Joined: 17 July 2006
PART 1 'The Ascent of the Asura
It was the hour before the Gods awoke. It was that hour of night which is the darkest, the hour when the powers of evil are at their strongest.
Brahma, the creator stirred in his meditative reverie. In some distant world, someone was repeatedly chanting his name- he had been doing so for the past thousand years. Brahma sighed- an asura, no doubt, practicing severe austerities. Brahma looked around, the Devas had slipped into a life of easy contentment. The call of the asura became louder, Brahma could not put him off longer. As he prepared to descend into the nether worlds, Brahma knew exactly what was going to happen. The wheels of karma and destiny were already in motion.
It had not been easy- standing on one leg, subjecting his body to intense heat and cold, with not even as much as a thought about food or water, but Tarakasur persisted. It would only be a matter of time before Brahma appeared in front of him.
"Open your eyes, son"
Tarakasur smiled. He had not been wrong. Lord Brahma was indeed standing in front of him. Tarakasur made a perfunctory bow, and waited confidently. He knew what Brahmaji's next words would be.
"You are worthy of a boon, Tarakasur. What is it that you seek?" asked Brahma, fully aware what Tarakasur's answer would be.
"Invincibility and immortality" replied the asura, confidently
"The first one, I grant you, but not your second demand. Mortals cannot be immortal, Tarakasur. Whoever is born must eventually..." Brahma 's voice trailed off. He realized the futility of trying to explain the subtle intricacies of life and death to an asura- that too one who had been fasting for thousand years.
But Tarakasur was quick to latch on. "In that case, Oh Lord, let me be killed by the son born to Shiva and his wife" he said.
"Tathastu" replied Brahma.
On his way back, Brahma admitted to himself that Tarakasur had indeed chosen well. Ever since Sati had left him, Shiva had assumed the form of Dakshinamoorthy- facing the direction South, the abode of Yama, where his beloved Sati had gone. Renouncing everything that represents the sansarik world, Shiva had lost himself in yogic meditation. He had become a complete mauni - the embodiment of silence. His abode was the icy, inhospitable Kailash, now even more desolate, since the disappearance of Shiva's Shakti .
There was as much chance of Shiva marrying and begetting a son , thought Brahma wryly, as there was of Tarakasur doing good in the world.
Not unsurprisingly, Tarakasur, after trouncing the kings of bhu- lok and the patal lok, soon reached the gates of Swarga leading a huge army. The devas, immersed in the intoxicating effects of Varuni and the apsaras, were caught unawares and preferred to flee rather than face the asuric onslaught. A vacant throne awaited Tarakasur at Indra's durbar which he occupied promptly, declaring himself the ruler of three worlds. All of swarga's delights ' the wine, the music and the dancers were now at his service, which after years of abstinence, Tarakasur found irresistible.
Meanwhile, unceremoniously shunted out of their homes, and finding themselves at the receiving end of the asuras' harassment, the devas, led by Indra approached Brahma with their woes.
"None of us can stand up to him, Oh Lord. If his atrocities continue, the three worlds will perish. Who is going to be the one to vanquish Tarakasur, Brahma Dev? asked Indra.
"The son of Shiva and his wife" replied Brahma, somberly.
"The son of who?" sputtered Indra.
"Shiva and his wife" repeated Brahma.
"But how is it going to be possible 'Now that Sati is '." interjected Varuna
"Sati has been reborn as Himavan and Mena Devi's daughter" replied Brahma." If all goes well she will succeed in winning Shiva's affections and he will accept her as his consort.
"And till then?" questioned Indra.
It was Devi Saraswati who spoke."Engage yourself in prayer, penance and tapasya. Every sincere prayer is heard, every sincere call answered."
Indra and his companions began doing as instructed.
