Chapter 1: The Yogi of Arunachala
We live in uncertain times. Perhaps all times are that way to a person who is brooding. It is 4640 years since the beginning of the Yuga of Kali – the age of darkness. Or the age of cleansing, depending on who you talk to. That many years since the end of the great battle of Mahabharatha – the one event that defined all of Bharath and it’s destiny till now. But now we have fallen back to uncertainty and chaos. It is not clear who is a friend and who is a foe anymore. What is right or what is wrong.
I go by the name Yogi Ramveer Nath Giri and I have roamed this great country more than three times now in my relatively short life of 25 years. Most of my years I had spent in the company of my Guru Sri Raghunatha Giri to whom, I was told, my parents gave me as a gift when I was a child of 4. My Guru has since taken care of me and taught me everything I know. The last one year of being away from my Guru perhaps is the reason for this feeling of uncertainty and doom that has been troubling me. A cloud that seems to have been cast over the entire nation. Or maybe it has always been there and only that I have been too happy to notice it.
The Kings have never been a part of our lives before. And both us and the Kings have been happier for it. That is not to say that they wouldn’t want to control us Sadhus. But they never dared to. All Kings remember the story of Lord Parashurama. Of how he almost got every King in the world killed because one of them stole the sacred cow from his father’s ashram. The Puranas are a powerful tool to remind people of things they tend to forget in the course of a few thousand years of peace. It is good that people remember them. But there are new rulers now. People from the far west; from beyond the mountains, who don’t remember. Who have been travelling too long and fighting too much to have time to learn these lessons. They have been trying to meddle in the paths of the Yogis and have many have paid a heavy price. But because of the fighting, all our extreme powers are known to the common people – and they all want to have them too. No longer is a child given to the Yogis so that he may become Shiva. But the child is given so that some private squabble can be settled by using the powers of the Yogis. My Guru never accepted such deals. But there are many nowadays, the whispers says, who are not above being corrupted.
The rain feels so lovely on my skin. Especially when the day has been hot. I did not move from my seat when it was hot and I am not moving when it is raining. I have been sitting in this spot under the pepul tree for almost four days now. I almost feel as if the rain is going through my body to reach the ground and if I closed my eyes, it would actually do that. That is because I have nothing. I am nothing. I have lived my life with nothing. Whatever is given to me, I give it away so that I am free to walk. To sit. To look. The only thing I carry is a tiger skin that belonged to my Guru. That was the only thing he ever carried with him.
My Guru told me that a great yogi, an incarnation, Shiva – Mahadeva – himself, is going to walk in this part of the country soon. This time for a very brief period though. Maybe a year. Maybe less. Maybe more. Only to be seen by the qualified yogis. That perhaps is the reason why I haven’t moved out of the Hoysala region for more than a year. It is not our way of life to stay in a region for more than a week.
The Kumbha mela is approaching and I have to go there. I must start now, if I were to reach there in a few months. Or I have to find some mercury with which I can fly there in a few days. But my Guru never used his power of flying. He said that we need to meet people in the villages and take them along with us. But I dread missing out on meeting the Lord of Lords. Maybe I am not qualified to meet him. Five hundred years hence, he will come again. And at that time everyone will get to be with him irrespective of their sadhana. That is what my Guru said. But my mind doesn’t feel like waiting that long. And more than a thousand years back he had come. In a small town called Arunachala in the south. The legends are so eloquent about the joys of his coming. About how he makes life feels like the afternoon rain on a hot summer day. And as the water cleans everything in me and around me, my inner eye tries to reach out for a glimpse of those times. A glimpse of him. But somehow my vision stops just ahead of his coming. The inner eye that shows me much into the past and future stops short of showing him. I can’t see his coming – either in the past or in the future.
And so I wait. I wait sitting in the rain that has made a small pond around the tree where I have been sitting for the past four days. I continue to sit. I sit waiting for the Yogi of Arunachala.
Chapter 2: Creatures of the Night
It is night now and the village is very different from what it was when Surya cast his powerful glance on it. The sounds, the wind, the breath – everything is different. Most humans have gone to bed. Some to sleep. The Yogi, however, does not sleep. He doesn’t need to. When you are nothing, nothing tires you. My eyes continued to be open as they have always been since I met my Guru. The place I am sitting is near a cremation ground and many tantriks perform their occult rituals to appeal to supernatural powers. Many dark powers are happy to give it to them for a price. Sometimes the price is much higher than what the seeker of greed wanted to give. The powers of the Yogis do not come from outside. They come from within and from the grace of the Guru. From Sadasiva. Nothing has been given for them other than understanding that I have nothing to give. That I am nothing. They cannot harm me or those whom I help.
