Devotee: I have heard of two different analogies for surrender, marjara-kisora-nyaya, the surrender of the kitten who is carried by his mother, and markata-kisora-nyaya, the surrender of the baby monkey who holds on to his mother. Which example is the proper conclusion in the line of Krishna consciousness?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Neither of these examples of surrender is perfect. We have seen cats carrying their kittens, but we have also seen monkeys carrying their babies when they are sick. A baby kitten and a baby monkey are not actually surrendering to their mothers; they are simply continuing their lives in a natural way. A baby monkey naturally holds on to his mother, and a mother cat naturally protects her kitten. In these examples there is no consciousness: the baby and mother are simply living in a natural way.

We must surrender to the Lord with consciousness. A mood of surrender is what is actually necessary for us. We must always be consciously dependent on Krishna and fully surrendered to Him. We must always try to satisfy Him with all of our energy. Prabhu’s question actually is, «Who is responsible, the Lord or the jiva-soul?» The full responsibility is ours, but when we try to approach Krishna He will also see us and help us.

Krishna has given us freedom, and we have misused that. We have come into great difficulty and become bound by Maya. It is now necessary for us to stop misusing our freedom and surrender wholeheartedly to Krishna. When Krishna sees that we are fully surrendered to Him He will be eager to take us out of our very low position, bring us to a high position, and give us His service. If we sacrifice our freedom and surrender at His lotus feet, then Krishna will see that and help us.

krsna amaya pale rakhe jana sarva-kala
atma-nivedana-dainye ghuchao janjala
(Sri Prema-vivarta: 7.7)

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur explained that if we humbly and fully surrender to Krishna with the mood that, «Krishna will always protect me», then all obstacles and other obligations will be ousted from us by Krishna’s grace. We need this mood of perfect surrender.

The jiva-soul’s duty is to be active in Krishna’s service in a surrendered mood. Here is a perfect example of how Krishna bestows His mercy upon a surrendered soul:

Sva-matuh svinna-gatraya visrasta-kabara-srajah
drstva parisramam krsnah krpayasit sva-bandhane
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.9.18)

«When Krishna saw His mother was trying so hard to bind Him and becoming exhausted, when He saw that the flowers in her hair were falling down and her whole body was covered with sweat, He became merciful to her and allowed her to bind Him.»

Mother Yasoda tried so hard to bind Krishna with a rope. She tried many times and collected more, and more rope each time, but her rope always ended up two fingers too short and she failed to bind Krishna. Only after she tried so hard and became very tired did Krishna allow her to bind Him.

This is a perfect example. The jiva-souls will try as far as possible by them to satisfy the Lord, and when even with their full eagerness they are not successful, then Krishna will come to help them. Krishna wants to see how much you will give of yourself to Him. He wants to see that you start out with a pure desire to satisfy Him. Then He will respond to you. Depending upon how perfectly you start your approach to Krishna with a pure mood of surrender, He will bestow His mercy upon you. In this way we can understand the process of surrender (saranagati) in the line of Krishna consciousness.

Rocketing to the spiritual world

Devotee: What is the starting point of saranagati?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Saranagati starts from the point of sraddha (faith). The mood of perfect surrender will come to us through sraddha.

‘sraddha’-sabde — visvasa kahe sudrdha nischaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 22.62)

«Sraddha means confident, firm faith that everything will be fulfilled, and everything impossible will become possible, by serving Krishna.»

What is what, who is who — everything — is determined by our faith. Faith is the basis of all religions, not only the Vaisnava religion, because faith is the jiva-soul’s true and best property. Faith is always the friend of everyone, and if we have faith in Krishna consciousness, we will be able to adjust everything.

Sakala chhadiya bhai sraddha-devira guna gai
yara krpa bhakti dite pare
(Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)

«Giving up everything, sing the glories of Sraddha Devi [the goddess of faith], by whose mercy we can feel the presence of devotion in our hearts.»

