SARANAGATI (SURRENDER) | Sri Laghu-chandrika-bhasya
(translated from the original 1949 Bengali edition)
Srila Sachchidananda Bhakti Vinod Thakur, the magnanimous, eternally liberated associate of Sri Gaurasundar—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who descends in the Age of Kali as the saviour of the fallen—has described the fundamental characteristics of pure devotion in his songbook known as Saranagati. The author of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami Prabhu, has described the distinction between surrender (saranagati) and detachment (akinchanatva) as follows:
saranagatera, akinchanera—eka-i laksana
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 22.96, 99)
"Although a devotee who is surrendered to Krishna (saranagata) and a devotee who is detached from this world (akinchan) have the same external characteristics, the surrendered devotee has the superlative qualification of having fully offered their very soul to Krishna. As soon as a surrendered soul takes shelter of Krishna and fully offers themself to Him, Krishna immediately accepts him as His own (as an associate equal to Himself)."
Being detached from this world (akinchan), maintaining genuine faith (sraddha) within the heart, and taking shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Krishna in all respects, is said to be saranagati. The fundamental teachings of saranagati are found within the Vedas, Srimad Bhagavatam, Srimad Bhagavad-gita, the Ramayana, the Puranas, other scriptures auxiliary to the Vedas, and the writings of all the previous Acharyas. Herein, I am citing a few examples from these sources of knowledge:
In the Sruti:
syamach chchhavalam prapadye
"By the mercy of Syam (Krishna), I surrender unto Savala (Radha). By the mercy of Savala, I surrender unto Syam."
yo brahmanam vidadhati purvam yo brahma-vidyam
(Tapanyam, Brahma-samhita tika)
"In the beginning of creation, He who created Brahma, and then imparted to him knowledge of Brahma—He is the selfsame Lord Krishna, who tends cows. Those desirous of liberation should surrender unto that Lord, who reveals the innate function of the soul."
yatha nadyah syandamanah samudre
"As flowing rivers, abandoning their names and forms, return to the ocean, so the enlightened souls, being completely liberated from their mundane names and forms, meet the supramundane Supreme Personality of Godhead."
In Srimad Bhagavatam:
tasmat tvam uddhavotsrjya chodanam pratichodanam
[Krishna says:] "O Uddhava, totally abandoning the Vedas and their auxiliaries, all of their prescriptions and prohibitions, and everything you have ever heard or may come to hear, take exclusive shelter of Me, the life of all beings, with all your heart. By My grace you will become completely fearless."
"One who has completely abandoned all worldly duties and surrendered wholeheartedly unto the ultimate shelter, Mukunda, is no longer a debtor to, nor a servant of, the demigods, sages, other living entities, relatives, mankind, or ancestors."
martyo yada tyakta-samasta-karma
[Krishna says to Uddhava:] "When a mortal being completely abandons all mundane endeavours, surrenders themself unto Me, and acts according to My desires, he attains immortality and becomes fit to associate with Me."
yesam sa eva bhagavan dayayed anantah
"If one wholeheartedly takes shelter of the Infinite Supreme Lord's feet, the Lord bestows His true mercy upon him and he thereby transcends the Lord's insurmountable maya. The Lord does not bestow His mercy upon those who ascribe the conceptions of 'I' and 'mine' to the material body, which is nothing more than food for jackals and dogs."
kah panditas tvad aparam saranam samiyad
"O Lord, You are the truthful, grateful, and affectionate friend of Your devotees. What learned person would ever take shelter of anyone but You? You fulfil all the desires of Your friends who serve You—You even give Your very self to them—and yet You are neither augmented nor diminished thereby."
aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam
[Lamenting in separation, Uddhava marvels:] "Oh! Even though the wicked Putana nursed Krishna with her poison-smeared breasts, intending to kill Him, Krishna granted her a position befitting His mother! Of what merciful Lord shall we take shelter other than Him?"
kim durapadanam tesam pumsam uddama-chetasam
"The Supreme Lord's feet destroy all material attachment. What remains unobtainable for even persons of agitated mind who surrender unto them?"
naham atmanam asase mad-bhaktaih sadhubhir vina
[Narayan declares to Durvasa Muni:] "O brahman, without My devotees, those sadhus for whom I am the only shelter, I desire neither the bliss of My own nature nor My six eternal opulences."
samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
"For those who have taken refuge in the shelter of the great souls—the boat of the lotus feet of Sri Murari, who is renowned as purity personified—the ocean of material existence becomes as insignificant as the water contained in a calf's hoof-print. Their destination is the supreme abode, never this world where there is danger at every step."
chiram iha vrjinartas tapyamano 'nutapair
"O Supreme Soul, for so long in this world I have been tormented by sin, burned by remorse, and constantly harassed by my six insatiable enemies. I have never obtained peace. O Bestower of Shelter, somehow I have come before Your lotus feet, which are the abode of fearlessness, sorrowlessness, and immortality. O Lord, please protect me; I am in danger."
tan me bhavan khalu vrtah patir anga jayam
[A letter of appeal from Rukmini to Krishna:] "O lotus-eyed Lord, I have chosen You as my husband and offered myself unto You. Therefore, O Almighty One, please come and take me as Your wife, before Sisupal, like a jackal plundering a lion's prey, suddenly touches me; I am to be enjoyed by You alone."
