Sharanagati

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In the process of Krishna Conciosness, the very first step that a sadhaka must take, desiring to escape the unending cycle of birth and death in this material world full of miseries, is to surrender oneself at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This process of surrendering is the beginning of one’s true good fortune. In the Bhagwat Gita, Sri Krishna himself says:

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.(Bg. 18.66)

Sri Krishna is saying that we must just surrender ourselves at his lotus feet and he shall take full charge of us. There is nothing to fear for one who has taken shelter at his lotus feet. Srila Bhakti vinod thakur, while glorifying the most magnanimous Lord Nityananda, has written the following beautiful verse:

boro dayal nityananda
sraddha-matra lo’ye den parama-ananda
Lord Nityananda is greatly merciful. Taking only one’s faith, He gives the highest ecstasy.
Seeing a sincere soul surrendering at the lotus feet of the Lord, Lord Nityananda bestows his causeless mercy upon the devotee and grants Krishna prem to him, thus drowning him in the ocean of transcendental ecstasy.
This process of surrendering unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord is most glorious and can only be practised by sincere souls. Realising the importance of Sharanagati, when a jiva, understanding that the eternal position of a living entity is to serve the Supreme Lord in transcendental love and not to suffer unending miseries in this temporary world, decides to take shelter of the Lord, the question arises as to how must one surrender. The process of bhakti is most scientific and the previous acharyas have laid out the path of bhakti for the benefit of all the jivas. For the guidance of the aspiring devotees, they have defined the process of Sharanagati as follows,

anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa-karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih

“The six divisions of surrender are: accepting those things favorable to devotional service, rejecting unfavorable things, the conviction that Krsna will give protection, accepting the Lord as one’s guardian or master, full self-surrender, and humility.”

Taking these divisions of Sharanagati to heart, one must surrender at the lotus feet of the Lord in accordance with this definition and not in accordance with one’s own conception of the word. One must diligently follow the instructions in this verse and when one does so, it is guaranteed that he shall make rapid advancement on the path of Bhakti, for the Lord and the previous acharyas will guide him from within and give the strength and intelligence to make further progress. However, if one fails to practice these six divisions of Sharanagati, one can not expect to make much advancement. This is the first step on the ladder upto Krishna. And one must go on the first rung of the ladder before being able to proceed further. Therefore, we should all endeavour very hard to imbibe these qualities of surrender within us so as to attract the attention and mercy of Sri Krishna and the Vaishnavas to be able to make further progress on the path of bhakti.