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Atma-Nivedana

by Swami Sivananda

Atma-Nivedana is self-surrender. In Vishnu-Sahasranama it is said: The heart of one who has taken refuge in Vasudeva, who is wholly devoted to Vasudeva, gets entirely purified, and he attains Brahman, the Eternal.

The devotee offers everything to God, including his body, mind and soul. He keeps nothing for himself. He loses even his own self. He has no personal and independent existence. He has given up himself for God. He has become part and parcel of God. God takes care of him and God treats him as Himself. Grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the devotee treats as gifts sent by God and does not attach himself to them. He considers himself as a puppet of God and as an instrument in the hands of God. He does not feel egoistic, for he has no ego. His ego has gone over to God. It is not his duty to take care of his wife, children etc., for he himself has no independent existence apart from God. God will take care of all. He knows how to lead the world in the right path. One need not think that he is born to lead the world. God is there who will look to everything which man cannot even dream of. He has no sensual craving, for he has no body as it is offered to God. He does not love or adore his body for it is God's business to see to it. He only feels the presence of God and nothing else. He is fearless, for God is helping him at all times. He has no enemy for he has given himself up to God who has no enemies or friends. He has no anxiety for he has attained everything by attaining the grace of God. He has not even the thought of salvation; rather he does not want salvation even, he merely wants God and nothing but God. He is satisfied with the love of God for by that there is nothing that is not attained. What is there to be attained, when God has sent His grace upon the devotee? The devotee does not want to become sugar but taste sugar. There is pleasure in tasting sugar, but not in becoming sugar itself. So the devotee feels that there is supreme joy more in loving God than becoming God. God shall take complete care of the devotee. I am Thine, says the devotee.

This self-surrender is Absolute Love for God exclusively. There is nothing but God-consciousness in the devotee. Even against his own wishes, the devotee shall become one with God and lose his individuality. This is the law of being. The Highest Truth is Absoluteness and the soul rises above through different states of consciousness until it attains Absolute Perfection when it becomes identical with God. This is the culmination of all aspiration and love.

There are innumerable verses in the Bhagavadgita and the Bhagavata establishing the truth that self-surrender is the only way to attain the Supreme. Krishna teaches Arjuna that self-surrender, total and exclusive, alone can give him peace and relieve him from all sins.

One who studies the Bhagavadgita and the Srimad-Bhagavata will come to know what great importance is stressed upon total self-surrender. For self-surrender is the annihilation of individual consciousness and the attainment of Absolute Consciousness. This is equal to Nirvikalpa-Samadhi or Brahma-Sakshatkara. The devotee flies to the state of the highest Mahabhava and merges himself in God. The wave subsides in the ocean. The spark becomes one with fire. The ray is absorbed into the sun. The mind merges in the Atman. The individual loses himself in the Absolute. The devotee becomes one with God. Worldly consciousness vanishes into Universal Consciousness. Man becomes God and the mortal becomes Immortal.

Whatever belongs to God becomes the belonging of the highest devotee. All his sins are destroyed. He has no duties to perform. He is mere Apta-Kama or perfected soul. He is the most blessed. To him the whole world appears as mere Bliss. There is only the manifestation of Supreme Love.

The Gopis and Bali Chakravarti practised this love. The Gopis lost themselves in Krishna. Bali, the king, offered his self to the Lord. The Gopis lost themselves in God-consciousness and attained the Supreme.


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