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Sharanagati

Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha




bhaktivinod-thakur

“Out of compassion for the fallen souls, Sri Krisna Caitanya came to this world with His personal associates and divine abode to teach saranagati[1], surrender to the almighty Godhead, and to freely distribute ecstatic love of God, which is ordinarily very difficult to obtain. This saranagati is the very life of the true devotee. The youthful son of Nanda Maharaja, Sri Krishna, hears the prayers of anyone who takes refuge in Him by this sixfold practice. Bhaktivinoda places a straw between his teeth, prostrates himself before the two Goswamis, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana, and clasps their lotus feet with his hands. “I am certainly the lowest of men,” he tells them weeping, “but please make me the best of men by teaching me the ways of saranagati.”[2]

We have to search for inner fulfillment. And here the key is given – how to achieve that. Sharanagati. Sharana means “protection”, gati means “to go”; go for protection, search for protection. And the six methods are… I think we have discussed this many times, but nevertheless, never mind, it is very important to repeat. The first two is like the entrance to divine perfection: do what is favorable and avoid what is unfavorable. It’s very common sense. We can say that these are the elementary practices of taking shelter. Then comes the subjective part that we have to add, that we have to do, practice – this is dedication of the self and humility. It’s so beautiful! So this is the human side, and if it meets the divine side, the objective objective, then Krishna will supply His shelter like protector and maintainer. So if we give humility, we shall understand that He is the maintainer; and if we give dedication of the self, we shall understand that He is our protector.

“This process is the very life of a devotee.” This is minimum one lifetime process. We start to develop our faith in Krishna: “Theoretically I agree, maybe He maintains everything.” But when you get a feedback that He is doing that, really, or when you will feel some personal care, some personal arrangement, then it strengthens our faith and we are ready to dedicate ourselves more.

What part of your body would you dedicate to Krishna?

Krishna Priya: The heart.

Tirtha Maharaj: Ah, you jump immediately to the essence! But I hope it does not mean that you don’t dedicate your hands by serving the temple, or your feet by visiting the programs. And as for example Ambarisha Maharaj, who was a very saint king before times, he used all his bodily capacities for the service of Krishna. He used his eyes to drink the beauty of the form of Krishna; the ears – to listen to His message and glories; his head to bow down before Krishna; his hands to clean the temple – a king! His feet – to meet the devotees; his arms – to embrace the vaishnavas. He delegated all the political services to others, but he never delegated the service of worship. Because sometimes you might think: “Ah, I have a son, I have a daughter, she will take care of my future life. Even if I go to hell, he or she will make a little sacrifice and I will achieve heaven.” Or: “Now I have 200,000 disciples, they will care of me. I neglect my bhajan and they will do it instead of me.” Never! Never give it up! Your private liberation is your business. And what do you expect if you don’t do anything for that purpose? If you do some miserable practice, what result do you expect?

So dedication of the self or sharanagati, practical service is the life of a devotee. And Bhaktivinod prays ultimately: “Koro he uttama – please, make me the best human being by helping me to achieve these qualities. Therefore if you sing this song, then this prayer will come to you.

And in the last but one verse he says: “I put a blade of grass between my teeth.” This is the expression of humility. And “In front of the Goswamis I offer my respects: “Please, bless me!” So here you can see: there is a personal ambition: I want to practice this nice process of sharanagati, and I pray to the great ones, to the teachers, to the Goswamis to help me and bless me.

You see, this is the beauty of preaching! If you sing this song with tears in your eyes and trembling in the hands, then people will be charmed. And they want to join such a process. It’s not that forcefully we overimpose something on them, but we handle an invitation.



[1] The ways of saranagati are humility, dedication of the self, acceptance of the Lord as one’s only maintainer, faith that Krishna will surely protect, execution of only those acts favorable to pure devotion, and renunciation of conduct adverse to pure devotion.

[2] “Sharanagati” – a song by Bhaktivinoda Thakura



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