Ātma Samīkṣā – The Value of IntrospectionĀtma Samīkṣā – The Value of Introspection
Prabhupāda Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s Visit to AyodhyāPrabhupāda Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s Visit to Ayodhyā
By Published On: April 5, 2024Tags: 9.2 min read

Overview

In this article, 'Śaraṇāgati - The Only Path to Auspiciousness', Dhīra Lalitā Dāsī analyses the process of śaraṇāgati (surrender) beginning with śraddhā (faith). She also discusses the role of śāstra and the Vaiṣṇava in connection with surrender.

Surrendering to the Supreme Lord is the only path to real auspiciousness. Surrender comes in stages and helps us attain deep realisation in our progressive endeavours. The biggest obstacle in our attempts to surrender to the Lord is the false ego which makes us think that we are masters of the material world; this false identity is very difficult to subdue.

By calling out the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord while fixing our mind upon Him, all auspiciousness can be achieved. Prosperity, happiness, and distress is awarded by Him alone. We understand this and humbly accept whatever arrangements He makes for us. This is the beginning of surrender. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja explains:

Slavery, surrender – surrender to what? To the Absolute Good, to the Absolute Centre. To become the slave of Kṛṣṇa is not a joke. (Follow the Angels by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja)

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja stresses the fact that the process of surrender is not cheap. We hear so many stories about those who have taken full shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and we are encouraged to try to surrender ourselves in the same way.

In the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam the story of the forest fire in the Muñjāraṇya Forest is told. In the midst of that blazing forest fire, the cowherd boys of Vṛndāvana and their cows became surrounded on all sides by the flames. They could not run away and had no hope of escaping. At this moment, they all took shelter of Kṛṣṇa and, telling them to close their eyes, Kṛṣṇa swallowed the flames by his mystic potency and saved them all. Because they were fully surrendered to Him, Kṛṣṇa saved them.

We are not independent beings by nature. Kṛṣṇa allows us to exercise our free will and independence and thus we have entered this illusory world of māyā. The only thing this misuse of free will leaves us with is a sad and empty world without Him. Our true nature is as a servant of the servant and we thrive in such a position. Nurturing hope, eagerness, engaging in service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, and His devotees, and chanting the holy name are all primary divisions of devotional service. By remaining committed to constantly serving Lord Kṛṣṇa, the temptations of māyā will not attract us.

There are different levels of surrender depending upon the devotee’s level of realisation. As we progress in bhakti, our surrender becomes more intensely focused and relishable.

Śaraṇāgati means self-dedication. Depending on our service intensity, if we dedicate everything to Kṛṣṇa, our activities will become bhakti.

In order to have a life of devotion, there must be śaraṇāgati. Śaraṇāgati means exclusive connection with Kṛṣṇa, exclusive identification with the interest of Kṛṣṇa. Because Kṛṣṇa is not seen in this plane, the guru and the Vaiṣṇava are to be served. In this way one will be benefited through extreme self-abnegation and surrender, according to one’s disposition. (Follow the Angels by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja)

Without surrender, all devotional service becomes mechanical and is something different from bhakti. We must serve with śraddhā, faith, and a sentiment of full surrender. Dedication in devotional service is essential.

In Kṛṣṇa consciousness the quality of wholesale dedication is necessary. It is indispensable. Partial dedication will not do; in connection with Kṛṣṇa the demand is wholesale, and nothing less will do (Śrīla B.R. Śridhara Mahārāja)

We begin our surrender with śraddhā. Surrender is made possible through śraddhā. Śraddhā is all important. Śraddhā will help us understand how to surrender. With the contact with and faith in the sadhu, and with the help of the scriptures, we can increase that inner feeling of sincere longing for Kṛṣṇa. With faith as our guide, we can choose a bona-fide spiritual master who will accept us if we are qualified ourselves.

The guardian is a friend who thinks more of us than we think of ourselves. He knows more about our welfare than we do. That is what it is like to have a guardian, a friend, a guru. (Follow the Angels by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja)

Therefore, our duty is to serve guru faithfully. All other duties become secondary, such as bodily needs and family attachments. A proper guardian assures our future, Śrīla Śridhara Mahārāja explains:

I must come into such company in whom I can rest all my faith, in whom I can believe and trust. Without this, my life is miserable. (Follow the Angels by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja)

Although a disciple treats his spiritual master as non-different from Kṛṣṇa, at the same time he knows that the spiritual master is the topmost worshiper of the Lord. This truth is eternal. By the mercy of a pure devotee, one’s original constitutional position in the spiritual world can be obtained and such a devotee can free us entirely from the clutches of māyā.

