Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Karavalambam
By Adi Shankaracharya Bhagawat Pada


Adi Shankaracharya had once given his consent to a cruel Kapalika to take his head and offer it as a sacrifice to Goddess Kali in order to win favours from her. Kapalikas were followers of a particular Saiva sect who always carried human skulls, wore them as garlands around their necks and even ate and drank from these macabre vessels. Lord Siva himself is hailed as Kapali. The Lord of the famous temple in Mylapore in Chennai is worshipped as Kapaliswara.
This Kapalika had been nursing a grievance against Adi Shankaracharya whom he viewed as a potential threat to his faith and sect. He took the Acharya to a nearby cave, made necessary arrangements for the sacrifice-ritual and prepared himself to behead Adi Shankaracharya. The Acharya was all along in a trance.


However, when the Kapalika lifted his sword and readied himself to chop off his head Sankara's disciple Padmapada (also known as Sanandana) envisioned this murderous scheme in his mind. He rushed to the cave. In an avesa of Lord Narasimha he, verily, became the man-lion Lord himself temporarily. He had attained Narasimha mantra siddhi, and caught hold of the villainous Kapalika and tore him to pieces.


Sankara Vijaya, published by the Ramakrishna Math in Chennai, describes how Padmapada leapt into the sky, scattering away the clouds with a slash of his mane, and literally flew into the cave, stunning all beholders. It was a re-enactment of the Narasimha incarnation once again when the demon Hiranyakasipu was disembowelled by the Lord with his leonine claws.


Adi Shankaracharya, hearing the thunderous roars of a lion, awoke from his trance and witnessed the gory scene. Padmapada's body was smeared with the blood of the vile Kapalika while his face glowed with divine splendour like a galaxy of suns. The Acharya saw before him the awesome Lord Narasimha himself and pacified him with soothing and overflowing devotion.


On another occasion, Adi Shankaracharya's hands got burnt (the Amaruka episode) but he was cured by extolling Lord Narasimha through the famous hyms, the 17-verse Lakshmi Narasimha Karavalamba Stotram (also known as Lakshmi Narasimha Karunarasa Stotram'). These hymns are so titled because each of these verses ends with the same refrain 'Lakshmi Narasimha, mama dehi karavalambam' (O Lord Narasimha, please lend me your helping hand).


It is believed that fervent recitation of these hymns on Lord Narasimha will always help one smoothly get over difficulties with the Lord's helping hand.


Saligrama, the sacred stone found only in the Kandaki river in Nepal, and worshipped by Vaishnavites in their homes, is used in the puja of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. This is said to be specially sacred to Lord Narasimha and is believed to have been given to Adi Shankaracharya by Lord Narasimha himself.


Stotra


Srimat payonidhi nikethana chakra pane,
Bhogeendra Bhoga mani rajitha punya moorthe,
Yogeesa saswatha saranya Bhabdhi potha,
Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam., 1


Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha,
Who lives in the ocean of milk,
Who holds the holy wheel as weapon,
Who wears the gems of the head,
Of Adhisesha as ornaments,
Who has the form of good and holy deeds,
Who is the permanent protection of sages,
And who is the boat which helps us cross,
This ocean of misery called life,
Please give me the protection of your hands.


Brahmendra, Rudra Arka kireeta koti,
Sangattithangri kamala mala kanthi kantha,
Lakshmi lasath kucha saroruha raja hamsa,
Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam., 2


Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha,
Whose feet is touched by the crowns ,
Of Brahma, Indra, Shiva and Sun,
Whose shining feet adds to his effulgence,
And who is the royal swan playing,
Near the breasts of Goddess Lakshmi,
Please give me the protection of your hands.


Samsara gora gahane charathe murare,
Marogra bheekara Mruga pravardhithasya,
Aarthasya mathsara nidha chain peedithasya,
Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam., 3


Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha,
Oh Lord who killed the Asura called Mura,
I have been traveling in the dark forests of day to day life,
Where I have been terrified by the lion called desire,
And scorched by the heat called competition , and so,
Please give me the protection of your hands.


Samsara koopam adhi ghora Magadha moolam,
Samprapya dukha satha sarpa samakulasya,
Dheenasya Deva krupana padamagadasya,
Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam., 4


Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha,
I have reached the very dangerous and deep,
Bottom of the well of day to day life,
And also being troubled by hundreds,
Of miseries which are like serpents,
And am really miserable and have,
Reached the state of wretchedness and so,
Please give me the protection of your hands.


Samsara Sagara vishala karala kala,
Nakra graham grasana nigraha vigrahasya,
Vyagrasya raga rasanormini peedithasya,
Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam., 5


Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha,
I have reached this wide unfathomable ocean of day to day life,
And I have been caught by black deadly,
Crocodiles called time which are killing me
And I am also afflicted by waves of passion,
And attachments to pleasures like taste and so,
Please give me the protection of your hands.


Samasra Vrukshamagha bheeja manantha karma,
Sakha satham karana pathramananga pushpam,
Aroohasya dukha phalitham pathatho dayalo,
Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam., 6


Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha,
I have climbed the tree of worldly life,
Which grew from the seed of great sin,
Which has hundreds of branches of past karmas,
Which has leaves which are parts of my body,
Which has flowers which are the result of Venus,
And which has fruits called sorrow,
But I am falling down from it fast and so,
Please give me the protection of your hands.


Samsara sarpa Ghana vakthra bhyogra theevra,
Damshtra karala visha daghdha vinashta murthe,
Naagari vahana sudhabhdhi nivasa soure,
Lakshmi Nrsimha Mama Dehi Karavalambam., 7


Oh Great God Lakshmi Nrsimha,
Oh , Lord who rides on the enemy of snakes,
Oh, Lord who lives in the ocean of nectar,
The serpent of family life has opened,
Its fearful mouth with very dangerous,
Fangs filled with terrible venom,
Which has destroyed me and so,
Please give me the protection of your hands.