Faith is our main property. We should never lose our faith. Our faith must also grow. It must become stronger and stronger until it reaches an unshakable position. Our faith must be transcendental, sincere, and chaste. You cannot throw a rocket from anywhere; you must have a substantial foundation. When your faith becomes unshakable and you understand the fundamental position of surrender and devotion to Krishna, then you will be worry-free, and saranagati, your mood of surrender, will protect you. You will have an unshakable launching pad, and from there you will be able to throw your rocket across the illusory environment to Goloka Vrndavan.52 The spiritual world exists entirely within the plane of faith, and anyone whose faith is very strong will get that highest property when his faith takes on a transcendental form and is successfully activated in his heart. Everything will be revealed to him.

Devotion is awakened by devotion

To have one hundred per cent faith in Lord Krishna is not easy. We live in the mundane world and deal with many material things, so our faith is naturally influenced by our impressions of this world.

prakrtibhyah param yach cha tad achintyasya laksanam
(Mahabharata: Bhisma-parva, 5.22)

«Krishna is achintya. He is beyond our mundane experience.» How can we develop faith in Him and His divine service? Krishna’s causeless mercy is always flowing throughout this mundane world, and if any conditioned soul is touched by that merciful wave, then he will receive some nitya-sukrti [spiritual fortune], which will bring him faith.

General pious activities like feeding people can bring good fortune to people, but that is anitya-sukrti [temporary merit]. Nitya-sukrti, eternal fortune, is gained by being connected with the Lord’s affairs, by rendering service to the Lord’s devotees, the Lord’s temples, or anything connected with the Lord.

When a conditioned soul receives the opportunity to serve the Lord in some way and he collects sufficient nitya-sukrti, then sraddha develops in his heart automatically by the mercy of the Lord. As nitya-sukrti develops into sraddha within his heart the conditioned soul can begin to associate with sadhus. Before the conditioned soul can associate with sadhus properly he needs faith in them. This comes to him through nitya-sukrti. Once the conditioned soul has a little faith in sadhus then his faith will become stronger and stronger through the sadhus’ association.

The illusory environment will not be able to attack the conditioned soul in any way if he tries to proceed in his spiritual life faithfully under the guidance of sadhus. Sadhu does not only mean someone wearing saffron cloth. A sadhu may be a grhastha, a brahmachari, or vanaprastha. If anyone is a sincere devotee of Lord Krishna then he must be considered a sadhu.

krsna-bhakta — niskama, ataeva ‘santa’
bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kami — sakali ‘asanta’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.149)

Anyone who serves Radha-Govinda twenty-four hours a day without selfish interest under the guidance of his Guru is a real devotee and real sadhu. His association will always be good and give everyone good nourishment in their spiritual life. In the association of a real sadhu the conditioned soul’s faith and service attitude will increase more and more. This is the path given by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srimad Bhagavatam and all the scriptures: bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya (SB: 11.3.31), devotion is awakened by devotion.53

In exclusive devotional practising life only the process and the mercy of a real practitioner, a sadhu, will give the conditioned souls more and more faith, enthusiasm, and inspiration to serve their Lord. Under the guidance of a proper sadhu the conditioned souls will collect more and more devotional property in their heart, that is, faith and real hankering to serve the Lord, and their spiritual practising life will develop.

When someone has full faith that, «Krishna is the supreme for me. He is my life and soul, and His service is my life’s only goal», then we can say he is a saranagata, a soul surrendered unto Lord Krishna. This is the natural position and religion of all jiva-souls even though it may be very difficult for conditioned souls to follow.

Indispensable surrender

The conditioned souls suffer so much in Maya’s illusory environment. Through their karma they experience so much sadness, confusion, and unsuccessfulness. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught that when the conditioned souls become established in Krishna consciousness, when they are established in the transcendental service world of dedication to Lord Krishna through faith, chastity, and sincerity, then they can very quickly cross over the illusory environment. There is no other way to do this than through saranagati, surrender.

The conditioned souls need to change their hearts and dedicate themselves to Lord Krishna. That will give them the super-benefit of their lives. But saranagati is first of all necessary. Without saranagati no one can enter the transcendental service world, no one can offer anything to Lord Krishna or do anything devotional. Because of this Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, have tried to give the conditioned souls inspiration to surrender. This is the primary purpose of their teachings.

When Srila Guru Maharaj left the Gaudiya Mission his first target was to give the conditioned souls knowledge about the proper mood of surrender to the Lord. Srila Guru Maharaj had full scriptural knowledge, and he gave so many supremely beneficial gifts to the conditioned souls, but he especially decided that saranagati is the first and best thing for everyone. He composed his Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam — Nectar in the Lives of the Surrendered Souls with this in mind: to give the conditioned souls enlightening knowledge about the proper mood of surrender to the Lord.

