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Important Sadhana in Bhakti Yoga

by Swami Sivananda

Self-surrender is complete surrendering of the self to God. Self-surrender makes the devotee feel the reality of divine grace and Lord's readiness to bestow on him help at all times. The divine influence streams into his being and moulds it to make it a fit medium for divine realisation and divine instrumentality.

Surrender and grace are inter-related. Surrender draws down grace and grace makes surrender complete. Surrender starts the purification of the heart. Grace completes it. Without grace the complete unification is not possible. Grace divinises your being in order that the constant inflow and inspiration can be received and retained. It is through divine grace alone that his whole being is galvanised, rejuvenated.

You can realise the Absolute or the Impersonal by surrender to the Divine. Surrender is not a thing that is done in a week or a month. You cannot make total surrender from the very beginning of your Sadhana.

The self-arrogating little ego persists and resists again and again. It clings leech-like to its old habits, cravings and desires. It wages guerilla war. It resists surrender. It demands certain objects for its secret gratification. The whole being should be surrendered. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says, "Tameva Saranam Gaccha Sarvabhavena Bharata-Flee unto Him for shelter with all thy being, O Bharata." The Chitta, the ego, the mind, the intellect and the soul should be placed at the feet of the Lord. Mira did this and so she obtained Lord Krishna's grace and became one with Him.

The vulgar, stiff, obstinate ego is harder than diamond, reinforced concrete or steel. It is very difficult to melt it. Constant vigilance and ceaseless effort is necessary to slay this dire enemy of peace and wisdom. It keeps subtle desires for its own silent appeasement. Introspect and find out the subtle desires that lurk in the corners of your heart through the search-light of concentration and discrimination and kill them ruthlessly through regular, silent meditation.

Do not bother about taking care of your body. God will save it if He needs it for further service in this body. Surrender it at His feet and rest in peace. He will take care of it. A real devotee says, "Let me take millions of births. It does not matter. But let me be attached to the lotus feet of Lord Hari. Let me have spontaneous devotion to the Lord. Let me be endowed with purity, spiritual strength, spirit of selfless service and divine virtues.

If you simply say without real inner feeling "I am Thine, O Lord", this will not constitute real integral self-surrender. It should come from the core of your heart. You must be prepared for a radical change. You should not stick to your old habits, ways and motives. You should not expect that everything should happen in the way you want. You should live to carry out the divine purpose. You should not think of those ambitions which the mind likes to gratify. You should not think of using even the divine grace or the divine force for your own purpose. The irrepressible ego will assert in various ways and refuse to give up its old habits and ways. It will try to get everything from the Divine. It will totally decline to give itself to the Divine. That is the reason why aspirants do not make any substantial progress in the spiritual path even after doing Sadhana for several years.

There is no loss in self-surrender. You get from the Lord everything. You enjoy all divine Aisvarya of the Lord. The whole wealth of the Lord belongs to you. Siddhis and Riddhis will roll under your feet. You become one with the Lord. You are freed from all wants and desires and cravings. The spiritually hungry and real thirsty aspirant who yearns for the vision of the Lord turns towards the Divine and is quite willing, eager and happy to consecrate his body, life, mind and soul at the feet of the Lord.

The first stage of self-surrender is only a firm resolve to surrender oneself to God or the Preceptor. A Sadhaka who has dedicated his life for the service of his teacher or the service of humanity or for attaining Self-realisation is not at all bound by the actions he performs, subsequent to his self-surrender. Self-surrender becomes perfect only after God-realisation.

Renunciation of the family life is the beginning of self-surrender. He who is endowed with burning Vairagya and discrimination and is really earnest for his spiritual rejuvenation can also do complete self-surrender even though he is in the world. In and through the world he realises the Lord by complete surrender of his entire being to Him. But it is only a very few who are capable of doing this. Because, the worldly life is beset with innumerable obstacles and temptations and the aspirant finds it very difficult to attain complete dispassion in the midst of so many dissipations and distractions. Therefore, renunciation of family life makes his path easier and smoother. The seed is now sown. Then the aspirant goes to his preceptor and falls at his feet. Now the seed germinates. He starts the service of his Guru. As he advances in his devotion and sincere service, his surrender becomes more and more perfect and complete. His heart becomes purer and purer and gradually the light of knowledge dawns in him and he cognises the Supreme Atman, which pervades all and everywhere.

The actions performed by the Sadhaka after renunciation do not bind him, as he offers all his actions as offerings unto his preceptor or Lord. He does not do any action, which can be considered as selfish. Thus through service of one's preceptor with utter self-dedication, his heart becomes purified, and ultimately the Lord becomes his preceptor. Now he has completely surrendered himself to the Lord and he attains the highest intuition.

In the beginning individual effort is very necessary. When surrender has been complete, the divine Grace dawns in him and the divine Power itself does the Sadhana for the Sadhaka. The descent of divine grace and power take complete possession of his mind, will, life and body. The Sadhana goes on with tremendous speed.

Through self-surrender, the devotee becomes one with the Personal God or Saguna Brahman, just as through self-denial the Vedantic student or aspirant in the path of Jnana Yoga, becomes one with the Impersonal Absolute. The divine grace destroys the Satan and his kingdom.

The aspirant must not do any action which he is ashamed to tell in public. If he does any action, this will retard his spiritual progress. This physical body and the mind are offered at the altar of the service of Lord, who is the manifest form of every being. Ultimately his mind merges in the soul within. The Sadhaka becomes a Jivanmukta or a liberated sage.

Sadhakas bold! The Lord loves you even when you turn away from Him. How much more shall He love you, if you turn to Him again sincerely with faith and devotion! Very great is His Love, greater than the greatest mountains; very deep is His affection, deeper than the fathomless depth of the ocean!

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