SURRENDER TO GOD
No doubt, it is to some extent desirable, in this world, for a man to earn a name and fame and also material wealth. All these things come to some people unasked. Others do not get them, however much they may try. But these things do not attach themselves to us permanently. Either we leave them behind, or they desert us in our own life-time. Therefore, name, fame and wealth are not objectives for which we should consciously strive with all our energy. What we should aspire and strive for is a life free from sin.
There are two aspects to this freedom from sin. One is absolution from sins already committed (Paapanaasam) and the other is non-commission of sins hereafter, by purifying our mind and making it free from evil thoughts (Paapa buddhi). The former can be achieved by absolutely surrendering oneself to God, realising that He alone is our Saviour, nothing happens without His knowledge, and that whatever happens to us, good or bad, is by His will and only for our ultimate good. Resigning oneself to the dispensation of God is the essence of absolute surrender or Saranaagati. We will be free from evil thoughts hereafter only by Bhakti or devotion, that is to say, by devoting every free moment of ours to His thought or repeating His names or listening to His glories.
The claim of Christianity is that God appeared on earth to wash off our sins. It is sometimes argued that there is no corresponding conception in Hinduism. This is not correct. In the Gita, Sri Krishna has given an assurance that He will absolve from sin those who surrender themselves to Him. The Lord says
Sarva dharmaan parityajya maamekam saranam vraja;
Aham tvaa sarvapaapebhyo mokshayishyaami maa suchah.
Sri Krishna asks Arjuna not to grieve telling him "I will free you from all sins (Sarvapaapebhyo mokshayishyaami), if you give up all other Dharma (Sarva Dharmaan parityajya), and surrender to Me absolutely (Maamekam Saranam Vraja)". In this context, the import of the expression, Sarva Dharman Parityajya has to be understood correctly. The emphasis of the Gita is on each man performing his prescribed duties in a spirit of dedication. Therefore, the call to " give up Dharma" cannot be a message of inaction. Sri Krishna wants Arjuna, and through Arjuna all of us , to do the duties pertaining to our station in life. But what He wants us to give up is the notion that the performance of these duties will by itself lead us to the cherished goal. Sri Krishna wants us to perform our Dharma, giving up the notion that they are the be-all and end-all of life, and surrender ourselves to Him without reservation.
In the verse previous to the one I have just quoted, Sri Krishna says :
Manmanaa Bhava Madbhakto Mayaajee maam namaskuru; Maamevaishyasi satyamte partijaane priyosi me.
When Sri Krishna says to Arjuna, "You are dear to me(priyosi me) it means that all of us are dear to Him. So, when he gives the assurance "satyam te prattijanne", we can take it as an assurance given to all of us . The assurance is that we will reach Him (Maamevaishyasi). For that purpose, we have to fix our thoughts on Him(Manmanaa Bhava), become His devotees(Madbhakto Bhava), worship Him (Madyaajee bhava) and fall at His feet(maam namaskuru).
If we analyse one's affection towards one's son or wife, we will find that it ultimately resolves itself into one's love for oneself. A man is fond of his son only so long as that son fulfils what he expects of him. Supposing that son gets married and neglects his father, the affection will turn into enmity. It follows that the affection we entertain is with a purpose and not selfless. But there is no purpose or object behind one's love for oneself. When we come to realise that the "I" we love so much is "He", our mind becomes saturated with Him. That is the significance of the expression, "Manmanaa bhava". We think of Him not for securing any favours, but because we cannot help thinking of Him, having realised that the soul within us is none else than He. When this realisation takes deep root, the mind enters the state of Avyaaja Bhakti.
We have examples of such selfless devotion to God in our Puranas. Akroora and Vidura had such Avyaaja Bhakti, Dhruva and Prahlada are examples of those who surrendered themselves to God even from their childhood. Sabari and Kannappar are examples of persons regarded as unlettered common people, on the bottom rungs of the social ladder, Who are animated by an overwhelming devotion in which the consciousness of their individual entity has been completely wiped out. Parikshit is an example of one, who, within the last seven days of his life, experienced the bliss of devotion achieved in a life-time. Khatvaanga is an example of a person who got purified by concentrated devotion of three and three-fourths Naazhigas, or 90 minutes.
While Saranaagati helps to "write off" past sins, Bhakti alone will keep our minds away from sin. The heart has to be kept clean through Bhakti so that the full effect of His presence there may be realised. In the ultimate analysis, surrender and devotion are the two facets of the same thing. In this life, all householders are engaged in various occupations necessary to maintain themselves. While so engaged, their minds will be concentrating on their work. But it is during their leisure that their minds are likely to go astray. This leisure must be utilised in developing Bhakti, through various process like Naama Japa(repeating God's name), Satsanga(keeping holy company), pooja(worship), satkathasravana(listening to Lord's glory), etc. The idea is to somehow keep our thoughts engaged on God. We should have no occasion to commit sin through mind, eyes, ears and speech. Even when we make any representations in our prayers, it should be in a spirit of detachment, namely with the realisation that nothing is unknown to Him and with a feeling, "Let Him do with us as He pleases". Let us, in this way, strive to pursue the path of surrender and devotion, and earn the grace of God.