By Mahanidhi Swami
For a brief period of my devotional life I wore a Nrsimha kavaca. One hearty well-wisher pointed out that my guru, param guru and paratpara guru never wore such a thing. He further reminded me of Srila Prabhupada’s famous quote: “The reason for my success is that I had complete faith in the holy name of Krishna and in the words of my spiritual master.” Off came the kavaca!
Seeing many devotees wearing nrsimha kavacas, we decided to describe the principle that Krishna alone—specifically in His nama rupa avatara is the only ONE we need. Sri Krishna’s Holy Name is our ONE AND ONLY source of protection and shelter. Surrender means believing this and following this. Hare Krishna!
Without surrender, saranagati, our sraddha will never grow and develop into nishta, ruci, bhava and prema. Our humble request to you and any other souls hearing our words is to please cast aside all kavacas and take exclusive shelter of Krishna’s ambrosial holy names.
In the words of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, “The holy name of Krishna is the only shelter in the fourteen worlds.”
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Surrender, sharanagati, is the very life of the true devotees. Srila Rupa Goswamipada describes six aspects of surrendered in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu:
anukulyasya sankalpa, pratikulasya varjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso, goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa-karpanye, sad-vidha saranagatih
“The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Krishna will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one’s guardian or master, full self-surrender and humility.
One who is fully surrendered is qualified with the six following characteristics (1) The devotee has to accept everything that is favorable for the rendering of transcendental loving service to 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 Krishna will give him protection. No one else can actually give one protection, and being firmly convinced of this is called faith. A devotee wants to remain always in the Lord’s service. In this way, Krishna is merciful to His devotee and gives him all protection from the dangers found on the path of devotional service. (3) One should firmly believe that KRISHNA WILL PROTECT HIM, and that no one is a better protector than Krishna, one should always think that Krishna, or God, is great and that one is always protected by Him. [Narada Bhakti Sutras: NBS]
(4) The devotee should accept Krishna as his supreme maintainer and master. He should not think that he is being protected by a demigod. He should depend only on Krishna, considering Him the only protector. The devotee must be firmly convinced that within the three worlds he has no protector or maintainer other than Krishna.
(5) One should always remember that one’s activities and desires are not independent. In other words, the devotee should feel completely dependent on Krishna, and thus he should act and think as Krishna desires. (6) The devotee is meek and humble. (7) One should always think himself the poorest of the poor and feel totally dependent on the mercy of Krishna. [NBS]
“A devotee who follows these six principles of surrender always thinks, “O Lord, I am Yours in every respect; I am Your eternal servant.” [NBS 12]
“The six symptoms of surrender are divided into a whole and parts. Accepting Lord Krishna as one’s guardian or master is the whole or main principle; the other five items of surrender are parts or assistants of this one item.
There are three stages of surrender: 1) Initial conviction that by following religious principles, going on pilgrimages and surrendering to Lord Krishna, Krishna will protect me from the reactions of past sins. 2) Intermediate stage is the conviction that I shall give to Krishna my wife, child, friends, wealth, and other things that are my property. 3) Highest stage of surrender is the conviction that I shall place at Lord Krishna’s lotus feet, my self, my body and everything that is mine.” [Satvata Tantra]
Surrender to Sri Krishna manifests in three forms; with the body, mind, and words. This is explained in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.677):
“One who with words and thoughts says, “O Lord, I am Yours, and who surrenders in his body to Lord Krishna, becomes filled with bliss.” One who surrenders his entire body to Bhagavan Sri Krishna at once attains all good fortune.
Others attain different degrees of good fortune according to the degree of their surrender. Surrender to the Lord is glorified in the following words (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.19.9):
“My dear Lord, for one who is being tormented on the terrible path of birth and death and is constantly overwhelmed by the threefold miseries, I do not see any possible shelter other than Your two lotus feet, which are just like a refreshing umbrella that pours down showers of delicious nectar.” This verse means that the showers of Shyama’s sweetness chase all miseries far away from the surrendered souls.
My dear friends, think over the discussion so far. If you are ready—then solemnly take the following vow:
“O my beloved Lord Sri Krishna! I will do whatever is favorable for pure devotional service unto You, and I will reject whatever is not favorable for it. In all circumstances, times and places, You my Lord Sri Krishna are my one and only protector. I cannot protect myself.
“I will serve You my dearest Lord Shyama as far as I am able. I believe and I know that You will always protect me. In this way I will be protected. Who am I? I am Your property—Your own part and parcel. Whatever You wish, that I will do. In this way, I offer myself to You My eternally beloved, sweet master and Lord Sri Krishna.”
Jaiva Dharma says: “What does it mean that in every condition a devotee should be surrendered soul?” It means to think, “O Lord Sri Krishna, I am Yours” and “O my Lord Krishna, I surrender unto You”!
In his purport to Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s “surrender verse” in Gita (18.66), Srila Prabhupada says: “With faith and love, one should surrender unto Krishna. One should be confident that in all circumstances Krishna will protect him from all difficulties.”
Conclusion: We need no other shelter besides Krishna and His holy names. At all times and in all places we should always chant the holy names for all protection, shelter and perfection. Within the Hare Krishna maha-mantra all the other avataras and incarnations are contained.
Millions of years ago, Lord Nrsimha immediately manifested from the stone pillar to protect Prahlada Maharaja. Similarly, today in any place at any moment, the Lord Nrsimha form of Bhagavan Sri Krishna will also instantly manifest from the syllables of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra to protect any sincere devotee.
Srila Prabhupada describes this point in his Nectar of Devotion thus: “When Narada Muni was chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, he chanted so loudly that it was apprehended that Lord Nrsimha had appeared. Thus all the demons began to flee in different directions.” (NOD cp. 27)
The Four P’s of Srila Prabhupada:
Srila Prabhupada started the Hare Krishna Movement; personally always chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra; and Srila Prabhupada inspired millions worldwide to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. He repeatedly instructed us to just depend on Krishna, and always chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra for purity, peace, PROTECTION and perfection!
The Chandogya Upanisad (8.13.1) sums up everything beautifully—both the practice and the goal: “To attain Lord Sri Krishna, I surrender to Sri Radha. And to attain Sri Radha, I surrender to Lord Krishna.” BAS!!! (shyamac chavalaà prapadye shavalac chyamam)
O Lord Damodara, sharanagati Prabhu!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!