If there’s no surrender, you can’t make any progress. Prabhupada says everything depends on surrender. At work on the job, you have to surrender to the boss. When you marry, you have to surrender. In the military you have to surrender. Nothing can be done without surrender. This is even more applicable on the spiritual platform than anywhere else. Surrender, submission is the key. The whole process depends on surrender. Arjuna was arguing with Krishna—”I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this. How can I kill my family members? Uncles, cousins? Teacher? Friends?” The whole Bhagavad-gita was spoken just to convince Arjuna to surrender. The whole Bhagavad-gita has one focus, one target: to convince Arjuna to surrender to Krishna’s desire, which was to fight and kill the enemy. And by extension, the same principle is applicable to every one of us. There’s no compromise. It’s either surrender or not surrender. That’s the sum and substance of the whole Bhagavad-gita. Krishna is speaking with Arjuna and giving different arguments and analogies to explain why Arjuna should do as He asks, and after He has said everything, He says, “Well, I’ve explained everything. Now do what you wish to do?”
That surrender is very rare. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah: “After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me.” (Bg 7.19) “Knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” Out of the entourage of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, one person surrendered: that person was Prabhupada.
Surrender is the pivot, the key, the vital nerve of the whole thing. We can’t circumvent it by giving excuses about our material ties and responsibilities. Such persons don’t want to surrender, and want to carry on casual association or relationship as buddies. They want to have both ways: Krishna and Maya, but you can have only one or the other.
The best tactic is to take advantage of what they are willing to surrender and disregard the other part. Whatever they’re willing to put forward, we accept that. Allow them to maintain their posture and ignore the rest. Everyone has reservations. To be a 100% fully surrendered pure devotee is not an ordinary thing. Not that there are so many pure devotees. Everyone has reservations of one kind or another, and just as we want to be—we want others to bear with us— we have to bear with them. We wouldn’t want to be taken to task, “Well, look at you, why aren’t you fully surrendered?” We have to accept however much people want to surrender. We accept that much and patiently go on, and whatever they’re keeping in reserve, we allow that.
We’re in this great trek, like the Chinese had the long march. This is the great trek to go forward towards Krishna.
[Speaking of Gaura Kishora das Babaji’s renunciation and strict standard, how if not for Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur and Prabhupada, we would not have access to Krishna consciousness, no access to devotional service:]
Someone had to come down to us. Prabhupada did that. He came down to our level, made Krishna accessible, Lord Chaitanya. We similarly have to come down to those who cannot come up to that standard that Srila Prabhupada set. Not to dilute, but to nurse. Like a mother has to come way down and nurse the child. She can’t expect the child to reciprocate with her on her own level. One of the distinguishing features of motherhood or the feminine trait is to be patient and nurturing. Everything the child needs she patiently gives. Men can’t do it. It’s one of the differences between men and women. So Prabhupada came down to us. Not that we went up to him. And he patiently, step by step, nursed us for a long time, over a period of 10 years.
So we have to see ourselves in a similar way. That’s what is required. Otherwise they can’t make it. They need someone to be nurturing, caring. This is one of the lessons we need to learn. Not just a matter of quoting verses or being right or being intelligent. It’s a matter of compassion. They don’t know anything, they’re in total darkness.