Durbhagya (Misfortune)

The word “Bhagya” refers to fortune in the form of availability and opportunity of wealth, fame, health, comfort and well-being of self and loved ones. It’s negation is “Dour:bhagya”. Though the word misfortune is the closest equivalent, Shastra explained it in much detail and classifies into eight main categories, these are called ‘asta:bourbhagya’ (“asta” means eight). Both fortune and misfortune happen, some happen unexpectedly (our of karmaphala and vasana) and some are predetermined by nature itself. Why, is a topic that can be explored on this portal under topics titled Karma and Paapa/Punya, understanding these eight types is what we shall explore today.

Tripura Sundari (Shiva:kama:sundari) holding Bow and arrows of Manmadha.

Vasinyadi devatas chanted the one thousand titles of Sri Lalitha Sahasranama stotram to embrace Her magnificence. They sang to rejoice Her divine glory encapsulated in each title. Our efforts should take us into Her reality filled with joy and in contemplation of Her grace, rather than mere recitation out of routine. In this reading let’s investigate one such title whose essence can free us from various misfortunes. She was called as “dourbhagya:tuula:vaatula”, meaning She the Shakti, the Prakriti, our abode, and our Divine Mother can eradicate our misfortunes and our destitute, like a the wind which sweeps away a cotton ball.

The eight types or categories of misfortune (burbhagya) are:

  1. Vrudhapya(m) = Old age.
  2. Daridrahm = destitute and mishap.
  3. Roogam = disease/illness.
  4. Bukthashesham = survive upon leftovers.
  5. Chooratvam = theft and steeling.
  6. Jaaratvam = ruled by fetish and lust.
  7. Yaachana = beseeching (always in the state of begging).
  8. Runam = in debt and on credit.

Vrudhapya(m): Meaning, Old age. No one wishes to get old, many resist it, and struggle to remain youthful, at the least mask the appearance of aging, but its imminent in nature’s design. Each day, no matter how much we try to cover it up, our body plays tricks on us. If we color our hair our eyebrows whiten, if we color our eyebrows our forehead wrinkles, if we cover our skin our vitality diminishes. Days will come when we no longer can address to our own bodily needs. Each day we walk towards our mortality no matter how much we resist or try to slow it down. Every time, we resist or hide the signs, we are denying this process and create a friction within us. As long as we are in denial, our gracefulness is lost but, time stops for no one. Please note, we are not discouraging the attempts to take care of our body and mental well-being, we are only discussing the concept of aging and the aspect of denial. When we accept our mortality, we can explore how to live fully. If we accept aging, then we accepting to witness all states of life. Shastra state a concept called Purna Ayurdhaya(m) (‘Purna’ meaning complete or full cycle, and ‘Ayurdhaya’ means lifespan). Accepting aging and mortality is to allow oneself to witness all cycles and stages of life to its fullest and with grace. Denying or resisting old age means, one is subconsciously wishing for ‘Alpa Ayurdhaya(m)’ (alpa means incomplete) which is ill advised since, one shouldn’t wish to exit life in youth.

Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev once profoundly said, Subconscious wishing and hating will cause the body and mind to act in duress and in a negative way. The body and mind will reprogram itself in preparation of a failure, from which anxiety and stress become a natural consequence. Our denial will be interpreted as a decision to the mind, the signs might not manifest immediately, but various layers of our body and mind progress in the direction of a crash.

Various legendary personalities of higher conscience like Sri Adi Shankaracharya, Madusudana Saraswati, Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati and many more once walked this planet. The concept of Laya (dissolution) happens on all levels of creation within Prakriti. In kalam (time), the very Prakriti dissolves back into the singularity, to which only the Para:Shakti bears witness. This very body is also a piece of Prakruti and not some independent entity, one day this piece of body will dissolve into its source and re-manifest in a different form. When this form diminishes, all bondage are broken, all accumulations and ownership are lost, all personas disappear, and the memory of us among the living will gradually fade in time. Our strength and youth should be a means to invigorate (javam) in our manas, so that it is ever joyous and energetic, irrespective of the physical body (Sthula Sarera). There is no old age for our Sukshma Sharira or our Karana Sharira, which includes our energies and our manas. Our sight and hearing might diminish, our skin my sag, our strength might dwindle but, our vigor (javam) in manas should seek the ultimate truth. Realizing the One noticing the change, which is the unchangeable, is where all the knowledge ends and the truth comes forth. The entity which witnesses this change can’t be touched by old age, burnt by fire or dampened by water.  The songs and poems we sing today of the divine beauty, the knowledge and memories we explore towards the truth, the essence (tatva) we grasp from the scriptures, the experience we immerse ourselves now will vitalize and strengthens our manas for the rest of our lives. This experience and its essence will become a resort for our manas to retire when the body settles into aging. In this way Ishwara will scorch the mountain of old age like a spark that burns a cotton ball. Hence, the sloka from Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Sloka 27, where in Gitacharya says:

जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च।
तस्मादपरिहार्येऽर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि।।2.27।।

(Gita Supersite. n.d.)

