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Surrendering Everything to the Lord

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

"Atma-nivedanam. The word Atma-nivedanam refers to the stage at which one who has no motive other than to serve the Lord surrenders everything to the Lord and performs his activities only to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a devotee is like a cow that is cared for by its master. When cared for by its master, a cow is not in anxiety over its maintenance. Such a cow is always devoted to its master, and it never acts independently, but only for the master's benefit. Some devotees, therefore, consider dedication of the body to the Lord to be atma-nivedanam, and as stated in the book known as Bhakti-viveka, sometimes dedication of the soul to the Lord is called atma-nivedanam. The best examples of atma-nivedanam are found in Bali Maharaja and Ambarisa Maharaja. Atma-nivedanam is also sometimes found in the behavior of Rukminidevi at Dvaraka."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:5:23-24

"One should surrender to the Lord as much as an animal purchased from the market surrenders to its master. Such an animal never thinks of his maintenance because he knows that his master will look after him. A soul totally surrendered to the Supreme Lord is similarly never anxious for his maintenance. Srila Sanatana Gosvami gives further symptoms of full surrender in his Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.417):

anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa-karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih

"The six divisions of surrender are: accepting those things favorable to devotional service, rejecting unfavorable things, the conviction that Krsna will give protection, accepting the Lord as one's guardian or master, full self-surrender, and humility." Narada will gradually explain these principles of devotion in the remaining sutras."

Narada-bhakti-sutra 15 Purport

"Regarding complete self-surrender, there is a nice description in the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Twenty-ninth Chapter, verse 34, where the Lord says, "A person who has completely surrendered unto Me and has completely given up all other activities is protected by Me personally, both in this life and in the next. In other words, I wish to help him become more and more advanced in spiritual life. Such a person is to be understood as having already achieved sarsti [having equal opulences with the Supreme]." It is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita that as soon as a person surrenders unto the lotus feet of Krsna, Krsna takes charge of him and gives him a guarantee of protection from all sinful reactions. He also instructs from within, so that the devotee may very quickly make advancement toward spiritual perfection.

This self-surrender is called atma-nivedana. According to different authorities, self is differently defined. Self is sometimes considered to refer to the spirit self, or soul, and self is sometimes considered to refer to the mind or to the body. Full self-surrender, therefore, means not only surrendering one's self as spirit soul, but also surrendering one's mind and body to the service of the Lord. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung a nice song in this connection. While offering himself as a fully surrendered soul, he said, "My mind, my household affairs, my body, whatever is in my possession, my dear Lord, I offer to You for Your service. Now You can do with them as You like. You are the supreme possessor of everything, so if You like You can kill me, or if You like You can give me protection. All authority belongs to You. I have nothing to claim as my own."

Sri Yamunacarya, in his prayers to the Lord, has expressed a similar idea in the following words: "My dear Lord, I may be living within some body as a human being or as a demigod, but whatever mode of life, I do not mind, because these bodies are simply by-products of the three modes of material nature, and I, who am in possession of these bodies, am surrendering myself unto You."

In the Hari-bhakti-viveka, there is a statement regarding how one can offer his body in self-surrender. There the devotee says, "My dear Lord, as a sold animal has no need to think about his maintenance and sustenance, so, because I have given up my body and soul unto You, I am no longer concerned with my maintenance and sustenance." In other words, one should not bother about his personal or family maintenance or sustenance. If one is actually surrendered in body and soul, he should always remember that his only concern is to be engaged in the service of the Lord.

Srila Rupa Gosvami says that devotional service in friendship and devotional service in self-surrender are two difficult processes. Therefore such relationships with the Lord can very rarely be seen. Only for the advanced devotees are these two processes easily executed. The purport is that it is very rare to see surrender which is mixed with sincere ecstatic devotion. One must give himself completely to the will of the Lord."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 11

"In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa there is the following statement about self-surrender: "My dear Lord, a person who has surrendered himself unto You, who is in firm conviction that he is Yours, and who actually acts in that way by his body, mind and words, can actually relish transcendental bliss."

