Prapatti (Sharnagati) Part 1


Prapatti (Sarnagati) or total self-surrender is indeed an evolutionary concept. The general rule says that harder the labour, more is the reward, but the concept of Prapatti or Sarnagati challenges it. It says that for lesser effort, you get highest effort.

In ancient times as stated in taittiraya upanishid prapatti was kept as a close secret “yetat vai mahopanishadam devanam guham” (get tis detail from saranagathi gadyam intro @

  • अनन्यसार्थे स्वाधिष्ठे महाविश्वासपूर्वकं, तदेको उपायताकांक्ष प्रपत्ति शरणागति।

When a person realizes that he can’t protect himself by his own efforts (devoid of Karm, gyan, bhakti) and none other than Bhagwaan can protect him, he cries to bhagwaan to protect him in mode of complete helplessness. Such a state of mind is called Sharnagati.

  • अहमस्य अपराधानाम आलयः अकिंचनोगति: ।

त्वमेव उपाय भूतो में भवति प्रार्थनाम इति शरणागति।।

शरणागति इति उक्त्वा सा देवेऽस्मिन प्रयुज्यताम। (Ahirbudhva Samhita 37.3b)

“O Bhagwaan! I am an ocean of offences (apraadh), I am completely helpless, repentingly, I pray to you to become my means to reach you. I accept my defeat that I can’t reach you by my own efforts. Now, you be my upaay”. Such a prayer is Sharnagati.

  • आत्मा आत्मीय भारन्यासो ही आत्मनिक्षेप उच्यते।। (Lakshmi tantra 17.29)

Surrendering aatma, which is a property of Bhagwaan, back to Bhagwaan is Shaarnagati or Aatm-nikshep.

  • Yamunacharya establishes sarnagati maarg in his ***(Sthothra Rathnam- 22nd sloka)***

na dharma nishtOsmi na cha atma-vEdi na bhaktimaan tvat charaNAravindE

akinchanO ananyagatih saraNya! tvat paadamoolam saranam prapadye.

// न धर्म निष्ठो, न च आत्मवेदी; न भक्ति माम त्वात चरणारविन्दे। 

अकिंचनो अनन्यगति शरण्यं, त्वत पाद मूलं शरणम् प्रपद्ये ।।      //

Here Alvandaar, Yamuna Muni repents that he has neither karma-Yoga, nor gyaan-yoga, nor bhakti-Yoga. Repenting that but with undeviating faith, he falls on the feet of Lakshmi-Narayana and prays him to be his upaay or means to reach him.

The term ‘Prapatti’ is derived from two root words- ‘pra’ and ‘pad’. ‘pra’ means ‘high’ and ‘pad’ means ‘step’.  Thus ‘Prapatti’ means taking a step toward supreme.

We all have practical experiences that even a mean boss who is hard-taskmaster and gives salaray to his employees only after hard work; he too gives a begger some alms when he fall on his legs. Thus if we too, fall on the feet of Narayana, who himself is the ocean of compassion, saying that I have no other means, no any  no any other way; now you be my means (upaay) and way; he would definitly provide himself to us.

Pramaan (Authorities for Prapatti)

  1. {Mundak Upnishad (3.2.3) और Kathopanishad (1.2.23)}

नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो, न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन। यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्यः, तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनूँ स्वाम्॥

//nāyamātmā pravacanēna labhyō na mēdhayā na bahunā śrutēna .

yamēvaiṣa vṛṇutē tēna labhyastasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇutē tanūōsvām ৷৷ //


Meaning: Neither hearing, chanting nor learning can lead you to Bhagwaan but own whom bhagwaam himself chooses, he gets him.

Explaining it in** Laghu-Siddhant,** **Ramanuja** says:

यथा अयं आत्मानम् प्राप्नोति, तथा भगवान स्वमेव प्रयतत

Meaning: As we take effort on our own to reach our dear ones, similarly Bhagwaan too himself chooses to deliever us, by his own efforts on appropiate time. So, a Sarnagata shouldn’t try own his own make any effort to reach him. Sita although calpable of her own, waited for Sri Ram to come and deliever her. Bhagwaan is always over-anxious to deliever us, only that we don’t surrender to him. Bhagwaan just keep looking for an excuse to deliever us.

