‘moments’ of the Lord’s gracious help offered to the devotee and also the active response of the devotee; second, to indicate the contours of an Augustinian Christian resolution of this theological paradox; and third, to offer some reflections on what Christian theologians could learn through an engagement with Rāmānuja’s understanding of the divine presence. As we will see, the doctrine of production of the world and the doctrine of divine favour are mutually interrelated across Vaiṣṇava Hindu and Augustinian universes. For the later Augustine (411–430 CE), the key theological note is the utter incapability of human beings, who have a single lifetime on earth, to initiate even the first turn towards God, and he concludes that for those saints who are timelessly foreordained to receive salvation this initial conversio itself is prepared by God’s grace. In Rāmānuja, on the other hand, we do not encounter such theological anxieties relating to a specific temporally-locatable moment – certain human beings, through the fruition of their beginningless (anādi) stream of karmic merits, are beginning to move in this lifetime towards the Lord Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa who is constantly assisting them in their spiritual endeavours. The Either/Or dichotomy between ‘divine grace’ versus ‘human autonomy’ which appears with sharp contrasts in Augustine and, following him, in the Reformed doctrinal systems of theologians such as Calvin, is largely absent from Rāmānuja’s understanding of how structured human response and divine favour are mutually intertwined in the human spiritual pilgrimage.
"The God of Love and the Love of God: Thinking With Rāmānuja About Grace in Augustinian Christianity,"
Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies:
Vol. 31, Article 5.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.7825/2164-6279.1697