Sastras say that Lord Narayana is the end and that to reach this end He is the means. The Lord is like a bridge that helps us to get from one side to the other. He is a bridge, but also the destination.
In the Bhagavad Gita He Himself says He is the means, through the Charama sloka. Nammazhvar in his ‘Agalagillaen’ verse clearly offers Saranagati at His feet.
When we have such clear examples of Saranagati, how can it be that He is the means, we may wonder. So what is the means to reach moksha? The Lord, or Saranagati? If Saranagti is not the means, then what is it? If He is the means, then does that mean that Saranagati is not the means? A lot of questions arise, all of which can be answered, with the aid of the Srutis, Smritis and the works of our Alvars and Acharyas, said Adur Asuri Madhavachari.
The Divya Dampati constitute the Siddha Upayam. Saranagati is the Sadhyopaya. So Saranagati by itself is not what leads to moksha. The purpose of Saranagati is Bhagavat preethi, that is to please the Lord. Because of our sins over many births, because of our violation of the Sastraic rules laid down by Him, He is angry with us. And our Saranagati is to seek His pardon, so that He will be pleased to show us His mercy(anugraha). Lord Narayana’s anugraha then leads to moksha. Thus Saranagati must be performed to turn the Lord’s anger against us into mercy for us. This mercy then results in His granting us moksha. Moksha is the reaching of Sri Vaikuntha, where the Jiva performs kainkaryam (service) to the Divya Dampati.
We should not think that we have, by our own efforts, done Prapatti. We must realize that the Lord has made it possible for us to perform Prapatti. And one should also realize that it is the infinite mercy of one’s Acharya that enables one to get moksha. Thus there can be no doubt that Saranagati is necessary. Without Saranagati, we cannot be the recipients of His grace, and without Lord Narayana’s mercy we cannot attain moksha. So while He is the means to moksha, the way to obtain His mercy is through Saranagati.
Thus the way to His anugraha is Saranagati, and because of His anugraha, moksha results.