Essay on the Argument from Adrsta for the Existence of God



The second argument of the Naiyayikas is this: we often wonder how we are to account for the differences in our lot here on earth. Some people are happy and some miserable, some wise and some ignorant.

What may be the cause of all these variations in our worldly life? We cannot say that they have no causes, because these are so many events in our life, and every event must have its cause.

Now the causes which produce our joys and sorrows in this life are our own actions in this or some previous life. We enjoy or suffer in this life because of our good or bad actions.

The law that governs the lives of individual souls is the moral law of karma which requires that every individual being must reap the fruits of its own actions, good or bad, right or wrong.

There is nothing strange or improbable in this. It follows logically from the law of universal causation, which means that everv cause must produce its effect and every effect must be produced by its cause.

That our moral actions are as good causes as our physical actions must be admitted by every one who believes in the law of causation and extends it to the moral world.

Just as bodily acts produce bodily changes and mental functions produce mental changes and dispositions, so morally good or bad actions lead to good or bad moral consequences, such as reward or punishment, happiness or misery. Hence it is established that our joys and sorrows are due to our own actions.

But the next question is: how do our moral actions produce their consequences which may be separated from them, by long intervals of time? Many of our joys and sorrows cannot be traced to any work done by us in this life.

Even those that are due to acts done in this life do not arise out of them immediately, but after some time. A sinner in the heyday of youth may be a sufferer in the infirmity of old age.

So it is maintained that our good actions produce a certain efficiency called merit (punya), and bad actions produce some deficiency called demerit (papa) in our souls and these persist long after our actions have ceased

If the world be created by God, who is not only omnipotent but also morally perfect, it is not unreasonable to think that good actions must produce good effects and bad actions must produce bad effects in our lives.

If God is both the creator and moral governor of the world, it logically follows that human beings are responsible to God for their actions.

It follows also that our actions are judged by God as good or bad, right or wrong, according as they do or do not help us to realize [he end of our life, or to perform our own duties to God and man.

And from this it is but natural and rational to conclude that God rewards for our good acts and punishes us for the bad ones.

In other words, world created by God, good actions must lead to good results and evil actions must not fail to lead to evil consequences.

This stock of merit and demerit accruing from good and bad actions is called adrsta. There is nothing more mysterious in the concept of adrsta than in those of virtue and vice just as good actions have a purifying, so bad actions have a corrupting effect on our mind.

And just as virtue conduces to a sense of security, serenity and peace (in a word, happiness), so vice plunges the mind into the ruffled waters of suspicion, distraction and uneasiness (in a word, unhappiness).

In the same way, adrsta, as the sum-total of merit and demerit accruing from our past actions, produces our present joys and sorrows.

But how is it that adrsta manages to produce the proper consequences? It is an unintelligent principle which cannot by itself lead to just that kind or degree of joy and sorrow which are due to our past actions.

So it is argued that adrsta must be guided by some inteligent agent to produce its proper consequences. Individual selves cannot be said to direct or control adrsta, for they do not know anything about their adrsta, and further, it is not infrequently that adrsta defies the control of their will.

So the intelligent agent, who guides adrsta through the proper channels to produce the proper effects, is the eternal, omnipotent and omniscient Divine Being.

It is God who controls our adrsta and dispenses all the joys and sorrows of our life, in strict accordance with it. Or, as Kant would say, it is God who combines happiness with virtue and misery with vice.

God gives us the fruits of our actions in the shape of enjoyments or afflictions in a way similar to that in which a wise and potent monarch rewards or punishes his subjects according to the merit or guilt attaching to their good or bad actions. "