How Sankaradeva initiated Madhavadeva
Vaikuntha Dvija describes how Sankaradeva initiated Madhavadeva, the process being termed saranar kriyā.
Sankaradeva had the Bhagavad Gita worshipped, and the vegetable offerings made before this holy book were distributed. Then Madhava staying in a position of obeisance, the Master explained to him the significance of the four saranas. Madhava bowed in the name of each of these and then to Sankaradeva as his Guru. The Teacher now delivered the sermon:
One can please the Guru by following his upadesa, God by seeing Him in all objects of the world, nāma by celebrating it in songs and bhakat by Sravana and Kirttana and detachment from the objects of the senses.
The different Types of sarana
He then explained to him the prākrita, madhyama and uttama saranas.
Saranas are of three types:
When one firmly believed that Krishna can protect one from sins in the same way as other ordinary rites, pilgrimages and worship of other deities can do, it is primary sarana.
When one puts in Krishna the reliance and affection he has in relations and properties, it is mediocre sarana.
When one forsakes attachments even to one's own body and applies all attention to the Lord, it is the best type of sarana. In this type of sarana, body, mind and spirit (kāya, mana, vākya) - all are surrendered at the feet of the Lord.