The concept of Saranagati (surrender) is the essence of Visishtadvaita. Known as Prapatti or Nyaasa, it is a concept that has been extensively explained by such Acharyas as Swami Desika. In Visishtadvaita, the role of the Acharyas in Saranagati is always stressed.
And the first Acharyas are the Divya Dampati: Lord Narayana and Goddess Mahalakshmi. The Sanskrit verse beginning with the line ‘Lakshmi Naatha Samaarambaam’ says: “I offer my respects to the line of preceptors, the foremost of whom is the Divine Couple.” Narayana may be described as One who is always with Lakshmi. Next to Narayana in the Acharya line is Lakshmi. Her only concern is our well-being.
She is the embodiment of compassion, and does not know how to punish erring humans. Whatever their faults, She does not think of punishing them. Thus, if it is the Dharma of the Divine Couple to protect the world, the One who ensures that the Lord does not waver from this Dharma is Mahalakshmi, said Thandri Srinivasa Thathachariar in a discourse.
In Saranagati Deepika, Swami Desika puts explains that the Lord’s effulgence is due to Mahalakshmi being always with Him. His Sri Stuti elaborates on how Narayana and Mahalakshmi are not to be sought separately, but as a couple.
The Divya-Dampati is the Tattva; Saranya-Dampati is the Hita; and Seshi-Dampati is the Purushartha. In the Nyaasa Tilakam, Swami Desika speaks of the Divine Couple as Dampati Jagatampati: the Divine Couple who rule over all the worlds.
An example from ritual worship will help to enlighten the concept of the Divine Couple further. When a yaga is performed, ‘havis’ (oblation) is offered to Aagnavishnu.
The word Aagnavishnu can actually be split up as Agni and Vishnu, but when the oblation is offered, it is never offered separately to Agni and Vishnu, but to Aagnavishnu.
In the same way, Saranagati must be offered only to the Divine Couple, not to each independent of the other. It is Mahalakshmi who makes the Lord approachable.
Thus Narayana and His Consort are to be worshipped together for moksha.