Thursday, May 12, 2011

Characteristics of Surrender

In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, there is a famous verse that lists the six characteristics of surrender:
Anukulyasya sankalpah
  pratikulyasya varjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso
  goptrtve varanam tatha
  sad-vidha saranagatih

"The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Krishna will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one's guardian or master, full self-surrender and humility."

What is surrender? By definition surrender means, to give up or to yield to the possession or power of another. Human life is meant to surrender to the will of the Lord.The Lord appears in many different forms according to the love and devotion of His devotees. He also appears according to time, place, and circumstance to reestablish the religious principles. So these divisions of surrender are universal; they are not meant for just one institution.

The first part of surrender that is listed in the verse from above is anukulyasya sankalpah: accepting that which is favorable for devotional service. From the scriptures we know that devotional service means hearing, chanting, remembering, praying, worshiping, serving the lotus feet, being a servant, being a friend, and surrendering everything to the Lord. These are the activities in which one pleases the Lord. One may perfect one of these activities or perform many for the pleasure of the Lord. 

So we must accept that in our life which is favorable for the execution of these activities. By becoming attached to the nine types of service we will slowly give up that which is unfavorable. Now we read in the scriptures how great demons like Kamsa and Sisupala were constantly talking and remembering the Lord. But we should know that even though it appears they were performing some of the same activities that devotees perform, they were not performing them in a favorable way. They were not giving pleasure to the Lord in a direct way. They were giving Him pleasure in an indirect way but to go into that would take a whole blog, so we will touch upon that another time.

There is a nice verse from Srila Rupa Gosvami that tells us what is favorable for devotional service: "There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles (such as śravaṇaḿ kīrtanaḿ viṣṇoḥsmaraṇam [SB 7.5.23] — hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa), (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service." Sri Upadesmrita 3.

The last principle is very important. By reading and meditating upon the lives of the great souls that have come before us we can learn how to properly implement the other principles in a healthy into our lives. 

We are here surrender to God, and to help others surrender to God. Accepting that which is favorable for devotional service will help us fulfill this mission.

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