I hear the scream of a woman in the dark. Not one of fear, but a cry of victory. It could mean many things. I let it go through me and have it leave me as I was before it emanated. A couple walk by in tight embrace – not bothered about social stigma or shame. A second look and I realize that they are not human – at least the girl wasn’t. She has a tight grasp on the boy’s hands and is demanding his attention, praise and listening. When that isn’t forthcoming, she starts seducing him. She is extremely beautiful. But knowing her kind, this is possibly a form that was taken because she knew it would entice him to give her his full attention and perhaps more. For all you know, she was hundreds of years old. And as she made love to him in the open ground, she was constantly aware of my presence. I looked into her eyes and throughout her courtship, she never looked away from mine either. Her hunger seemed to have no end. One could almost pity the depth of her un-fulfillment. I wished I could do something for her. And instantly my seat, the tiger skin on which I was sitting, fell to the ground from where it was hovering a foot above so delicately. I knew I did something wrong. I didn’t know what it was though.
A that very moment a loud noise broke out in the nearby road and a procession of people could be seen walking along. At the head of the procession was what appeared to be a grandly decorated corpse. Clearly someone important for there was more than a 1000 people travelling with his body to bid it farewell. Followed by a large number of horses, elephants and so on. At the lead were 12 women – clearly the wives of the person who had died. And judging by the ash that was being strewn all over the procession, he must have been a Sadu or a Yogi. A Grihastha – a married one – though. And an extremely powerful one. The Grihastha Sadhus were extremely well respected. People envied their wealth and feared their powers. Many of them lived for hundreds of years and took on scores of wives. It was surprising to find one who looked so young. All his wives were beautiful. The youngest could not have been older than fourteen or fifteen. But she stood out from the group.
It is quite possible that some of the women may travel along with the dead sadhu king to accompany him into his next life. It is a science passed on to very few. On how to interlock two souls that they may take their next birth together. The ignorant who don’t understand it call it suicide. The women neither looked sad nor did they look happy. They had the intense look of the renunciates, but yet were decked full of jewelry like the Goddesses of the temples.
The youngest of them looked at me with a inquisitive and at the same time amused look. I could almost sense her laughing. Her eyes seemed to question my existence from its very core. So different from the eyes of the creature I had seen earlier.. but yet carrying an immense power in it. Had it been day, people around would have been astonished by me, a Sadhu, staring into the eyes of a lady. But something in her look made me unable to move my gaze away.
Legend has it that the enlightened Queen of Madurai, Meenakshi, could awaken a person’s consciousness by just looking at him or her. Hence the name Meenakshi – the one with the eyes of a fish. People wrongly assume this to refer to the shape of her eyes. But the mystics know that it refers to the story that fish could hatch its young ones just by looking at them. Such was the power in the eyes which had me locked.
Chapter 3: The Ascetic King
I woke up feeling sore in every part of my body. Never have I felt my physical body with this much sensation in my life. To just move my hand or my leg seemed like an impossible task. My mind was racing to put together my life and to give me an identity. And it was failing miserably. Who am I? Where am I? When am I? Questions that hit me from the depth of me had no answers from my memory bank. I noticed much ornate architecture and golden fittings all around me. My eyes could not focus clearly but suddenly out of the hazy surroundings, two eyes stood out and looked at me. Eyes that suddenly calmed my chaotic and panicking mind. A voice, much more melodious than anything I have heard said, said “Rest yourself. You have been through much. You will have your answers in time”. The power of the voice left no choice to me but to obey them. I slipped back to sleep hoping I might wake up.
Six months have passed. I am the King of the province on Mandya. We are from the lineage of Shaivite warriors whose job it is to protect Dharma. The previous ruler of these lands had sided with the Mughals and tried to sell the women of his Kingdom to them. Two weeks later our army descended on his kingdom and in 20 minutes no trace was left of him or his supporters. Justice is swift and merciless. That is the way it has to be. Unlike the subjects, rulers deserve no mercy.
My previous life as a Natha Yogi seems almost like a dream. The only thing that links me to that life are the eyes of my beloved, Mathangi. Six months back, Bhairvaranya, a Sri Mahant of the armies of the Maha Nirvani Akhada died by poisoning but came back to life from the crematorium. That the person inside the body is from a different from the one who died is a secret that no one else knows. Sometimes I wonder if I do either. This seems more me now.
