While explaining surrender (saranagati) as laid down in the Charamasloka, Svami Desika concludes his Rahasya Navaneetam with the words that there is no limit or restriction whatsoever, regarding the place, time, etc. for the supreme Lord who accepts the surrender, the act of surrender and the fruit of surrender, viz. liberation.
Let us understand what this means. When an aspirant for liberation resorts to bhakti-yoga, he has restrictions as regards place, time, methodology, etc. He is guaranteed the fruits of his effort only if and when he adheres to the conditions strictly, because bhakti-yoga is resorted to only by those who are competent and capable of adopting it. When Sage Bharata failed in one of the dicta i.e. remembering the Lord at the time of death, his mission failed and he took the body of deer in the next birth. On the other hand, if an aspirant for liberation resorts to surrender, these restrictions of place, time, method, etc. would not be applicable and hence would not bind the Lord in any manner to bless him with total eternal bliss and consequential service to Him in Srivaikuntha. True, we feel elated while understanding the assurance of Sri Desika with no demur. But there is a lurking doubt in us as to how it would be feasible when the benefits derived do not vary even an iota under both the means of salvation, of which one is very hard to practise and the other very easy to observe. We genuinely feel apprehensive especially because even in material world it is widely and firmly accepted that vital pre-requisites for success of any project are the right place, right time and right method. So there is a question in our mind as to how such essential factors are not per-requisites for saranagati.
Our purvacharyas draw our attention to a few instances to drive home the conclusion arrived at by Svami Desika. O n e such instance is Draupadi. She was ill-treated in the open court of Duryodhana. While being surrounded by jeering and amoral Kauravas and their associates, the presence of a few noble hearts among them had no effect. There cannot be a worse setup and hence the inimical court was most unsuited for surrender. The very fact that she was being disrobed shows that it was also the most inopportune time to surrender. Draupadi was totally upset over the inaction of her husbands. Very little could be expected from her to diligently perform act of saranagati as per any norms or method. So she could only raise her hands and surrender absolutely to the Lord, expressing her helpless state. Her surrender was accepted by the Lord fully without worrying about adherence to the rules on place, time, etc.
We may argue that the rules were there, but in this case, the situation was such that the Lord gave a go-by to the rules. Our purvacharyas quote a second instance to clear this doubt. Failing in his efforts to persuade Ravana to return Sitadevi to Sri Rama, Vibhishana was forced to leave the assembly of Ravana abruptly. He directly rushed to Sri Rama for surrender to Him. At that time, Sri Rama Himself was a worried Person, trying to recover His Consort and also save the entire universe from the clutches of Ravana. He was looking for help from the vanaras; he was neither the emperor nor had any powers. Further, He was on the seashore with them, which in no way was an ideal place for surrender. As regards time, there could not be a worse situation. Time was running out for Sri Rama, as there were deadlines from Sitadevi as well as Bharata. Both had declared that they would end their lives if the promised dates were not kept. Therefore, Sri Rama had no time for other thoughts. (Frankly, left to us, in such a situation we would have liked to drive Vibhishana out and advise him to meet us later when we had achieved our own purpose.) Let us leave the case of Sri Rama aside for a minute. Even Vibhishana was not in any position to follow norms on place, time etc. Since he directly rushed from Ravana’s place to Sri Rama, there was no question of performing surrender after satisfying norms as to place, time, etc.
There is a difference between the surrenders by Draupadi and Vibhishana. The former had little leeway for adhering to any norms. However, that was not the case with Vibhishana. He was positively better placed to follow some norms at least. Our purvacharyas go to the extent of pointing out that Vibhishana could at least have taken a dip in the holy waters of the sea on his way to meet Sri Rama. But he did not follow even elementary rituals and coolly presented himself before Sri Rama. He was also not ready to budge even an inch without seeing his Master.
So it stands established that no restrictions regarding place, time, etc. apply to surrender, the person surrendered and the benefits which flow from surrender. The reason is that the Lord magnanimously treats wherever and whenever the individual comes to Him seeking His help as the right place, time and method. There is still a moot point. Can we still state that these restrictions do not have any effect on the success of surrendering? Our purvacharyas quote another instance to clarify the matter. Vibhishana, after being accepted by Sri Rama, advised Him to seek the assistance of Samudraraja (the king of the ocean) to cross the sea and reach Lanka. Sri Rama accepted the suggestion and decided to surrender to Samudraraja. Suitable and auspicious place and time were fixed. Sri Rams took His holy bath, performed the necessary rituals and sought the help of Samudraraja through surrender. But the whole thing failed. If these are essential conditions, the prayer of Sri Rama should have been answered.
We may think that these instances of lack of restrictions pertain to superior noble souls directly in contact with the Lord. Can this be treated as norm even for ordinary people like us living in an age where there is no incarnation of the Lord? In this connection, the actual instance of a commoner is popular in the Kaveri belt. A bath in the river in the early mornings of Tula month (Aippasi) is considered equivalent to a bath in the Ganges. A bath on the last day of this month at the point where the river joins the sea (a place known as Poompuhar) is expected to fetch salvation assuredly. A lame person embarked upon such a holy journey with immense faith, (mahavisvasa) from his native land with the aim of reaching the stipulated place on the last day of Aippasi. He was crawling all the way to achieve his objective. In spite of his best efforts, he could not reach the mouth of the river by the last day of the month. He could go only up to Mayavaram, that too on first day next month (Karttigai). Totally crestfallen as he failed in the matter of as well as time to take the stipulated bath, he chose to take a dip in Mayavaram Ghat itself of the river Kaveri on that day, surrendering himself to Lord Ranganatha. The episode goes on to say that, not only was his surrender accepted by the Lord, but the Lord also decided to bless all those who might take a dip at that Ghat on the first day of Karttigai as was done by the lame devotee. We find this day mentioned as the ‘Mudavan Muzhukku’ against the first day of Karttigai. Hence, there is enough proof to establish that place and time are not necessary conditions for the success of surrender. This is what Svami Desika has emphasised in the Rahasya Navaneetam. What is important is Mahavisvasa(complete faith in Him).
This article is extracted from Nrusimha priya, Article written by: R Krishnaswamy