After the Nama Sankirtan, Sriramji from Houston gave a discourse on Surrender.
“Aaloyta sarva sastrani visaryascha puna punah
Idamekam sunishpannam deyvo Nanayanassada”
“I have completely delved into the shastras and the crux of the shastras is to worship Lord Narayana through Nama Sankirtan” If Sage Veda Vyasa declares that with so much authority, then can there be any second opinion?
In our religion several ways and practices have been prescribed to attain the Lord. They are dhyana, karma,jnana and bhakti yogas. The meditation [dhyana] can be done by either meditating on a mantra or on the form of the Lord. Constant remembrance of either of the two is called meditation. It is a common notion that meditating on the form of the Lord [saguna or roopa form] is indeed meditation. This is verily meditation but meditating on the mantra is also meditation. A vedantic grantha speaks at length about the performance of such japa.
It says, ‘Vittukarudalinal aru nei viizhchi pola
Vittida dunnale undee para
Visedamam munnave undeepara’
Vazhutthalil vakkuccha vaikkut jabatthil
Vizhuppama manada mundii para
Villambund dhyanami undee para’
When pouring out a highly viscous liquid or the water flowing in a river, it runs down continuously without a break. A good example is oil [aranai vizthuchipola]. ‘aru nei viizhchi pola’ – It is known as ‘thaila dharai’ – flow of oil.
Akin to this is the meditating on the divine Names of the Lord. The mind should be devoid of any thought between two divine Names chanting of the Lord. There is absolutely no rule for meditating on the divine Names of the Lord. The crux is incessant chanting of the Lord. In kaliyuga we all know that the easiest way to attain the Lord is through bhakti. Srimad Bhagavatham speaks of nine different ways to do bhakti.
Though our religion has prescribed several ways like dhyana, yoga, karma, we have been propagating that in this Kali yuga the easiest method that can be followed by all is Bhakti. What is this Bhakti? Srimad Bhagavatam defines it as eight types – ‘Sravanam, keertanam, Vishnoh smaranam, pada sevanam, archanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam and atma nivedanam’.
—— Listening about God, singing the Praises of God [uttering the Name of the Lord], meditating on the Lord (Vishnu), serving the Lord’s lotus feet, worshipping the Lord with flowers, saluting the Lord, slaving, holding the feeling of a friend towards the Lord, offering everything to the Lord.
Thus, the Puranas speak of the various types of Bhakti.
We have been repeatedly stressing that Bhakti is the only easiest way and that it can be followed by all at this Age. But, another way is said to be easier than Bhakti. What is it?
‘SHARANAGATI’ – SURRENDER!
Lord Krishna speaks on Dhyana yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga and Jnana yoga to Arjuna. Bhagavan speaks explicitly on each of these yogas and bestows Arjuna with the Divine vision (‘divya drishti’). The Lord blesses him with His ‘Viswaroopa darshan’ (Colossal form). The Lord finally tells Arjuna, “Oh! Arjuna! There is a way easier than all these paths that have been spoken by ME. And that is surrendering unto ME!” ‘Surrender unto ME, totally!’ If you would only surrender unto ME totally there is no need for dhyana, karma, bhakti or Jnana.’
Surrender everything to the Lord. ‘I know not dhyana, karma, bhakti or Jnana. I do not know what is right and what is wrong. I do not know the path to undertake.’ Leave everything to the Lord. Or place all responsibilities on the Guru. Leaving everything to the Lord/to the Guru and remain quiet. This is ‘Sharanagati’ (surrender).
‘Sharanagati tattva’ (the philosophy of surrender) is spoken of highly and popularly in Vaishnava siddhanta. Sri Ramanuja also speaks only of this ‘Sharanagati tattva’ as the easiest and agreeable to all (method). ‘Let us all surrender unto the Lord.’ Even today Vaishanavas surrender to their ‘Acharya’ (Master). One cannot depend on sadhana. We may practice dhyana, japa but cannot for sure say if we will attain God in this birth (‘janma’) itself. The reason for this is that our life might come to an end or our attitude might change or the worldly attachments might pull us down. Therefore, let us offer ourselves totally to the Lord.
How to offer ourselves to the Lord? We should offer ourselves totally to God through a Guru – One who knows God, One who can speak with God, One who has attained God, One whose words God would pay heed to. Such action is called ‘Sharanagati’.
Do you know how it would feel to do ‘Sharanagati’?
There were different kinds of devotees for Ramakrishna Paramahamsa –
Swami Vivekananda, Brahmananda who was earlier known as Rakhal, Saradananda, etc.