  1. यो ब्रह्माणं विदधाति पूर्वं यो वै वेदांश्च प्रहिणोति तस्मै ।

तं ह देवमात्मबुद्धिप्रकाशं मुमुक्षुर्वै शरणमहं प्रपद्ये ॥ – (Shvetaswar Upanishad 6-18)

yō brahmāṇaṅ vidadhāti pūrvaṅ yō vai vēdāṅśca prahiṇōti tasmai.
taōha dēvamātmabuddhiprakāśaṅ mumukṣurvai śaraṇamahaṅ prapadyē৷

Meaning: who at the commencement of creation created Brahma and who gave the Vedas to Him., whose light turns the intellect towards the Atman.

  1. ananyacētāḥ satataṅ yō māṅ smarati nityaśaḥ.tasyāhaṅ sulabhaḥ pārtha nityayuktasya yōginaḥ৷৷।। (Gita 8.14)

I am easy to access to that Yogin who is ‘ever integrated with Me,’ i.e., who wants constant contact with Me, who recollects Me; and whose mind is not in ‘anything else without break’ (Nityasah), i.e., at the time of meditation and also during all other times (Satatam). As I am exceedingly dear to him, he is unable to sustain himself without remembering Me and cherishing My memory which is incomparably dear to him.

‘अहं सुलभ’ is described by Swami Ramanuj as: अहम् एव प्राप्यः न मद्भाव ऐश्वर्यादिकः।

I am the only object he wants to attain and not any mode of My being like sovereignty, etc. I Myself grant him the capacity to attain full maturity in devotional practice necessary for attaining Me – namely, the annulment of all obstacles and the establishment of the state of mind that renders Me exceedingly dear to oneself.

Vedant Desika in tatparya Chandrika explains ‘अहमेव’ :

परमकारुणिकस्य ममैव अयं भर इति अभिप्रायः।

  1. Ram charam Shloka (Ramayan Yuddhkand. 33)

Ram charam shlok.PNG

Who even for once come and tell, “I am yours, I provide protection to him.


  1. Krishna charam shloka (Gita 18.66)

sarvadharmānparityajya māmēkaṅ śaraṇaṅ vraja.

ahaṅ tvā sarvapāpēbhyō mōkṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ৷৷||


Meaning (Ramanuj’s commentry): Relinishing all Dharmas means the complete relinishment of the sense of agency, possessiveness, fruits etc., in the practising of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti Yogas in the way instructed, and the realising of Me as the agent, object of worship, the means and the end. It means that relinishment is not of all devotional duties but only of the sense of agency and the fruits. This is the Sastraic relinishment of all Dharmas. It is firmly established in the beginning of this chapter commencing from, ‘Listen regarding My decision, O Arjuna, about abandonment; for abandonment is declared to be of three kinds’ (18.4), and ‘Renouncing attachments and also the fruit, such abandonment is regarded as Sattvika ৷৷. for it is impossible for one who bears the body to abandon acts entirely. But he who gives up the fruits of works, is called the abandoner’ (18.9-11). If you practise such abandonment of the sense of agency and fruits, I will release you from all ‘sins’ – i.e., I will release you from all evil incompatible with the attainment of Myself, consisting of innumerable acts of the nature of doing what ought not to be done and not doing what ought to be done. These piled up from beginningless times from the obstruction in the way. Grieve not, you should not despair; for I shall release you from all these obstructions.

Another (alternative) explanation is this: Bhakti Yoga is possible only for those people to whom the Lord is exceedingly dear and who are free from all evils. Those evils are so huge in their case that the expiatory rites which could wash them off, could not be performed in the limited time of one’s life span. Ajuna therefore thought that he was unfit for commencing Bhakti Yoga. To remove the grief of Arjuna the Lord said: ‘Completely relinishing all Dharmas, seek Me alone for refuge.’ Expiatory rites can be taken here as what is meant by Dharma, Completely forsake these rites (Dharmas) appropriate for the removal of numerous and varied sins piled up from beginningless time and obstructing the starting of Bhakti Yoga. The expiatory rites consist of practices like Krcchra, Candrayana, Kusmanda, Vaisvanara, Vratapati, Pavitresti, Trvrit, Agnistoma etc., which are of manifold varieties, and which are difficult to perform on account of the brevity of life. So in order to succeed in commencing Bhakti Yoga, seek Me alone for refuge. I am supremely compassionate, the refuge of all without considering the differences of character among them, and am an ocean of tenderness for those dependent on Me. I will release you from all evil, the nature of which has been explained as incompatible with the commencement of Bhakti Yoga. Grieve not. [Both these interpretations of this famous verse are said to teach only Bhakti Yoga and not Prapatti. But the estion will rise in one’s mind – why should it not be so taken?]

