Salvation is an ideal that is beyond the reach of human effort alone and is possible only through Divine grace. The Lord is the absolute power who can grant salvation. His direct assurances to mankind during the Varaha, Rama and Krishna avatars have kept alive humanity’s hope — to not only tide over the innumerable problems of Samsara but also to get liberated from it ultimately, Kalyanapuram Sri R. Aravamudhachariar said in a lecture.
Lakshmana’s surrender to Rama when he seeks His permission to accompany Him to the forest is a case in point. Lakshmana had always been close to Rama right from the time of birth, indicates Valmiki. If he were to be separated from Rama, he would suffer like a fish out of water. When Rama announces that He would go to the forest and directs Sita and Lakshmana to stay in Ayodhya and carry out their duties, both fret uncomfortably at the thought of separation. Sita speaks of her dharma convincingly to get the Lord’s consent and Lakshmana resorts to the path of surrender at His feet. Consequently, he is blessed with the unique honour of serving Rama and Sita during their exile.
In the Aranya Kanda, when Rama enters the Dandakaranya forest, Valmiki describes the rishis as being overwhelmed to behold the Divine incarnate, the sole object of their meditation, who now appeared before them as the handsome Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana. They prostrate at His feet, seeking His help against the atrocities of the demons who were bent on disturbing their yagnas. The humble acceptance of their inability to protect themselves against the dangers they face typifies the spirit of surrender, seeking refuge in Him.
Rama proclaims His vow of protection when Vibhishana of the enemy camp seeks Him with all humility on the eve of the war with Ravana thus: “I shall protect those who seek my help, even if they sought me only once. This is my vow and I promise to keep it up at all costs.”
An individual’s realisation of his helplessness, offering of his entire being to the Lord with absolute faith in His grace, is a sure route to salvation. This is the essence of the Vaishnava doctrine of Saranagati.