Monday Morning Greetings 2023 #32 – Slay Me or Protect Me as You Wish

August 7th, 2023

I am enjoying Akincana Krishna das’s class, “Smaraṇaṁ: Meditations on Śaraṇāgati”, one of the four main song books that the great Vaiṣṇava ācārya Śrīla Bhaktivinoda composed. Akincana teaches the songs of “Śaraṇāgati” for memorization and prayer.[1] Included in the class are simple classical mnemonic devices that, in my experience, enable one to memorize the songs in a fraction of what it would normally take, and techniques for deeply meditating on them. Besides the memorization and prayer, what intrigues me most in studying “Śaraṇāgati” is the way in which Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, in verse after verse, uncompromisingly presents the concept of Śaraṇāgati (surrender), such as is expressed in today’s title, which is from the third verse from last week’s song:


“Slay me or protect me as You wish, You are the master of Your eternal servant.


What I was wondering, which will be the substance of today’s discussion, is how people coming to the path of bhakti today, who are generally influenced in their upbringing with a post-modern mind, which tends to psychologically react negatively to authority, what to speak of the idea that there is a truth that we must fully acquiesce or surrender to, can properly understand this concept of Śaraṇāgati. Śaraṇāgati also has all the trappings, at least externally, of a codependent relationship, the mood to totally reject one’s own needs and to plan one’s entire life around pleasing another.[2] What I want to try to do in this post is to, in a simple and brief way, explain the concept of Śaraṇāgati, and in doing so save it, so to speak, from the filter of the post-modern mind and any sense that the concept of surrender is akin to a psychological aberration such as codependence. Here’s my attempt.


I think the key to freeing Śaraṇāgati from such burdensome thoughts is to understand the feelings of surrender as the symptom and cause of love, which is a more universally accepted and appreciated principle than surrender. One way to define love is finding your happiness in the happiness of another without any motive or expectation of return. Śrīla Prabhupāda taught us that the best example of this in the material world is a mother’s love for her child. Isn’t such love where the mother selflessly gears her life around the needs of her child one of the most beautiful things in this world to see, what to speak of to have in one’s life? The point is when there is true love, whether it is in servitude, friendship, parental, or conjugal love, there is sacrifice that invokes beautiful and laudable feelings of selflessness and surrender.


My argument here is that when we accept love as the highest principle in this world, and when a symptom of that love is selfless surrender, then why should we deny such love and the symptoms of love in relation to its ultimate source, the realm of the divine? The Taittirīya Upaniṣad thus declares, “raso vai saḥ,” that the divine is the highest exchange of love, which means that in perfection we are meant to share in the highest love, which is accompanied by the highest sentiments of totally giving oneself to another—the perfect other, the Supreme Lord, one who can perfectly reciprocate our love. I am thus looking forward to Akincana’s next class where again we will study, meditate, and aspire for the sentiments of Śaraṇāgati:


“While sitting up or lying down, I will constantly meditate on your lotus feet. Whenever you call, I will immediately run to you and dance in rapture.” (bosiyā śuiyā, tomāra caraṇa)

(Goptṛtve-Varaṇa – song 3, verse 4)



[1] Those interested in Akincana Krishna’s next online seminar on “Śaraṇāgati” may contact him at [email protected].

[2] There is a difference between codependence and pure love, especially love of God. In pure love one is fully focused on the object of one’s love for their pleasure, whereas in codependence one’s life is focused on the object of adoration, but mixed with motive born of one’s own attachments and fears.


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