They were ascetics. Several householders were also Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s devotees. They led a family life with wives and children. Several types of devotees sought Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, received ‘upadesa’ from him and led their lives as directed by him. One such devotee was Girish Chandra Gosh.
He used to visit Paramahamsa frequently. He possessed deep and vast love for Paramahamsa. Paramahamsa also had deep compassion for him. But, what type of a man was this Girish Chandra Ghosh? He was a drunkard! He possessed almost all kinds of vices. He was a very lazy man. He was utterly indisciplined. It was next to impossible for him to wake up at the right time, bathe at the right time or have food at proper time. His family was caught up in a court case. He was always worried about this. He had to spend a lot of money in this regard. In spite of living under such conditions he possessed deep love for Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
Everyone used to ask Paramahamsa for ‘upadesa’. Girish Chandra Ghosh, too, possessed such a desire. He wanted to seek some ‘upadesa’ from Paramahamsa.
“Guru Maharaj! You offer ‘upadesa’ to everyone. Can’t you bless me with some ‘upadesa’? Please tell me something.”
Paramahamsa knew that Girish Chandra Ghosh could never follow any ‘upadesa’. Paramahamsa knew him and his habits very well. Yet, he was seeking some ‘upadesa’. Something had to be given to him, too. What did Paramahamsa say?
Paramahamsa said, “Do dhyana of Bhagavan for a short while in the morning and in the evening. The rest of the time you can spend your life as you do now. You need not change your ways. At one point of time this world will leave you and only the spiritual way will be with you.”
Girish Chandra Ghosh did not welcome this idea. He said, “Maharaj! I cannot do dhyana of God for even a short time in the morning and in the evening.”
Guru Maharaj did not ask, “Can’t you do even this little?” Instead the one with deep compassion said, “It is alright. When you sit for food think of God for a short time. At night just before you go to bed think of God for just a minute.”
Girish Chandra Ghosh refused even this!
“I cannot think of God while sitting for food or before going to bed.”
Paramahamsa did not lose his temper with him. He did not say, “If you cannot think of God even in this manner you are useless for spiritual ways.”
What did he say instead? He said, “Well! Can you do just one thing for me? Give me your ‘power of attorney’!”
We give power of attorney to a lawyer who pleads a case on our behalf. We give the authority for someone to act on our behalf, to act as our agent. This is called ‘vakkalat’ (power of attorney).
Thus, here it was only ‘Sharanagati’ that Ramakrishna meant.
“Give yourself totally to me,” said Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
Girish Chandra Ghosh was only too happy – ‘Is there anything easier than this? I need not think of God. I can live as I please. I can continue to lead life as I do now. Whatever I have to do – dhyana, japa or yoga – will be done by him (Ramakrishna Paramahamsa). And the entire fruit of spiritual discipline can be attained by me.’
Therefore, he said to Paramahamsa, “Alright! I offer myself to you totally.”
And he left.
But, what was the condition of Girish Chandra Ghosh after this? He had said that he could not think of God; but now it was only the thought of his Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa that was foremost in his mind! ‘How great a Guru is Ramakrishna Paramahamsa! How compassionate he is! I need not do any sadhana! I have given myself away to him. He will take care of everything. I can live as I please.’ Thus, only the thought of his Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa rose in him constantly. He wondered about himself. ‘I never used to have such constant thought of my Guru earlier. But, now the thought of my Guru is always in me!’
Girish Chandra Ghosh had the habit of drinking. But, now the moment he touched a wine bottle the face of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa appeared to him in the bottle! The face of his Guru seemed to laugh. Whenever he involved himself in some nasty act the face of his Guru began to appear to him. He realized that even without any effort on his part he remained always in the thought of his Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Many miseries struck him in life. But, he was unable to lose his temper over this. ‘I have surrendered everything to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, my Guru Maharaj. So, my life would run only on the lines, as he desires. He would do only what is good for me. All these are happening only for good.’
Sharanagathi is the act of bending down to all that God does to us – the way that He desires to keep us – accepting it without any expectation, without any opposition and offering ourselves to it totally (without any condition) is the highest ‘lakshana’ (quality) of ‘Sharanagati’.
Don’t take on the burden of life. Leave it to the holy feet of the Guru Maharaj. The only to accomplish this is through complete surrender. How to adopt this as a pragmatic path in our lives? It is verily through the incessant chanting of the divine Names of the Lord [meditating on the divine Names of the Lord].