In the Nrsimha Purana, Lord Nrsimhadeva says, "Anyone who prays unto Me and takes shelter from Me becomes My ward, and I protect him always from all sorts of calamities."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 11

"In the Skanda Purana there is a statement about submission unto the lotus feet of the Lord. It is said there that those who are sober devotees can offer their submission to Krsna in the following three ways: (1) samprarthanatmika, very feelingly offering prayers; (2) dainyavodhika, humbly submitting oneself; (3) lalasamayi, desiring some perfectional stage. This desiring some perfectional stage in spiritual life is not sense gratification. When one realizes something of his constitutional relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he understands his original position and wants to be reinstated in this position, either as friend, servant, parent or conjugal lover of Krsna. That is called lalasamayi, or very eagerly desiring to go to one's natural position. This lalasamayi stage of submission comes in the stage of perfect liberation, which is technically called svarupa-siddhi, when the living entity understands, by perfect spiritual advancement and revelation, his original relationship with the Lord.

In the Padma Purana there is a statement of submission in feeling by devotees praying to the Lord: "My Lord, I know that young girls have natural affection for young boys, and that young boys have natural affection for young girls. I am praying at Your lotus feet that my mind may become attracted unto You in the same spontaneous way." The example is very appropriate. When a young boy or girl sees a member of the opposite sex there is a natural attraction, without the need for any introduction. Without any training there is a natural attraction due to the sex impulse. This is a material example, but the devotee is praying that he may develop a similar spontaneous attachment for the Supreme Lord, free from any desire for profit and without any other cause. This natural attraction for the Lord is the perfectional stage of self-realization.

In the same Padma Purana there is a statement about submission in humbleness. It is stated there, "My dear Lord, there is no sinful living entity who is more of a sinner than myself. Nor is there a greater offender than myself. I am so greatly sinful and offensive that when I come to confess my sinful activities before You, I am ashamed." This is a natural position for a devotee. As far as the conditioned soul is concerned, there is no wonder that he has some sinful activities in his past life, and this should be admitted and confessed before the Lord. As soon as this is done, the Lord excuses the sincere devotee. But that does not mean that one should take advantage of the Lord's causeless mercy and expect to be excused over and over again, while he commits the same sinful activities. Such a mentality is only for shameless persons. Here it is clearly said, "When I come to confess my sinful activities I become ashamed." So if a person is not ashamed of his sinful activities and continues to commit the same sinful activities with the knowledge that the Lord will excuse him, that is a most nonsensical proposition. Such an idea is not accepted in any part of the Vedic literature. It is a fact that by chanting the holy name of the Lord one becomes washed clean of all sinful activities from his past life. But that does not mean that after being washed off, one should again begin sinful activities and expect to be washed again. These are nonsensical propositions and are not admitted in devotional service. Someone may think, "For a whole week I may commit sinful activities, and for one day I will go to the temple or church and admit my sinful activities so that I can become washed off and again begin my sinning." This is most nonsensical and offensive and is not acceptable to the author of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu.

In the Narada-pancaratra there is a statement of submission accompanied by the desire for perfection. The devotee says, "My dear Lord, when shall that day come when You will ask me to fan Your body, and according to Your pleasure, You will say, 'You just fan Me in this way'?" The idea in this verse is that the devotee is desiring to personally fan the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That means that he is desiring to become the personal associate of the Supreme Lord. Of course, any devotee in any capacity, either as servant, friend or conjugal lover, always has direct association with the Lord. But according to his different individual taste, a person desires for just one of these relationships. Here the devotee is desiring to become a servant of the Lord and desires to fan the Lord, as does His internal energy, Laksmi, the goddess of fortune. He also wishes that the Personality of Godhead will be pleased to give him directions as to how to fan. This submission with transcendental desire, or lalasamayi vijnapti, is the highest perfectional stage of spiritual realization.

In the same Narada-pancaratra, there is another expression of submission, wherein the devotee says, "My dear Lord, O lotus-eyed one, when will that day come when on the bank of the Yamuna I shall become just like a madman and continue to chant Your holy name while incessant tears flow from my eyes?" This is another perfectional stage. Lord Caitanya also desired that "a moment will appear unto me as twelve years of time, and the whole world will appear to me as vacant on account of not seeing You, my dear Lord." One should feelingly pray and become eager to render his particular type of service to the Lord. This is the teaching of all great devotees, especially Lord Caitanya.

In other words, one should learn how to cry for the Lord. One should learn this small technique, and he should be very eager and actually cry to become engaged in some particular type of service. This is called laulyam, and such tears are the price for the highest perfection. If one develops this laulyam, or excessive eagerness for meeting and serving the Lord in a particular way, that is the price to enter into the kingdom of God. Otherwise, there is no material calculation for the value of the ticket by which one can enter the kingdom of God. The only price for such entrance is this laulyam lalasamayi, or desire and great eagerness."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Bali Maharaja - The Personification of Surrendering