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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.