In Srimad Bhagavad-gita:
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
"Abandon all forms of religion and surrender exclusively unto Me. I will liberate you from all sin. Do not despair."
tam eva saranam gachchha sarva-bhavena bharata
"O Arjun, surrender unto the Lord in all respects. By His grace you will attain His eternal abode and supreme peace."
daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya
"My alluring, trimodal maya is insurmountable. Only those who surrender unto Me can transcend maya."
bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
"After many births, an enlightened soul surrenders unto Me, realising, 'Vasudev is everything'. Such a great soul is extremely rare."
And so on. In the Visnu-purana:
smrte sakala-kalyana-bhajanam yatra jayate
"Upon remembering Sri Hari, the soul becomes a recipient of all auspiciousness. I take shelter of Him, the unborn, eternal Supreme Lord."
In the Brahma-vaivarta-purana:
prapyapi durlabhataram manusyam vibudhepsitam
"Those who attain a human birth, which is extremely rare and desired by even the demigods, but do not take shelter of Govinda deceive themselves perpetually."
In the Brhan-naradiya-purana:
samsare 'smin maha-ghore moha-nidra-samakule
"Within this ghastly material world, which is engulfed in ignorance and sleep, those who surrender unto the Supreme Lord are successful in all their endeavours. Of this there is no doubt."
paramartham asesasya jagatam adi karanam
"Govinda is the origin of all the universes, the Supreme Truth, and the ultimate shelter. One who surrenders unto Him never falls down."
In the Padma-purana:
ahankrtir ma-karah syan na-karas tan nisedhakah
"In the word namah ('obeisance'), the syllable ma indicates the self-asserting ego (ahankar, lit. 'I am the doer'), and the syllable na indicates its prevention. Thus, the act of offering obeisance (namah) nullifies the offerer's independence. The soul is by nature subordinate to the Supreme Lord; their innate function is servitude to Him. Therefore, all actions performed with the conception, 'I am the doer' should be utterly abandoned."
In the Narasimha-purana:
tvam prapanno 'smi saranam deva-devam janardanam
"I deliver from all suffering one who takes shelter of Me, declaring, 'O Supreme Refuge, O Lord of Lords, O Janardan, I am surrendered unto You.'"
sarvachara-vivarjitah satha-dhiyo vratya jagad-vanchaka
"O twice-born, persons who are devoid of all virtuous practices, deceitful, uncultured, fraudulent, arrogant, egotistical, addicted to intoxicants, sinful, malicious, cruel-natured, grossly infatuated with son, wife, wealth, and so forth—even such extremely fallen persons are liberated by surrendering unto the lotus feet of Sri Govinda."
In the Ramayana:
sakrd eva prapanno yas tavasmiti cha yachate
(Ramayana: Yuddha-kanda, 18 .33)
[Ramachandra proclaims:] "Anyone who even once sincerely surrenders unto Me, declaring, 'I am Yours', and prays for fearlessness—it is My vow that I will always grant that to them."
Examples of expressions of saranagati from the writings of the Acharyas prior to Sriman Mahaprabhu:
Sri Yamuna Acharya:
na dharma-nistho 'smi na chatma-vedi
(Sri Stotra-ratna: 22)
"O Supreme Refuge, I am not religious, I do not know the nature of the soul, and I do not have any devotion to Your lotus feet. I am bereft and have no other shelter. Such as I am, I surrender unto the soles of Your feet."
"For those persons who have fallen into the ocean of mundane existence; who are being lashed by the hurricane of duality; who are crushed by the burden of maintaining their wife, family, and so on; who are drowning in the ghastly whirlpool of sensual pleasures and bereft of a vessel—the only shelter is the lifeboat of the Supreme Lord."
And so on and so forth.
The teachings of saranagati given to the world by the supremely merciful Avatar, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, are of unparalleled greatness. This is because His teachings are able to bestow the fortune of loving service (prema-seva) to Sri Krishna, who is the origin and embodiment of all rasas. In this book Sriman Mahaprabhu's follower, the great soul Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, has taught the souls of this world those very teachings of saranagati.
It is certain that the supreme feet of Visnu and the service of Krishna are attainable through saranagati. The Supreme Lord is by nature affectionate to the surrendered souls (Saranagata-vatsal); He dispels their suffering and showers His supramundane sweetness upon their hearts.