Our guru may care more for us than we do for ourselves. He knows more about our eternal welfare than we do. With the help of Śrī Guru, we can stand strong in the face of the illusionary energy.

The jīva who acquires his material body from the marginal energy starts enjoying the material world and he is not able to understand the position of the spiritual master. The spiritual master becomes visible only to those who are ready to surrender to the Lord.

In essence faith is the means by which we can approach the Supreme Lord. It has a position within us as a part of us and it is not imaginary. Everything else in the world might betray us – fallible soldiers such as our family and friends who might not understand our path, and so many miseries set to distract us from our goal. Ultimately what will save us is our faith backed up by guru and Vaiṣṇava.

Only seek sādhu-saṅga, adherence to the saints of similar type, a little better than ourselves, our guides in rāga-bhajana, those who are in the path of divine love and attraction. (Follow the Angels by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja)

The same way we see in this world someone who is attracted to and associating with other influential materialists, becoming materially advanced, we can associate with devotees and develop real śraddhā for worshipping the Lord and become absorbed in the service of Kṛṣṇa. With the help of guru, sādhu-saṅga and śāstra one can make great spiritual advancement towards the ultimate goal. Śāstra alone however, cannot be the only means of self-realisation. Why not? Can’t we just read the words of Bhagavad-gītā and go back to Kṛṣṇa? Isn’t this enough? Śāstra is a bit like a recipe book, if you don’t cook, you won’t eat. A practice is required to make the dish. You need someone who can show you how to cook. And you need to apply that practice. The cookbook is just a guide. Similarly, we will learn that the Vaiṣṇava is higher than śāstra. He is the living representative who can show us the correct way to act and point out our mistakes. Without him, the śāstra is just a book. With his help we will know how to proceed, accepting what is favourable and rejecting what is unfavourable for devotional service. With the living agent then the śastrā will also come to life.

In a similar way Kṛṣṇa does not instruct Arjuna to memorise the words of Bhagavad-gītā and you will certainly come to Me. Naturally we will study the Bhagavad-gītā and it will help point us in the right direction, but that is not enough. Rather, Kṛṣṇa says:

man manā bhāva mad bhakto mad yājī māṁ nāmaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te pratijāne priyo’si me

Fix your mind upon Me, devote yourself to Me, worship Me and offer respects to Me. By doing so you will certainly come to Me. I promise you this because you are very dear to Me. (Bhagavad-gītā 18.65)

In order to develop this natural attraction to Kṛṣṇa we must receive it through the devotees. We receive it from the scriptures superficially but substantially from the devotees.

And what is a devotee? One who has no attraction for sense gratification, fame, name, or money. He has steady attraction for Kṛṣṇa and he can guide us successfully. So, it is not enough to wear the dress of a Vaiṣṇava, Vaiṣṇavas are qualified by the depth of their own faith and surrender. There are many steps towards becoming a qualified devotee ourselves.

First, on the surface, spiritual life begins with śraddhā, faith, and underneath with sukṛti, or special merit. Next is sādhu-saṅga, or company with the saints. Within that is our surrender to guru. Then bhajana begins, our serving life in various forms, such as śravaṇa, kīrtana, prasāda-sevā, or hearing, chanting, and respecting the Lord’s remnants. Then anartha-nivṛtti, our attraction for objects other than Kṛṣṇa, objects other than God, diminishes. Then niṣṭha, continued effort in devotional service, and not for anything else. Then ruci, taste, is developed. (Follow the Angels by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja)

Our internal sincerity is paramount throughout this process as we build our faith, chant the names of Kṛṣṇa, associate with the sādhus and engage in service. Ultimately we must reach a point where we are ready to sacrifice all our energy, attention, capabilities, and our very selves for Kṛṣṇa.

Die to live. Sacrifice, sevā. Sevā means death – death of the material ego. Sevā means to give one’s own self to a particular purpose. The sevā of Kṛṣṇa means to give up this mad self, this mundane, concocted self.” (Follow the Angels by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja)

Because we are very small souls, we have the capacity to come under the control of either mahāmāyā or the Supreme Lord. We are parts and parcels of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but since this material energy māyā is Kṛṣṇa’s energy, she can cover us up when we seek material enjoyment, separate from the Lord and we become averse to Kṛṣṇa’s service or at least indifferent to it.

Are we ready to give up this false-identification as the enjoyer? Are we eager to understand and surrender ourselves to Śrī Guru? We cannot reach such a state of consciousness in our currently bewildered state. Only by devotional service and the right association can the Lord be revealed and the first quality of śraddhā awaken within us.

