everything around, similarly, Sri Vishnu doesn’t just shower on one person, but on everyone with us (like our family, friends and students). In a way, that anugraham (grace) will follow us forever. Sri Shankara with this example is being very specific about Sri Vishnu that our thirst of desire and knowledge is quenched.
Kalidash, a prominent poet and scholar, devote of Divine Mother Kali, before becoming scholar, urged for skill and knowledge. The Divine Mother scribbled ‘Beeja-Akashara’ (meaning seed-letters of all literature) on his tongue, for which he attained not just knowledge but mastery in literature evolving into a magnificent scholar and poet. He finally attained the great opportunity of unifying with The Divine Mother.
Now the word ‘Attain’ or rather the word eligibility comes again, so what is the eligibility to receive Ishwara’s anugraham (grace)? It’s implied that a realization in conjunction with dharmic desire when urged with devotion and faith in Ishwara is what results in we getting drenched in His mercy. Does this mean Ishwara wishes that we urge Him and subjugate ourselves to Him? No, Ishwara wishes that we realize the reality that we live in, and understand that there is more to this creation than to chase mere materials and bodily comforts. For a human mind to see past the material word, Ishwara wants us to first learn humility, and when man becomes humble, its then that his mind opens towards knowledge and wisdom that is beyond mere desire. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.12)
REFERENCE ENTRY (APA Style citing)
Sri Chaganti Koteshwar Rao (Orator). (n.d.). Kanaka Dhara Stotram [Audio Part 1-19, Recorded by Srichaganti.net]. Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Retrieved from http://www.english.srichaganti.net/KanakaDharaStrotram.aspx
Eemaata. (n.d.). Meeghaduta. Retrieved from http://eemaata.com/em/category/library/megha
Youtube. (Mar 27, 2017). Sri Chaganti Koteshwarrao (Orator). Bhagavatam Kuchela Story. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSXo_6OCUio