Aparigraha and Isvara Pranidhana: Exploring the Connection between Non-grasping and Surrender

The Bhagavad Gita: Winthrop Sargeant

3.25: While those who are unwise act from attachment to action, so the wise should act without attachment intending to maintain the welfare of the world

4.33 Better than the sacrifice of material possessions is the wisdom sacrifice, arjuna; all action without exception arjuna is fully comprehended in wisdom

5.10 offering his actions to brahman having abandoned attachment he who acts is not tainted by evil any more than a lotus leaf by water

9.27… whatever you do… do that as an offering to Me


The concepts of nongrasping/nonattachment and surrender to the divine gives an interesting way to understand right action and how to live in the world practicing yoga in every moment.

One meaning of Aparigraha or non-grasping that I have been exploring is the idea of what it means to be in the present moment without expecting or wanting it to be different than it is. What does it mean to be in relationship with others and not expect or want them to be different than they are? If we met every moment and every person from a space of non-grasping, what would happen? What would happen if we stopped trying to control or make situations different than they presented themselves?  In our daily awareness our ego mind works so quickly to assess a situation and tell us the meaning and help us determine what we need to do to continue to validate and feel good about our situation.  In the idea of the wisdom sacrifice, we would be able to see each situation, each person from the space of wisdom- beyond the ego structures of our personal beliefs, emotions, and thoughts.  We would be able to meet the present moment as it is.  I recently read a definition of yoga as union with the present moment. Nongrasping for the moment to be different than it is this practice  of yoga as union, acceptance, and allowing the present moment to be seen as it is.  This practice of non-grasping can help us to see the present moment in the light of discriminative awareness, otherwise our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and reactions don’t allow that truth of the moment to be seen.

How do we find this nongrasping and allowing or union with meeting the present moment as it is? Isvara Pranidhana helps us in finding the space inside ourselves to meet the moment as it is. When we practice surrender to the divine we are practicing trust in the divine within us and in the universe. The development of this trust and surrender within and in the universe shifts our perspective and helps us move from the small ego self to the connection with a deeper Self in us and others and trust in the moment.  In the Gita, it speaks of offering all actions to the divine to not incur harm.  In the wisdom sacrifice, if we sat in the seat of discriminative awareness not grasping or trying to see things other than how they were and trusted in the divine within we could look at all of our actions, beliefs and thoughts to determine how action in the moment either takes us into deeper connection with the divine or separates us from that connection.

The Gita even tells us if we try not to act- action will happen anyway from the movement of material nature. So if action is to happen as we walk in the world, these two concepts ask us how we can meet each moment as it is, develop trust in the divine within ourselves, others and the universe so that each action can come from a space of clarity and for the maintenance or betterment of the world around us.  If we can remember these concepts continually as we walk in the world we have the ability to practice yoga in every moment and in every interaction

3 replies
  1. Sharyn
    Sharyn says:

    lovely written article. thank you.
    the last line “If we can remember these concepts continually as we walk in the world we have the ability to practice yoga in every moment and in every interaction ”
    This certainly can seem like quite a duanting task even with the greatest dedication to practice and willingness .
    I do feel there is a remembering and that it lies perfectly within that holy instant that we actually embrace all that is as it is coming to us, as you wrote. to be able to not attach and surrender. the letting go and letting God. Its an Undoing of all that is grasping us and all that we feel we might actually lose in such a surrender ! recognizing we have all we could or would ever need at any given moment is in direct relatonship to bringing awareness to where we feel this is not so ! I can say then that Yoga practice prepares us to be able, to notice we have and can grow the capacity to be in this moment of clarity where we are able to surrender all that cannot ever be grasped <3

    • marlysa sullivan
      marlysa sullivan says:

      Thank you- this is beautiful. I love what you wrote ” the capacity to be in this moment of clarity where we are able to surrender all that cannot ever be grasped”


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