Monday, April 24, 2017

Gatothgaja - Chapter 5

Meanwhile, Hidimba was waiting for his sister. She had never been late before. She had always been quick and efficient in her kills.
But right now, Hidimba waited and waited and still there was no sign of his sister.
Finally, Hidimba got impatient and walked towards the direction that her sister had gone.
And as he walked the entire forests trembled. Because Hidimba was a really frightful looking monster. With red eyes, hairy body and arms which were as thick as the truck of trees and long and sharp pointed teeth, Hidimba looked like he could kill humans with a single blow. He could.
Hidimba plodded through to the clearing where the Pandavas and their mother was sleeping and on arriving there, he was stunned.
His sister, was now looking ravishingly beautiful and was talking with the human.
Shock gave way to anger as Hidimba snarled loudly looking ferocious as he bared his teeth at the human.
Looking at his sister's beautiful dresses and her made up face, Hidimba could almost immediately guess that his sister had changed her mind. Hidimba looked furiously angry at his sister and then murderously studied the human whom her sister loved.
Hidimbi naturally did not know anything about Bheema and she was afraid that her brother was going to kill the human who she had so deeply desired.
Bheema for his part, saw the ferocious monster and gave a mirthless smile. He looked at Hidimbi and shook his head. "Lady, do not be afraid of anything. As long as I am here, that monster can do nothing to anyone here," Bheema said in a sneering voice.
Hidimbi could not believe the audacity of the human before her. He was proud and regal and looked completely confident. Hidimbi had seen enough people to realize that the human was really not afraid of Hidimba.
But Hidimbi had seen her brother in action too and she knew that Hidimba was not someone to be taken lightly. "That brother of mine is really powerful, human!" Hidimbi said struggling not to get afraid.
Hidimba looked at the human and his own sister and he could barely control his hatred. "Hidimbi, in the mighty honour of the Rakshasas, who are your ancestors," Hidimba said in a sneering tone, "I am going to kill you and the human whom you hold so dear."
Hidimba came closer as he was trying to kill his sister.
Bheema wasted no time as he pushed Hidimba back angrily. "Your sister was sent here by you. And she fell in love with me. By loving me, she has committed no crime against you." Bheema said in a sneering voice. "And I will never let you hurt a woman when I am here."
"Talk and boast!" Hidimba said angrily, as he turned his attention from his sister to the human before her. "That is all you humans can do."
Hidimba gave a cursory glance at the sleeping Pandavas and Kunti and looked at Bheema with contempt. "And take it from me. I will destroy you and then I will kill you. And after that, I will kill every single one of those people who are behind you."
Hidimba had not even finished speaking, when a terrible battle ensued between the human and the Rakshasa.
Hidimba attacked Bheema, who deftly step sided the attack. Bheema with his ferocious strength, clutched Hidimba by the throat and dragged him far away from the clearing, because he did not want the Rakshasa's yelling to wake up his brothers and mother. (It is said that Bheema dragged Hidimba nearly 32 cubits which is about 0.14 kilometers).
And then as the two fought each other ferociously, the other Pandavas woke up.
The first thing they saw on waking up, was Hidimbi who was keeping a watch on them. She looked worried as she was watching the fight between her brother and the human and she was struggling not to get afraid.
Hidimbi quickly told the sleeping Pandavas and Kunti everything that had happened.
Arjuna wasted no time as he and his brothers ran towards the clearing that their brother and Hidimba were fighting.
"Let us help you!" Arjuna yelled at Bheema as he saw the fight between the two.
"STAY!" Bheema snarled angrily as his eyes did not even move an inch from Hidimba.
Without even pausing to take a breath, Bheema pushed the Rakshasa back who fell down hard.
"The twilight hour is coming, Bheema!" Arjuna yelled. "Rakshasas become extremely powerful during this time. It is practically impossible to defeat them during the twilight. Finish him before that!" Arjuna yelled. "Or let us help. You look tired!"
Bheema snarled as he looked at Hidimba and saw the skies behind and realized that Arjuna was right.
And Bheema wasted no further time. Summoning up the power of the Wind God within him, Bheema hurled Hidimba to the ground and smashed the Rakshasa in one swift move.
The Rakshasa gave a fearful yell which resounded through the entire forests. The entire forests seemed shaken with Hidimba's earshattering roar.
With that Hidimba breathed his last.
The three Pandava brothers – Yudhishtara, Nakula and Sahadeva along with Kunti and Hidimbi watched the impossible feat of Bheema unable to believe what they were seeing.
But Arjuna was not even paying attention to the fight. He was more worried about what the death of Hidimba signified. They were already on the run from Duryodhana. As of now, the only reason they were safe was that Duryodhana believed them to be dead. But if Duryodhana learnt about the death of Hidimba, there was a chance that he could suspect that this was the handiwork of Bheema leading to conclusion that the Pandavas were still alive.
So the most prudent thing to do right now was to move away from the place and get to the nearest town.
"Let's move." Arjuna told his brothers immediately.
Bheema and the other Pandavas looked at the place and the dead Rakshasa.