gita bhasyam

  1. Lakshmi tantra.100)

Idam saaranam agyaanam idamev vijaanatam

Idam titirasataam paaram idam aanantyamicchataam

Means: Surrendering to Lord is the safest and surest means for liberation for even one, those who are aware of bhakti or prapatti or not aware of it.

  1. Sandilya Smriti:

Vrithaiva bhavato yaata bhuyasi janma satatih|

Tasyaamanyatma mam janma sanchintya mama saranam vraj||

Meaning: All the life you have spent in this world have gone waste. Before this life also goes the same way, surrender to me.

  1. शरणागतिः इति उक्त्वा सा देवे अस्मिन प्रयुज्यताम।

इदं तितिरिष्टाम पारं सर्वे नाश्यन्ति तातक्षनात।। {Ahirbudhnya samhita (37.3)}

Means: All the sins of a person who surrenders to Vishnu is vanished.

  1. Itihaas Samuchchya (39-119):

Although a person is of an evil disposition, thinks evils of others and has bad habits, if he surrenders, he becomes pure.

  1. Lakshmi Tantra

Satkarm nirataah suddhaah sankhyayoga vidastathaa|

Naarhanti saarnasthya kalaam koti tamimapi||

Meaning:  Those who perform good deeds, who keep their mind pure and those who adopt ‘gyaan’ and ‘bhakti’ yoga, don’t get even a millionth part of the glory of one who surrenders.

  1. Sanat-Kumar Samhita:

Prapatteh kvachitaapyevam paraapeksha na vidyate

Sarala hii sarvesham sarm kaamphal pradayanah||

Meaning: Prapatti (Surrender) is easy, available to all and yields all fruits.

  1. कोटि विप्र वध लागहिं जाहूं। आये शरण ताजऊँ नहीं ताहू।।

सनमुख होई जीव मोहि जबहीं। जन्म कोटि अध नासहिं तबहीं।। (Ramcharitmanas)


Classification of means

भक्त्या परमया भावी, प्रपत्या वा महामदे। (Pancharaatra agam)

Either bhakti or Prapatti are theonly  two means to reach Bhagwaan.

There are two methods of climbing at rooftop:

  1. Climbing via Stairs. Here we have belief on our own strengh and we endevour by our own. It is called Markat-Kishor Nyay (Kid of monkey). Monkey’s kid takes effort on his own to cath his mother.34511293_852502658290546_4057146955296407552_n
  2. Climbing Via lift. Here we accept our defeat that we can’t reach on our own efforts. The liftman is our Guru and Lift is Sarnagati. It is called Maarjaar-Kishor-nyay. The Cat’s Kid makes no effort on his own. She just surrenders and her mother herself transfers her from one place to another.34728533_852502224957256_4242793502167007232_n

 1.Saadhya- Upaay (Sadhyopaay)

The upaay (means) which is established by us is called Siddhopaay. Here, means is performed by us, we put efforts to reach the destination.

It is also called Swagat-Swikaar or Markat-Kishor Nyay.

Examples: Karm-Yoga, Gyaan-Yog, Sadhan Bhakti-Yog

images (1)

2.Siddh-Upaay (Siddhopaay)

It is an Upaay (means) which is already established and we have to just catch it. Bhagwaan is Siddh-Upaay. In the earlier case, the onus to reach God was no Saadhak itself but in this case, the onus lies on Bhagwaan itself. Transferring this responsibility is called Sharnagati.

It is also called Marjhaar kishor nyay or Pargat-swikaar

images (1)

If the child of Monkey falls, the blame goes to the kid itself since it was his responsibility to catch her mother. However, in case of kid of Cat, the mother cat is to be blamed if the child cat falls.

