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Sharanagathi or Prapatti (Sanskrit for "surrender"), in the devotional school of Hindu denominations known as Vaishnavism, is the process of total surrender to God (Vishnu or Krishna). The process of Saranagati forms the basis of devotion to Godhead in the bhakti traditions within the Sri Sampradaya, propagated by Ramanujacharya (1017–1137 CE) and the Gaudiya Sampradaya, founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1482–1533 CE). Ramanuja considered surrender to Vishnu and His consort Lakshmi to be the highest goal of life, while Chaitanya emphasizes surrender to Krishna and his consort Radha as supreme.

Spiritual initiation[edit]

The formal ritual of Saranagati or Prapatti is a Vedic and Puranic, scriptural and tradition backed ritual called Pancha-Samskara or "the five impressions" and another name is Samashrayanam. The individual receives the following:

  • An initiation 'spiritual' name such as a name of Vishnu or one of his devotees such as Ramanujacharya, suffixed with the word dasa (meaning "servant" or servant of). Examples being Vishnu dasa, or Ramanuja dasa. (Nama samskara)
  • Tiruman or Tilaka on the foreheand and 12 marks on certain parts of the body, which signifies that they belong to Vishnu and that their bodies, minds and Souls is the walking temple of Laxshmi-Narayana. (Pundra samskara)
  • Special branding on the shoulders of the Conch (Panchajanya) and Chakra or wheel (Sudarshana) of Vishnu by the guru. (Thapa samskara)
  • Learning to do Archana or Puja or ritual worship of Laxshmi-Narayana from the Guru. (Yajna samskara)
  • Learning three special mantras to Vishnu from the guru. (Mantra Samskara)*

Sri Alavandhar Stotram/Stotra Ratnam by Bhagawad Sri Yamunacharya features following shloka which defines Saranagathi

Na Dharma Nishthosmi Na Cha Atmavedi
Na BhaktimansTvat Charanaravinde |
Akinchanonanyagati Sharanyam
Tvat Padamoolam Sharanam Prapadye ||

O Lord, I do not know Dharma, I do not know Dnyana, I do not have Bhakti in your divine Lotus Feet. All I have is I am Akinchan (one who does not have anything), and Ananyagati (One who is totally dependent ONLY on You). This akinchan and ananyagati soul is surrendered to your Lotus Feet.

In Sri Bhagavadgeeta Bhagawan Sri Krishna explains Saranagati to Arjuna after explaining in detail Karma, Dnyana, Bhakti Yogas. Sri Bhagawadgeeta is a saar of all the vedas, upanishads, puranaas. And The following shloka is a saar of Sri Bhagawadgeeta. This shloka being Saranagathi mantram offered by Lord Sri Krishna to Arjuna, it is regarded as one of the three divine mantras of Srivaishnavism. It is also called as Charam Mantra

Sarva Dharmaan Parityajya Mamekam Sharanam Vraja|
Aham tva sarva papebhyo moksha ishyami ma shuchaha||

O Arjun, you relinquish all dharmas and surrender unto me. I shall deliver you from all the sins. Grieve not!

Swami Sri Sitaramacharya (Vaikunth Mandap, Ayodhya) elaborated above charama shloka in Hindi Chhanda.

Dharmo Me Sadhan Bhava Taji Kainkarya Ki Kari Bhavana
Muzako Hi Sadhan Maani Raho Yadi Param Pad Hai Pavana
Mat Prapti Pratibandhak Agho Se Avashi Tohi Chhudavunga
Mati Shoch Nischaya Parampadmein bhi tumhe pachuchavunga

Leave sadhan bhav (upaya bhava) in all the dharma or activities and treat them as bhagavad kainkarya (seva) received from Bhagawan. You treat Only ME as your Sadhan (Upay/Means) if you want to attain Param Padam. I will release you from everything that obstructs you from attaining ME (may that be Papa or Punya. Even those punya or sukrut which take us away from the Lord should be treated as Papa or Agha). Do not worry I Shall even carry you to the Param Pad Dham.

Although often used interchangeably in common parlance, Saranagati is different from Prapatti. Saranagati refers to the seeking of God as the ultimate means for liberation, whereas Prapatti is the surrender of one's ego to receive the grace of God. The surrender of one's ego through Prapatti leads to the opening up of the grace of God whereas the invocation of the always freely available grace of God through prayer disarms one's resistance to goodness. Charama Sloka (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 66) describes Saranagati whereas the fourth injunction of Shri Krishna "Ma Namaskuru" (Prostrate to Me) in the previous verse (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 65) describes Prapatti. Prapatti is necessary at the end of all yoga practices because all of them boosts the ego by giving Siddhi-s (extraordinary powers or perfections) which prevents the merger of the individual consciousness with God consciousness. Renunciation of Siddhi-s leads to Kaivalyam, that is, Liberation (Patanjali Yoga Sutra-s 3.50-52). When Arjuna surrendered to Shri Krishna at the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita partly because of weakness, there was not much merit to deserve anything in return other than the teaching that would empower him, whereas after hearing the teaching and after practicing the yoga to fulfill his responsibilities that would earn him security, wealth, fame etc., he could offer something to receive the grace. However, since it is almost always practically impossible to practice Yoga well enough to become perfect in one lifetime because of the sinful tendencies accumulated over countless births, sufferings that are endemic in this world, and temptations that always distracts one from the path, and since it is difficult for a great personality like Arjuna to be humble, Shri Krishna offers unconditionally the ultimate option of Saranagati for release, which is the dependence on Him, Who is an infinite ocean of love, omnipotent and infallible.

In practice[edit]

In Sri Vaisnava Tradition Saranagati is divided into six divisions:

  1. Accepting those things that are favorable for devotion to God (anukulyasya sankalpa)
  2. Rejecting those things that are averse to surrender to God (pratikulyasya varjanam)
  3. Considering God to be one's protector in all circumstances (raksisyatiti visvasa)
  4. Accepting God as one's maintainer (goptrtve varanam)
  5. Surrendering everything in God's service (atma-niksepa)
  6. Cultivating a humble attitude (karpanya)

In Goudiya Tradition Saranagati is Divided into ten Parts

  1. Dainya
  2. Atma Nivedana
  3. Goptritve Varana
  4. Avasya Raksibe Krsna Visvasa Palana
  5. Bhakti Anukula Matra Karyera Svikara
  6. Bhakti Pratikula Bhava Varjanangikara
  7. Bhajan Lalasa
  8. Siddhi Lalasa
  9. Vijnapti
  10. Sri Nama Mahatmya

In ultimate vaishnavism sampradhya the nutshell is Saranagathi has 6 elements -5 angas & an angi

  1. acknowledging ones helplessness
  2. determination not to err again
  3. vowing to follow rules
  4. unshakeable faith that the Lord is the sole refuge
  5. seeking the lord as protector
  • These are 5 angas
  • surrender itself in accordance with 5 angas is called angi

Reference:The Hindu newspaper dated january08-Sunday-2017(article: tiruppavai lead us to sri vaikuntha)SpcialIssue vaikunta ekadasi


  • Sri Vaishnavism: an Elementary treatise for beginners, published Sri Thillasthanam Swamy Kainkarya Sabha, Bangalore India & the Sri Vishishtadvaita Research Centre, Madras India