They all realized the logic of Arjuna. They moved away from the place, making way to the nearest town. And all the while, they were followed by Hidimbi, the Rakshasa woman.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gatothgaja - Chapter 4

In the underground tunnel, the Pandavas walked.
They crossed the town of Varanavatha and reached the banks of the river Ganga. There, they met a boat man who happily took them across to the other side.
Anxious to put maximum distance between themselves and the city of Varanavatha, the Pandavas did not stop at the other side of the river. They kept walking even after reaching the other side.
But by then it was dark.
Still, using the lights of the stars, the six people walked and they walked until they were exhausted. And now they had reached a dense forest.
Unfortunately, the forest was so dark, that after walking for some time, the Pandavas were completely lost.
And in the dark forest, they could not even make out which way they had to go to get out of the forest. Stumbling, they kept walking and slipped and fell often, because they could not see where they were going.
Tired and hungry after hours of walking, the Pandavas were exhausted and just did not know what to do. Feeling almost hopeless, Yudhishtara turned to Bheema, “I cannot do this anymore. I do not know...” Yudhishtara swallowed painfully as he continued. “I do not even know what has happened to Purochana - whether that wretch survived the fire or not. And all I have done is keep walking. Please,” Yudhishtara said shaking his head tiredly. “Please, help us.”
Bheema was obviously not one to even find the request of his brother odd. He was after all the son of Vayu – the powerful Wind God – the God who could create tornadoes and shake up entire cities. Bheema did not even hesitate as he carried all his brothers and his mother. He put his mother on his shoulder, Nakula and Sahadeva on his arms and he carried Yudhishtara and Arjuna in his hands. And with all this, Bheema did not falter or run out of breath. He walked as if he was walking normally.
And Bheema nearly smashed through the forest as he walked. The force with which Bheema walked through the forest and even grown up trees did not have a chance. Bheema kicked the trees and kept walking unmindful of what was in his path.
They were almost in the middle of the forest, when the brothers were now feeling thirsty.
Yudhishtara hearing the sounds of water birds, realized that there was a pond nearby.
So under the instructions of his brother, Bheema left his mother and brothers and walked towards the pond to get water. After drinking water, he carried it back.
Bringing the water back in his soaking upper garmet, Bheema saw a disheartening sight – his brothers and mother – the people who were meant to be kings and queen, were lying fast asleep on the rough forest ground. The people who until a day back were sleeping on the softest bed in the entire kingdom, were now asleep in the rough and rocky regions of the forests. That was the time Bheema cursed angrily. All this was happening because of the wretched son of Dhirdarashtra. Bheema looked at Yudhishtara almost with despair. I would kill all the sons of Dhirdarashtra. All at one go! The only reason, I have not yet done it, is because Yudhishtara is not yet angry with Duryodhana. Bheema wondered what would make Yudhishtara really angry at the sons of Dhirdarashtra....
And as his brothers were asleep, Bheema looked around the forest and decided that he would not sleep. The forest looked dangerous and Bheema wanted to keep his brothers and mother safe. He kept watch over his brothers, while they slept.
And the Pandavas rested there not knowing the dangers that they were in...
Because not far away from the place where the Pandavas were asleep, there lived a Rakshasa by name Hidimba. Hidimba was a vicious cannibal. In the forests which was his home, Hidimba with his heightened sensed was able to smell the brothers as soon as they had stepped inside the forest.
And Hidimba was ready for a tasty meal. He turned to his sister Hidimbi. “I can smell humans in my territory, sister. Go and see who these humans are. And after you find them, kill them.” Hidimba said with mad, gleeful eyes.
Hidimbi who had been living with his brother for as long as she could remember, had done many such work for her brother. She did not find it any odd to do her brother’s bidding this time too, as she walked towards the sleeping humans.
Little did she know that her life was about to change.
As Hidimbi saw the Pandavas fast asleep in the grounds of the forest, she saw Bheema who was awake and keeping a watchful eye around.
And in the dark forest, as Hidimbi saw Bheema’s features, she immediately fell in love with the human. It was love at first sight for Hidimbi and she could not even remember that she was here because she wanted to kill the humans. Right now, she could do nothing else – she just wanted to keep staring at the handsome man in front of her.
After some time, Hidimbi just could not control herself, as she changed her appearance and decided to talk with the human.
Looking beautiful and decked up like a human, Hidimbi approached Bheema.
Bheema stirred and saw a beautiful woman come near him and was wary. “Who are you?” Bheema asked the woman keeping an eye, looking around.
This territory belongs to the cruel Rakshasa – Hidimba, human. Hidimba is an evil man and feasts of human flesh. I am his sister and I was sent by him. But on seeing you, I just cannot do anything that my brother wants me to do. After seeing you, I realize that I want only you as my husband, and no one else.”
Bheema stared blankly at the woman as she continued. “What are you doing here at this time? Do not stay here all alone. Come away with me. Come away with me so that I can keep you safe from my brother.”

