Those who do not surrender to the Lord completely cannot even dream of moksha. That is the essence of the Visishtadavaita philosophy, which extols saranagati, and exhorts everyone to surrender to the Lord. But what is the great merit of saranagati, and why is it extolled?
The answer is that saranagati is a simple and easy way and puts moksha within reach of everyone, explained Navalpakkam V. Vasudevachariar, in a discourse. What about those who meditate on the Lord for years with moksha as the goal? Do they not get the deserved reward then? The answer is that they do. But then a further question arises.
Saranagati is over in a matter of minutes whereas meditation takes years and requires adherence to several difficult rules. How can the reward be the same for both an easy route and an extremely arduous one? If God is indeed the embodiment of fairness and justice, how can He reward the one who chooses an easy path in the same way that He rewards the one who imposes many restrictions on himself, and spends hours in meditation?
An example would perhaps explain what seems to us an unjust situation. Suppose there is a mother with three or four children. Let us assume that the oldest is around ten years old, and the youngest is a just a year old. Now who will get more of the mother’s attention? Obviously, the oldest child will not get as much attention as the youngest.
The reason is not that the mother does not love her eldest child. Her love is impartial and is given to all her children. But the youngest is helpless. This child depends on the mother to feed it, bathe it, to clothe it and to look after it all the time. But the eldest is capable of looking after himself. So, naturally the mother spends more time nurturing the infant, than she does looking after her other children.
In the same way, those who are capable of doing intense meditation, or capable of bhakti yoga do get their rewards. But the Lord rewarding the weak and helpless is like the mother paying more attention to the infant. Saranagati is the path that the Lord has shown us, keeping our weaknesses in mind. It is His way of helping the helpless.