Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Surrender is a misunderstood word. When people use the word surrender, it means to let go of everything that they identify with, when they think 'this is me'. This is not really the meaning of the word surrender.

The word in Hindi is Samarpan, which has been translated as surrender. The Hindi word 'sam' is complete or total; and 'arpan' is offering. So Samarpan means total offering. When you go to a temple or to some religious event and you have to offer something there, whether it be flower or fruit, do you pick up any flower or fruit, or do you pick up the best that you can find? Do you pick up the trampled flower from the ground to offer? Or do you take the best and budding flower to offer?

The best and most beautiful

Samarpan actually means offering your positivity, not your negativity, offering the best that you can offer your creativity, optimism, joy, happiness. That has to be offered to the divine, to guru, to God. Once that is offered a connection takes place between the two based on the purity of offering. Then God or guru comes alive in you. Otherwise the word surrender has no meaning. Rather it is always taken in a negative way: 'Oh, that person has surrendered, now he is brainwashed, gone from our grip'. Surrender always denotes a negative meaning. In reality it is offering the best, the most beautiful that you have inside you to God or to guru for it to be enhanced and returned.

Surrender does not mean dependency. Some people think of surrender as a negative term, as control, brainwash, and also as dependency: 'I don't have to think anything about myself from today on, the guru will think about it. For my sickness, for my health, for my happiness, for my position, for my power, for my status, for my upliftment, for my downfall, for everything guru is responsible'. That is dependency.

That dependency is something which is not accepted in spiritual life. People may thrive on it; gurus may thrive on it for they are ordinary people. They may think, 'I am the advisor to a person as to when to sleep, when to eat, when to do this, when to do that'. People like it for nobody wants to take responsibility for their own actions. Then it is easy to put the blame on some other person.

Surrender is not a word which I use to indicate a positive connection that can develop when you offer the best. Even to a stranger, if you smile, you will get a smile in return. It creates a connection. If you look at a stranger and frown, what will you get back? Will that create a connection? On the contrary, it will create separation. So, the word is Samarpan — positive offering, and not surrender.


A true person or true disciple should be a person who is not dependent on anything, who takes responsibility and charge for their own life, health, welfare, upliftment and growth. To take responsibility for one's life is the biggest challenge for everyone, not only for a disciple, but everybody in this world.

Nobody believes in themselves and therefore people generally ask confirmationto other people; 'Shall I? Should I? I am planning, what do you think? What is your opinion?' They spend months talking about it to their families and friends before actually taking any step, as they themselves are not convinced. This is an indication that nobody wants to take charge or responsibility of themselves and of their failures. They want success but they don't want to face failures.

A disciple is somebody who stands alone from this mind-set, who will accept the responsibility, who will accept the challenge, and who will not be dependent on guru but be true to the teachings of the master.

8 December 2017, Ganga Darshan, Munger