Part 4 - THE CHARAM-SLOKI: The Essence of Surrender (18.66)
Viswanatha C. Thakura and Baladeva Vidyabhusana consider this verse the pinnacle of the Bhagavad-gita where all the instructions finally culminate. Lord Krsna here gives His ultimate instruction to Arjuna. In one sense, in this verse, Lord Krsna is negating what He has said previosly in the all Bhagavad-gita.
sarva-dharman parityajya / mam ekam saranam vraja
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his Purport: "Now, in summarizing Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that Arjuna should give up all the processes that have been explained to him; he should simply surrender to Krsna."
There are two paths to Krsna consciousness given in the Bhagavad-gita: the path of gradual elevation by knowledge, and the path of immediate, unconditional surrender. In 18.66 Sri Krsna declares that the path of uncon-ditional surrender is the best, for in this way one attains all perfection without separate effort.
Quote from Srila Prabupada: "First of all, one becomes jnanavan; then he surrenders to Vasudeva. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. This is one process. Another process is you become a devotee of Vasudeva, then jnana, vairagya, will automatically come."
Srila Prabhupada here is giving an example from two verses in the Bhaga-vad-gita, one is this charam-sloki and the other one is on 7.19.
SB 6.1.19 "Although not having fully realized Krsna, persons who have even once surrendered completely unto His lotus feet and who have become attracted to His name, form, qualities and pastimes are completely freed of all sinful reactions, for they have thus accepted the true method of atonement. Even in dreams, such surrendered souls do not see Yamaraja or his order carriers, who are equipped with ropes to bind the sinful." This is a very clear statement. Krsna says in the charam-sloki 'I will protect you from all sinful reactions, do not fear'. Here it says that one may not even be a fully realized devotee, but if he is sincerely surrendered to Krsna then he will not see the yamadutas even in dreams.
To surrender to Krsna even before having realized Him is itself the superior path of knowledge, because Krsna is the goal of all cultivation of know-ledge. One who simply surrenders to Krsna begins his spiritual life at the point of full knowledge.
Quote from Srila Prabhupada: "Therefore the whole world is confused. They do not know where to repose the love. That they do not know. There-fore Krsna is canvassing: sarva-dharman parityaja mam eka. 'Come here love Me increase your attachment for Me. Everything will be all right.' Otherwise it is simply vague. Srama eva hi kevalam. Simply waste of time. Dharma svanusthitha pumsam visvaksena kathasu ya, notpadayed ratim yadi srama eva hi kevalam. It is simply waste of time."
This is very deep point. Srila Prabhupada is speaking about vague religious systems which promote sub-religious principles such as mercy, kindness, cleanliness, austerity, charity and so on... . All over the world there are religious systems which will not aim one at God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They may mention God but what does that mean? The word God is related with "good", they have the same etymological origin. They mean God as 'good', 'OK'. The word doesn't say much more than that. It is not a personal address. It just indicates His status, 'very good'. There are names to God that just indicate some vague quality of Him, 'He is Supreme' 'He is great'. There is no specific form or quality or activities or personality on which other devotees of God should meditate upon. Rather they are told that there is a God, 'He is great' and anyone who follows the 10 comandements or other laws becomes qualified to understand God in the future.
Srila Prabhupada is quoting this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, dharmah svanusthitah pumsam/ visvaksena-kathasu yah. This verse is saying, 'if you are following dharma and yet... visvaksena-kathasu yah/ notpadayed yadi ratim, you are not develloping a taste (ratim), for hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then, srama eva hi kevalam, it is just a waste of time.
In a verse recited by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya describing the glories of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu it says vairagya-vidya-nija-bhakti-yoga/siksartham ekah purusah puranah, Lord Caitanya has come to deliver to the human race that which has been lost for a long time in history. And it mentiones three things, vairagya (real renunciation), vidya (transcendental knowledge), and nija-bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga means devotional service and nija means specific, bhakti-yoga not to some vague God who is beyond the clouds, who we don't know where He is and He looks like. Nija means specifically to Krsna. This is the benediction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The other processes of dharma explained in the Bhagavad-gita are based upon bhoga (enjoying separately from Krsna) or tyaga (renouncing separately from Krsna).
Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita 9.27 says: yat karosi yad asnasi/ yaj juhosi dadasi yat/ yat tapasyasi kaunteya/ tat kurusva mad-arpanam, "Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform - do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me".
Here, Srila Prabhupada indicates, Krsna is explaining to the karmis how to become a devotee. And for the yogis there the last verse of the 6th Chapter of Bhagavad-gita yoginam api sarvesam...For the jnanis there the verse of Bhagavad-gita 7.19, bahunam janmanam ante... These verses are indicating to those who are karmis, jnanis or yogis how they can become devotees by following their processes. If they do not surrender to Krsna then these processes are based upon bhoga, enjoying separately from Krsna or tyaga, renouncing separately from Krsna.
Quote from Srila Prabhupada: "Krsna says: sarva dharman pari... You have to give up this bhoga dharma and tyaga dharma. Sarva dharman parityaja. You are now engaged in two kinds of dharma. Somebody, karmis, they are bhoga, bhoga dharmi. They want to enjoy. And tyagi, they want to renounce this bhoga. So both of these will not help you. Bhoga-tyaga. Then what? Seva. You have to take the dharma of seva. That is bhakti. Krsna-seva. For Krsna, you can accept anything. That is... it may appear bhoga. Just like Prahlada Maharaja, Prthu Maharaja, they were kings, very opulent kings. Dhruva Maharaja. So still they were great devotees. Not only ordi-nary devotees, mahajanas. So this bhoga-tyaga has no meaning. It has no benefit. One has to become devotee. Either in the bhoga field or in the tyaga field. It doesn't matter. Bhoga-tyaga is not required. Required is service."
One may serve in opulent settings as a king, utilizing millions and millions of dolars of wealth in Krsna's service and that is not karma, not bhoga-dharma, it is pure devotional service if it is 100% utilized in Krsna's service.
Unconditional surrender is the priti-purvaka, the method of love, which is vidhi-purvaka (the right method) as opposed to avidhi-purvaka (see Bg 9.23). For an example of the difference between the two, one may refer to the story of the wives of the brahmanas in Krsna Book.
Quote from Srila Prabhupada: "They neglect this word, avidhi-purvakam. They simply say that to worship other demigods is also the same. No. It is not the... It is avidhi-purvaka. And if you... Suppose you are in trouble. You have to satisfy the police commissioner. But you are trying to satisfy the po-lice commissioner by bribing the constable. That is avidhi-purvaka. If it is known, then you'll be punished. So don't try to satisfy Krsna--avidhi-purvakam. Vidhi-purvakam. That vidhi-purvakam is direct. Sarva-dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja. That is wanted. That is vidhi-purvakam. Otherwise avidhi-purvakam. And how? The avidhi... The vidhi-purvaka, how? Just as the Ganges water is flowing automatically toward the sea, simi-larly, your devotional service like that, automatically, without any check... Then your life is perfect."
In the Seventh Chapter it was said that only one who has become free from all sinful reactions can take to the worship of Lord Krsna. Thus one may think that unless he is free from all sinful reactions he cannot take to the surrendering process. To such doubts it is here said that even if one is not free from all sinful reactions, simply by the process of surrendering to Sri Krsna he is automatically freed. There is no need of strenuous effort to free oneself from sinful reactions.
Surrendering to Krsna destroys sin at its very roots. Quote from Srila Prabhupada: "This, these four kinds of stages of sinful activities, in stock, almost fructified, manifest, all the stages of sinful activities can be immediately nullified. Because it is assured by Krsna: aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksaysiami. It is not imagination. If we believe in the words of Krsna then there is no question of denying this fact. Krsna personally says, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moka... Sarva-papebhyo. The kutastha, phalonmukha, prarabdha, everything. It become immediately nullified. Simply by this process, by surrendering."
