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How can one surrender completely? This is a question often asked. A question of great relevance especially to those who belong to the Sri Vaishnava lineage of Sri Ramanujacharya, whose principal ideology consists in Prapatti, the path of refuge or surrender.

Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath raises this question in Shiva-Namamrita Lahari. “How can one surrender completely?” And he answers, “By surrendering with one's body, speech and mind (kaayaa, vaachaa, manasaa).”

But then, the most difficult part is to surrender mentally. And Thakur gives a profound answer to this, an answer which establishes direct connection between bodily-act and speech-act, and the mind. He says Jadi keu moner dara chinta na korte paare, dandabat pronaam kore "aami tomar sharanaagat" bolleo sharanaagat houwa jaaye. If one cannot surrender one's mind, one can surrender by prostrating (offering dandavata) before the Lord and saying, "I am Yours. I have taken refuge in You."

We note here that in prostrating like a staff (dandavata) we perform sashtanga namaskaram (sa + ashta + anga), a type of namaskar where all the 'angas' or body parts touch the ground. It is the position where you lie flat on your stomach with your eight limbs touching the ground. This is a posture of total surrender.

The command ‘on your knees’ gets the person to submit or surrender. But it is not total submission. Here comes another instruction, ‘You’re still on your knees, now go down flat and supine.’ Dandavata, that’s it! In this posture when one says, "I am Yours. I have taken refuge in You” – the ego melts down, there’s a rush of humility, submission and self-effacement. The mental surrender happens.

Children in India are taught to offer dandavata pranaam so that they can effortlessly achieve the impossible task of mental surrender. Thakur Sitaramdas Omkarnath has made this so simple and clear.

We notice that all those who lead a life of surrender to the Guru or God have a tremendous urge to repeatedly prostrate themselves at the feet of Gurudeva/God. Whenever something favourable takes place in their life, they rush to the puja room and offer dandavata to Gurudeva/God with gratitude, they do the same as a token of acceptance when something unfavourable happens. This is their natural bodily expression of the feeling of surrender in their heart. No wonder the vice versa is also true.

The extent of mental surrender and the urge to offer dandavata pranaam or contemplating Gurudeva’s feet are directly proportional. Prostrating (offering dandavata) before the Lord and saying, "I am Yours. I have taken refuge in You” can bring about mental surrender. Thakur has given this simple key to a mysterious spiritual process.

~Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)
Editor, The Mother