Bheema laughed mirthlessly. “My mother and my brothers are sleeping. I cannot leave them here all alone.” Bheema studied the woman again. “And I do not fear Rakshasas.” There was a mad gleam in Bheema’s eyes as he looked at Hidimbi. “In fact, rakshasas need to fear me. I am so powerful that I can defeat anyone who fights me.”

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gatothgaja - Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – A Palace on Flames
Would there be anything else, my prince?” Purochana asked as he bowed to Yudhishtara and the other Pandavas. Yudhishtara was struggling not to let anything show on his face as he nodded to Purochoana, “That would be all for today. Thank you so much,” Yudhishatara said with the false smile that he had cultivated over the year that he had stayed here in the Palace of Lac at Vanavarata.
In fact, Purochana did not even notice anything amiss as he nodded and went back to his quarters, outside the palace.
Yudhishtara’s gaze followed the man as he made sure that Purochana was out of the palace and could not overhear them. It was only after that Yudhishtara went inside his own inner apartment where his brothers and the miner were working on the tunnel as his mother was keeping a watch making sure that the servants did not come inside the room.
They all stopped the work as Yudhishtara came inside and sat heavily on the throne behind him.
Yudhishtara peered inside the tunnel and saw that the tunnel had reached outside the palace, all the way underground.
It is time,” Yudhishtara said finally looking at his brothers.
Now?” It was Bhima who asked the question.
Yudhistara nodded. “We need to do it before Purochana beats us to punch. As of now, Purochana believes that we are deceived. It would be difficult to keep these appearances for much longer.”
One by one, the other brothers nodded as they looked at the miner who was watching and not saying anything.
It will be done, my princes,” The miner nodded finally.
That night Kunti spoke to her eldest son, “Son, we need to organize a feast for tomorrow.”
Yudhishtara looked at Kunti for a huge second and then blinked. He realized what his mother was saying and knew that it was wrong to do it. But they did not have a lot of choice in this matter. It needed to be done. With a heavy head, Yudhishtara nodded not saying anything else.
The next day people thronged at the palace of the Pandavas. Though the sons of Pandu were generous with the money, still for the people of the kingdom, a feast was a feast. That was something which was eagerly awaited by all the people in the kingdom. Especially, since they all realized how much the second son Bhima enjoyed his food. The food from the royal kitchens was almost unmatched with anything found anywhere else in the kingdom.
Among the people who came to the palace was a Nishada woman and like Kunti she also had five sons. Probably, it was fate as the Nishada woman came to the palace of Lac with her five sons to enjoy the feast.
Neither the woman nor her sons realized that they had had more wine than they should have had. Unable to control themselves, the woman and her five sons slept in the very inside the palace, fast asleep and completely oblivious to the real world.
The feast was over and the other guests had all gone back to their homes. Purochana had helped the Pandavas during the entire day and was completely exhausted as he went to his quarters just outside the quarters and was asleep even before his head hit the pillow.
Yudhishtara saw all this and then nodded to Bheema as they opened the hole of their floor.
Bhima took the fire torch from the place and lit it. Without another thought, Bhima set fire to the entire palace. And Bhima set fire to all parts of the palace and outside the palace, making sure that no one who was inside or around the mansion could escape the fire. Bhima, started the fire from outside the palace and came inside as he walked inside the innermost room with the hole in it and closed the door.
Ignoring the heat and spreading fire, the Pandavas entered the tunnel and closed the hole behind them as they walked out of the passage.
The townspeople were shocked as they saw the blazing fire. They all brought buckets of water and tried to put out the fire and that was when the townspeople realized something horrific. The palace was completely combustible. No matter how much they tried putting out the fire, the fire spread so quickly that there was never really any hope of protecting anyone who was inside the palace.
Slowly, the next day, as the townspeople saw the unrecognizably charred body of the Nishada woman and her five sons and all the people arrived at the conclusion that they were meant to arrive at – that the Pandavas and their mother had perished in the fire.
And they saw the charred body of Purochana outside the house and they all realized that it was a plan…A plan made by the prince of Hastinapur to get rid of his cousins. The townspeople even believed that Purochana had perished in the fire because he had been unable to get out of the fire after setting the palace on fire.
The townspeople all cursed Duryodhana and Dhirdarashtra for their wickedness.

No one noticed the well-made tunnel which was made right in the centre of the palace mostly because none of them were looking for it and more importantly because the tunnel was built brilliantly well to make sure that it was not seen from the outside.

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


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.