Pradhyumna looked around as the young girls in the palace were staring at him with open admiration. The girls had always followed him around making him so uncomfortable....He sighed as he concentrated on his target shooting with his bow and arrow. Practicing any weapon made him feel somehow complete....Pradhyumna wondered why....Since he had been a child, people around the palace had told him that he was the son of the maid in the palace. Pradhyumna had grown up believing it to be true. But as he grew up he learnt about weapons during his training. He could not explain it, not even to himself, how much he loved using the weapons.....It felt like he was not the son of a maid, but the son of warrior...
Pradhyumna sighed. He knew that he would never get the answers to his questions here. Nobody seemed to know anything about him. So in order to forget about all this, Pradhyumna practiced his weapons even harder. He knew that he could shoot the arrows much better than even the sons of the King Shambara.
Pradhyumna was looking at the target and was about to let the arrow go, when the wind suddenly blew. It brought to him a whiff of perfume....Something so familiar and so maddeningly close and....Pradhyumna turned as he saw the cook in the palace kitchen look at him. For a second he thought he recognized those eyes, then the memory was gone. Frustrated Pradhyumna looked around wondering why he kept having such vague memories repeatedly but he had no clue...
Pradhyumna saw to his surprise that the cook was coming towards him. Till date there were many rumours about the cook, but nobody spoke anything about her. She talked very little and usually kept to herself. But today he was surprised to see her coming forward to talk to him. As Pradhyumna studied the woman, a wave of memories tried to surface, but then it was gone before he could understand.
Mayawati the cook came forward as she studied Pradhyumna. She saw that Pradhyumna was able to use weapons with an uncanny ease....Mayawati smiled. She knew who he was.....But now was not the time to tell him the truth. He was not yet ready for it. However the time had come to begin his education.
'Pradhyumna! You are a very good archer! I have been watching you....I think it is time for your next lesson!' Mayawati continued.
Pradhyumna looked at Mayawati with surprise, his heart hammering. He had heard rumours that the cook was an expert in the art of illusion . Pradhyumna had not believed it first....Why would a person who was well-versed in the art of Maya work as a cook in the palace of Shambara? But then there were a few things about the woman that Pradhyumna could not understand. The woman never seemed to age.....There were other things too....but Pradhyumna had always ignored it.
'Next lesson? What is that?' Pradhyumna asked.
Mayawati smiled. 'If you are to fulfill your prophecy you are to know the art of illusion!'
Pradhyumna blinked. 'What illusion? What prophecy?'
Mayawati smiled. 'That is something you will know later....Now let us begin!'
Pradhyumna saw disbelievingly that the woman was indeed an expert in the art....
Mayawati was astounded as she saw Pradhyumna learn Maya. The speed at which he learnt was phenomenal. Mayawati smiled.
As Pradhyumna practiced he started having more and more memory flashes. He saw himself hand in hand with a woman....the woman looked like the woman beside him....Pradhyumna could not understand it....
Mayawati could understand Pradhyumna's confusion and she immediately stopped the classes. 'We will continue tomorrow....Practice this for now!'
Pradhyumna saw Mayawati as his vision blurred. 'Who are you?' He asked wonderingly.
Mayawati shook her head. 'The question is WHO ARE YOU?' She said and pointed her finger at Pradhyumna.
Confused, Pradhyumna walked away as Mayawati watched him.
Pradhyumna soon became an expert in the art of Maya. He knew as much as Mayawati did....
After the class Mayawati told him one day. 'Do you know who you are my prince?'
Prince? Did Mayawati just call him her Prince? Pradhyumna looked suspiciously at Mayawati as she said quietly. 'You are comfortable around weapons...That is a trait of warriors...No child of a maid would be interested in weapons....But you are....'
Pradhyumna looked sadly shrugging his shoulders. Mayawati smiled. 'You are the son of Lord Krishna and Queen Rukmini! Their first son!'
Pradhyumna looked numbly at Mayawati. He wondered whether he had heard correctly. Could be really be the son of the Dark Lord himself...Pradhyumna looked at Mayawati and realized that she was speaking the truth. 'There was a prophecy that Shambara would be killed by the son of Queen Rukmini and Lord Krishna. Shambara wanted to make the prophecy wrong and he abducted you when you were a 7 day baby...'
Mayawati told Pradhyumna everything, right up to how Pradhyumna was found inside the stomach of the fish.
Pradhyumna looked at Mayawati. 'I....am the son of Lord Krishna?' His question was part wonder, part fear.
Mayawati nodded her head. 'I am here to fulfill my destiny!...' Pradhyumna looked at the palace where Shambara lived with his children. It was because of this demon that he was without his parents....It was because of this demon that his mother still cried for him, thinking that he was dead....Pradhyumna now knew what he had to do. He picked up his bow.
'Shambara is going to die today!' He said angrily.
Mayawati slowly nodded her head. 'Yes, I know!' There were tears in her eyes.
Pradhyumna looked at Mayawati. 'Who are you?'
Mayawati smiled. 'You are not yet ready for the answer....Now go, my prince!'
And so there was a brutal battle between Shambara and Pradhyumna. First Shambara sent his sons to fight Pradhyumna. Pradhyumna defeated all of them easily. Realizing the power of this young man, Shambara himself came out to fight. The battle was evenly matched. Anything that Shambara was able to fire, Pradhyumna cut it down before it reached him. But Shambara was also a good warrior and Pradhyumna was not able to cause serious damage to him....Shambara turned to the art of illusion. To his surprise he found that Pradhyumna was also very adept in the art.
Slowly Shambara understood that the boy was depleting his reserves of Maya. He looked at him and shouted. 'Who are you? What do you want?'
Pradhyumna shouted angrily. 'I am Pradhyumna, the son of Lord Krishna and Rukmini! I have come to kill you and fulfill my prophecy!
Shambara looked blankly. How on earth could the boy before him be Pradhyumna....He had killed the baby himself....But here he was....Would the prophecy against him come true? In despair Shambara pulled a powerful illusion which was taught to him by Goddess Parvathi herself. He knew that it was a powerful weapon and could not be used just like that.....Shambara also knew that he had no other choice.
Indra who was watching the battle between Shambara and Pradhyumna promptly sent for Narada. 'Sage Narada! Shambara is getting ready to use the weapon of Parvathi!....The only way to defeat it is for Pradhyumna to know who he is....You have to tell him and tell him fast!'
Sage Narada raced to the battlefield and spoke to Pradhyumna who was waiting for Shambara to start his next attack. 'Pradhyumna! Shambara is getting ready to use his most dangerous weapon.....It is a gift from Goddess Parvathi....' Pradhyumna looked panicked as Sage Narada said quietly. 'You just need to know who you are to counter this attack...Now....RECOLLECT YOUR PAST'
And so with a flash of memories, right there on the battlefield, Pradhyumna remembered about his past life...He was Kama Deva, the God of Love – his wife Rati – his mission – how he was burnt by Lord Shiva – And now he was reborn to become one with his Rati – Mayavathi!
As Shambara got ready to fire his weapon, Pradhyumna knew exactly what he had to do. He closed his eyes and let out a prayer to Goddess Parvathi. 'Goddess! I was born because of the boon you granted Rati! Now your own weapon is going to destroy me! Please help me!'
As the weapon was about to be fired, Parvathi spoke from the skies. 'Shambara! This weapon cannot hurt Pradhyumna! Long back I had granted a boon to this man's wife that she would get him back....I cannot take back the boon. I am afraid, this weapon would not hurt Pradhyumna!
Needless to say the illusion did not affect Pradhymna. When the weapon reached Pradhyumna, it turned into a lotus garland and fell on Pradhyumna's shoulders.
Pradhyumna smiled. He fired his own weapons in return and Shambara was destroyed.. He had completed the prophecy for which he was born.
Victorious Pradhyumna marched up to the palace and went straight to Mayawati. 'Rati! I am back!' Mayawati smiled through her tears, unable to say anything...
Rukmini was in the palace, when she had a sudden strange feeling. She knew that something had changed. Something had happened. She ran to the balcony wondering what it was....
There far away she saw Krishna coming towards the palace. Krishna was followed by a woman....
Rukmini blinked again. Krishna could not be there. He was here in the palace with her. Then who was it... Rukmini stared long and hard as the young man came closer. He looked like a younger version of Krishna....the same dark body and beautiful features.....But then who was he?
Rukmini watched the boy and she suddenly thought of her first born son – Pradhyumna....if Pradhyumna had been alive today, he would be the same age as this young man....Rukmini thought wistfully. Sighing, Rukmini shook her head. She looked again and saw the young man come closer. This time Rukmini could study his features better and for a moment her heart stopped still....Could it be....
'Krishna!' Rukmini called almost yelling as she ran out of the palace.
Krishna with his knowing smile followed Rukmini as she almost stumbled outside the palace.
The young man came forward and fell at the feet of the Dark Lord and Rukmini. 'Father! Mother! Please give me your blessings!'
Pradhyumna looked at the face of Dark Lord, unable to say anything more...He had been destroyed by Lord Shiva and he had now come back as the son of the Dark Lord and he was back with his Rati....Probably there was nothing more he ever wanted in this life.....
Rukmini hugged her son as she had no more doubt in her mind. By some stroke of luck her son had come back....come back to her....Back from death....