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Prapatti Yogam - Surrender and Grace

From: Vijay Srinivasan (Vijay_Srinivasan_at_praxair.com)
Date: Fri Jan 05 1996 - 07:22:11 PST

Dear Friends:

I am attaching the text of my talk on Sharanagathy, that I delivered at one of 
the Sai Retreats in the US.  I thought it was well received.  Like Dilipan says 
it is all our acharyas grace.  If you listen to a melodius Veena recital you 
don't give credit to the veena instrument.  Lord Hayagriva is the true author 
of whatever that is good.  

Some of the sentences in my talk are quoted from PNS Chary's book on 
Vishishtadvaita.  I received much inspiration from that book.  I do not think 
his words can be replaced.  They are so succinct and crisp that it drives home 
the points in a wonderful fashion.  

When I read the text of the talk this morning I thought I should have put my 
heart in it more than my head.  Nevertheless, for whatever it is worth, I leave 
it to all of you for your perusal.    
    Surrender and Grace

Good Afternoon Friends.  My pranamams to the lotus feet of Bhaghavan Vasudeva.  
Through His grace the dumb can speak and the lame can cross mountains (Mookham 
karoti vachalam, Panghum langhayate girim; Yath krupa thamaham vande 
paramanandha madhavam.) and today it is the Lord's  will that I should be an 
instrument to elucidate the supreme doctrine of self-surrender or sharanagati.  
Baba often says: "A devotee who has surrendered to Bhaghawan, the Lord takes 
full responsibility for that life and takes care of that devotee."  The 
underlying theme in many of Baba's writings connotes self-surrender.  In our 
conversations, we often use expressions such as "Let us leave it to the Lord 
and He will take care".  All these imply  the doctrine of self-surrender in one 
way or the other.  In my humble opinion sharanagati forms an important  
cornerstone of  the Hindu way of life.
 
The doctrine of self surrender has its foundation in Vedantic philosophy and 
finds a profound expression  in the Bhagavad Geetha.    Vedanta  presents its 
philosophy in terms of tattva (which means truth or reality), Hita (which 
defines ways to attain the supreme goal), and Purushartha (which means the 
supreme goal of life).  The Vedantic enquiry begins with the question: What is 
it by knowing which everything else is known.  The enquiry leads to the answer: 
By realizing Brahman or God one attains the highest  (Brahmavid Apnoti Param).  
Whether we intuit God as the innermost self of all beings (Antharyami) or as 
the all pervasive Vishnu or as the very embodiment of love, the Lord is the 
ground of all existence (Janmadhyasya yathaha) and We exist for His sake and 
satisfaction.  He assigns different roles to all of us according to our karma.  
He rules us through the moral law (Niyantar)  and therefore He is the dispenser 
of justice but all the same the Lord  is full of love. His justice is tempered 
with mercy.  The Lord seeks you and me (erring as we are) as much as we seek 
Him.  Therefore the wise among us resort to Him as father, mother, brother, 
friend, refuge, resting place and abode. (Tvam Matharam cha Pitharam Sahajam 
Nivasam, Santha Sametya Sharanam Suhrudham gatim cha, Niseema Nithya Niravadya 
sukha prakasam, Deepaprakasha sa vibhuti gunam vishanti - Saranagati Deepika of 
Vedanta Desika).  They contemplate on Him as limitless, eternal, and full of  
perfect bliss and abode of  all auspicious qualities.

Having thus dealt with the tattva or reality, Vedanta defines Purushartha or 
the supreme goal of life as realizing God or attaining immortality (Nacha 
punaravarthathe).  The goal is to obtain  eternal communion with God and the 
attendant  bliss of Brahman.

The spiritual sadhanas that are required to take us towards our goal  are 
covered under Hita.  This is where the doctrine of self surrender fits in.  I 
think  most of us are familiar with the vedantic classification of the 
different pathways:  the path of action or Karma Yoga, the path of knowledge or 
Jnana Yoga, the path of  devotion or Bhakti Yoga.  In our devotional process,  
components from all these three principal paths overlap each other in order to 
meet  the diverse needs of our individual make up.

Cessation from action in thought word or deed is a psychological impossibility 
says the Lord in the Bhagavad Geetha (Na hi kaschit kshnamapi jatu thistathi 
akarmakrut).  Whatever may be one's station in life, the divine imperative is 
that  we must keep doing our duty.  Karma Yoga  requires all of us to perform 
our duty for the sake of duty and  by relinquishing  the commercial view 
involved in our actions (karmanyevadhikarasthe ma phaleshu kadhachana).  The 
sense of doership must be  renounced.

