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lakshmi-nrsimha karAvalamba stOtram- 12.1

From: sudarshan madabushi (sudarshanm_at_hotmail.com)
Date: Sat May 15 1999 - 22:41:38 PDT

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(CONTINUED from the immediately preceding post No: 12

In Srimad Ramayana, in the "ayOdhyA-kAndam" (the chapter on Lord Rama's 
halcyon days as the Crown Prince of AyOdhyA), the great epic poet, Sage 
Valmiki paints an extremely poignant scene of personal sorrow. It is a 
famous "itihAs-ic" setting and its grand depiction of human grief shows us 
how the emotion closely resembles the character of an old "koopa" in many 
ways similar to the 6 points of comparison detailed above.

It all happens when Lord Rama breaks the news of his exile from Ayodhya to 
his dear mother, Queen Kausalya. He tells her he is departing and will never 
be able to see his beloved Ayodhya during fourteen long years to follow. He 
has come to take leave of her and to let her know he is carrying out to the 
last letter the express command of his father, Emperor Dasaratha and Queen 
Kaikeyi, that he, Rama, should renounce forthwith his claim to the throne of 
the kingdom in favour of Bharatha.

Kausalya is struck dumb by the news. It breaks her heart.

It dawns on her that very instant that her fond dreams and hopes for the 
future have been dashed irreparably in one fell swoop of cruel Fate and 
palace intrigue; and that she proud Queen of Ayodhya will never again be!

The world crumbles about Kausalya like a house of wax on fire. A paroxysm of 
personal grief envelops her. She sinks into a "koopa" of sorrow!

It is a magnificent scene, yes indeed, this one in the Ramayana! It is a 
real classic of high-voltage, heavy-duty drama!

Kausalya breaks out into an orgy of lamentation. She speaks out a torrent of 
lines that legions of commentators over the years have hailed as being some 
of the most powerful and unforgettable ever that Valmiki scripted in the 
entire epic of the Ramayana.

Here they are in the Sanskrit original and with their respective English 
translation (mine, and it is free and not literal):

sA bahoonya~manOgnyAni vAkyAni hrudaya~cchidAm  I
aham srOshyE sapta~neenAma~varaNAm varA sathee  II     (II.20.39)

"Alas! Now I am going to be the most wretched of the unfortunate queens in 
this palace. If my son is banished what shall be my fate!"

atO duKhataram kim nu pramaDAnAm Bhavishyati  I
mama shOkO vilApashcha yAdrushO~ayamanan~taka-ha  II  (II.20.40)

"My sorrow and my lamentations shall be endless in the days ahead, I fear! 
You know a woman is considered contemptible if she does not beget a son. But 
having begotten a son, if she were to lose him like I have lost you, all the 
misfortunes that were heaped upon her when she had been barren, would now be 
increased manifold!"

Tvayi samnihitE~apyEvamaham~Asam nirAkrutA  I
kim punaha prOshithE tAtha Dhruvam maraNamEva may  II  (II.20.41)

"Even when you are here, a grown-up son with me, so honoured by your father, 
so respected all over the world, even with you here, this has been my fate! 
When you have gone, what will be my plight? Only Death!"

yadi putra na jAyaThA mama shOkAya rAGhava  I
  na sma duKhamathO Bhuya-ha pashyEyam~ahamaprajA-ha II    (II. 20.36)

"O, why were you born at all, O Rama, my son? If you had remained unborn, my 
sole sorrow would have been that of barren woman….".

Eka Eva hi vanDhyAyAhA shOkO Bhavati mAnasaha  I
aprajAsmeethi samtApO na hyan~yaha putra vidhyatE  II       (II.20.37)

"A barren woman has only one grief. She has no other burden of the soul. But 
having you for my son, you of all people, see what grief I can come to!"

athyantham nigraheetAsmi Bharturnityama-tantritA  I
parivArENa kaikEyyAha samA vApyaThavA~varA  II     (II.20.42)

"My husband does not show me the honour due to me and soon, I know, shall I 
begin to be considered as being no better, perhaps somewhat worse, than any 
menial of Kaikeyi."

nityakrODhatayA tasyAha kaTham nu KharavAdi tat-th  I
  kaikEyyA vadanam drashtUm putra shaksyAmi durgatA  II  (II.20.44)

"My dear son, when you are gone from me, and I no longer enjoy your strong 
presence, how can I look at her face? Kaikeyi's speech to me is bound to be 
harsh!"
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Observe how many times above Kausalya uses words like "dUKha" and "shOkha"!

(1) Observe how the cataclysmic events in the IkshvAku household take her 
completely aback. Overnight, as it were, they reduce the senior-most queen 
of Ayodhya from the pinnacle of regal eminence to the pits of snivelling 
self-pity.

(2) Observe how pathetic are the expressions of her dark foreboding that she 
is in for a long and interminable period of sorrow following Rama's 
departure.

(3) Observe the depth of her pain and anguish when she exclaims they even 
exceed the sorrow of the infertile woman she might have been.

(4) Observe how Kausalya's tortured mind reflexively veers towards the 
macabre when she wails, "kim punaha prOshithE tAtha Dhruvam maraNamEva may." 
She says Death now is certainly her only fate… "Dhruvam maraNam-eva may!" It 
is hard to be certain about it, but at this point in the drama of the 
Ramayana, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Queen Kausalya may have 
silently contemplated putting an end to her life.

(5) Observe, finally, how Kausalya says she is convinced that once Rama is 
gone, leaving her a desolate and grieving mother, Dasaratha, Kaikeyi and all 
of AyodhyA would have no more use for her …except to constantly (6) spurn 
her and heap upon her one humiliation after another.

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Keeping in mind all that has been explained above, if you read the LNKS 
verse#5 …and carefully again the line "samsArakoopa-atigOram-agAdamoolam 
samprApya dukha-shatha-sarpa-samAkulasya"….  you will begin to really 
understand why Sankara bhagavathpAdA uses the metaphor of "koopa" to denote 
the terrible fear of sorrow afflicting Man.

The reason is clearly this: the fear of personal sorrow can greatly impede 
attaining Faith. It can also erode and destroy attained Faith.

In the Ramayana, none other than Kausalya herself, the mother of the Supreme 
One, overtaken by sorrow cries out,

"yadi putra na jAyaThA mama shOkAya rAGhava  I
na sma duKhamathO Bhuya-ha pashyEyam~ahamaprajA-ha II    (II. 20.36)
Eka Eva hi vanDhyAyAhA shOkO Bhavati mAnasaha  I
aprajAsmeethi samtApO na hyan~yaha putra vidhyatE  II       (II.20.37)

"O, why were you born at all, O Rama, my son? If you had remained unborn, my 
sole sorrow would have been that of barren woman… A barren woman has only 
one grief. She has no other burden of the soul. But having you for my son, 
you of all people, see what grief I can come to!"

Kausalya's lamentation has the following grave lessons for us:

To be "barren" of Faith in our lives is true sorrow.
To let Faith "depart" from our life out of fear of sorrow is unspeakable 
tragedy.

The "Well of Sorrow", Sankara's "samsAra-koopa", is thus a terrible human 
state indeed! Even someone like Kausalya, living as she did in the proximate 
presence of the Supreme Being, could descend into it! What then is to be 
said about the fate of mere mortals like us?

Should we all hence not raise our hand to the skies and pray for divine 
protection from such a state by crying aloud: " hay! lakshmi-nrsimha mama 
dEhi karAvalambam !"

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In the next post we will take up Verse no.6 of the LNKS dealing with 
"Bheekara-kareendra"… the fearful archetype of Death.

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,
Sudarshan


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