Meanwhile Prakriti's bounty was overflowing at Himavan's palace where the Devi incarnate, Parvati was growing up. In course of time Devarishi Narada visited Himavan's palace and like any concerned mother, Mena Devi sked him about her daughter's marriage and future husband. Narada, studied the lines on Parvati's palm and hinted that Parvati's future was linked with Kailashapati Shiva. As he was leaving the palace, Parvati cornered him and requested him to initiate her in the sacred panchakshari mantra. Narada whispered the mystic five syllabled mantra "Om namah Sivaya" into Parvati's right ear as if giving her deeksha. Every fibre in her body tingled with joy as she repeated the sacred chant.
Joined: 17 July 2006
PART II ' Prakriti
Around this time, Shiva decided he wanted a change of place. Perhaps he got tired of Indra and other devas appearing there and disturbing him with their litany of problems. Or perhaps the place still reminded him too much of Sati. Whatever be the reason, when one day, the ganas woke up, Shiva, their Lord and Master, had vanished and along with him, his trusted aide Nandi.
The ganas were distraught; they felt orphaned. When an hour later the devas arrived there with their usual complaint about Tarakasur, they were greeted with an empty Kailash. "Vanished, O Devendra, vanished", cried an anguished gana. "Where could he have gone?" tried to think Indra, scratching his head.
Himavan's capital, Oushadhiprastha was a charming place, nestled in a valley between two Himalayan peaks. It derived its name from the thousands of medicinal plants and creepers that grew over there. The fragrance of the flowers and shoots made the air fresh, pure and invigorating. It was to such a place that Shiva decided to migrate and accordingly sent his aide Nandi as his messenger to formally seek permission from King Himavan.
"It would be an honour, Nandi " replied Himavan.
"There is one more request my Lord wants to make to you, King" said Nandi
"We will comply with every request of his, Nandi Dev", replied Himavan, overwhelmed by the thought that he would be able to have Shivji's darshan everyday.
"Lord Shiva's request is that he should be allowed total privacy. No one should come anywhere near him- on pretext of darshan, audience or whatever. He should be allowed to meditate in peace." said Nandi
"Very well Nandi Maharaj" replied Himavan, crestfallen.
Thus Shiva took up his abode in a grove in Oushadhiprastha, undisturbed by anyone, his needs looked after by Nandi. Nandi's duties were very simple- to sweep the place and keep it neat, to ensure that fresh fruits were available, should his master ask for them and - above all to make sure no being, mortal, or otherwise, comes anywhere near the grove.
It was clear to Nandi he was failing miserably in his last duty.
Someone was visiting his master's sanctuary, that too before daybreak, when Nandi was still asleep. And the mysterious visitor, Nandi noted, would not only sweep and clean the place but decorate with colourful rangoli patterns. Exotic flowers like jati, champaka, vilva patra were also placed at his master's feet. This would not do, thought Nandi. If his master came to know, he would be severely reprimanded. Nandi decided to remain awake the whole night to catch the intruder.
It was in the wee hours of the morning - the Bharma Muhurta -when Nandi espied some coming through the entrance of the grove. Nandi hid himself in the bushes. The visitors turned out to be Parvati, the royal princess with her two attendants and a few soldiers. The soldiers remained outside the entrance while the Princess and her companions began sweeping and cleaning the place with a quiet feminine efficiency. One of her attendants held forth a basket of flowers out of which Parvati chose a few and placed it near Shiva's feet. After doing pradakshina and namaskara ,the trio left the place- as quietly as they had come. Nandi shook himself and ran after them.
"Princess" he called out.
Parvati turned around and placed a finger on her lips, indicating with her eyes, the meditating Shiva. "Shoo, softly, the Lord's Samadhi will be disturbed.",she said.
Nandi was mortified. He was his Lord's trusted aide and who was she to advise him? He drew himself up to his full height and explained that she had to stop coming since Mahadev himself had forbidden anyone to come in his presence.
Parvati smiled sweetly and said simply,"this injunction is not for me". She turned to leave adding, "Don't worry, he will not know I am here. He is not even aware of my presence, there won't be any problem"
Joined: 17 July 2006
PART III - Purusha
"He is not even aware of her presence, that's the problem" cried a vexed Indra, slamming a fist into his palm. Being deprived of heaven's pleasures had made Indra extremely short tempered. The prospect of Shiva's son making his appearance now seemed more distant than ever.
"If only Shiva could be made to open his eyes just for a fraction of second, if only he would glimpse at Parvati. Surely no one could fail to fall in love with the beautiful princess." Indra muttered to himself. Suddenly, he thought he had found the answer "Love, -that's it. Call Kama Deva"
Indra mentally summoned Kama Deva, who promptly appeared, with his wife, Rati. They were still lost in each others' eyes, their arms entwined around each other. Indra cleared his throat loudly. Kamadeva, disengaged himself from Rati and folded his hands in front of Indra.
"Kamadev", said Indra coming to the point immediately, "I need your help."
'Ah, who doesn't?" grinned Kamadev. "Who is beautiful maiden you have set your eyes on, Devendra?. My arrows will not fail" Kamdeva stretched out his sugarcane bow and pointed to his flower tipped arrows.
"It is not a maiden" grunted Indra. "It is a man, that too an ascetic"
"A man?" sputtered Kamadev. "Has the king of Devas lost his heart to... a ...Man?" Kamadeva was confounded. Rati, by his side, tittered.
Seeing the alarmed expression on Kamadev's face, Indra got even more wild
"Fool," shouted Indra. "I am not talking about myself. Falling in love is the last thing I want to do now, Kamdev. You have to stir the feelings of love in someone else's heart."
"Who is it, O king?" asked Kamadeva, already picking an arrow from his quiver.
" Lord Shiva. Mahadev"
"Impossible, my Lord," replied kamdeva, keeping the arrow back in its quiver.
"Aren't you confident of your powers, Kamadeva?" asked Indra agitatedly
"My Lord, I am confident..." replied Kamadeva
Indra breathed easy
"...Of failing" finished Kamadev
"Why is it so?" questioned Indra
"My Lord, it is not easy to explain. I work with feelings, emotions. Where there are emotions, I convert them into feelings. Where there are feelings, I can transform them into thoughts and words. But Lord Shiva'." Kamadeva's voice trailed off.
"Yes, what of Shiva?" asked Indra eagerly "Doesn't he have feelings, emotions thoughts or words?"
"Mahadev is Pure Conciousness. All thoughts and emotions dissolve into the absolute silence that is within Him. Kama, krodha, lobha, moha cease to exist when they enter his mind. He is not made up of the pancha koshas or the sapta dhatus. He has risen above intellect and ego. He has only one existence and that is his Sat-chit-Ananda form. His mind roams in the realms where there only exists Truth, Knowledge and bliss. Do you really think, Devaraj, that my feeble flower tipped arrows will have any effect on Mahadev?" asked Kamadeva.
But Indra was in no mood to listen to such explanations. He brushed aside Kamadeva's objections and ordered him to try his best.
Kama deva left the place muttering something about being caught between frying pan and fire.
Vayu, who had been observing all this said to Indra, "He is not going to like this"
"Who? Kamadev?" asked Indra
"No, Mahadev" replied Vayu.
The grove which had become Mahadev's abode suddenly acquired a new look and became, if possible even more beautiful. The radiance which the grove had gained through Shiva's tapas was heightened by the intoxicating fragrance of fresh flowers which had sprung overnight.The blissful peace of the place was now broken by the call of a lovelorn cuckoo. A pair of swans appeared from nowhere and decided that this would be the best place for them to mate.
Parvati on entering the grove, sensed the new developments and looked around furtively. Kamadeva stationed himself behind a bush.
PART IV : The Flame and the Fury : Mahadev opens his third eye and Kamadeva is reduced to ashes
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