Pure saranagati

The qualities of saranagati have been identified in the scriptures:

anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulya vivarjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih54
(Sri Satvata-tantra: 73)

Srila Guru Maharaj composed his Prapanna-jivanamrtam according to these procedures for surrender that are given in the scriptures. I have read so many things about these qualities of saranagati from so many places, but what Srila Guru Maharaj has given is supreme. In a verse from his Prapanna-jivanamrtam he has given us a very nice, clear explanation of saranagati that is a perfect jewel you cannot find anywhere else. It is the most essential prescription given anywhere for everyone to enter the transcendental service world. If you can memorise just this one verse and put it in your heart, then you will receive everything ever given in any scripture.

bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam ity utsrjya vidher api
kainkaryam krsna-padaikasrayatvam saranagatih
(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam: 1.35)

Here Srila Guru Maharaj expresses that saranagati means faith that Bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam, that through devotion to Bhagavan you will get everything. Bhagavan means the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, the Akhila-rasamrta-murti, the emporium of all rasa, who possesses all worshippable qualities. Everything you want and need — rasa, ecstasy, joy, nourishment, and so on — will automatically come to you through His service. Your life will be glorious, successful, and perfect through devotion to Lord Krishna. Not only will you receive everything you need internally, but full facility to serve Krishna will also come to you.

vasudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogah prayojitah
janayaty asu vairagyam jnanam cha yad ahaitukam55
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.2.7)

Automatically renunciation from this material world will come to you and spiritual knowledge will be revealed in your heart.

bhaktis tvayi sthiratara bhagavan yadi syad
daivena nah phalati divya-kisora-murtih
muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate ’sman
dharmartha-kama-gatayah samaya-pratiksah
(Sri Krsna-karnamrta: 107)

Moksa, liberation, will come to you with folded palms and ask, «What service shall I do for you?» Dharma, artha, and kama [piety, wealth, and enjoyment] will wait by her side to assist you in your service to the Lord. Through a mood of submissive surrender and devotion to Krishna everything will come to you. The Lord’s divine form and the prapanna-jivanamrtam, the nectar of a life of surrendered service, will appear in your heart. We must understand that devotion to Krishna is all-in-all (Bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam).

Then Srila Guru Maharaj said ity utsrjya vidher api kainkaryam: even if we cannot follow so many rules and regulations written in the scriptures for the guidance of conditioned souls, even if we cannot follow the standards of vidhi-marg, but we are surrendered to the Lord, then our devotional mood will purchase the Lord and we will get a good result. This is one way of explaining Srila Guru Maharaj’s expression, and it gives us much hope. But ity utsrjya vidher api kainkaryam also means that we must leave everything for Krishna. We must leave all of our mundane activity, no doubt, but to exclusively worship Lord Krishna wholeheartedly we will also have to ignore the general rules and regulations given in the Vedas. We must fully surrender to Krishna: «I will utilise my full energy for Your service.» We must leave the service of all gods, demigods, demigoddesses, and so on. Our service target must be Krishna. When we can finally go beyond all types of formal religion and fully offer ourselves to Krishna then He will give us entrance into exclusive devotional life by giving us inspiration in our hearts.

yada yasyanugrhnati bhagavan atma-bhavitah
sa jahati matim loke vede cha parinisthitam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 4.29.46)

«When the Lord affectionately bestows His causeless mercy upon His surrendered devotees, they naturally give up all mundane activity and ignore Vedic religious practices to engage in His service.»

bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam ity utsrjya vidher api
kainkaryam krsna-padaikasrayatvam saranagatih
(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam: 1.35)

When a jiva-soul comes to the strong position of taking exclusive, unconditional shelter at the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna’s lotus feet with full chastity and sincerity, then he becomes a pure saranagata. This is Srila Guru Maharaj’s explanation. Krsna-padaikasrayatvam: when a jiva-soul accepts Krishna’s lotus feet as his one and only shelter, having faith that everything will be successful and fulfilled by His grace, and abandons the shelter of Vedic religion, demigods, selfish activity, and so on, then he becomes firmly, purely surrendered. We must fully surrender to Lord Krishna and believe it! With that we will get super-benefit in our lives.

