According to Ramanuja's teachings, the jivatma after attaining moksha performs divine service to God which is known as kainkarya. It is further stated that this kainkarya comes out of the nature or swarupa of jivatma and hence is a source of joy for the jivatma.

However, from a logical point of view, if one were required to perform service in the state of moksha, then it reduces the appeal of moksha as a desirable place to attain because we are involved in service similar to what we are doing in this mundane human life.

Even though we face sufferings in life, we are still involved in doing things which give pleasure to us such as hobbies, playing sports, etc. Will we be denied such things in the state of moksha, since we are only expected to perform divine service?

Finally, what is the scriptural support for the concept of kainkarya or divine service?

To sum it all, how can we be convinced that moksha involving kainkarya or divine service is a desirable thing and is not something mundane or boring?

  • We cant think of with our ordinary mind what will be our state in Moksha and how the divine service we offer to Paramatma in Vaikuntha is desirable or not. Because it is beyond our normal human comprehension. Secondly there are no more desires for the Atma which has reached Vaikuntha because Atma simply wants to be with Paramatma because Atma's relation, brother, sister, father , mother, friend, = Just like for this body we have father and mother, ATMA's parents is Paramatma. – Parabrahman Jyoti Dec 7 '18 at 6:37
  • Tht is their concept of Moksha where servitude and Moksha co-exist :O – Rickross Dec 7 '18 at 6:51
  • This is an excellent question +1. Just to clarify - are you explicitly asking for answer from Sri Vaishnava perspective? – DirghaChintayanti Dec 7 '18 at 7:32
  • @SudarshanSuri: I am open to any kind of answer. – user15740 Dec 7 '18 at 8:01

Ramanujacharya explicitly addresses this objection in his work known as the Vedartha Sangraha. He says this:

  1. (The opponent objecting to the concept of service in the state of moksha): ‘It is maintained that absolute subordination is the highest joy for the soul. This is opposed to the understanding of the whole world. All sentient beings have independence as the highest object of desire. Dependence is extremely painful. Smrti also says, ‘All dependence on others is painful. All self-dependence is happiness (Manusmriti. 4: 160)’ and again, ‘Service is a dog’s life. Therefore one should give it up (Manusmriti. 4: 6)’.

  2. (Ramanujacharya's refutation of this objection): This is the attitude of those who have failed to comprehend the nature of the self as different from the body, and is due to their mistaken attachment to the body as the self. To explain: The body is the individual locus of the attributes like the generic character connoted by terms like man, god, etc., and is taken to be an independent entity. The individual self caught up in the transmigratory circle of existence looks upon the body as ‘1’. The conception of value is determined by the conception of the self. The individual selves looking upon themselves as lions, tigers, bears, men, yakshas, raksasas, pishacas, gods, demons, females and males, have corresponding and mutually separate conceptions of what is to be desired and what is to be avoided. These various conceptions of value are mutually contradictory. Therefore, the whole position is cleared up and explained on the principle that what an individual pursues as a desirable end depends upon what he conceives himself to be.

  3. In reality the nature of the self is that it is different from the body, that it is of the nature of consciousness and that in its essence it is subsidiary to the Supreme. When the individual forms a true conception of himself, he pursues ends that accord with that conception. That the nature of the self is consciousness is stated by the Smriti text, ‘The self is full of knowledge and is pure (Vishnu Purana 6:8:22)’. The Shruti texts like ‘He is the Lord of the universe (Mahabharata)’, propound that the individual self’s nature is to be subservient to the supreme Self. Therefore it is to be understood that, as the conception of oneself as lion or tiger is due to the misapprehension of the self arising from karma, even so is the conception oneself as self-dependent.

And then,

  1. The statement ‘All dependence is painful’ simply means that dependence on anything or anyone other than the supreme Person is painful, because there is no relationship of the principal entity and the subsidiary between anyone other than Brahman and oneself. ‘Service is a dog’s life’ also means that service of one who is unworthy of service is dog’s life. The following text says that the only one that ought to be served by all who are enlightened about the fundamental nature of the self, is the highest Purusha: ‘He is to be served by people in all stages or life. He alone is to be served by all.’ The Lord says:— ‘He who serves me, following the path of undivided Bhakti, transcends these qualities (of Prakriti) and will attain self-realization (Bhagavad Gita 14: 26)’.
  2. It has already been elucidated that It is only this service of the form of Bhakti that is spoken of as knowledge in the texts, ‘One who knows Brahman attains the Highest (Taittiriya Upanishad. 2:1)’, ‘He who knows him becomes immortal here (Purusha Suktam. 20)’ and ‘He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman (Mundaka Upanishad.3:2:9)’. In the other text qualifying this knowledge, ‘This atman is attained by one, whom he chooses’, the clause, ‘whom he chooses’ conveys the idea of the seeker becoming an object of choice to the Bhagavan. He comes to be chosen, who is the object of greatest love. He becomes the object of greatest love to the Lord in whom has arisen supreme love for the Lord. The Bhagavan says, ‘I am ineffably dear to the man of knowledge and he is also dear to me (Bhagavad Gita, 7:17)’. Therefore in reality, only knowledge that is of the nature of supreme Bhakti is the means for attaining the Bhagavan.
  • Thanks for the answer. Can you also give some detail whether other activitites other than service is possible in vaikunta, like sport, etc.? Is service compulsory or optional? – user15740 Dec 7 '18 at 16:42
  • 1
    @user15740 Nitya Kainkaryam (eternal service) is certainly not "compulsory". But everyone in Paramapadam (Vaikuntha) does it, not because they have to, rather they do it as an outpouring of the infinite bliss they are experiencing as a result of Brahmanubhavam (experience of Brahman). – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 7 '18 at 18:52
  • @user15740 You also have the same powers that Brahman has, with the exception of the management of the universes of Baddhas; Your dharmabhutajnana expands infinitely; You know the past, present, and future. I'm sure you could play a sport, but I don't know if you continuously do kainkaryam or you do it sometimes, and other times you do things for your own pleasure. – Ikshvaku Dec 7 '18 at 19:21

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