Epitome of service

CHENNAI: The Ramayana is accorded the status of a scriptural authority expounding the concept of Self-surrender (Saranagati, Prapatti). Its significance is heightened by the fact that it embodies the assurance given by the Lord in His incarnation as Rama to protect one who surrendered to Him in the context of Vibhishana’s Saranagati to Him before the war, “I vouchsafe security against all living beings to him who comes to Me only once and seeks protection (from Me) saying ‘I am yours’; such is My vow.”

In his discourse, Sri Hari said one must surrender to the Almighty with the knowledge of His essential nature as the supreme and hence only He could provide succour. For Prapatti to be effective the person in whom one takes refuge must be capable of protecting him. In the context of liberation for which Saranagati is a means, the devotee surrenders to God after he is convinced that he is incapable of realising God with his efforts and with the certain knowledge that only He can deliver him from bondage for He is the omnipotent Lord. The direct result of Prapatti is the privilege of performing service to the Lord, which is the goal that a human being should seek.

The theme of Saranagati runs through the whole epic. The concept occurs at the outset in the Ramayana while describing the Lord’s descent to the world as Rama after the celestials surrendered to Him to protect all from Ravana’s reign of terror. The Lord not only incarnated at their behest but also gave them the opportunity to serve Him during His advent. Bharata’s service to the Lord took the form of worship of His Padukas (sandals) which he installed on the throne for the entire period of His exile. Vibhishana’s surrender bore fruit as he was accepted by Rama and he was able to serve the Lord during the war.

The one who is celebrated as the very embodiment of service is Lakshmana for he was never separated from Rama at all. His eagerness to perform service to Rama comes through when he begged Him by clasping His feet to allow him to accompany Him and Sita. That one must seek the intercession of the Divine Mother for Prapatti to be effective is highlighted by Lakshmana’s plea to Sita in this context.

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