In case of Sharnagati, if a Sharnagat falls down, blame goes to Bhagwaan itself. Bhagwaan never fails since he is blemishless. (Akhil Hey Pratyanik).

That’s called Sarnagati. **Narayan is the tattva, Narayana is the means and Narayana is the destination.**

सियाराम ही उपाय हैं, सियाराम ही उपेय हैं|

A sarnagat performs everything, either Karma-yoga, Gyaan-Yoga or Bhakti-Yoga but only for the purpose of pleasure of Bhagwaan not as Upaay (means) to get something. A Sarnagat don’t want fruit of his any saadhana. Bhagwaan pleasure is the only reward. Akinchanyam i.e. not performing anything as means to get something and Ananya-gatitvam i.e. Not considering anyone other than Bhagwaan as our master.

अन्यथा शरणं नास्ति त्वमेव शरणं मम। तस्मातकारुण्यभावेन रक्ष रक्ष परमेश्वर।।

We first should do sarnagati of Maha-Lakshmi and she recommends us to Narayan. It makes our case stronger.

Pre-requisites for sharnagati or Prapatti

  1. Akinchanyam and Ananya-gatitvam: Realising that I am helpless to reach him. None other than Bhagwaan himself can save me, not even other devtaas. No-one is able to accept his/her defeat in this world. So, to come at this state of mind is extremely tough. Once we realize our true nature i.e. sheshi to Bhagwaan, this state of mind is achieved.
  2. Maha-vishwasam: The believe and faith that Bhagwaan would definitely save me.

In his Daya Sathakam, Sri Vedanta Desika writes elaborately, and eloquently, about the mandates that are required of the Surrenderer (or Prapanna, or Saranagatha). These tenets have been handed down to us by Sri Bhagavad Ramanujacharya. They are as follows:

आनुकूलस्य संकल्पः प्रातिकूल्यस्य वर्जनं;  रक्षिष्यती इति विश्वासः, गोप्तृत्ववरणं तथा;

कार्पण्यं आत्मनिक्षेपे षड्विधा शरणागति।।

  1. Prathikoolya Varjanam: Giving up anything that is antagonistic to Sriman Narayana (The Saranya).
  2. Anukoolya Sangalpam: Only doing things that are conducive to attain
  3. Maha Vishwasam: Absolute and Unshakable Faith in Sriman Narayana (The Saranya) as absolutely the Sole and Only Protector.
  4. Gopthrupthva Varanam: The deliberate choice of Sriman Narayana (The Saranya) as absolutely the Sole and Only Protector.
  5. Kaarpanyam(Absolute humility) or Ananya-Gateethvam: The realization that there is NO alternative except Sriman Narayana (The Saranya) as absolutely the Sole and Only Protector.
  6. Aatma-nikshep: Surrendering the aatma to Parmatma.

There are absolutely NO pre-requisites to perform Saranagathi. Anyone can surrender at any time, at any place regardless of caste, zender and birth. You can surrender anywhere. You can surrender at any time – there is no time criteria as long as the Saranya is willing. The surrenderer who agrees he is a destitute is called a Saranagatha or Prapanna. The person being surrendered to (the grantor) is called a Saranya. The act of surrender is called Saranagathi or Prapatthi.

संसारकूपे पतितोऽत्यागाधे, मोहान्धपूर्णे विषयाभितप्ते।

करावलम्बं मम देहि विष्णो, गोविन्द दामोदर माधवेति।।

O Govind! Damodar! Madhav! I। have fallen in the deep well of materialism and I am getting burnt by lust, greed anger. O Vishno! Please extend your hand and fetch me out। I can’t come out of the well on my own efforts.

To perform Saranagathi, the Saranagatha should fall at the feet of the Saranya with:

  • Two folded hands – indicating Akeechanyam meaning, I do not have anything to offer,
  • Two feet touching/brought together – indicating Ananyagatheethvam meaning, I have no other place to go, I am a destitute, my feet are tied,
  • Head touching the ground,
  • With his mind (manas) under total control,
  • With his intellect (buddhi) under total control, and
  • With his ego (ahamkara) under total control

For Part 2 of the discussion

Prapatti (Sharnagati) Part 2


Author: ramanujramprapnna

studying Ramanuj school of Vishishtadvait vedant

One thought on “Prapatti (Sharnagati) Part 1”

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