Meaning, death is certain for that which is born and for birth is certain for that which is dead, hence there is nothing for one to grieve upon that which is inevitable.

Ramana Marshi once fell severely ill due to Sarcoma, a painful cancerous disease that effects the tissues. Leaches were used to drain the bad blood in various effected areas of his body. As these leaches became full, he just sat and watched them fall from his body, not out of pain but, as a spectator. He humorously addressed them to have attained Brahmasiddhi. Such was his state of perception towards his body and the reality. He was a witness to the illusion called Maya.  He used to call his body a wound and any further wound to it, would be a ‘wound to a wound’.

Chandrashekarendra Saraswati once fell ill with very high temperature. Rather than medical treatment, he compared his state similar to Panchagni tapas (a form of tapasya performed seated among 5 fires) and so performed Panchakshari Mahamantra japa in that state. When his body shivered with chills he compared his limbs to the dance of Nataraja. So, looking at these examples, let’s ask the real question, how can old age effect such personalities, how can death threaten such beings?

The answer to this resistance towards reality is Yoga, which provides the necessary mechanisms to uplift the full potential of body and mind. One’s very existence as being in this creation is the result of Prarabdha Karma, hence one must cherish every state of life in fullness (involved in yoga) to exhaust one’s prarabdha karma.

Daridram, means to be in some types of mishap, accidents, personal catastrophes and impoverished state or destitute and dispair. There could be availability and choice but, at the same time one might not be able to enjoy it. For example, one has enough wealth, home, family and friends but rarely gets time to cherish any. Many such destitute states exist in one’s life. These contradictory situations can also be interpreted to having both the grace of Sri Lakshmi and Alakshmi. Various consecrated places (kshetras) have been established by profound Rishis to perform numerous karmic rituals to either nullify or overcome the karmaphala.

Roogam, means to have illness which could be genetic, chronic or seasonal. Some could be mortal illnesses. These illnesses could be to the self or to a loved one. One might have wealth and fame, authority and resources at their disposal, but an illness could deplete the life energies and vigor in a being. Many illnesses hinder life from unfolding and acts as a slow death, leading to constant anxiety and stress. Various yogic practices and consecrated places (kshetras) like Navapashana based deities have been established by Rishis and Sages to identify various ailments and resolve them.

Bukthashesham, is to live constantly on arms and always be the recipient of leftover items, whether its food, funds, services, amenities or more. This is also an aspect of destitute and the lack of will to uplift oneself.

Following is a sloka stated by Shastra:

Matruvat paradhareshu|Paradravyani lostavat||
मातृवत परधारेषुपरद्रव्याणि लोसटावत||

‘Paradha:reshu’ means all other women should be viewed as one’s ‘Matruvat’ (meaning mother). And ‘Paradravyani’ means objects belonging to others should be treated as stones and dirt on street, hence the word ‘lostavat’. This is the reason in many dakshina desa (southern languages of India) relationships towards women (except dharmapatni) have the word mother (‘amma’, ‘talli’) induced in them. Even women who are strangers are addressed with the title of mother.

Chooratvam, is to have the urge to steal irrespective of necessity or desperation. Theft and bribery are ugly qualities to possess, both for the self and towards the society. In the above sloka, the second stance states that, one should treat other’s possessions as stones and mud laying on the street, which no one wishes to steal. Fostering such attitude by involving oneself into scriptures and in the company of devotees will lead to channeling urges and towards higher conscience.

Jaaratvam, is to possess no self control or check to one’s thought of lust and fetish, especially towards woman. This is a very ugly character where in, one easily gets taken over by lustful and fetish thoughts towards others.  Many have a mental check and a filter towards such thoughts, but jaaratvam is to have no such mental check towards one’s character and thoughts of lust. Such people are ruled by their compulsions and such obsessions. In the above sloka, the first stance says to identify all woman as one’s own mother, as a mother is the pinnacle of love and affection. Involving oneself in the constant company of Bhagavat (devotional groups and scholars of scriptures) will help channel mind and thought towards higher levels of conscience. By the worship of Devi Kamakshi and seeking Her in all women is to be a Bhagavat oneself.

Yaachana, is to be in a constant state of beseeching and surviving on the graces of others. It’s almost like survival depending solely on others for basic resources, and never evolve one’s will towards self-upliftment.

Runam, is to be in constant debt and the habit to taking credit. This is a dangerous attitude as one is in constant pursuit of seeking loans and living upon credit. This attitude leads to deep un-accountability, lack of trust, deception, and lying.

(Srichaganti. D.N, 2010., p.1-14)


Sri Chaganti Koteshwar Rao (Orator). (2010). Devi Navarathrulu [Audio Part 1-14, Recorded by Srichaganti.net]. Andhra Pradesh, India. Retrieved from http://www.english.srichaganti.net/DeviNavarathrulu.aspx

Gita Supersite. (n.d.). Developed and Maintained by IIT Kanpur. Retrieved from https://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in

Tripura Sundari. (May 5, 2015). Wikipedia File:Tripura sundari4.jpg. Retrieved from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Tripura_sundari_4.jpg