You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : March 1999

lakshmi-nrsimha karavalamba stotram - 3

From: sudarshan madabushi (
Date: Mon Mar 29 1999 - 06:27:54 PST

Dear bhAgavatOttamA-s,

The "virakti" of the anchorite, the "vanaprastA" or the "r-shi" is very 
different from the "virakti" (be-numbing world-weariness) known to 
afflict ordinary mortals like us.

In what ways?

In the following ways:

** The "virakti" of the "r-shi" represents the triumph of human spirit 
over matter. Our "virakti" symbolizes the exact opposite.

** The "virakti" of the hermit is his ticket to flights of soaring 
awareness. It signals his nearness to God.
Our 'virakti' is a millstone we fasten around our spiritual necks. It 
signals our distance from God.    

** The "virakti" of the "r-shi" is a carefully cultivated attitude of 
mind. Our "virakti" is a pathological symptom of the manifold fears that 
beset us in life.

** The "virakti" of the "vanaprastA", whereby he is urged to reject the 
society of men and worldly existence … that kind of "virakti" is an 
outcome of exercising clear and robust individual choice. 
Our "virakti", in contrast, is merely an expression of inner despair.

** To the ancient "r-shi" his "virakti" represented valuable means to a 
higher end. It signified personal freedom and the limitless expansion of 
opportunities on one's spiritual horizon. To him "virakti" was the 
soul's hope.
To us however "virakti" constitutes the very opposite: the end to all 
higher endeavour. It is grim fatalism…. a spiritual cul-de-sac from 
which all routes to Godhead, we feel, have been completely sealed off. 

**************  *****************    **************

If you think deeply enough about the matter, most of us do not possess 
the capacity to recognize even the canker of "virakti" within us… not to 
speak of our inability to either deal or cope with it.

It is only through the works of saints, the poets and the great 
"AchAryA-s" that we gain some measure of understanding of the true 
nature of feelings of world-weariness. If it weren't for stOtrA-s like 
the "karAvalamba-stOtram" (LNKS) we would never be able to articulate 
the tragic "virakti" of common humanity. Without the words of the 
"AchAryA-s", handed down to us to help express our condition of 
"virakti", our plight would have been no different from that of a dumb 
and helpless infant --- flailing its limbs and wailing incoherently and 
yet unable to convey with any degree of intelligibility to the outside 
world the ordeal of hunger it daily undergoes. 

P.B.Shelley thus wrote for us those famous lines of spiritual despair:

 "Lift me as a wave, a leaf , a cloud…
   I fall upon the thorns of life-
   I bleed ….".

Swinburne too wrote, for our benefit, of the tragic "virakti" of common 

"These many years since we began
What have the gods done to us?
What with me and what with my love?
They have shown me fates and fears
Harsh springs bitterer than the sea
Grief a fixed star and joy
A vane that veers these many years…."

Omar Khayyam, the Persian bard, in his "Rubaiyyat" sang about the same 
theme of 'virakti':

"Whether at Naishapur or Babylon
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run
The Wine of Life oozes drop by drop
The Leaves of Life drop one by one."

And nearer home, the great saint, our dearest Tondar-adi-podi AzhwAr, 
indeed brought out the very quintessence of "virakti" in the 3rd stanza 
of his "tirumAlai":

"vEda-noor pirAyyUm nooru manisarthAm pUgUvarElUm
pAthiyyUm Urangi-pOgUm ninratheer padhinai-Andu
pEdhai bAlagan-athAgUm peeNi pasi-mUppU~thhUnbum
Ada-lAl piravi vEndEn, arangamA nagaruLAnE !"

(my free translation):

A hundred seasons have Thou leased me, O Ranga
To live, love and mellow in the wisdom of Thy knowledge ---
But half must I spend perforce in slumber
And a quarter to waste in dissolute youth;
And if the rest passeth over the years
In care, illness, and senility…
What's left of thy wondrous gift, O Ranga,
Is what I'd rather do without!

***************          ***************          *************

We will continue in the next post.

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,


Get Your Private, Free Email at