«I am Yours»

We can understand the seriousness of a genuine surrendered soul’s mood through the story of Vibhisan in the Ramayana. During the battle between Lord Ramachandra and Ravana, Vibhisan, the brother of Ravana, came to take shelter at Lord Ramachandra’s lotus feet. He prayed to Ramachandra, «I am here to take shelter at Your lotus feet. Please accept me as Your own. I am Yours.» Hanuman and other associates of Ramachandra were very angry when they heard this and heavily chastised Vibhisan. They thought that Vibhisan was a spy coming to harm Lord Ramachandra, and they told Ramachandra, «Don’t give him shelter at Your lotus feet. He cannot be trusted.» Then Ramachandra took a vow in front of everyone. You will find His vow expressed in this verse from Prapanna-jivanamrtam.

Sakrd eva prapanno yas tavasmiti cha yachate
abhayam sarvada tasmai dadamy etad vratam mama
(Ramayana: Yuddha-khanda, 18.33)

«If anyone comes to Me and once says, ‘My dear Lord, I am Yours. I am taking shelter at Your lotus feet’, I promise for all time to come that I will never leave him.»

Here Lord Ramachandra removes all possible fear from the hearts of the surrendered souls. He gives them 100 per cent assurance that He will accept them as His own and never abandon them. He gives them the faith that He will forever take their charge. So we can have full faith that if anyone will sincerely take shelter of the Lord, the Lord will never abandon them. Any and all circumstances may come to them, but if they once sincerely surrendered to the Lord then they are permanently under the Lord’s charge. This is a very heavy thing.

Depending on Krishna

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has very cleverly explained the faithful confidence of a surrendered soul in one of his songs.

atma-samarpane gela abhimana
nahi karabu nija raksa-vidhana

[«By fully offering myself unto You, my false ego has gone away. I will no longer make any arrangements to protect myself.»

tuya dhana jani’ tuhu rakhabi natha!
palya go-dhana jani kari’ tuya satha

«O Lord! Knowing me to be Your property, You will maintain me and keep me with You as one of Your protected cows.»

charaobi madhava! yamuna-tire
vamsi bajaota dakabi dhire

«O Madhava! You will herd me along the bank of the Yamuna. You will play Your flute and call me gently.»

agha-baka marata raksa vidhana
karabi sada tuhu gokula-kana!

«By killing Aghasura, Bakasura, and so on, You will always make all arrangements for my protection, O Kan of Gokul!

raksa karabi tuhu nischaya jani
pana karabu hama yamuna-pani

«Knowing that You will certainly protect me, I will drink the poisoned water of the Yamuna.»

kaliya-dokha karabi vinasa
sodhabi nadi-jala badaobi asa

«You will absolve Kaliya’s offences, purify the Yamuna’s waters, and thus increase my faith.»

piyata davanala rakhabi moya
‘gopala’ ‘govinda’ nama tava hoya

«By swallowing the forest fire, You will protect me and thus become known as ‘Gopal’ and ‘Govinda’.»

Surapati durmati-nasa vichari’
rakhabi varsane giri-vara-dhari!

«Deciding to level the pride of Devaraj Indra, You will protect me from his rains, O Lifter of Giriraj Govardhan!»

chaturanana karaba yava chori
raksa karabi moye gokula-hari!

«When Brahma will abduct me, You will rescue me, O Lord of Gokul!»

bhakati-vinoda tuya gokula-dhana
rakhabi kesava! karata yatana

«Bhakti Vinod is one of Your cows in Gokul. O Kesava! Surely You will carefully protect him.»]

This is the mood of atma-samarpan, fully surrendering oneself to the Lord. This song is found in Saranagati; you must have read it. When I joined the Mission of Srila Guru Maharaj, he gave me a copy of Saranagati and tick-marked thirty-two songs inside. He said, «You must memorise these songs within seven days.» I had some capacity as a kirtan singer, and Srila Guru Maharaj wanted to begin training me according to my qualifications. Somehow I memorised those songs on Srila Guru Maharaj’s order. I still have the book Srila Guru Maharaj gave me in my room.

