“They gave the beggars whatever they asked for and more, who gave their blessings here and there. Then they did puja to the devas and the forefathers for Rama’s good fortune.” (Janaki Mangala, 190)
jācaka kīnha nihāla asīsahiṁ jaham̐ taham̐ |
pūjē dēva pitara saba rāma udaya kaham̐ ||
Sharanagati is full surrender to the Divine. Full surrender means full dependence. When there is full dependence, there cannot be anything left to hold on to. Other objects may be there, and to outsiders it may appear that there are remaining attachments, but in the mind of the surrendered soul there is only their beloved Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is their only hope for salvation. He is their only reason for living, for in service to Him they derive the most happiness. They know this both in theory and in practice.
Imagine this scene. You’re taking a big exam today. This is important; it will determine where you end up next year. If you perform well, you’ll have your pick of school. You won’t be at the mercy of admission committees. They will all want you, for from your grades and exam performance it will be impossible to deny you. So you’ve studied a lot for this exam. But you’re still very worried. You see that your friends are worried too. Classmates are assembled on this Saturday morning, all as nervous as you. Normally this day of the week is reserved for rest, for unwinding by watching hours of television. But not today. Everyone has their “game face” on.
As you head towards the examination room, you notice that there is a line, and it is not moving quickly. After a while you figure out the cause of the delay: there is a security check prior to entry. Each person has to remove their mobile telephones. This shouldn’t be causing a problem, you think. There were explicit instructions given beforehand that smartphones and such devices were not allowed in the examination room. Yet everyone seems to have them on their person. The phones aren’t the only thing. Some have papers stashed in their jacket pockets. Others have little notes scribbled on various parts of their body. Some are wearing headphones. Some actually brought their books with them.
“Everyone, may I have your attention please,” announces the security person at the front of the line. “The items listed on this sign right here are not allowed in the examination room. If you’ll please put them away right now, this line will move much more quickly. The time for studying is over. You have to rely on your brains now. There is no other way.” Thus the students surrender to the moment. They no longer have support from the outside. They are forced to rely on only themselves to pass the examination.
The experience is similar for the devoted souls in sharanagati. They intentionally weaken themselves, leaving no objects of distraction. In full dependence, the bliss they experience from devotional service is much higher. They feel true love in this dependence, as they are completely vulnerable. Without vulnerability there cannot be a full interaction of love.
The symptoms of this vulnerability are shown in the verse quoted above. Here the family in Ayodhya is not holding anything back. They already gave away so many gifts to the worthy members of society, the priests. Now they are giving the beggars of the town whatever they want. In return the beggars are giving their blessings. The royal family had plenty to give away, and more importantly they were not worried since they had love for Rama, the Supreme Lord in His incarnation form which roamed the earth during the Treta Yuga, the second time period of creation.
As if giving away gifts was not enough, the family members sacrificed even more. They held a puja, or worship ceremony, for the devas, or demigods. You have a demigod in charge of practically every aspect of material life. They wanted all the devas to bless Rama. They also did a puja for the forefathers, those appearing previously in their family.
It should be noted that none of these acts were necessary. Rama does not need anyone’s blessings. He does not require help from any demigod, human being, animal, or plant. He is fully self-sufficient; He is the only person who can claim so. Yet the offerings indicate full surrender on the part of the family members in Ayodhya. They were celebrating the marriage of Rama to Sita, and also the marriages of Rama’s younger brothers to Sita’s relatives from Janakpur.
In full surrender, they had no concern for Rama’s strengths. They did not remember how He had already defeated wicked night-rangers in the forest. They were not remembering how Tataka and Subahu were driven away from Vishvamitra’s ashrama. Instead they were worried about Rama. They wanted life to be perfect for Him. They wanted Him to have every comfort. They were not concerned with their own welfare. If giving away gifts and holding pujas would help Rama, His brothers and their wives, then they would repeat such acts day after day.
This concern for Rama equates to the achievement of life’s mission. Such concern is real love, and since it is tied to the Supreme Lord, it lasts forever. It transcends the bounds of birth and death. All that has happened in the past is of no concern to the person who has the brightest future ahead of them, one where they worship God in full surrender, leaving all attachments behind.
All attachments behind leaving,
In full surrender to Rama cleaving.
To beggars even more gifts gave,
Nothing for themselves to save.
Path of devotion in this way cleared,
For Rama’s welfare only they feared.
Thus true love from them shown,
Highest bliss in sharanagati alone.