The Paramathabhanga is a work by the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan which refutes rival schools of Indian philosophy, both inside and outside of Hinduism. In this chapter of the Paramatha Bhanga, Vedanta Desikan refutes the Charvaka school, an atheistic school of Indian philosophy. Here is what he says to refute the Charvaka argument that the law of Karma makes no sense because an invisible effect cannot come from a visible cause:

If it be said that in case we accept the principle of adrishta, when there are visible ingredient, there should not be invisible effect (to which they give rise), (then we reply) since such is seen to be the case in the lives of Prahlada and Hanuman and others belonging to their kind, as also in the case of curses etc., it is acceptable to us also.

I'm interested in the part in bold. My question is, what does Vedanta Desikan mean by saying that invisible effects arising from visible causes are seen in the stories of Prahlada and Hanuman? Does he mean that their good deeds were rewarded? Is he referring to Vishnu's acts of saving Prahlada from Hiranyakashipu? And is he referring to Hanuman acquiring magical powers from Devas in his childhood?

Do any commentaries on the Paramathabhanga shed light on this?

  • This takes sometime to understand on what aspect he meant. Jan 2, 2019 at 6:46
  • 1
    @AkshayS Yeah, a commentary might clarify that. Jan 2, 2019 at 7:01

1 Answer 1


My answer is based on the commentary on the Paramatabhanga called Deśikāśayaprakāśā (Elucidation on the intent of Desika) authored by Vedanta-Vaavadhuuka, Nyaya-Vedanta-Kesari śrī Villivalam Vātsya Nārāyaṇācārya - Asthana vidvan of Sri Ahobila Mutt, published in 1979.

In the context of the bolded section (in your quote), the learned author says -

On Prahlada:

prahlādeti - hiraṇyāsureṇa viṣa-jala-agni-ādibir upadrutastattanayo mahābhāgavataḥ prahlādaḥ bhagavad saṅkalpāt adṛṣṭa-vaikalyena āpadvargān muktaḥ abhūt iti kathā śrī viṣṇupurāṇāditovagantavyā। taduktam "daityendrasūdopahṛtaṃ yaśca hālāhalam viṣam; jarayāmāsa matimānavikāramamatsarī"-iti। "nadī hālāhalā nāma tajjam hālāhalam viṣam" ityāyurvedavida iti śrī viṣṇucittavyākhyā।

Prahlada was inflicted by his father Hiranyakasipu by poison, water, fire, etc. However, by the grace of the Lord, their effects were nullified. This is a case where the effect is eliminated.

Wilson's translation of the Vishnupurana quotation:

The deadly poison administered by his father's officers he partook of unhesitatingly, and without its working any visible change; for he looked upon the world with mind undisturbed, and, full of benignity, regarded all things with equal affection, and as identical with himself.

On Hanuman:

hanumaditi - laṅkāyām hanumadvāladhau atisṛṣṭasya jvāmālākulasyāpi agner na hanumati dāhakatvam, pūrvavadeveti kathā śrīmadrāmāyaṇe anusandheyā। taduktam "dṛṣyate ca mahājvālaḥ karoti na ca me rujam; śiśirasyeve sampato lāṅgūlāgre pratiṣṭhita" iti

Similarly we see in the Ramayana that even though Hanuman's tail was engulfed in flames in Lanka, fire did not have the effect of burning him. As Hanuman says - The large flames are conspicuous but it does not cause me any pain as if a snowball is kept at my tail.

  • Do you have an electronic link for the Deśikāśayaprakāśā?
    – Ikshvaku
    Jan 18, 2019 at 23:29

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