It is also my request to the devotees that they try to memorise the songs of Saranagati if it is possible for them. There are so many very sweet, sweet songs inside Saranagati which are very nice to chant daily. Saranagati is a small book but all wealth is present within it in a glorious way. Through the songs of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur we get the gist of all the scriptures. If all the scriptures disappeared from this mundane world but Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s songs remained, we would still have everything. We can get everything through his songs.

This song atma-samarpane gela abhimana is not in pure Bengali. It has some Vraja-bhuli in it to convey the mood of Krishna’s surrendered devotees in Vrndavan Dham. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur expresses that if we are fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna then we have nothing to fear from anywhere. And he said even more than this.

raksa karabi tuhu nischaya jani
pana karabu hama yamuna-pani
(Saranagati: 23.5)

«Krishna, I will even fearlessly drink the poisonous water of the Yamuna because I am sure that You will save my life.»

Krishna: our sole proprietor

It is Krishna Himself who gives and takes our life. No one else can do so. We do not need to be so fearful of our environment and association. How much can we actually protect ourselves? We have seen that Indira Gandhi was shot by her own bodyguard. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated although he was a very pious man and dear to nearly everyone. The only saviour of anyone’s life is Krishna. If Krishna wants us to be saved, we will be saved, and if Krishna wants us to die, then we will die. There is a saying in Bengali, «Rakhe Krishna mare ke, mare Krishna rakhe ke: when Krishna protects you no one can kill you, but when Krishna wants to kill you no one can protect you.» The mood of the surrendered soul is,

marabi rakhabi yo ichchha tohara
nitya-dasa prati tuya adhikara
(Saranagati: 11.3)

«Krishna, You may kill me or protect me as You wish. You are my Master.»

This kind of submission and dedication is very valuable. Our real safety is found only in surrender and devotion. What Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has explained is very serious. It is not easy to quickly catch this conception of full dedication to the Lord and full dependence upon His mercy. So we consider some percentage in our devotion. Someone may be 10 per cent devoted, 20 per cent devoted, 50 per cent devoted, or 100 per cent devoted.

The power of ego

The only obstacle to surrender and dedication is ego. If someone has no mundane ego they can easily connect with the transcendental plane and leave behind their mundane attachments. Everything mundane — our body, our possessions, and so on — is part of Maya’s illusory environment. It is temporary and does not belong to us. When our ego is bewildered by the illusory environment, then our proper knowledge and consciousness of Krishna’s eternal service is covered by mundane attachment, and that egotistic attachment creates a great obstruction between us and the Lord.

ahankara-nivrttanam kesavo nahi duragah
ahankara-yutanam hi madhye parvata-rasayah
(Brahma-vaivarta-purana: 3.9.9)

The scriptures explain that mundane ego is like a great mountain that blocks our contact with Krishna and His transcendental abode. But when our ego is disengaged from the mundane then it is very easy for us to contact the transcendental abode and feel the Lord’s guardianship. Tad dure tad v antike (Iu: 5), «The Lord is very far from us if we are not surrendered and dedicated, but the Lord is very near to us if we are surrendered and dedicated.»

Krishna is always with us. He lives in our heart in the form of Paramatma. From within our heart He observes everything we do and all the reactions we create for ourselves. Whenever we consciously surrender to Him and act according to our nature as His eternal servants, He removes all of our karmic reactions, fills our hearts with happiness, joy, and beauty, and gives us entrance into the ecstatic world of Goloka Vrndavan Dham.



sraddhavan jana haya bhakti-adhikari
‘uttama’, ‘madhyama’, ‘kanistha’ — sraddha-anusari
(Cc: Madhya, 22.64)

«Faithful persons are qualified for devotion. According to the strength of their faith, they are either advanced devotees, intermediate devotees,or neophyte devotees.»


smarantah smarayantas cha mitho ’ghaugha-haram harim
bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya bibhraty utpulakam tanum
(SB: 11.3.31)

«Remembering and reminding one another of the Lord, who absolves all sin, with devotion (prema) produced by devotion (sadhana), devotees become ecstatic.»

54 «Accepting everything that is favourable for devotion to Krishna, rejecting everything unfavourable for devotion to Krishna, 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.»

55 «Practising devotion to the Supreme Lord, Krishna, quickly produces detachment and unconditional knowledge.»

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