These kutastha, phalonmukha and prarabdha are three of the four stages of sin. The first stage is bhija or seed. The seeds of sin are in our heart. Take by instance the sexual desire. Sexual desire is a result of sinful desires in the form of seeds stored in the heart. In a young child there is no such desire, but the seeds are there in the heart. When the child reaches puberty then, kutastha, it begins to devellop. When the seed sprouts and starts to grow. A young boy doesn't know why but suddenly finds beautiful girls to look at. Then the fruit begins to grow, phalonmukha. The fruits of enjoyement becomes manifested. And then, prarabdha, or the result of tasting that fruit.
Those are the four stages of sin. By surrendering to Krsna these four stages are eradicated.
A clear example of what this means we find in the Mahabharata. In the battle of Kuruksetra, Sri Krsna advised the Pandavas to take unfair means to defeat the Kauravas. In this way the Pandavas broke the codes of dhar-ma for a ksatriya. For example it was Krsna who advised Bhima to brake the tighs of Duryodhana at the end.
Other methods of religion cannot deliver one from the root of sin because they are essential man-centered, not God-centered. The root of sin is our very lack of surrender to Krsna; this unsurrendered attitude manifests in man-centered religions as the portrayal of God as mankind's order-supplier.
Quotes from Srila Prabhupada: "Therefore Krsna says, 'First of all surrender. Then try to understand.' Sarva-dharman parityajya mam eka saranam vraja, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksaysiyami. When you surrender, and by that surrendering process, when you are free from the resultant action of sinful activities, then you can appreciate God, not that God is my order-supplier."
The man-centered religion is very childish. The relatioship of children with father and mother is "give me, give me, give me!". They are always demanding the parents to supply then and when they fight they go to the parents complain about others and have their support. Children they never really appreciate that the parents have their own lives and activities. Children only think that parents are there "for me!". Similarly these man-centered religions they have no interest in the pastimes of the Lord. In fact that would make them very affraid: "if Krsna goes out in the forest with the gopis and if I want to say a prayer at that time He wont listen to me, He will be very busy. This is not a kind of God that I want to worship. I want a God who is just sitting up there and has nothing else to do except listen to me." They want a kind of God who is their servant. This is the opposite of this verse "you surrender to Me and give up any other plan!"
"Sarva-dharman parityaja mam eka saranam vraja: 'You have manufactured so many rascaldom in the name of religion. Give up all this nonsense. Simply surrender unto Me.' This is wanted. But Krsna knows that 'If I say to the rascals, "Surrender unto Me," he'll take otherwise.' A big scholar says, 'Oh, this is too much sophistry.' Krsna is demanding: 'Simply surrender unto me.' And the commentor, commentator is remarking, 'Oh, this is too much.'
As one requires no preliminary knowledge to surrender to Krsna, similarly one requires no preliminary purity or piety. Quote from Srila Prabhupada: "So without being pavitra, without being pious, without being free from contamination of material activities, nobody can approach Krsna. That's a fact. But Krsna is so kind that He orders that `Even if you have got some kamana, some desire, material desire, still, you can take shelter upon Me.' Sarva-dharman parityajya. `You do not take shelter of anything else. Simply depend on Me.' Sarva-dharman parityajya mam eka saranam vraja. `You haven't got to depend on anything else. I will give you protection.' So we have to take faith in the words of Krsna and pinch (sic) our complete faith and devotion at the lotus feet of Krsna."
Bg 9.32 "O son of Prtha, those who take shelter of Me, though they be of lower birth--women, vaisyas [merchants] and sudras [workers]--can attain the supreme destination." SB 11.14.18 "My dear Uddhava, if My devotee has not fully conquered his senses, he may be harrassed by material desires, but because of his unflinching devotion for Me, he will not be defeated by sense gratifica-tion." Srila Prabhupada continues in his Purport to the Bg 18.66: "The process of surrender to Krsna is described in the Haribhakti vilasa (11.676): anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha atma-niksepa-karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih.
