The following is from the talk given by Sri V.S.Ramanan, President of Sri Ramanasramam, in New York City at the September 8th, 2002 "Advent at Arunachala" program.
The whole life of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi is a commentary on saranagati (surrender). When he left Madurai for good, he took just the train fare to Tiruvannamalai, threw away the packets of sweets given to him by Muthukrishna Bhagavathara's wife and was not anxious for the morrow. He tore off from his dhoti only a strip for a kaupina (loin cloth) and he did not even think of using the remaining cloth as a towel. This is total surrender.
Surrender is a practical proposition. It releases the devotee from life's dilemma. Wherever Sri Krishna teaches about saranagati in the Bhagavad Gita he refers to ananya bhakti, where the instrument and the goal are one and the same. The same idea is stated by Sri Bhagavan in the fifth verse of "Arunachala Pancharatnam":
One who surrenders his heart wholly to you, one who sees you in every aspect of creation, one who loves every creation as himself – he is the one who will succeed, O Arunachala! he will get immersed in you!
Here Sri Bhagavan stresses ananya bhakti and self-surrender.
It is interesting to note that Sri Krishna says, "Do not grieve." After surrendering yourself totally to God, you should not even worry about your own shortcomings or flaws. For if you think you have to improve yourself after surrender, then it indicates a residual ego in you. Hence, don't grieve about your flaws after surrender. It only shows your surrender is incomplete. Bhagavan says after getting into a train, nobody carries the luggage on his head. He keeps it on the luggage-rack. Likewise, after surrendering, do not continue to carry your mental luggage. Leave it totally to His care.
After surrender you should not have 1) worries, 2) fear, 3) doubt, 4) sorrow, 5) the inclination to test whether surrender is effective or not and 6) aberrations (conflicts).
The devotee who has surrendered is like a lump of clay in the hands of the potter. The lump never says, "Make me a pot! Make me a cup, etc." It leaves it to the potter to mold it into whatever shape he wants it to become.
Sri Bhagavan lays great value on ananya saranagati. There are several instances where He explains the concept to the questioner:
"If you have surrender, it means that you must accept the will of God and not make a grievance of what may not happen to please you. Things may turn out differently from what they appear. Distress often leads people to faith in God.
"The Lord bears the burden of the world. Know that the spurious ego which presumes to bear that burden is like a sculptured figure at the foot of a temple tower which appears to sustain the tower's weight. There cannot even be impatience for speedy realization."
To one who was so afflicted, he replied: "Surrender to Him and accept His will whether He appears or vanishes. Await His pleasure. If you want Him to do as you want, it is not surrender, but command. You cannot ask Him to obey you and yet think you have surrendered. He knows what is best and when and how to do it. Leave everything entirely to Him. That is what is meant by surrender."
Even prayer can imply a lack of trust and Sri Bhagavan normally did not encourage prayer in the sense of petition:
"They pray to God and finish with 'Thy will be done'. If His will be done, why do they pray at all? It is true that Divine Will prevails at all times under all circumstances. Individuals cannot act of their own accord. Recognize the force of the Divine Will and keep quiet. Everyone is looked after by God. He created all. You are only one among two thousand millions. When He looks after so many, will He omit you? Even common sense dictates that one should accept His will. There is no need to tell Him your requirements. He knows them Himself and will look after them."
To a devotee's question Sri Bhagavan replied: "Gandhiji has surrendered himself to the Divine and works accordingly with no self interest. He does not concern himself with the results but accepts them as they turn up. That must be the attitude of national workers.
"Devotee: Will the work be crowned with success?
"Bhagavan: The question arises because the questioner has not surrendered himself."
When a devotee questioned about unconditional surrender, Bhagavan replied:
"If one surrenders completely, there will be no one left to ask questions or to be considered. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to the root thought "I", or one surrenders unconditionally to the Higher Power. These are the only two ways to Realization."