by Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Maharaja
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We must try to cast ourselves at the divine feet of the Lord saying, “I am the lowest of the low. I am willing to believe that I am the most helpless. I want the shelter of your lotus feet. Please take charge of me. I am unfit to take any responsibility for my own good.” This should be our humble attitude. We should feel that, “I can’t tolerate this life of independence any longer. I can’t go on. I am disgusted with my life of independence. I want slavery. jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa. Others may think themselves fit, but I do not think myself sufficiently developed to take responsibility for myself. I am the most reckless, mean, worthless and useless. Please accept me and give me any service at your feet. I can no longer rely on myself. I have come to take shelter of your holy feet. You are my Guardian.” This is sharanagati, to accept Krishna as one’s absolute Guardian.
No Perfection Without It
No process of service can be perfect without sharanagati, and certainly there can be no entrance into the higher domain. As such, sharanagati’ is the very life and essence of devotion. It must be present in every form of service. Without sharanagati our devotion will only be an imitation of service, not devotion proper. It will only be a lifeless activity. Therefore sharanagati is the first condition.
Give Yourself Fully
If one is unable or does not have the opportunity to perform different types of service in the beginning, but he has only sharanagati, he will get everything in the near future. Sharanagati will give us everything. It is the most basic and fundamental substance in the devotional world. The whole structure of devotional service is based on sharanagati. Prahlada Maharaja says that the whole of Vedic knowledge is based on atma nivedanam. You must give yourself wholly.
SeIf-Abnegation To The Extreme
Exclusive connection with Krishna means exclusive identification with the interest of Krishna. Since Krishna is not seen there must be connection with guru and vaisnava. First there must be self-abnegation to the extreme and then, according to the degree of surrender one will be benefited. There are particular characteristics of each level of surrender according to the different rasas such as santa, dasya, sakhya, etc. And in each of these there will also be subdivisions. But without sharanagati all are mere formal activities, devoid of the very life therein, and they will be something other than bhakti, other than self-dedication. The land of dedication is what we want, not the plane of exploitation or renunciation.
Sun, Lotus And Water
The criterion is found in the sastra that if we satisfy our Gurudeva we will satisfy Krishna. And if Gurudeva is dissatisfied with me then Krishna is surely dissatisfied. In the Puranas we find a good example written there. Lord Krishna is the sun, the lotus is the disciple, and guru is the water around the lotus. If the guru withdraws then the sun will dry and burn the lotus. The lotus will be happy as long as the water is supporting and protecting the lotus. The sun’s rays will cheer the lotus, help it grow and give vitality to it. So the position of Gurudeva has been depicted nicely here.
The guru may be seen in different rasas of different types, but not much should be made of the differentiations. According to the situation of my heart his infinite potency may be seen in changing moods, figures, etc. Guru is always there, my guide to the absolute.
One And Different
Krishna is there within Narayan, but there is a difference in their functions. Similarly Guru is there but with a different function. Thus in Narayan, Lakshmi, gopis, etc. we find distinction and non-distinction. The gopis when they are in the form of Lakshmi they serve Narayan. And Lakshmi, in her inner heart, has got the position of the gopis who are serving Krishna in a particular way. So there is a continual connection between them all, distinction and non-distinction. Both should be maintained simultaneously. We should have respect for the differences, but we must not ignore the inner substance. The relative and the absolute must be taken together. In this way we always have to harmonize both these great teachings - sarva dharman parityajya (Bhagavad-gita 18.66)and sva dharmme nidhanam sreya (Bhagavad-gita 3.35) surrendering completely and sticking to one's own path. The advice is given: "try to maintain your position even at the cost of life," then at the next point, "Go ahead. March on." Why was it first advised to maintain your present position? So that you may not fall back, but that does not mean you are not to make progress in the front. To firmly maintain your present position does not mean that you are not to go forward. "Give up all considerations and take the risk of marching onwards." Only to help this was the first advice given. These are relative and absolute considerations. A living spiritual coneption must be of that type.The dire necessity is that in the background we address the question of how to maintain - an then improve- our present position.