Just as the four items of Bg 18.65 take into account the nine processes of devotional service given in the sastra, so the method of surrender advised in 18.66 takes into account the sad-vidha saranagati (sixfold method of surrender) given in the sastra.
Quote from CC Madhya-lila 22.100: "One who is fully surrendered is qua-lified with the six following characteristics. (1) The devotee has to accept everything that is favorable for the rendering of transcendental loving service to the Lord. (2) He must reject everything unfavorable to the Lord's service. This is also called renunciation. (3) A devotee must be firmly convinced that Krsna will give him protection. No one else can actually give one protection, and being firmly convinced of this is called faith. This kind of faith is different from the faith of an impersonalist who wants to merge into the Brahman effulgence in order to benefit by cessation of repeated birth and death. A devotee wants to remain always in the Lord's service. In this way, Krsna is merciful to His devotee and gives him all protection from the dangers found on the path of devotional service. (4) The devotee should accept Krsna as his supreme maintainer and master. He should not think that he is being protected by a demigod. He should depend only on Krsna, considering Him the only protector. The devotee must be firmly convinced that within the three worlds he has no protector or maintainer other than Krsna. (5) Self-surrender means remembering that one's activities and desires are not independent. The devotee is completely dependent on Krsna, and he acts and thinks as Krsna desires. (6) The devotee is meek and humble."
By surrendering to Krsna as Krsna's devotee, this doesn't necessarlly mean that one will leave this material world at least right away. Krsna may have some duty for him in this material world. Protection of the Lord does not mean, like the impersonalists say, that you go up to the clouds of Brahman, the door is locked and you are safe there. Protection means that we may have to act in this world, face sometimes strong opposition, but Krsna will always protect us.
Srila Prabhupada writes on his Purport: "One should be attracted by the beautiful vision of Krsna. His name is Krsna because He is all-attractive. One who becomes attracted by the beautiful, all-powerful, omnipotent vision of Krsna is fortunate. There are different kinds of transcendentalists--some of them are attached to the impersonal Brahman vision, some of them are attracted by the Supersoul feature, etc., but one who is attracted to the personal feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and, above all, one who is attracted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Krsna Himself, is the most perfect transcendentalist. In other words, devotional service to Krsna, in full consciousness, is the most confidential part of knowledge, and this is the essence of the whole Bhagavad-gita.
Unreserved surrender to Krsna is the method of devotion of the gopis, who are the most perfect transcendentalists. SB 11.12.13-15 "All those hundreds of thousands of gopis, understanding Me to be their most charming lover and ardently desiring Me in that way, were unaware of My actual position. Yet by intimately associating with Me, the gopis attained Me, the Supreme Absolute Truth. Therefore, My dear Uddhava, abandon the Vedic mantras as well as the procedures of supplementary Vedic literatures and their positive and negative injunctions. Disregard that which has been heard and that which is to be heard. Simply take shelter of Me alone, for I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead, situated within the heart of all conditioned souls. Take shelter of Me wholeheartedly, and by My grace be free from fear in all circumstances." Krsna's invitation to the living entities to surrender to Him under His full protection is the expression of His own unreserved love for His eternal parts and parcels.
Quote from Srila Prabhupada: "Krsna loves us more than we love Him. We do not love Him. But Krsna loves. Krsna loves every living being. He says, sarva-yonisu kaunteya sambhavanti murtayo yah: 'Every living being, whatever form he is, that doesn't matter, I am the bija-pradah pitah, I am the seed-giving father.' So the father is always affectionate to the sons. The sons may forget the father, but the father cannot forget. So Krsna comes here out of His love for us to deliver us, to give us the right path. Sarva-dharman parityajya: 'My dear sons, why you are rotting in this miserable world? You come to Me. I'll give you all protection. You are the son of the Supreme. So you can enjoy life very supremely, very magnificently, without any death. Why you are rotting?' That is Krsna's mercy."