Related Articles and Books

Further Reading

Ātma Samīkṣā – The Value of IntrospectionĀtma Samīkṣā – The Value of Introspection
Prabhupāda Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s Visit to AyodhyāPrabhupāda Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s Visit to Ayodhyā

Share this article!

About the Author: Dhīra Lalitā Dāsī

Avatar of Dhīra Lalitā Dāsī
Dhīra Lalitā Dāsī (Durgā Dāsī) born in 1950 became a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda in June 1973 in Paris, France. She was instructed to paint for the movement which she took up as a service with the BBT for many years and continues to this day for various publications on Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Due to her initial correspondence with Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahāraja in 1992, Narasiṅgha Mahārāja came to the USA and inspired many householders to move to South India and establish an aśrama there with him. Currently she resides in the Rupanuga Bhajan Ashram in Vṛndāvana.
  • Kovvur - Ramananda Raya and Mahaprabhu's meeting place on the Godavari River

Kovvur

By |May 24, 2024|Tags: |

This article ‘Kovvur,’ was written by Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī, prior to his acceptance of sannyāsa, for the daily Gauḍīya Maṭha newspaper, Nadīyā Prakāśa, and published on 4th September 1930 (Vol.5, Issue 3). This article gives some history of Kovvur, the place where Mahāprabhu and Rāmānanda Rāya first met in South India. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja was instrumental in discovering this place – so much so, that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura converted his name from Rāmendra Sundara Dāsa to Rāmānanda Dāsa. Two months after writing this article, he accepted sannyāsa. This article has been translated into English for the first time.

  • A Letter to the Editor of the Navbharat Times

A Letter to the Editor of the Navbharat Times

By |May 10, 2024|Tags: |

In this letter from 1958, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda writes to the editor of the Navbharat Times newspaper complaining of certain philosophical mistakes in an article published on Janmāṣṭamī – in particular, he protests that the article states that Śrī Kṛṣṇa was a ‘human incarnation.’ This letter was published in Śrī Bhāgavat Patrikā (Vol.4 Issue 5), the Hindi journal of the Gauḍīya Samiti in October 1958, and has been translated here for the first time in English.

  • Pilgrimage with Swami Narasiṅgha – Part 7: Keśī Ghāṭa

Pilgrimage with Swami Narasiṅgha – Part 7: Keśī Ghāṭa

By |April 26, 2024|Tags: |

Continuing with our pilgrimage series, this week Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja takes us to Keśī Ghāṭā where he tells us about Madhumaṅgala’s meeting with the Keśī demon, what Keśī represents, and how Śrīla Prabhupāda almost acquired Keśī Ghāṭa. Mahārāja also narrates his own experience. This article has been adapted from a number of talks and articles by Narasiṅgha Mahārāja.

  • Kovvur - Ramananda Raya and Mahaprabhu's meeting place on the Godavari River

Kovvur

By |May 24, 2024|Tags: |

This article ‘Kovvur,’ was written by Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī, prior to his acceptance of sannyāsa, for the daily Gauḍīya Maṭha newspaper, Nadīyā Prakāśa, and published on 4th September 1930 (Vol.5, Issue 3). This article gives some history of Kovvur, the place where Mahāprabhu and Rāmānanda Rāya first met in South India. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja was instrumental in discovering this place – so much so, that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura converted his name from Rāmendra Sundara Dāsa to Rāmānanda Dāsa. Two months after writing this article, he accepted sannyāsa. This article has been translated into English for the first time.

  • A Letter to the Editor of the Navbharat Times

A Letter to the Editor of the Navbharat Times

By |May 10, 2024|Tags: |

In this letter from 1958, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda writes to the editor of the Navbharat Times newspaper complaining of certain philosophical mistakes in an article published on Janmāṣṭamī – in particular, he protests that the article states that Śrī Kṛṣṇa was a ‘human incarnation.’ This letter was published in Śrī Bhāgavat Patrikā (Vol.4 Issue 5), the Hindi journal of the Gauḍīya Samiti in October 1958, and has been translated here for the first time in English.

  • Pilgrimage with Swami Narasiṅgha – Part 7: Keśī Ghāṭa

Pilgrimage with Swami Narasiṅgha – Part 7: Keśī Ghāṭa

By |April 26, 2024|Tags: |

Continuing with our pilgrimage series, this week Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja takes us to Keśī Ghāṭā where he tells us about Madhumaṅgala’s meeting with the Keśī demon, what Keśī represents, and how Śrīla Prabhupāda almost acquired Keśī Ghāṭa. Mahārāja also narrates his own experience. This article has been adapted from a number of talks and articles by Narasiṅgha Mahārāja.