The easy way to reach God’s feet is through total surrender, and this is known as saranagati. Those who resort to it are superior to those who resort to bhakti yoga, because in the case of bhakti yoga, there is a certain degree of self approval, for we think that it is our effort which will result in the goal sought after. But in the case of saranagati, we plead total helplessness, and so there is no room for even a small degree of pride, said Valayapet Ramachariar, in a discourse.
There are five angas or prerequisites for saranagati. They are ‘anukulya sankalp’a which means doing that which pleases the Lord. ‘Praatikulya varjana’, which means refraining from doing that which displeases Him. The third condition is ‘Mahavisvasa’, unshakeable belief that He will save us. ‘Goptrtva varna’ is requesting Him for help. Finally, there is ‘Kaarpanya’, that is, the acknowledgement of our own helplessness.
In the Ramayana, after Rama kills Ravana, He sends Hanuman to Sita, asking him to tell Sita of the victory. Sita is pleased to hear the message but Hanuman does not stop with that. Sita says that She wishes She could give him some gift, for he is the bearer of good tidings. Hanuman then puts forth a request to Her. He asks to be permitted to hurt the demonesses, who have been guarding Sita. But Sita says no. Trijata, the demoness has already surrendered to Sita, and at her urging all the other demonesses also surrendered. They are the ones appointed by Ravana to keep a watch over Sita. Yet, they believe that if they surrender to Her, She will not keep in mind their sins, but will only keep in mind the fact that they have surrendered.
It is because they know that Sita will not let any harm befall them that they have surrendered to her. Thus the demonesses display the quality of Mahavisvasa, complete trust in Sita.
Saranagati is easy to follow, and moksha will definitely be granted to the one who surrenders. It is also enough if one surrenders once. One does not have to do so repeatedly. In fact, the abhaya mudra of Lord Ranganatha may be taken to indicate that it is enough to surrender once.