The ego-sense, in its attempt to be in control and glorify in its success, abhors the very idea of “surrender”. The connotation of the term in English is loaded with negative inferences, yet in other languages there are more subtle and deeper meanings to be unlocked. For instance, in Sanskrit, the term atmasamarpanam has the sense of self-offering. Similarly in German, self-surrender translates as ‘selbsthingabe’ which conveys a sense of dedication, commitment or self-offering.

It is essential, however, to recognise that the yogic path of union with the Divine implies a self-exceeding, a breaking out of the limited framework of the usual action of mind-life-body, and this cannot be done if the ego-sense remains predominant in the nature, as it is tied to this mind-life-body complex. The process outlined by Sri Aurobindo to achieve this self-exceeding, is one of ‘aspiration, rejection and surrender’ as he has clearly explained out in his book The Mother. Aspiration shifts the focus away from the ego. Rejection is the process of maintaining the focus away from the forces that reinforce the ego. Surrender is the action of welcoming the Divine Force and its action and accepting it fully in one’s being. It is only with this step that the higher force can actually effect the transformations that are required for the next evolutionary development of consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “There is not much spiritual meaning in keeping open to the Mother if you withhold your surrender. Self-giving or surrender is demanded of those who practice this Yoga, because without such a progressive surrender of the being it is quite impossible to get anywhere near the goal. To keep open means to call in her Force to work in you, and if you do not surrender to it, it amounts to not allowing the Force to work in you at all or else only on condition that it will work in the way you want and not in its own way which is the way of the Divine Truth. A suggestion of this kind is usually made by some adverse Power or by some egoistic element of mind or vital which wants the Grace of the Force, but only in order to use it for its own purpose, and is not willing to live for the Divine Purpose, — it is willing to take from the Divine all it can get, but not to give itself to the Divine. The soul, the true being, on the contrary, turns towards the Divine and is not only willing but eager and happy to surrender.”

“Surrender means to consecreate everything in oneself to the Divine, to offer all one is and has, not to insist on one’s ideas, desires, habits, etc., but to allow the divine Truth to replace them by its knowledge, will and action everywhere.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Surrender, pp. 100-105

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.