Indian Culture · Indian Religion · Inner View · Reminders to self · Satyam Shivam Sundaram · Spirituality beyond Religion · Words of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo

Surrender to the Guru

Every time I find myself getting somewhat lost or scattered in the multiplicity of noises coming from here and there, I feel this deep need to go back to the basics, I mean the most basic fundamentals of the path I aspire to pursue. This is one of the ways I have discovered which helps me to re-gain my inner poise, to re-center myself, to re-kindle and steady that flickering flame of aspiration.

A recent journey of this kind took me to a sentence I had written in one of my notebooks. This is from my notes from a Bhagavad Gita study camp I had attended last year: “It is significant to note that the starting note of the teaching of Bhagavad Gita is surrender, and that again is its last note.”

Painting by Keshav Venkataraghavan

Contemplation on this keynote of the Gita naturally led me to re-search and re-discover some more treasures. Treasures that are not only meant for merely safe-keeping somewhere in my heart and mind, but must be consciously ‘used’ throughout the journey. But given my numerous imperfections, especially with this feeling of being bogged down by the daily chaos of life, I often forget to ‘live’ out my outer life in the glorious light of these treasures. Re-discovering them, re-committing oneself to the truth and light of such gems is one way to crawl out of the mud that accumulates around and within me, I have learned.

Today, I find myself ready to share one such treasure rediscovered during this recent journey. I share it first and foremost as reminder to myself

But I share it also with a humble hope that some of my readers who often struggle with appreciating some of the basics of Indian spiritual traditions, such as Guru, Surrender, etc. might be inspired to discover on their own the true meaning of these. Too much ignorance and too much misinterpretation has led to much confusion about these fundamental ideas and truths. And for the future of India, it is now imperative that educated Indians shed their own ignorance and begin to re-discover the truths of their own cultural and spiritual traditions. 

Sri Aurobindo: Surrender is not easy. If one can surrender “unconditionally” and “sarva bhavena” – in all the parts of the becoming, as the Gita says – then there is nothing more to be done. But can a man do it? You can’t do it by merely saying, “I surrender.” It must become real; that is sadhana.

Disciple: But then would the idea of surrender to the Guru alone be sufficient?

Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by it? Do you think it so easy to surrender? It is very difficult, it is sadhana itself.

Disciple: But supposing a man surrenders to a human Guru, would it be sufficient ?

Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by surrender to a human being? And “sufficient” for what?

Disciple: Sufficient for attaining Perfection or God.

Sri Aurobindo: I suppose surrender to a man means surrender to the Divine in him, and whether it would be sufficient or not depends upon the man to whom he surrenders.

Disciple: Is it the same thing as surrendering to God?

Sri Aurobindo: I suppose when a man surrenders himself to another man, he surrenders to the Truth in the man. In what other sense can one understand it? He can, of course, get whatever the Guru has got if he is sincere and if he has a still greater sincerity for the search he may be even greater than his Guru.


Disciple: I now remember how Girish Chandra Ghosh, some days before his death, said that though Ramakrishna had asked him to leave the burden of his sadhana to him, yet Girish found he had not been able to transfer his burden to Ramakrishna.

Sri Aurobindo: But the idea in India is that yoga is a work of abhyasa, -constant practice. How can one man do sadhana for another? Whatever may be the idea in other yogas, in our yoga, at any rate, to leave the burden to the Guru would defeat its own aim. Each must work out his way by himself. What the Guru can do at the most is that he can put the Power; but the rejection and the transformation are to be done by the sadhaka himself. He can get the help when he needs. And when the Guru can put the Power one may not be able to hold it, or one may even spend it away uselessly. Everyone has to work out his way. (16-10-1925)


Sri Aurobindo: In this yoga, at any rate, you can’t say that “the Guru will do everything”, and leave the whole burden to him. I do not know about other yogas; but this yoga means growing conscious every moment of what is going on in oneself. One has to give consent to the higher working, rejecting the lower movement. That is the basis. The conditions for receiving the Guru’s help are the same as those for receiving the help of the Higher Power directly. Unless you consent to his working, even God does not help man. In this yoga there is that perfect liberty to the individual to make his choice. (2-3-1926)

~ Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, compiled by A.B.Purani

Linking this with Blog-A-Rhythm’s Wordy Wednesday: Back to Basics

23 thoughts on “Surrender to the Guru

  1. Lovely Beloo Didi…if reading, contemplating or feeling about surrender is such a divine delight then how would it be if one could attain that stage to do so. thanks..

    1. So good to see you here on the blog, my dear! Thank you for sharing such lovely words. Indeed the real delight is in attaining that state of surrender, even the little efforts we make on the path to that give immense delight to inner being.

  2. So many layers to this! Surrendering to your Guru is not easy. Especially when the logical mind raises its head each time the heart wishes to follow a certain path. Also, the part about one cannot transfer the burden is true at many levels. We come with a certain amount of karma and we need to work it out. Finding the right Guru itself is an indicator of the fact that we have been able to reserve the negative karma to a large extent.
    Your posts are so thoughtful, Beloo! It’s indeed difficult to comment.
    How wonderful that you’re on this path of spirituality and self-discovery!

    1. Thank you Uma for this insightful comment. Appreciate your kind words about my posts! I feel blessed to be touched by the Light that Mother and Sri Aurobindo are for me. Every time I feel stuck with some questions/some trouble of life, from mundane to most philosophical, I know only one Source where I can find the direction I need. As for this point about finding the right Guru, I think it is the Guru or the Path which picks us, maybe because that is what the soul needs for its further evolutionary journey.

  3. This is such a profound discourse. As Uma rightly put, it is difficult to add anything more to your post, Beloo. As for me, I have huge respect for my Gurus, but I don’t think I have ever been able to surrender whole heartedly. I would like to relate the concept to a wider sense. I would want to surrender myself to any thing that I engage in. I would want to be mindful, to be able to each moment to the fullest.

    1. Yes it is quite a challenge to even surrender in completely to a moment, to the task we are engaged in at the moment, without any part of our being – mental, emotional etc running around anywhere else.

      And I am also beginning to understand that surrender like everything else in a spiritual pursuit happens with the grace of the Guru. Though of course our own progressive and persistent effort is essential, because without inner preparation we aren’t even ready to receive the Grace.

      I am happy to hear the post resonated with you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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