Some have said that saranagati is realisation of the non-separateness of all living beings and objects which is brought about by vision of the indwelling omnipresence of the Supreme Lord. Such realisation, however, is a part of jnana-bhakti (devotion adulterated by knowledge); it is not integral to pure devotion.
We, as enjoyers who have forgotten the Lord, are perpetually burning in the blazing fire of the threefold miseries of this illusory universe. Various evil desires (anarthas) have made us forgetful of our true selves—that we are Sri Krishna's servants and children of nectar—and turned us into slaves of maya.
Thus the magnanimous Thakur, Srila Bhakti Vinod, being sorrowful about the sorrow of others, has sung:
vinoda kahe haya! haya! hari-dasa hari nahi paya
"Alas! Alas! The Lord's servants have not attained the Lord!"
We cannot attain happiness in this world by our own persistent endeavours because we have rejected happiness Himself, ecstasy Himself, the embodiment of all rasas (Akhila-rasamrta-murti), Sri Krishna. To attain true happiness, we must serve that Supreme Person whom the Vedas have described with the expression Raso vai Sah. Thus, the great souls have said that there is no other recourse for the souls than to become detached from this world (niskinchan) and surrender to the lotus feet of that Supreme Person—ecstasy Himself.
Without saranagati, the state of truly being 'His own' ('tadiyatva') is never realised. Thus, the learned profusely praise saranagati's unprecedented fruit.
In the Vaisnava-tantra, the characteristics of saranagati have been explained as follows:
anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulya-vivarjanam
"Accepting everything favourable, rejecting everything unfavourable, being confident that Krishna will grant His protection, embracing Krishna's guardianship, fully offering one's self to Krishna, and feeling oneself to be lowly are the six aspects of saranagati."
Among these six aspects, goptrtve varanam ('embracing the Lord's guardianship') is the complete embodiment (angi) of saranagati; the other five aspects are limbs (angas).
There are three ways in which one embraces the Lord as one's guardian: physically, verbally, and mentally. These are described in Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa:
tavasmiti vadan vacha tathaiva manasa vidan
"Declaring with their words, 'I am Yours', knowing this within their mind, and taking shelter of Your abode with their body, the surrendered soul rejoices."
Surrender performed in full in these three ways swiftly grants complete success. Otherwise, the result obtained is proportionate to the depth of one's surrender.
In order to learn saranagati, one must first fall at the feet of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, the teacher of saranagati to the souls who is the personification of the ideal of supramundane devotion (and non-different from the acharyas Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatan), and pray:
kandiya kandiya bale—'amita'adhama
"Crying incessantly, I pray, 'I am so lowly! Please elevate me by teaching me saranagati.'"
In the teachings of our Param Gurudev, the supremely worshippable, radiant Vaisnava Acharya Om Visnupad Sri Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad, we find: "The good fortune of the world will be realised by profuse preaching of the songs of Saranagati." Thus, in accordance with Srila Saraswati Thakur's teachings and desire, our dearly beloved Gurudev, the embodiment of eternal ecstasy (Nityananda), Om Visnupad Astottara-sata-sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, has, for the ultimate welfare of all souls, written a befitting commentary for relishing the poetry of Saranagati known as Sri Laghu-chandrika.
This edition has been compiled to help those desirous of shelter to see the way of progress towards the feet of the Lord. Only after obtaining my Gurudev's merciful blessings, which bestow good fortune upon the world, has an unworthy and fallen servant such as I become engaged in the publication of this book.
In this connection I could not restrain my eagerness to cite his unprecedented treatise on saranagati, the compilation known as Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam. Within that book are recorded numerous fundamental truths, conceptual analyses, and so forth, related to surrender, which are essential for faithful and inquisitive persons to understand.
This edition has been published for the welfare of the world. For the convenience of elderly readers, it has been formatted with large lettered type-setting for the main text and slightly smaller lettered type-setting for the commentary. It has also been furnished at the end with a collection of prayers by surrendered souls (Saranagatera Prarthana) and prayers unto Sri Guru (Sri Guru Vandana).
On account of my various shortcomings, there is no doubt that faults and omissions have occurred within this beautiful book. O Vaisnavas—saviours of the fallen—and well-wishing readers, please bestow your forgiveness and affectionate mercy on this fallen soul; purify him and make him fit to serve Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
In conclusion, this humble soul's prayer at the feet of Sri Hari, Guru, and Vaisnava is that this book, Saranagati, may reveal her innate supramundane sweetness all over the world and thereby bestow eternal welfare upon the souls.
Goptrtve Varan, Embracing the Lord's Guardianship
Visrambhatmika, Confidence in the Lord's Protection
Varjanatmika, Rejecting the Unfavourable
Anukulyatmika, Accepting the Favourable
Bhajana-Lalasa (Hankering for Service):
Siddha-Lalasa (Hankering for Fulfilment):
Vijnapti (Prayer of Heartfelt Hankering):
Sri Nama-Mahatmya (The Glories of the Name):
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