The transition from Karma yoga to Jnana Yoga is a transition  from self 
renouncement to self realization and marks a higher stage in spiritual 
progression.  While Karma Yoga defines the moral ideal of what you ought to do, 
Jnana Yoga characterizes the spiritual enquiry of  what you ought to be.  The 
Jnani draws himself inward.  He shifts his focus from the circumference to the 
center.  Through the rigorous practice of moral and spiritual discipline, he 
eventually attains self-realization or atmavalokana and the attendant spiritual 
joy of kaivalya.  At that stage he attains equanimity and sees the unity of all 
living beings, develops spiritual kinship and dedicates himself  to 
world-welfare.  

In Bhakti Yoga, the meditation takes the shape of  upasana (or worship) and 
gradually deepens into a intense longing or Love for  Bhagavan.  The devotee 
begins to see the Lord dwelling in everyone and everyone and everything abiding 
in the Lord.  Thus bhakti leads to jnana (and jnana to para-bhakti).  He sees 
himself and everyone as God's children, develops universal compassion or  jeeva 
karunya and dedicates himself  to world-welfare (or loka kshema).  Through the 
grace of the Lord, the devotee finally gets immersed in the  bliss of  divine 
union.

Thus, through the triadic process set forth in the vedanta the devotee 
progresses to his home in the absolute.  He continues to carry on this journey, 
life after life, either progressing towards the supreme goal or regressing from 
it.  The goal appears to be ever elusive.  At this point, the Lord out of 
infinite compassion is willing to step-in and carry us through the rest of our 
journey, provided we transfer the burden to Him and surrender ourselves to His 
Will.  Self surrender thus completes the process of obtaining the supreme 
purushartha through Lord's grace.  Thus, the age long, moral and spiritual 
endeavor of a devotee finds its fulfillment in self-surrender or Sharanagati.

Sharanagati or self-surrender according to the vedanta consists of six parts or 
angas:  (i) Anukulyasya sankalpa i.e to act according to God's will and to do 
what is pleasing to God.  It also connotes the will of the devotee to Love all 
and Serve all.  (ii) Prathikulyasya varjanam i.e to avoid acting against God's 
wishes.  (iii)  Mahaviswasam i.e Unflinching faith in the saving grace of the 
Lord. (iv) Karpanya: i.e. Humility. Acceptance that you are nowhere near the 
"perfection" that is expected from other paths.  (v) Goptrutva varanam i.e 
Seeking the grace of God as the only hope for attaining the supreme goal. (vi) 
Atmanikshepa i.e. Offering yourself to God.

Atmanikshepa or offering yourself to God is further elaborated in terms of 
phala samarpana, bhara samarpana and swaroopa samarpana.  Phala samarpana means 
giving up every form of egoistic satisfaction.  The person who surrenders to 
the Lord renounces all selfish feelings of I and mine.  The expressions "I want 
to be" and "I want to have" agree with the subject 'ahamkara'  and have no 
place in the language of sharanagati.  Bhara samarpana is transferring the 
burden of protection to God.  He is Himself the means and the goal.  Swaroopa 
Samarpana is returning the self to its real Owner and the realization of His 
will as the only will.  This self-gift to God is the most precious of all gifts.

The path of self-surrender guarantees salvation to one and all (Vishwadhikaram 
akhilabhi matha prasuthim).  Unlike the other paths it is easily practiced.  
All it requires is a change of heart.  It does not need the help of anyone (
nirapekshamanyaihi).  The devotee becomes very dear to the Lord (Mamavaishyasi 
sathyam te pratijane priyosi me) and the Lord blesses him with a long, healthy 
and happy life  (sat kurvathe tvayi mukunda shadanga yogam). The devotee 
dedicates all his actions to the Lord and he leads a cheerful life fully 
assured of  reaching the  goal.  As Swami Vedanta Desika said: Oh Varadha after 
placing the real burden on your lotus feet where is the scope for any fear or 
anxiety (Nyastha twat padha padme varada nijabharam nirbharo nirbhayosmi).  Let 
us all seek the grace of Sriman Narayana and keep reminding ourselves of what 
Baba has said:  "When you call out from your heart never will the Lord  loose 
the grip of his devotees' hands."  With these words  I will now let Pete 
Goldberg and Edna Yuile to take over and enlighten us further.