Continuing our series on sharanagati, this post features an excerpt from Amnaya Tattva in which Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj explains how sharanagati develops within the heart of the soul.
Devotion is Awakened by Devotion
To have 100 per cent faith in Lord Krishna is not easy. We live in the mundane world and deal with many material things so our faith is naturally influenced by our impressions of this world.
prakṛtibhyaḥ paraṁ yach cha tad achintyasya lakṣaṇam
(Mahabharata: Bhishma-parva, 5.22)
“Krishna is achintya and beyond our mundane experience.” So how can we develop faith in Him and His divine service?
Krishna’s causeless mercy is always flowing throughout this mundane world and if any conditioned soul is touched by that merciful wave then he will receive some nitya-sukriti, spiritual fortune, which will bring him faith.
General pious activities like feeding people can bring good fortune to people but that is only anitya-sukriti, temporary merit. Nitya-sukriti, eternal fortune, is gained by being connected with the Lord’s affairs, so nitya-sukriti is received by rendering some service to the Lord’s devotees, or to the Lord’s temple or anything connected with the Lord.
When a conditioned soul mercifully receives the opportunity to serve the Lord in some way and he collects sufficient nitya-sukriti, then sraddha, faith, develops in his heart automatically by the mercy of the Lord. As nitya-sukriti develops into sraddha within his heart the conditioned soul can begin to associate with sadhus. Before the conditioned soul can associate with sadhus properly he first needs some faith in them. This comes to him through nitya-sukriti. And once the conditioned soul has a little faith in sadhus then his faith will become stronger and stronger through the sadhus’ association.
The illusory environment will not be able to attack the conditioned soul in any way if he tries to proceed in his spiritual life faithfully under the guidance of sadhus. ‘Sadhu’ does not only mean someone wearing saffron cloth, a sadhu may be a grihastha, a brahmachari, or vanaprasthi. If anyone is a sincere devotee of Lord Krishna then he must be considered a sadhu.
kṛṣṇa-bhakta—niṣkāma, ataeva ‘śānta’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: Madhya-lila, 19.149)
Anyone who serves Radha-Govinda twenty-four hours a day without selfish interest under the guidance of his guru is a real devotee and real sadhu. His association will always be good and give everyone good nourishment in their spiritual life. In the association of such a real sadhu who is always trying to serve Radha-Govinda twenty-four hours a day the conditioned soul’s faith and service attitude will increase more and more and this is the advice of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as well as Srimad Bhagavatam and all the scriptures. Bhaktyā sañjātayā bhaktyā (Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.3.31), “Devotion is awakened by devotion.”
In exclusive devotional practising life only the process of the practice and the mercy of the real practitioner, the sadhu, will give the conditioned souls more and more faith, enthusiasm and inspiration to serve their Lord. So under the guidance of a proper sadhu the conditioned souls will collect more and more devotional property in their heart, that is, faith and real hankering to serve the Lord, and their spiritual practising life will develop.
When someone has full faith that, “Krishna is the supreme for me, He is my life and soul and His service is my life’s only goal,” then we can say he is a sharanagata, a soul surrendered unto Lord Krishna. This is the natural position and religion of all jiva-souls even though it may be very difficult for conditioned souls to follow.
The conditioned souls suffer so much in the illusory environment of Maya. Through their karma they experience so much sadness, confusion and unsuccessfulness. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught that when the conditioned souls become established in Krishna consciousness, when they are established in the transcendental service world of dedication to Lord Krishna through faith, chastity and sincerity, they can very quickly cross over the illusory environment. And there is no other way to do this than through sharanagati, surrender.