We are at war and there is no time for doubt. The Muslim invaders have strengthened their alliances. For the past few hundred years they had left the akhadas alone and hence enjoyed their freedom to rule. But our spies have news of their real plans. Which is not just to rule, but to destroy the Akhadas and impose their God and culture. This is the war that all of us have been trained for. Six hundred years ago a great visionary, Shankara, walked these very lands. He foresaw the invasion and created 13 akhadas – or armies – one in each geographical region, whose job was to defend the Sanatana Dharma. Our instructions were a closely guarded secret. We are to be in the shadows. Never to interfere in the wars of the Kings. But the moment Dharma gets threatened, that was our cue to act. If what the spies say are true, we must be in a very grave situation and this ensuing battle is going to be terrible.
The soldiers of our army are all ascetics. They don’t fear death. Nor do they fear pain. Nor the next life. Their lives belong to Mahadeva and he has already decided their fates centuries ago. Each Thanedar in the army is worth more than a thousand mindless soldiers.
And I, who have never fought any creature, even a mosquito, in my life, am tasked with protecting this realm from the greatest danger it has seen. Such is the strangeness of the play of Mahadeva. I do not complain. That is not my job. My job is to do. And to be. Both at the same time.
Today a dozen Sri Mahants from many parts of Bharath are meeting in secret in my palace. It is the time to decide on the future of the akhadas and our role in the history of this land. There are many yogis who actively side with the Musalman kings because they believe they are truer to God. I have to convince them why they are wrong. And it is never an easy task convincing the leaders. You have to make them believe that it is their idea and all at the same time. Otherwise the personal enmities would automatically make each of them take the other side. Luckily for me, my Guru had been the adviser to many smaller kings in the Maratha region. He had passed on as much knowledge of the intricacies politics to me as he did the science of yoga and mysticism.
Chapter 4: The Battle for Hastinapura
My heart is beating fast. Something I have never experienced in my earlier body. I close my eyes and get back into Samadhi – the state of oneness; with the living emptiness that is within me. My mother, Kali, who nourishes me every second of my life is there. I go to her only when I want something. But she is always waiting for me. Waiting with the love, affection and acceptance that only a mother can give. I open my eyes calm and peaceful after what seems like an eternity. Only a fraction of a second – perhaps less, I realize, has passed on the outside. I finish the insect sound signal I had started to make to the shadow on the other end of the courtyard. The shadow moved forward.
Seven of us are now inside the compound of the palace. Each only a shadow on a different wall or corner. The guards will never see us coming in or going out. The plan is simple. Kill the emperor of Delhi and all his kin and leave before anyone sees us. This will place enough confusion in the kingdom to keep them busy for many years. Even decades. If we are lucky. The Sadhus never kill unless it is essential. In this night we would have saved a million lives from torture and suffering. But only the people who can read the future will know this.
The palaces of the Mughals are so different from the ones of the Sadhu Kings. They are extravagant without purpose. Large, but inefficient. There is a cloud of sadness permeating every space. It is almost as if we were walking through a tomb. The difference between the two palaces is the difference between life and death.
The attack started at 2 am. And we were supposed to leave within the hour. It should have been easy. But Mahadeva’s plans are inscrutable. Even to the ones who mind is filled by nothing but him. Within ten minutes of scaling the walls of the fort, we reached the inner palace where Akbar was sleeping. He had twenty guards and ten wives around him. His son, a boy of 6, was sleeping in the same room. It was I who had the chance to kill him. But I couldn’t. One more of the mistakes of righteousness that I made in my life. Something that would cost much in terms of suffering to the world. But at that time, it felt as if I had no choice. My blade touched the kid and moved back into the sheath. He opened his eyes and screamed. The room leapt into chaos. Arrows, blood and screams filled the air. The Sadhus never harmed the women. That was their code. But that did not stop the women from flinging their daggers at them. Trapped by their own rules all of us fell.
I had knifes and arrows in my belly and my back. The blood rushed through my wounds. I was conscious but weakening. I could heal the body if only I could find the root of the Tulasi and the leaves of the Neem plants. But I wasn’t sure if I could ever heal the mind from the guilt that was suffocating it. My life was not my loss. It never was mine and never will be. But what I am, is who I had decided to be. The guardian of Dharma. And today I had failed that. That pain made me feel that death was such a sweet alternative. If I had used my mercury pellet I might have flown out of the window into the courtyard. But my will failed me and soon everything was dark.