In Bg 18.66 Sri Krsna is inviting the living entities to enter into an intimate loving relationship with Him.
Quote from Srila Prabhupada: "Everyone has prema, love. This propensity to love others. That is... There is, everywhere. But that prema, that love, is originally for Krsna. Nitya-siddha krsna-bhakti. That is the original prema. But because we are illusioned, that prema is being applied or used for so many “my”. Prema I have got. I have got my love. That is a fact. But I do not know where to repose that love. That is my misfortune. Therefore Krsna says that sarva dharman parityaja mam eka saranam vraja. 'You have got prema. You apply it to Me. Then you'll be benefited.' Prema is already there. You are simply misusing it. Therefore you are not happy. This is the process. Prema, you have got. But you are misusing it. But if you take Krsna's word, that "Give your prema unto Me..."
We can summarize this Charam-sloki and the Gita-rahasya by citing this verse: SB 11.11.33 "My devotees may or may not know exactly what I am, who I am and how I exist, but if they worship Me with unalloyed love, then I consider them to be the best of devotees."
Here knowledge is not taking to be very important by Krsna. What is important is unreserved surrender and love and devotion. And then Krsna supplies all knowledge to the devotee. But it must also be pointed out that Krsna is not asking us to surrender to Him in some ignorant and sentimental way. The process of surrender to Krsna as we already heard in the Catur-sloki it begins by associating with Krsna's devotees, hearing from them about Krsna. This is how one can learn how to surrender to Krsna. It is only possible through Krsna's devotees. By hearing from Krsna's devotees one gets knowledge how to properly surrender to Him. This is an important point because there is many upstarts, the apa-sampradayas, the bogus-vaisnavas, who claim that they have love of Krsna, they have surrendered to Him fully so they don't care for rules and regulations, they don't care for social opinion. They are just acting in pure love. And this pure love means to them simply illicit sex.
SRILA PRABHUPADA ANSWERS A DOUBT ABOUT BG 18.66
The doubt may be expressed thusly: Why, if Bg 18.66 is an essential verse of the Bhagavad-gita, did Lord Caitanya say "This is only external" when this verse was quoted by Srila Ramananda Raya during Ramananda's explanation of the ultimate goal of life?
"So as I told you, Ramananda Raya, the discussion between Ramananda Raya and Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Ramananda Raya proposed different steps of spiritual advancement, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, 'Yes, this is good, but this is external. It is not very effective.' Even sarva-dharman parityajya mam eka saranam vraja, that also Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, 'It is also not effective.' It is not effective for these go-kharas. Otherwise it is effective. But in the beginning, they cannot. Otherwise in the Bhagavad-gita it is plainly said, sarva-dharman parityajya mam eka. Who is taking it? Nobody is taking it. Therefore it is not effective for the go-kharas. It is effective for one who is actually human being, but they are not human being. They are all ras-cals, go-kharas. Therefore it is not effective. If you instruct a dog, 'My dear dog, please surrender to Krsna,' will he do that? So similarly, human being who does not surrender, he is no better than the dog. What is the difference between dog and this human being, go-kharas? The cats, the dogs, they cannot do it. And if you human beings, they cannot do also, then what is the difference? Ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca samanyam etad pasubhir naranam. Simply eating, sleeping, sex life and defending. These are common things of the cats and dogs and the human beings. The human being is specially benefited when he surrenders to Krsna. Otherwise he is cat and dog. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew that these cats and dogs, they are so degraded, they cannot understand what is the meaning of surrendering to Krsna. They cannot understand. Therefore He said, eho bahya, age kaha ara: 'This is external. Please speak more, something effective.'"
That which Lord Caitanya accepted as effective was Ramananda Raya's statements from the Srimad-Bhagavatam: "one should simply hear from the devotees of the Lord." This is where true surrender begins. One has to learn the science of Krsna consciousness from the devotees and under their direc-tion, surrender.