Voluntary Surrender

Krishna and Arjuna“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)

Bhagavad-gita, 18.63Fatigue compels us to sleep at night. The limits of the digestive system compel us to stop eating after a certain point. The same stomach then forces us to eat through indicating intense hunger. The scorching rays of the sun force us to seek shelter in areas where it is cooler. The chilling winter breeze makes us seek the comfort of the warmer indoors. In this way we are compelled to do so many things, forced to surrender to a higher force. The highest force there is does not personally apply the same force in the most important matter, however. He recommends that we surrender to Him, but the choice is left up to us.

Why wouldn’t He use force, if the objective is supposedly good for us? It is good for our children to go to bed early, and so we enforce the strict bedtime. We also make them do their homework, apologize to those they have wronged, and eat their vegetables. The supreme powerful force is the father of mankind, so why shouldn’t He treat us like His children? Why would He give us the chance to go astray?

The children can only be compelled for so long. Eventually they will become the adults. In early adulthood the human being reaches its peak in energy levels. The fitness of the body is typically the best it will ever be during this time, and so no one can restrict the apparent freedom of the adult who is newly released into the real world. Therefore the good parents make the most out of the opportunity during the early years, when there is the ability to enforce strict rules and regulations. These rules help to better the condition of the child later on.

In the same way, nature’s laws dictate so many things to us. If we take the proper lesson from them, we too can reach the best end. Forced death tells us that life in this body is temporary. Birth indicates that a new beginning will come eventually. The gradual distaste from the repetition of acts of sense gratification gives us the warning that there is more to life than just satisfying the demands for eating and sex life. There is a higher taste. Every activity that brings a negative taste quietly whispers that it is not the truth, or Brahman. The Absolute Truth is the lone truth that never fails to deliver the taste that is transcendental.

Prahlada MaharajaThe loving guardian eventually eases up on their pressure. When they do compel, it is done out of love, and it is not done for long. The miscreant, however, will try to control everything, not realizing that they themselves are controlled throughout the process. The atheistic father Hiranyakashipu tried to control the devotional thoughts of his young boy, Prahlada Maharaja. The boy simply wanted to worship God through thought, word and deed, but the father did not like this. Therefore he tried to compel Prahlada to change his ways. He failed.

A famous princess named Sita was dedicated to God with the same resolve. The demon king named Ravana tried to change her disposition. He tried to get her to worship him instead of Rama, who was her husband. Rama is the Supreme Lord, the ultimate controller. Rama is also Krishna and Vishnu and Narasimhadeva. He is also known by so many other names. When you can’t understand His personal form, when you think that He is only an impartial energy of truth, He is addressed as either Brahman or the more generic term: God.

His personal forms carry out actions that serve His direct interest, and in those actions there is never any force applied to make someone follow devotion. The only instances of force are when the voluntary choices for surrender are obstructed by fools who don’t believe in God. Then the Supreme Lord uses His force, of which there is none mightier, and removes the obstacles. He eliminated Hiranyakashipu and left Prahlada free to worship in bhakti-yoga. He rescued Sita and did away with Ravana. He has done similar things for so many of His devotees.

Interestingly, rather than try to force His innumerable, subordinate sparks of spirit to surrender, He sometimes tries to talk them out of it. As Rama, He attempted to persuade Lakshmana and Sita to stay in Ayodhya, where they would apparently be safer. He had to go to the forest for fourteen years, so He didn’t want His younger brother and His wife to have to suffer. As Krishna, He tried to persuade the gopis of Vrindavana, the greatest lovers of God, to remain at home, where they would be safe in a life of dharma. In such cases, the devotees ignored His wishes. Their desire to surrender was so strong that not even He could divert them.

Radha and Krishna with the gopisThere is no doubt of God’s potency. He creates this and so many other universes through a simple exhalation. This is the information we get from the Vedas, but through basic observation we can understand the same truth. This material cosmos had to come from somewhere. Everything has an origin; this we know through perception. The origin of origins is thus the supreme powerful. It is the most potent and intelligent force because it created so vast and complex a universe that no one can fully understand it. Despite the inconceivable complexity, there is still intelligence, indicated by the regular pattern of action. The patterns are so regular that even the lesser intelligent species can rely upon them and exploit them for their own benefit. The birds fly south in the winter because they know of the changing climate. They detect what is about to come and what effect the change will have on their lives. Their assumption of the changing weather is correct because the seasons come and go like clockwork.

That supremely powerful force who used such intelligence to create could easily force us to surrender to Him. His impersonal forces, like the different aspects of nature and all-devouring time, compel us to do so many things already. And yet even this surrender is by choice, though not apparently obvious. The all-devouring time can only affect us when we are not in God consciousness. Birth and death only exist in a land where God consciousness is not prevalent. One who goes to the spiritual abode never has to come back here, and thus they never have to again be forced to surrender to the powerful aspects of nature.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.16“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

Though God won’t force us to surrender, if we become devoted to Him with full attention, He is forced to remain with us. He makes the promise to stay with those who always think of Him, so it would make sense that if we always think of Him, He would have to stay with us. He resides within everyone already as the Supersoul, who is an impartial witness. The promise to the devotees relates to His personal presence, which is superior. Since He is all-powerful, He is the best person to have around. The mark of true surrender is the relinquishing of the fight to compete for supremacy in the areas of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, renunciation and wisdom. The surrendered soul keeps the Supreme Lord in mind by always thinking of Him and lovingly reciting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

By nature’s laws we’re already compelled,

Impacted by seasons and by diseases felled.


So to make us surrender God certainly can,

But decision ultimately left in our hands.


From Gita His direct words take,

And with deliberation wise choice make.


For devotee’s cause only He’ll intervene,

Like with courageous Prahlada was seen.


Categories: devotional service

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