By Swami Harshananda
Ārta literally means ‘afflicted with’.
It is a matter of common experience that a person turns towards God for succor when he is in trouble and discovers that he cannot expect relief from human efforts alone. Diseases, accidents or danger posed to life in critical situations make a man cry piteously to God to come to his rescue. Such a person is called an ‘ārta’ and his devotion to God is classified as ‘ārtabhakti,’ ‘devotion of the afflicted’.
The Puraṇas describes many instances of ārtabhakti e.g.,
- Gajendra, the elephant king, praying for release from the clutches of the crocodile
- Draupadī, when molested by Duśśāsana, crying to Kṛṣṇa for help
- Mārkaṇḍeya appealing to Śiva to protect him from Yama, the god of death.
- Bhagavadgītā 7.16
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore