Sunday, November 20, 2016

Gatothgaja - Chapter 2

Before leaving for Vanaravata, the Pandavas paid respect to all the elders of Hastinapur.
In the end the Pandavas met Vidura, the man who was wise beyond his age and who through his extensive spy system knew almost everything which happened in the kingdom of Hastinapur and outside it.
As Vidura was blessing Yudhishtara, the eldest Pandava, a rather strange thing happened. 
The learned Vidura spoke in the language of the Mlechchas, instead of the language spoken in Hastinapur. This language was hardly known to anyone in the kingdom of Hastinapur and the words of Vidura sounded like utter garble - except to one person. The person for whom it was intended – Yudhishtara.
Yudhishtara, the eldest Pandava knew the language of the Mlechchas and was steadily getting worried as he understood exactly what Vidura was saying.
You need to know what your enemies are upto and avoid the dangers. And remember that fire cannot destroy someone who is hiding under the hole in the woods and when you are in a strange home it is best to be like a jackal and make not one escape route, but make many ways out.”
Yudhishtara stared at Vidura, who was studying his nephew with dangerous eyes as Vidura continued in the same language, “Sometimes, son, it is best to keep wandering from one place to another to acquire knowledge and that way you would also keep your five senses safe.”
Yudhishtara was silent as Vidura and Yudhishtara studied each other.
I understand!” Yudhishtara said in the same language, as a sudden crinkly smile broke in Vidura’s face.
Soon the Pandavas came out of the house of Vidura and bid goodbye to the Pandavas and their mother Kunti, as they set out to Vanaravata.
The Pandavas then were out of the kingdom of Hastinapur and were walking when a confused Kunti came to her son.
What was it that Vidura said?” she asked Yudhishtara. “And I did not even know what it was that you said in return.”
Yudhishtara saw the kingdom of Hastinapur far behind him and took in a deep breath as he saw his mother and brothers look at him, questioningly.
There is going to be a fire. A huge fire and we need to escape it!” Yudhishtara said finally.
*********
The Pandavas were met by a man called Purochana in the city of Vanaravata. He saw the Pandavas and told them that he was here to help them. The Pandavas then met all the high officials in the city of Vanravata and the people were all glad to see the Pandavas.
Finally with Purochana’s help, they went to the palace built for them in the city of Vanravata. 
It was a beautiful palace, by any stretch of imagination.
Yudhishtara saw the palace and nodded at Purochana. “We would like to inspect the palace ourselves!” Yudhishtara told Purochana. “It has been built so beautifully.”
Purochana nodded not saying anything as he walked away leaving the six of them alone.
Hurriedly, the Pandavas entered the palace and they were all shell shocked because they made a sad discovery. The beautiful palace was combustible and was built out of resin, hemp, straw, bamboo and butter and lac!
All it needed was a tiny spark and the fire inside the palace would be uncontrollable and destroy everything inside it.
Yudhishtara turned to Bheema, “We need to build an underground tunnel out of the palace. In secret. No one can know about it. To the outside world we act normally, but we work on the tunnel everyday.”
Tunnel?” Bheema asked as Yudhishtara nodded.
After we escape the fire, then what?” Bheema asked his eyes popping with anger.
Yudhishtara remembered Vidura’s words.
We keep moving.” Yudhishtara said slowly. “Right now, we have neither power nor rank in the country. Once, everyone believes that we are dead, no one would be looking for us. Then, we can move freely and we go to all the kingdoms in the country, to build alliances and make ourselves strong!”
*******
Purochana was being very friendly to the Pandavas and he tried to make their stay as comfortable as possible. As he was talking animatedly about the place, a strange man came to see Yudhishtara.
Yudhishtara stared at the man who with his hard and coarse hands looked to be some sort of manual labourer. What really surprised Yudhishtara was that the man introduced himself in the Mlechcha language.
Yudhishtara left Purochana and turned to the newcomer and took him to the inside quarters and for what it was worth replied in the language of the Mlechchas.
Who are you?” Yudhishtara asked the man.
I am a miner!” the man said in the same language, “and I was sent by Vidura to help you.”
A beautiful smile broke out in the face of Yudhishtara as he nodded happily at the man.

And so with the help of the miner, right in the middle of the palace, the Pandavas dug a tunnel out of the palace. They hid the hole of the tunnel by a slab to make sure that Purochana who was living outside the palace, did not know what they were doing.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gatothgaja

Chapter 1 - The Palace of Lac
Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava was really jealous of his cousins – the Pandavas. After the death of Pandu and Madri, the Pandavas had returned from the forests with their mother Kunti, Duryodhana just could not bear it. Duryodhana saw the Pandavas as his enemy and did not care who knew it.
Duryodhana’s insane jealousy and eating him up and it was not helped by the fact that Bheema, the second Pandava, was ferociously strong. Even as a young boy, Bheema was a very strong and Bheema found the puny Kauravas very funny.
Bheema had been born and brought up in the forests. The rough jungles had just made Bheema more stronger and Bheema had nothing but disdain for the soft Kauravas, who had known nothing other than the the luxuries of the palace.
Bheema used to bully the Kauravas and the Kauravas were really terrified on him. In fact, whenever they used to see Bheema, the Kauravas used to hide on the treetops. And Bheema would still not leave the Kauravas alone. Bheema used to stand at the base of the tree and with his ferocious strength, Bheema used to shake the very tree.
The Kaurava boys used to fall down from the tree like fruits and look shaken and run away terrified of the young Bheema who would laugh at the fleeing Kaurava princes.
And all these events only made Duryodhana hate the Pandavas even more.
Duryodhana’s hatred for the Pandavas and Bheema is particular went so bad that when they all started learning warfare and the science of the administration of the kingdom from Dronacharya, Duryodhana actually tried killing Bheema.
Duryodhana poisoned the food which was to be eaten by Bheema and when the drugged Bheema fell unconscious, Duryodhana tied up Bheema’s hands and feet and pushed the second Pandava inside the river.
And without a second glance, Duryodhana walked away from the place.
Luckily for Bheema, the place under the river where Duryodhana had pushed him had a huge kingdom of snakes. The snakes bit the unconscious Bheema as he sunk inside the waters. The poison in Bheema’s body and the poison of the snake acted as antidotes to each other and the poison from Bheema system was completely gone, when he reached the snake kingdom.
And on talking with the snakes, Bheema realized that he was related to the snakes through his mother – Kunti. The snakes were very glad for their new visitor though he had come to them in unfortunate circumstances. In honour of their new guests, the snakes fed Bheema with the nectar of the snakes. It is believed that this drink actually made Bheema even more strong than he previously was.
And that was how Duryodhana’s first plan of killing Bheema had badly backfired. After pushing Bheema into the river, Duryodhana came back to the palace and he claimed to have no knowledge of what had happened to Bheema. Kunti and the Pandavas were distraught and they kept combing the river for some signs of Bheema and that was when they had some suspicion of foul play. But Duryodhana was quiet and said absolutely nothing.
Duryodhana almost thought that he had gotten away with it, when the impossible happened. Bheema came back from the dead. And not only that, Bheema came back even more stronger than before. And a little wiser.
The event was an eye-opener – both to the Pandavas and to Duryodhana.
Duryodhana realized that he would have to be more careful of disposing off his annoying cousins in the future because they seemed to be lucky and the Pandavas realized that Duryodhana was really insane in his jealousy and that there was no line that Duryodhana would not cross if it meant the destruction of the Pandavas.
That was the reason, the Pandavas never spoke of the incident again. The Pandavas feared that if they spoke about Duryodhana’s involvement in the whole affair, Duryodhana might do something even more horrific.
But just because the Pandavas were silent, it did not make Duryodhana change his mind. Duryodhana was as bad as ever and his plans if anything were becoming more and more bold and the next time, Duryodhana had an even more audacious plan to kill the Pandavas.
Duryodhana spoke highly of a place called Varanavatha where the huge festival was to be organized in honour of Lord Shiva. Duryodhana manipulated things that he sent the Pandavas to Varanavatha and at the time the Pandavas went there, Duryodhana had a beautiful palace built. The palace was one of the most beautiful constructions of its times and definitely the most combustible – because the palace was made of lac.
And Duryodhana was patient this time. He did not want any of the events to ever lead back to him, which was why Duryodhana wanted for a whole year. The Pandavas had lived in the lac palace of Vanaravatha for an entire year when Duryodhana through one of his men called Purochana, set his plan in action.
In the dead of the night, when a huge feast was conducted during the day, when Duryodhana was sure that the Pandavas were fast asleep, Duryodhana asked Purochana to set the entire palace on fire.
In the dead of the night, a fire broke out in the lac palace of Varanavata. The lac palace was built completely of things which could burn and burn very easily. Which was why, the time between the commencement of the fire and the spreading of the fire was too short.
The people from Varanavata were horrified when they saw the entire lac palace go down in flames. The people tried dousing the flames of the palace and that was when they discovered something impossible – the fire was spreading too fast. Far too fast, than in the case of a normal fire. The fire kept raging and there was no part of the palace which even escaped the fire.
The next morning a charred body of a woman with five men were inside the palace and the people were terrified.
They all realized that the Pandavas were gone and this time, there was no one who could bring them back. And the fire had started right from the room where Purochana was sleeping, who was also killed in the fire.
So the entire kingdom believed that the evil Purochana had set fire to the lac palace and Purochana himself killed in the fire.
Back in Hastinapur, Duryodhana could not hide his glee when he heard of the six dead bodies found inside the lac palace. And with the death of Purochana, Duryodhana realized that another loose end was tied up and this time there was nothing which could lead back to him. And Duryodhana was actually happy. He felt that he had got rid of the Pandavas in a masterly stroke and he had done with with absolutely no suspicions leading back to him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tara - The Queen of Kishkinda - Part 3 of 3

Tara felt a sudden silence. And this time the fear which gripped her heart was palpable. She knew what had happened as she struggled with herself.
Mother!” The young Angada said as Tara stared at her son blankly, not able to control herself. “You are hurting me,” Angada said trying to pull himself away from his mother’s tight, numbing grasp.
Angada stopped talking as a single tear flowed from his mother’s eye as she saw her son. “I told him,” Tara whispered. “I told him not to pick this fight,” Tara whimpered.
Mother!” Angada asked confused. “What is….?”
Angada turned as he saw some guards shouting and rushing inside the room, “My Lady!” the Vanara Guard shrieked, “Vali has fallen!” The guard shouted. “The great Vali has fallen!”
Tara was struggling to compose herself as her son was watching the guard numb, “NO!” The little Angada shouted as tears came to Tara’s eyes. “MY FATHER CANNOT DIE!” The young Angada wailed.
Come with me, Angada!” Tara said leading her son, trying to control herself.
And that was when a Vanara guard stopped Tara. “My Lady, please listen to me!” the guard said. “The victor is Sugriva! If he comes….” The guard swallowed as he saw Angada, “Crown your son as the King first and then Sugriva would be able to do nothing!”
Beyond the numbing pain, Tara felt burning hatred fill her heart as she studied the guard murderously. “That is my husband who is dying there,” Tara said viciously. “I need to see him!” Tara said as she pushed the guard aside taking her son with her.
Tara never thought she would see this scene – Vali was lying on the ground a sharp arrow in his chest and Vali was gasping for breath.
Beside Vali stood Sugriva with a garland around his neck with a very strange expression on his face.
Tara studied the man beside Sugriva – a very tall, dark exceedingly handsome man with intense dark eyes – Lord Rama of Ayodhya and that was when Tara realized that Vali was speaking to Lord Rama. “You should have come to me, Lord Rama,” Vali told the man struggling to breathe as Angada ran towards his father trying to help him.
If you had come to me,” Vali repeated. “I would have defeated whoever had taken your wife Sita, even if it was Ravana himself and brought them to you in a jiffy!” Vali told Lord Rama. “Your father – King Dasharatha helped my father Lord Indra in defeating monsters. I would have helped you in finding Sita!”
Tara was struggling with her tears as she bent down near her husband clutching his trembling fingers. For the first time, their eyes met as Tara could see regret in his eyes. The regret turned to anger as Vali turned to Lord Rama,
THIS VANARA,” Vali shouted pointing at Sugriva, “It was because of this Vanara that my wife was made a widow and on top of that, Sugriva also took my kingdom,” Vali hissed angrily drawing an angry breath. “What was my crime when I wanted to kill him?” Vali demanded.
He is your younger brother, Vali,” The voice of Lord Rama was calm. “Sugriva had promised to look up to you. He is like your son.” Lord Rama’s voice was strong now. “Even if he had made a mistake you should have forgiven him, Vali!”
Tara clutched Vali’s hands strongly as Vali refused to look at his wife. “I committed no crime against you, Lord Rama! Why did you kill me?” Vali demanded.
Under the authority of King Bharatha, my brother, I can spread righteousness and destroy evil everywhere. And I cannot take your help as a king,” Lord Rama told Vali, “You lost your kingdom when you stepped down the throne to fight Mayavi! You are not a king after that and you cannot help me,” Lord Rama told Vali.
Vali sighed. That was when Vali managed to look at his wife.
This is for Ruma,” Tara told Vali softly. Tara shook her head unable to stop her tears. “You should not have taken her!” Tara said as she hugged her dying husband tightly, sobs racking her entire body. She watched Sugriva sadly and turned to Vali. “You should not have exiled Sugriva!”
Hanuman, the minister of Sugriva, came towards Tara and shook his head sadly. “What is done is done, Tara! Think about your future! Think about the future of your son,” Hanuman said as Vali drew another hazy breath, barely looking alive. “Angada should be crowned as the king!” Hanuman said.
Tara shook her head sadly not willing to let her husband go. “No! With Sugriva alive, it is not advisable to crown my son as the king!” Tara said simply.
Vali and Tara exchanged glances and this time there was a faint smile from Vali.
Support Sugriva, my love!” Vali told Tara nodding his head.
Tara said nothing as Vali turned to Angada. “You will help your uncle, Angada!” Sugriva said as Angada was mute, unable to say anything.
Vali turned to Sugriva. “I should not have exiled you Sugriva,” Vali said as Tara wept suddenly.
Vali stopped her and turned to Sugriva, “There is something I have never told anyone, Sugriva. But you should know. Tara is my strength! She knows everything and she understands everything. If she says something, then it is right.” Vali shook his head tiredly. “Do not question Tara. And whatever she wants should be done for if she says that something will happen, it will happen!”
Vali turned to Lord Rama, “Please make sure that Tara is well taken care of and that no one hurts her.”
With that Vali breathed his last.
[It is believed that Vali saw Lord Rama in the Vishwaroopa [The total universe inside Lord Rama showing him as the beginning and the end of the universe] before he died and hence attained salvation. Sugriva was crowned as the king of the Vanaras and Angada was made the heir apparent to the throne.]
However, the true diplomacy of Tara came after the death of Vali.
After Sugriva was crowned as the king of Kishkinda, Rama believed that Sugriva would keep his word and try to find the whereabouts of Sita. And it was the four months of the year where there was continuous rain. [In those days, no traveling was done during the intense four month rain period.]
Sugriva after becoming the king was indulging himself in his palace and had completely forgotten all about his promise to Lord Rama.
In the forests, Lord Rama was waiting, sick with worry about his wife and Lord Rama was waiting for some news from Sugriva. And finally when there was no word from Sugriva, Lord Rama sent Lakshmana to talk to Sugriva.
Just before Lakshmana could come inside Kishkinda, Hanuman learnt about Lakshmana’s arrival and had all the generals of the Vanara army come to the capital.
And when Lakshmana came inside Kishkinda, the next day, Lakshmana was furious. More than furious as he saw Sugriva living the comforts of the palace. And Lakshmana could see that Sugriva had forgotten everything that he had promised Lord Rama and Lakshmana was painfully reminded of his own elder brother who was in the forest, all alone and pining for his wife.
Lakshmana would have burnt down Kishkinda in his anger, if it had not been for Tara who intercepted Lakshmana before he could meet Sugriva.
Prince Lakshmana,” Tara said bowing to Lakshmana.
WHERE IS SUGRIVA?” Lakshmana thundered angrily.
Tara studied the angry prince and realized that Lakshmana was very angry and could not be satisfied with words alone. Tara nodded to Lakshmana, “Prince Lakshmana, you should realize that all the generals and the troops of the Vanara army are coming to Kishkinda as we speak. We will begin our search for Sita at the earliest, as soon as all the troops are here!”
Lakshmana was still furious as Tara continued, “Prince Lakshmana your brother Lord Rama is a great man! And he has approached Sugriva for help in fighting Ravana and his men.” Tara shook her head. “Please prince, do not give way to your anger! As soon as the troops are here, we would find Sita and we would start our campaign to get her back.”
And Tara continued speaking. She praised Rama and she also explained away Sugriva’s inability to act quickly and she also subtly reminded Lakshmana the fact that Rama needed the help of the Vanaras if he hoped to get Sita back.
And Tara explained it so well that as Lakshmana heard Tara, Lakshmana calmed down. [In some versions it is even mentioned that Lakshmana was reminded of his mother as he saw Tara and Lakshmana gave up his anger.]
It was only after Lakshmana left Kishkinda that Sugriva realized how close Lakshmana had come to destroying the entire city. Then Sugriva became serious and then he took over the command of his people and sent them to all the parts of the country to find Sita.

That day, a disaster was averted to Kishkinda, all because of Tara, the Queen of Kishkinda.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tara - The Queen of Kishkinda - Part 2 of 3

Mother, my father is no more?” The young Angad asked his mother Tara.
Tara saw the innocent face of her young son, and felt a strange ache fill her heart, “I told your father Vali, not to fight the demon at night! I told him demons were powerful at night,” Tara struggled to control herself as she saw her young son sitting before her, “But Vali did not listen!” Tara said crying openly.
Ruma, the first wife of Sugriva, hugged the two of them. “Angad, your father was a great Vanara! And do not worry that Vali is not there with you now! Sugriva will take good care of you and your mother!” Ruma said watching the two of them.
Sugriva needs to focus on his kingdom,” Tara told Ruma, “He is the king of the Vanaras now and Sugriva should not give in to his grief….!”
Tara did not even finish talking when a horrendous scream filled the kingdom.
Both Angad and Ruma were terrified when they heard the unearthly screams. But Tara was feeling numb. She knew this voice. She knew this voice too well.
********
All the citizens of Kishkinda were scared as they raced outside their homes.
YOU EVIL VANARA! HOW DARE YOU?” the wild, disheveled very angry looking Vanara was shouting outside Kishkinda on top of his voice.
Sugriva could not believe what he was seeing. He nearly stumbled as he saw who was before him.
VALI?” Sugriva yelled partly numb from joy and partly unable to believe what he was seeing.
Sugriva ran towards Vali joyously and that was when Sugriva was in for a shock.
Vali rudely pushed Sugriva to the ground and looked at him with angry, hatred filled eyes.
NOW YOU PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT ME?” Vali bellowed loudly as Sugriva was staring blankly at Vali. Vali angrily pulled up his brother almost choking Sugriva, “I do not think you would be so foolish as to believe that Mayavi would be able to defeat me!” Vali said snarling. “You planned this, didn’t you? You closed the cave door thinking that I would rot inside the cave! And you thought by doing that you would rule my kingdom?” Vali sneered angrily.
It was at that time that Vali caught sight of Tara inside the palace and grew even more angry as he threw Sugriva back angrily. “DID YOU REALLY THINK THAT THAT WAS GOING TO STOP ME?” Vali shouted.
Br...Brother,” Sugriva stammered gasping for air, “Please listen!” Sugriva took a painful breath and looked at his brother, “I thought that you perished in that cave,” Sugriva said as Vali snorted, “I did not want Mayavi to come back and haunt our kingdom. That is the reason I closed the cave door. Please….”
Sugriva could speak no more as Vali nearly choked him again. “Lies!” Vali yelled, “You speak nothing but lies!” Vali pushed Sugriva out of his palace.
Vali pulled his hand back in another punch when Sugriva was really scared and pushed himself back.
Ruma yelled running after Sugriva as Vali caught Ruma viciously, “And henceforth Ruma stays with me,” Vali said watching his brother with angry, glittering eyes.
Sugriva beat a hasty retreat from the palace.
Following Sugriva, Hanuman also left Kishkinda.
Sugriva feared for his life and he knew that the only place Vali could not come was Rishyamukha where the ashrama of Sage Matanga was situated. Sugriva and Hanuman lived there and over time, Sugriva, the beloved brother of Vali became bitter towards Vali.
Hanuman, on the other hand, met Lord Rama and Lakshmana who were traveling in the forests in search of Sita. (Sita had been kidnapped by Ravana, the king of Lanka)
Sugriva and Rama reached a pact whereby Lord Rama agreed to kill Vali on behalf of Sugriva and make Sugriva the king of Kishkinda and Sugriva promised to help Rama in finding Sita.
Armed with the promise from Lord Rama, Sugriva came back to Kishkinda and challenged Vali to a fight.
Tara was frowning as Vali was fuming and getting ready to fight Sugriva, “How dare that Vanara challenge me?” Vali yelled.
Tara was silent. In fact she did not even look like she was paying attention to her husband’s ranting.
What?” Vali demanded as Tara said nothing.
I do not think you should fight Sugriva,” Tara told her husband finally.
That nearly stopped Vali. He stopped ranting and turned his attention to his wife, “What did you just now say?” Vali asked Tara.
I said you should not fight Sugriva,” Tara said.
Vali was watching his wife as he was getting more and more angry as Tara continued, “We know that Sugriva has taken the help of the Prince Rama of Ayodhya,” Tara said calmly, “Rama is an avatar of Lord Vishnu and I am sure that he would be helping Sugriva in his battle,” Tara shook her head. “It would be unadvisable to fight Sugriva when he is protected by Lord Rama!”
Vali went near his wife standing very close to her, “You know I would never hesitate to fight when challenged!” Vali told her. “It would not matter to me whether the challenger is Lord Vishnu himself!” Vali said shaking his head as he could see a single tear in Tara’s eyes. “Even if Angad were to challenge me, I would fight him,” Vali said and walked away without a second glance.
It almost seemed like Tara worried about nothing. Because Vali won the first fight almost effortlessly. Sugriva realizing that he could possibly end up losing his life, ran away from the fight. (Lord Rama was hiding behind a tree and waiting to shoot Vali as Vali and Sugriva were fighting. Unfortunately, Lord Rama could not distinguish between the two Vanaras while they were fighting and did not fire during the first fight as Lord Rama was afraid to kill Sugriva by mistake. It was to solve this problem that Sugriva wore a garland, the next time he challenged Vali to a fight.)
Once Sugriva came back for the fight, this time Tara was adamant, “It does not make sense!” she said watching Vali and for the first time there was fear in her eyes.
What does not?” Vali demanded angrily. “That Vanara does not have sense and keeps coming back to fight….”
It does not make sense!” Tara interrupted Vali, “Why would a man who was so completely defeated by you come back for a fight so soon?” Tara asked Vali frowning.
I think you should end your enmity with Sugriva,” Tara said with sharp troubled eyes, “Make him the crown prince of Kishkinda and make friends with Lord Rama,” Tara said clutching Vali’s hands tightly as Vali could feel her hands trembling.
Strangely Vali smiled at Tara, “I know how much you love me! But as I told me before, I will never ignore it when someone has challenged me to a fight.” Vali said walking away from the place. Vali stopped at the door for a few seconds, “I will not kill Sugriva! I will just crush his pride!” Vali said walking away from the room.

The two Vanaras fought and this time there was no mistaking in Lord Rama’s aim.

Tara - The Queen of Kishkinda - Part 1 of 3

Tara, the Queen of Kishkinda, was the wife of Vali, the Vanara King. She is one of the most under-spoken and definitely one of the most brilliant women in the Ramayana epic.
Her story starts with a buffalo demon by name Dundhubi.
Dundhubi was so arrogant and vain that he believed that he was strongest man in the world. The foolish demon went to the King of the Oceans.
I will fight you and prove that I am the greatest warrior in the world!” Dundhubi said as he watched the Ocean waters, arrogantly.
The king of the Oceans rose up from the waters and shook his head. “I am not capable of giving you the fight that you want. King Himavan, the king of the mountains is the right person for that task.” The King of the Ocean said.
Himavan?” Dundhubi asked in a sneering tone.
Yes!” The King of the Ocean nodded. “He is the father-in-law of Lord Shiva himself and he shelters the sages in his caves and he has power of the mountains. He is the right person for you to fight.”
Dundhubi looked angrily at the King of the Ocean for the few minutes and then without a second glance, turned away from there.
Like an arrow shot from a bow, Dundhubi landed straight in the door steps of Himavan. Yelling hoarsely, Dundhubi pushed himself towards the mountains and pulled up rocks from the mountain.
Give me a fight, King Himavan!” Dundhubi yelled. “The king of the Ocean said that you were the best person for me to fight with. Which is why I have come here. Fight me, so that I can prove to the world that I am the strongest person in the world.” Dundhubi said haughtily.
King Himavan watched the power hungry demon for a few minutes.
Go to the city of Kishkinda. There you will find the son of Indra.” Himavan said with shining eyes. “His name is Vali.” Himavan smiled without meaning to and continued. “He will give you a fight.”
Dundhubi had no idea what a huge mistake he was about to make, as he approached the city of Kishkinda.
Meanwhile back in the city of Kishkinda, Vali was in his palace fast asleep with his wives. It was at that time that a loud roar was heard through the entire kingdom.
Being the king of the Vanaras, Vali ran outside of his palace and found Dundhubi there, looking fiercely at him. Vali’s wives followed him as they were standing around Vali to help him in case of need.
Give me a fight.” Dundhubi yelled loudly. He then saw Vali and his wives and snorted. “I came here thinking that you would be able to give me a fight.” Dundhubi snorted again. “You were asleep. I do not deem it worthy to fight a man who is half asleep.” Dundhubi said trying to walk away.
Vali was enraged as he saw the buffalo headed demon. “You dare make fun of me? You think I need to be awake to fight a pathetic creature like you?” Vali demanded angrily as he pulled the golden pendant he wore around his neck, coming forward.
Vali realized that the foolish demon really did not know much about him. The pendant that Vali was wearing was no ordinary pendant. It was a gift from his father – Indra. The power of the pendant was such that if any person who challenged the person wearing the pendant, the challenger would lose half his strength.
Without further talk, Vali engaged Dundhubi in a fight, then and there. And it was a really gruesome fight. Though Dundhubi tried to hurt Vali, Vali was way more powerful. In no time at all, Vali hurled the badly injured Dundhubi, far back. In a few more minutes, Vali effortlessly won the fight against Dundhubi and killed the demon.
And then Vali proved his actual strength. Vali lifted the dead demon and flung him far away.
And that was Vali’s mistake.
Because Dundhubi’s body landed in the ashram of the Sage Matang.
The sage was angry because that disturbed his meditation. Furious on seeing his hermitage destroyed, the sage used the powers of his meditation and realized who had done this.
I curse you, Vali. And I also curse any of your friends in this forest.” the sage thundered angrily. “If any of you ever come within one “yojana” (a measure of distance) of my hermitage, you would be petrified.” the sage cursed.
Vali’s Vanara friends were living in the forest and when they heard the words of the sage, they all hurried away from the forest and they told Vali all about the curse of the sage.
Vali tried apologizing to the sage. But it was of no use. The sage was adamant and the curse was not even modified.
Many days after this event, another demon called Mayavi challenged Vali to a fight. And this time Vali was in his court in the kingdom. Not shying away from the challenge, Vali fought the demon and easily defeated the demon.
Facing defeat, the demon fled the kingdom. Vali was however not satisfied and he and his brother Sugriva gave chase to Mayavi.
Mayavi fled into a cave slightly further away from the kingdom.
Vali was about to enter the cave after the demon, when he called upon his brother Sugriva. “Though the demon is tired and has lost a lot of blood, be careful.” Vali told his brother. “If I do not make it out of the cave, close the cave and go back to Kishkinda.”
Sugriva watched his brother, looking scared, as Vali nodded. “Take care of Kishkinda, if anything happens to me.”
Sugriva was speechless but before he could say anything, Vali went inside the cave.
And inside the cave, Vali and Mayavi, fought. Sugriva was guarding the cave outside. The fight went on, not for a day or two but for twenty eight days.
And suddenly on the twenty eighth day, from inside the cave, came a blood curdling scream.
Sugriva was getting nervous outside the cave. And he thought of the worst when he heard the scream. He was sure that his brother was no more. Sugriva closed the mouth of the cave with a huge rock and ran back to the Kishkinda.
He told the people all that had happened there.
And as Vali was no more, Sugriva being the younger brother was crowned as the king of Kishkinda.


As Vali was presumed dead, his widow Tara married Sugriva.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Slaying of Shumbha and Nishumbha - Part 3 of 3

Shumbha and Nishumbha were shocked to see the next round of warriors also come back terrified. “Flee! Run away from the woman! Otherwise in the desire for this woman you would lose everything! Your friends, your kingdom and even your life! If you do not give up now, your entire race will be extinguished!” They told the two asuras.
Suddenly, one of the soldiers turned to Shumbha, “Your boon! It protects you only from the male of any species! She is the Goddess! Goddess Maha Maya! The Goddess who has come as your death!” The soldier said with certainty.
FOOLS!” Shumbha yelled at them loudly, “You are running away because your desire to live is strong! Go! Run away! Run and hide in the Patala.” Shumbha told them in a sneering tone. “You are talking like it was fate which brought the woman here! But I am not a fool to believe in fate! I will fight! I will sent Rakthabija to fight the woman!” Shumbha yelled.
Rakthabija had a very strange boon - one that made him a formidable opponent. He had a boon that every drop of blood which Rakthabija spilled on the earth would give rise to another asura as strong and powerful as Rakthabija himself.
Seeing Rakthabija come, Goddess Kalika blew her conch shell loudly. So loud that it almost scared the other soldiers. But Rakthabija was unperturbed.
He went towards Goddess Kalika and shook his head, “Do you think I am scared of this? I will ask only once,” Rakthabija said in a dangerous voice. “Turn yourself over to my Lord or I will kill you!”
There was no mistaking it. The two Goddesses laughed wildly at Rakthabija. “Do not boast! Fight!” The Goddess yelled at him.
Within a few minutes of battle, Rakthabija was lying unconscious in the battlefield! Terror seized the remaining asuras as they screamed and let out distress signals. Rakthabija was taken off the field for treatment.
Shumbha who was watching this from his palace turned to his guards. “Call the Kamvojas and the Kalakeyas to fight for us,” Shumbha said letting out a sharp breath.
Pursuant to Shumbha’s wishes, the Kamvojas and the Kalakeyas came to battle.
Seeing the army march towards the two women, the other women also joined the battle. All the wives of the Devas joined the battle - Brahmani came on a swan with the powers of Brahma, Vaishnavi with the powers of Vishnu came on Garuda. The wife of Kartikeyan - Kaumari came with weapons and she was mounted on a peacock. Indrani, Varahi, Narasimhi…. They all came and they all came blazing and ready for war. (These Goddesses are called Matrikas or Mother Goddesses. They are the powers of the Gods.)
Lord Shiva appeared before the women and encouraged them to finish the battle as quick as possible. That was when Goddess Ambika spoke with Lord Shiva, “Lord Shiva! Though Shumbha and Nishumbha have fought repeatedly with me, I wish to give them a chance to live. Go to them as my messenger and tell them to stop fighting or that I would kill them. This is the last chance I am giving them!” Ambika said.
Lord Shiva went to the asuras but the asuras paid no heed to the wise words of the Lord.
Then the Devis started massacring the asuras on the battlefield, mercilessly. Soon the air was filled with the screams and shouts of the asuras who could not escape from the warrior Goddesses.
Rakthabija who was in his camp heard the screams of his people and raced outside towards the battlefield.
The first Goddess whom Rakthabija saw was Vaishnavi and he hurled his Shakthi weapon at the Goddess. Vaishnavi stopped the weapon and hurled her Sudarshana Chakra at the asura. At the same time Indrani, also attacked him as Chamundi destroyed Rakthabija’s weapons.
And Rakthabija’s blood fell on the earth.
The Devas who were watching the battle were shocked because a few thousand Rakthabijas surrounded the Matrikas and the Goddess Ambika and Goddess Kalika.
The Devas were sure that all was lost…
Goddess Ambika turned to Kalika, “As soon as we fire on Rakthabija and he starts bleeding, drink all the blood of Rakthabija and make sure nothing falls on the earth! Me and the other Matrikas would injure the asura continuously!” Goddess Ambika told the other Goddess.
And Goddess Kalika carried out her instructions perfectly. As the other Matrikas injured Rakthabija, she made sure none of Rakthabija’s blood fell on the earth.
Within a very short time, the tide of the battle turned.
The Matrikas hacked just about anything in their path and soon the real Rakthabija was the only one left along with the other Asura soldiers.
And Goddess Ambika showed no mercy to Rakthabija and killed him too.
Both Shumbha and Nishumbha came to battle with their own armies and Nishumbha’s army attacked the Devis first. And as was the rule of war, Shumbha watched the war.
The battle was almost an anticlimax because after so much destruction, the Goddesses destroyed Nishumbha almost easily.
Shumbha watched the entire scene shell shocked and numb.
Shumbha drove up on his chariot and saw the beautiful Goddess Ambika and was unable to pull out his weapons. “I cannot fight you. Your beauty distracts me, Lady!” Shumbha told the Goddess.
The Goddess laughed, “Even during a battle, you are unable to fight dispassionately.” She turned to Goddess Kalika, “You are fierce! I think you should fight him. I will watch.” The Goddess said.

There was a short, supercharged battle between the Goddess and Shumbha and the Goddess first broke Shumbha’s chariot with her club and then without any hesitation killed Shumbha too….