His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj

(The Harmonist January 2002)


Surrender to God is the essential prerequisite for spiritual progress. Without it, every step forward becomes a step backward. With it, God Himself comes down to lead one on the path of truth. He helps the devotee, the sadhaka towards the goal.
The goal is defined according to the nature, the swabhav, of the devotee and the sadhaka (the spiritual aspirant). Spiritual seekers choose different goals. Some seek gyana (knowledge); some miraculous powers. Some are concerned with devotion to and love for God.

There are as many paths as there are different choices. Choices are made according to one’s conception of God. Some see Him as All-Knowledge, i.e., He in His omniscient aspect. Some see Him as All-Power, i.e, in His omnipotent aspect. Yet others conceptualize the Supreme Being as All-Bliss, i.e., His loving and Ananda (blissful) aspect. It is the same God whom different persons conceptualize differently. Their conception is based on their own inner urges, or the present demand of their mind and heart.

That is why the question of aadhar (foundation) and adhikar (the right to) was raised as early as the Vedic times. ‘Veda’ means supreme knowledge; the knowledge of the Supreme Absolute Truth. This knowledge was not meant for all and sundry.
Access to the Vedas was restricted to fit the ‘aadhar’. Those who had the proper qualification and capacity were given the ‘adhikar’ (right) to be baptized. They sat at the feet of the Gurus who were called Rishis, the seers of Truth.

The theory of adhikar was largely done away with during the later ages. With the spread of the Aryan civilization and the end of the chaotic reign of the Rakshasas, asuras, pisachas (demonic forces), a congenial atmosphere was created where knowledge of the Absolute could be freely broadcast. So the scriptures flourished; religious and philosophical teachings became available to all. Sects arose and different modes of worship came into being.

Within the Vedic fold, three principal paths emerged for seekers of God. The three paths are the path of Knowledge (gyan marga), the path of sincere action (Karma marga) and the path of Devotion (Bhakti marga). These are three distinct and prominent paths but there are not cast-iron differences between them. They are based on sanatan dharma (the eternal laws) and have common Vedic-Upanishadic heritage.

The Prasthaantrayas form the foundation of the three kinds of yoga developed on the lines of the above three paths. The prasthaantrayas consist of the Upanishads, the Brahm Sutra and the Bhagavat Gita. They provide three points of departure for spiritual seekers.

A synthesis of the three yogas was arrived at in the Gita. The book contains the direct teachings of Sri Krishna. He imparted these teachings on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna. The war was about to begin. War is the most heightened and concentrated form of action. Sri Krishna chose such a setting to deliver His eternal message to mankind. It was God Himself speaking. And he spoke about Gyanayoga, Karmayoga and Bhaktiyoga.

His first and immediate listener was Arjuna. It was for his benefit that Sri Krishna spoke. Arjuna was a peerless warrior, a man of action. Yet Sri Krishna taught him about gyana and bhakti yogas too. Of course karmayoga formed a part of the Lord’s teachings as well.

But before He began to speak, the essential prerequisite for Arjuna’s initiation into spiritual life was already there. Arjuna had surrendered completely to the Guru and to God. He accepted his friend Sri Krishna as his Guru. In the course of imparting the lessons of the Gita, the Guru Sri Krishna revealed Himself as God, as the Absolute, Purushottam. He is asamordhva, none is equal to Him, none greater than Him.

Yet He was the charioteer of Arjuna’s war-chariot. The chariot stood between the two opposing armies. Arjuna had come to win the war. But when at the sight of the assembled armies he cognized near and dear ones, respected elders, and kith and kin, his mind floundered and Maya seized his heroic heart. He could not decide what to do. At one point, he decided not to fight.
When Sri Krishna rebuked him, he tried to argue but failed. Arjuna was overcome with confusion and guilt and realized that it was beyond his capacity to chart his own course. He could not see how killing his own people was worth victory in that war of righteousness. He could not understand where his real duty lay at that precise time.

Surrendering to Krishna, Arjuna prayed in clear terms for guidance. He said,”Tell me what is surely the best course for me here. I am your disciple. I surrender to you. Please teach me..” Yat shreyam syaat nishchitam bruhi tat me, shishyasteh-ham shaadi maam twam prapannam”.

Thus Arjuna the valiant hero became Arjuna the disciple. When this transformation took place only then Sri Krishna could unfold his teachings. God comes to help the seeker, the sadhaka after his whole-hearted surrender.

That was one of the fundamental teachings of Srimad Bhagavat Gita, or in brief, the Gita. The Vedas and the Upanishads contain the teachings of the Rishis. But the Gita records the direct words of the Supreme God. The words came from His lips at a crucial time, when the mind and the heart of the foremost hero of the age were in utmost turmoil. It was a human crisis. Arjuna represented the conscience of humanity in peril.

Humanity is always in peril. Because men have no clear vision of the goal, nor do they know about the paths that lead to the goal. They grope in darkness. All their civilizations, their monumental achievements, their learning, their science and culture are creations of ignorance. In human society knowledge is blighted, feeling is corrupted and action is all wrong.

Yet man’s quest for God continues. Because it comes from deep within. The Lord is seated in everyone’s heart. Man has drawn veil upon veil to cover Him. But even when he is a hard-headed materialist, the human being has not been able to totally suppress the Divine in his heart. He speaks. But man beset with desires and running after sense-gratification does not listen to Him. As he prefers to get promptings which constantly pour upon him from outside, he averts looking within.

However, God’s voice is so compelling that one day man has to turn to it. Jiva (the embodied soul) is anaadi bahirmukhi (eternally external facing) as the Vaishnavas say. It means that from the beginning of creation, the nature of the human is to look outward.

Ultimately, only by the grace of God, things change for him. Guru is none other than God Himself, Arjuna realized. Though he had been very close to Krishna and considered Him his best friend, he did not know the reality of the Friend. So when he surrendered to Him and prayed for guidance, Arjuna in fact, sacrificed his ego.

This act of surrender on the part of Arjuna saved him. For him the flow of God’s grace was unlocked. It was not an exceptional case which took place only once. It always happens like that. But there is a rider. After accepting a person as one’s Guru, one should not look upon him as a mere human being. He is to be worshipped as God Himself. In reality God is the Guru of all. The human Guru is His empowered representative or His incarnation, for the disciple. As milk flows from the udder of a cow, so God’s graces flows through the Guru.

If you revere the Guru as God, worship him or her, love and serve them, remain always loyal to them, then everyday you will come nearer to God. If you have firm faith in the Guru as God you have already seen Him (God), talked to Him and sat at His Lotus Feet. Your surrender to God will then become spontaneous, whole-hearted and without any reserve.

Surrender is the key word in all scripture. Whichever path one follows, whichever yoga one practices, progress is impossible without complete surrender.


Jai Jai Sri Radhey !

Jai Gurudev !