Surrender is an unavoidable step in our pilgrimage to the Truth, regardless of which path we take. What is called Self-realisation in the language of knowledge is termed as the state of total surrender in the path of devotion. Thus, it is necessary to know the essence of surrender.
What is surrender? – Surrender is a mental attitude of offering our will, wish, ego, life—everything at the altar of the Lord. It is not a physical action. Sometimes we say that we have surrendered to Lord, but still hold on to our wish and ego. These two cannot go together. Joyfully accepting Lord’s wish alone and sincerely following it, is real surrender.
Why surrender? – Surrender is necessary to alleviate our physical and mental sorrows and for solutions to the problems we face in life. Pūjya Gurudev says – “When you are in a hospital, you must surrender to the doctor who knows what is needed for your treatment. The all benevolent Lord has placed us here for curing us. The more faithfully we surrender, the quicker we shall get out of these sorrows into freedom.”
To whom should we surrender? – We should surrender to the one who is capable of removing our sorrows. So, it is best to surrender to the Lord alone, in whom we get support, help and solace for all our problems at once.
When can we surrender? – Whenever we find love, faith and devotion for the Lord in our mind, we can surrender. We should not wait for a better time. We can surrender here and now!
Importance of surrender – Our life is filled with sorrow and confusion. Even the spiritual path is full of difficulties. At every step, we need support and help.
Lord Himself says in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.14) –
daivī hyeṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā |
māmeva ye prapadyante māyāmetāṁ taranti te ||
This māyā of mine is indeed difficult to breakthrough. Only those who surrender to Me can cross over it.
Also, the ultimate Self-realisation is not possible until we annihilate the ego totally. Unless we give up everything else and choose Him alone as the ultimate goal of our life, we can’t reach that ultimate state of total freedom. Thus, the Upaniṣad-s declare – Yamevaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyaḥ. – He alone gains that supreme State, who opts for It.
Lord’s assurance to those who surrender – When we do our job of surrendering unto Him, the ever-compassionate Lord accepts us and ascertains emphatically – Na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati. – My devotees shall not perish. (Bhagavad-gītā 9.31)
Lord Rāma too says –
sakṛdeva prapannāya tavāsmīti ca yācate.
Abhayaṁ sarvabhūtebhyo dadāmyetadvrataṁ mama.
If a person comes to me and says even once, ‘O Lord, I am yours’, it is my vow that I shall make him fearless.
(Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa – Yuddhakāṇḍa – 18.33)
So, the Lord is assuring us that those who surrender to Him will be free from all the fear, sorrow, bondage and shall never perish.
How to surrender? – After understanding the importance of surrender, now it is absolutely necessary for us to understand the correct methodology of surrender. In the Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya, the six-fold factors of surrender are described as follows.
ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlyasya varjanam.
Rakṣiṣyatīti viśvasaḥ goptṛtvavaraṇaṁ tathā.
Ātmanikṣepakārpaṇye ṣaḍvidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ.
- Entertaining favourable thoughts – Remembering Him always.
- Renouncing unfavourable thoughts – Giving up all unconducive thoughts about the world, pleasure, fame,power, relationships, wealth, etc.
- Having firm faith that my Lord will protect me – Total belief in His power and compassion.
- Actually seeking refuge in the Lord – Actually praying for protection, grace and blessings.
- Throwing oneself totally at the mercy of the Lord – No more resistance to total surrender.
- Expressing one’s total helplessness – Understanding and verbalizing that we can do nothing with our self-effort, without His help.
We see plenty of examples like Vibhīṣaṇa, Arjuna, Mīrābāi, and many others, who have thus surrendered to the Lord and reached the supreme.
How to start? – The most important aspect of surrender is the love and devotion towards the Lord and understanding that He is all-powerful, all-knowing and most compassionate. Thus, we should first try to establish a relationship with the Lord, to cultivate the devotion. Relationship can be that of master-servant, father-son, child-mother, etc. Then, we should start offering all our actions at the lotus feet of the Lord and accept whatever comes to us as His prasāda. ‘Everything happens by His will. I am just an instrument in carrying out His master plan.’ With such an attitude when we perform all our actions for His happiness alone, we develop that love and devotion towards Him. Thereafter, we should just remain wherever He keeps us in whichever situation, singing His glories. – Jisa hāla me jisa desa me jisa bhesa me raho, rādhā ramaṇa rādhā ramaṇa rādhā ramaṇa kaho.
By Guru’s grace, may we surrender unto Him and become an instrument in His hands.