You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : February 1997


From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Wed Feb 05 1997 - 06:11:02 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

One of the reasons why I think the humorous anecdote on the 44th
Azhagiasingar and his old friend of Mannargudi (my post of 30 January)
appealed to many of you is that it reveals the true nature of 'virakthi'. It
starkly shows us that the revulsion felt by a 'vivEki' for the glitz of the
material world can be true only if he can reject it even when it is all well
within his means to indulge or wallow in it. If he renounces a thing (like
the old gentleman of Mannargudi renounced 'cheedai') out of inability to
indulge in it, then such self-abnegtion cannot constitute real 'virakthi'. 

This is an aspect of 'virakthi' which sometimes in the real world we fail to
appreciate. The result is we often attribute this noble quality to quarters
that do not merit it at all.

As for Sri.Bharatha's 'virakthi' in the Ramayana there is little needed by
way of explanation to establish its genuineness. The prince amply
demonstrated his revulsion for the power and pelf that goes with the office
of the King of Ayodhya; he spurned the job with all its attendent
perquisites of opulence and ostentation; he was willing to denounce his
mother, father and even his guru; he did not have a moment's thought for his
own spouse; the majesty of the Court of the Ishvaku Empire meant nothing to
him; palace treasury, royal guards, hunting trips, banquets and balls,
carriages, splendid horses, court jesters and poets, retinues of loyal
courtiers or a harem of lovely courtesans --- everything could have been his
for the asking !

True 'virakthi' made Bharatha turn away from it all as one would turn away
from things funereal !!

Let us next explore the 'bheethi' that Bharatha experienced.

But briefly let us recollect our impressions of 'bheethi' from our post of 1

"....In this stage the aspirant is overcome by "holy terror" ...because
while he realizes that earthly existence is NULL he, however, finds nothing
from the heavens to fill the VOID."

"...He beset by doubt if the Lord, the "Abode of ALL Auspiciousness",
would ever deign to accept one as imperfect and infirm as himself." 

"...He sees the vast chasm of 'samsAra', and of his own 'karma', that still lies
separating him and the Lord; and the very thought of it makes him give up
all hope of ever being able to cross it. Instead all he can feel is the
disease of temporality gripping him, like fatal gangrene, ever more firmly
and inextricably. He doubts if he will ever be able to break loose..." 

"....Even if he did succeed would the Lord ever consider his incorrigible self
"eligible" for redemption ?"

"....What then is the value of even such measures like 'gnana', 'karma' or
'bhakti' ?" 

Now, in the 'ayodhya-kAndam' it is described how Bharatha followed Lord Rama
into Chirtrakoota to persuade Him to return to Ayodhya. There are several
passages in Valmiki's version which show that Bharatha was beset by very
deep anxieties on the way to Chitrakoota. He was filled with a deep sense of
foreboding that perhaps, given all that had happened in the palace, and in
spite of the intimacy and mutual love each had for the other as brothers,
Lord Rama might never come around into believing that Bharatha was innocent
of the insidious plot his mother, Kaikeyi, had hatched.

The 'ayodhya-kAndam' portrays, with a stirring pathos surpassing that of the
best of any Shakespearean drama, the character of Bharatha wrenching the
heart  and bowels of his soul out in the thought that Lord Rama, after all,
may yet find it difficult to believe his brother's expressions of remorse
for the inequity done to Him by the 'Ishvaku' family.

There are scenes described in this 'kAnda', dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', that
are capable of running, again and again, a blade of red-hot pain through
your heart as you imagine the scenes where Sri.Bharata mouths his
soliloquies on a dark and brooding fear that gnawed away the innards of his
soul --- the fear of being rejected out of hand by Lord Rama !!
To give a sample, Bharatha is said here to have agonised :

"How could my Lord ever possibly persuade himself to believe me ? How could
one such as I, brought forth unto this sorry world by a womb as unfortunate
as Kaikeyi's, be possessed of such faultless character as could regain Lord
Rama's affections ?" 

Such was the depth and fury of the 'bheethi', dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', that
gripped the soul of even one as noble and virtuous as Sri.Bharatha !!

And yet, dear friends, he persevered on, in the true relentless spirit of a
SriVaishnava, bearing the heavy cross of his destiny and trudging up the
"4th step" of Swami Desikan's 'paramapada-sOpAnam' until .... until he began
to see the light at the end of the tunnel ... the 'prasada-hetu' !!

We will discuss the 'pramANam' of 'prasAdana-parva' in Bharatha's life in my
next post which, I assure you, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', will be the truly last.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha