Ch 18 Yoga of Single-pointed Surrender (Part 18)

This article is part 113 of 135 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga

A doubt here. "sarvadharmān parityajya" (having given up all dharmas), "māmekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja" (surrender unto Bhagavān alone) - is the instruction. Fine. What is the intent behind - “surrender after having given up all dharmas”? Isn’t surrender a dharma too? Or is surrender an adharma? If the verse had "anya-dharmān" (giving up other dharmas) instead of "sarva-dharmān" (giving up all dharmas), this doubt would not have arisen.
Retaining the verse as is, if "sarvadharmān" and "śaraṇaṃ vraja" have to be reconciled, the former has to be interpreted as "leaving all the controversial dharmas of the world aside" and the latter as "take refuge in a a special path, a dharma beyond worldly dharmas, an adhidharma."

jagamirpannaṃ dharmaṃ
jaga ninagiradandu sarvamātmaikamayām ||
“Dharma exists for as long as the world exists.
Once the world ceases to exist for you, the oneness of the Self is all there is.”

Arjuna was not like ordinary men in two aspects. 1. In doubting. 2. In renunciation. In the first aspect, he had more doubts than usual. He repeatedly asked questions in every chapter. He would trust the answer that Bhagavān gave at  that instant. But the same trust would disappear when encountering another topic. Doubts and questions again and again. For such a person, śāstric testimony, reasoning, and arguments would not be sufficient. The first help he needed was the strengthening of his faith. He had more trust in his love for Kṛṣṇa than in the śāstras and reasoning. Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself had witnessed this. It was hence the svāmi’s desire to transform Arjuna’s trust that had arisen as an effect of friendship and affection into divine faith. Therefore, he said, "Arjuna, you do not need the various exertions of inquiring into karmayoga, sāṅkhyayoga, dhyānayoga, sannyāsayoga, the dharma of different varṇas, the duty of your clan, the duty of your social station, or worshipping the saguṇa and nirguṇa aspects of Brahma. These confusions will not give you peace of mind. Do you not have faith in me? Do as I ask you. Let things be the way they are. You do not need the hardships of reasoning. Act with faith in me; I will take on the burden of protecting you from harm. Set aside your anxiety about the statements of the śāstras and the actions of society. Your welfare is my responsibility. "māmekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja". If devotion in the divine is total and firm, it will satisfy all shortcomings, remove any defects and bring to the devotee all possible well-being. This is above anything else. Therefore it is above all ordinary dharmas and is adhidharma - the crown of all dharmas. It is composed of pure faith and nothing else. It does not require external testimonials or inquiries or reasoning. Śaraṇāgati or surrender is unquestioned and complete faith in Kṛṣṇa. There is no further analysis needed.

anyathā śaraṇaṃ nāsti tvameva śaraṇaṃ mama |

This emotional ecstasy of bhakti has a few levels. Self-surrender or self-dedication is the peak of the edifice of bhakti. It is also known as prapatti (total surrender) or śaraṇāgati.

In such bhakti, notions of "I", "my rights", "my share", "my fate", "my power", or "my will" should be completely erased. The mental mode of "I" should have completely gone. Needless to say, it is quite difficult to ascend to such a state.

A particle of ego always lingers around in our bhakti. We reason - "Bhagavān might bestow his boon on us; he might not too!", "Bhagavān is known to give us what we do not want in addition to what we asked for" - and dilute our bhakti. This is not complete self-surrender. As our bhakti towards Bhagavān is mixed, so too are the boons we receive. Rice mixed with stones might be boiled in milk, but the resultant kheer will continue to have stones in it.

If our happiness has to be complete, the first prerequisite is the effacement of the ego. When we study poetry,  we need to lose ourselves in the poet’s creation. This is total immersion. If, however, our sceptical mind pops up every moment with - “let’s see how the poet has written this”, enjoyment of the poem - be it of whatever level - will be incomplete. The same goes for music experience. If we keep watching out for where the singer misses a note, where he stumbles in his pitch or where he misses a beat - even if the quality of singing is worth a rupee, our enjoyment will only be of a paisa’s worth. Such a situation is not right for either the artist or the audience. To experience a work of art completely - be it poetry or music or a sculpture - we must first surrender completely to it by losing our ego.

When ego effacement is necessary for even art experience, is there any doubt in considering it imperative for Brahma-experience?

Numerous examples in the purāṇas - the liberation of Gajendra, the taking away of the Gopis’ garments - emphasise that our self-surrender to Bhagavān has to be complete and not half-hearted. All selfish feelings must be emptied out in the presence of Bhagavān. Not even an iota of bashfulness, arrogance, obstinacy, or pride should be present. Much like a baby lying in its mother’s lap, the bhakta should surrender to Bhagavān; a disciple to his guru; and a reader to the poem - for only then is the gain complete.

Does human agency have no value then? There definitely is value in it during human effort - discernment on how exactly to apply effort and how much energy to expend on it. However, the result is in the domain of daiva. The pinnacle of human effort is in the acceptance of divine will. The apex of human discernment is in giving up anxiety about results.

No great experience is possible for one who does not know how to give oneself up completely. Surrender through unthinking faith is a kind of adhi-dharma that is fit for one racked with doubt.

There is another kind of adhi-dharma that befits one full of jñāna.

As difficult as it was for Arjuna’s intellect to come to a conclusion, renunciation came easily to his mind. Was that not the subject of the entire first chapter? He had no desire for anything then. All his existing desires had dissolved into nothingness. He had nothing to do with any dharma. dharma is needed for the following benefits for its performer:

  1. To remove sorrow
  2. To gain pleasure
  3. To purify oneself

These three benefits do not apply in the least to one who has no feeling of “I” or “me”. Arjuna had said - “na kāṅkṣe vijayaṃ kṛṣṇa”, “kiṃ bhogair-jīvitena vā”. He had no desires. He had no fear other than that of pāpa. For such a person, the befitting instruction is that of the Self in all. A person with such knowledge can act anywhere while experiencing his own Self. At the beginning of the teaching, we see in the second chapter:

trai-guṇya-viṣayā vedā nis-traiguṇyo bhavārjuna |
nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-kṣema ātmavān ||

BG 2.45

“The Vedas are for those who are controlled by the three guṇas. The Vedas are of the form of dhārmic rules and injunctions. Those who are controlled by sattva, rajas and tamas have to perform vaidika activities to rid themselves of the impurity of the guṇa-triad. Arjuna, go beyond the three guṇas. Then, the Vedas and external vaidika activities become unnecessary for you. Go beyond the opposites of worldly life; be an epitome of sattva (good qualities). Give up selfishness and “I”-ness in the form of concern for your well-being. Be established in the Self.”

This indeed is adhi-dharma. General dharma is virtue or good qualities formed through the adherence to external instructions and injunctions of the Vedas and śāstras. Adhi-dharma, however, is virtue or goodness that flows and spreads by itself without any need for external instructions or actions.

“Give up all dharmas and take refuge in me alone.”

Is not this instruction for taking refuge a kind of dharma? Is it adharma? Is not the dharma of surrender one of the dharmas that have to be given up?

Taking refuge in Bhagavān is neither dharma nor adharma. It is beyond both of those; it is adhidharma.

The same actions and behaviours that are considered dharma while being obedient to the dicta of the Veda, become adhidharma when they happen by themselves without the need for any external rules or injunctions.

In the above Gītā verse, we have mām + ekam + śaraṇam + vraja.

Here “mām” refers only to Supreme Brahma. Śrīkṛṣṇa is originally the unmanifest Supreme Brahma; and is Kṛṣṇa only as an incarnation. 

brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāhamamṛtasyāvyayasya ca
śāśvatasya ca dharmasya sukhasyaikāntikasya ca

BG 14.27

To whom should one surrender? “It is to that Parabrahma - whose image is the incarnation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the epitome of whose formless consciousness is Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, who is the abode of all eternal dharma, and who is the origin of supreme bliss that is beyond even a touch of sorrow - that indestructible and changeless Brahma - to which one should surrender”.

To be continued...

The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.


Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

Prekshaa Publications

Indian Perspective of Truth and Beauty in Homer’s Epics is a unique work on the comparative study of the Greek Epics Iliad and Odyssey with the Indian Epics – Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Homer, who laid the foundations for the classical tradition of the West, occupies a stature similar to that occupied by the seer-poets Vālmīki and Vyāsa, who are synonymous with the Indian culture. The author...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the sixth volume of reminiscences character sketches of prominent public figures, liberals, and social workers. These remarkable personages hailing from different corners of South India are from a period that spans from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Written in Kannada in the 1970s, these memoirs go...

An Introduction to Hinduism based on Primary Sources

Authors: Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh, Hari Ravikumar

What is the philosophical basis for Sanātana-dharma, the ancient Indian way of life? What makes it the most inclusive and natural of all religio-philosophical systems in the world?

The Essential Sanātana-dharma serves as a handbook for anyone who wishes to grasp the...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fifth volume, episodes from the lives of traditional savants responsible for upholding the Vedic culture. These memorable characters lived a life of opulence amidst poverty— theirs  was the wealth of the soul, far beyond money and gold. These vidvāns hailed from different corners of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and lived in...

Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam represents the quintessence of Sage Bharata’s art and Bhārata, the country that gave birth to the peerless seer of the Nāṭya-veda. Padma’s erudition in various streams of Indic knowledge, mastery over many classical arts, deep understanding of the nuances of Indian culture, creative genius, and sublime vision bolstered by the vedāntic and nationalistic...

Bhārata has been a land of plenty in many ways. We have had a timeless tradition of the twofold principle of Brāhma (spirit of wisdom) and Kṣāttra (spirit of valour) nourishing and protecting this sacred land. The Hindu civilisation, rooted in Sanātana-dharma, has constantly been enriched by brāhma and safeguarded by kṣāttra.
The renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R...

ಛಂದೋವಿವೇಕವು ವರ್ಣವೃತ್ತ, ಮಾತ್ರಾಜಾತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ಷಣಜಾತಿ ಎಂದು ವಿಭಕ್ತವಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಬಗೆಯ ಛಂದಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನೂ ವಿವೇಚಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಬಂಧಗಳ ಸಂಕಲನ. ಲೇಖಕರ ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲಿಕ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯ ಸಾರವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ಈ ಹೊತ್ತಗೆ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಛಂದಸ್ಸಿನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ತೌಲನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಃಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಯನಗಳ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಬರೆಹಗಳೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಕಾರನಿಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಹಸ್ತನಾದ ಕವಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಫುರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳು ಕೃತಿಯ ಮೌಲಿಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿವೆ. ಈ...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...