When I woke up, I noticed a man with an empty bucket standing in front of me and water dripping from all over my matted hair and body. The emperor was looking triumphantly at me from a safe distance. They all knew the futility of torturing a Sadhu. They wouldn’t find anything except what the Sadhu wanted you to hear. And yet for some reason I was alive. I wondered why.
Chapter 5: The Mughal Yogi
Gold. The madness that takes over men. The one thing whose glitter draws even the most learned and pious. It is the collective delusion with which men are ruled by the kings. The delusion by which they believe they are safe. But one that makes their life most unsafe and miserable. That is why our Dharma tells us that God is the only one who is worthy of having Gold. The only one who is capable of having Gold. All our Gold is in our temples. Decorating the divine and singing his glory as the way it should be. Gold. That is what the king was after. Lots of it. The earlier invaders had destroyed our temples and looted all our Gold. They had taken it back to their kingdoms and become rich. But now there were no more temples to loot. The treasury was empty and the army needed to be kept happy. Every Islamic king knew what would happen if the army was not pampered. Those who didn’t had very short reigns and we don’t know much about them.
Yogis who could transmutate copper into Gold or even produce it from the air were plentiful. But they could at most make a few coins a week. Doing anything beyond that would require them to do many distasteful things. Most would rather give up their bodies. And judging by what was happening here, it looks like many did. But I had a mission to do. And nothing was above it. I agreed to help the Emperor if he would stop attacking the Akhadas and the sadhus. He agreed without really meaning it. I could read his small mind like a piece of paper in my hand. Little did this man know about the country he was ruling and the powers possessed by the Sadhus who ran it.
The King, Jalaludin, was happy. His coffers were full. The army was pleased with him. The kingdom tottered about in ignorance and buzz like a drunk because of the gold that was dispensed liberally by the administration. I have had a chance to study the religion of these invaders. It was in some ways not that different from what the bairagis practice. But in many ways it was primitive and based on simplistic rules. The King was not entirely stupid though. He could see how running a Kingdom needed a different religion than one which was meant to produce enough conflict and rage to make an army. But he did not have the training or the depth to know how it could be done.
With the support of the king, Jalaludin, the akhadas were now armed and able to defend themselves. The Mughal armies have been ordered to not interfere in the affairs of the Sadhus. The Akhadas now are able to continue with their work.
To be continued..
Chapter 5: The Mughal Yogi
Continued from Part 1..
The greed of man is never satisfied for long. Only the bliss of the divine lasts forever. I have learnt this lesson again and again. And yet when I see it happening once more, it always surprises me. The greed of man.
The Mughal King who now had enough gold, got greedy for acquiring the powers to make it. He lacked the discipline and training required for it. And yet he has not known an unrequited desire in his life. And that is a very dangerous thing. “Oh King” I told him “These powers can be got with your effort, no doubt. But the training itself will not be easy. And without the understanding and submission to the divine and to the lineage of the teacher that brought them to you, they will be dangerous to you and your people”. But the King was adamant and insisted on being trained. “This is going to be a long process” I thought. Even with all the rigor and rules of the Guru Sishya relationship, it sometimes gets difficult for the Guru to make the disciple take the leap that he must take if he were to master the siddhis. And here I am, asked to work with a King who is only used to giving orders. I foresee nothing but disaster. But having been left with no choice, I started his training. The training to make a Muhal Yogi.
Chapter 6: The Mother
Ganga. Truly she is the mother of all civilization. The single source of all the languages, philosophies, engineering and sciences and everything that the world has seen or will see. But for the fertility and protection she has given, and that of the Himalayas from which she descends, we would perhaps have not been able to preserve and pass on the knowledge we possess for millenia after millenia. The mother provides everything without asking anything back. For a child, she is the source of everything. In fact, she is the world. And such is the dependence on her that the lakhs of sadhus who live on her banks have. Ganga gives them everything they need. And they need nothing outside of what she provides. She is the Mother.
Such were my thoughts as I hid silently at one end of a small wooden boat that was floating silently downstream on the Ganga. I watched her waters rocking ever so gently for hours. Watching her has always a exhilarating experience for me. It made me fade into the background and I was filled with nothing but her. I had missed losing myself at her expansive presence and smelling the fragrance of her waters for many years now. The full moon was high in the sky and seemed to shine with an angry red tinge that night.
Some distance away, soldiers were riding up and down the embankments on horses. They were shouting at each other and held large torches in their hands. They were looking for me. People were being woken up and asked about my whereabouts. They were asked whether they had seen a naked sadhu with matted hair. The perfect description for any and every Naga Sadhu in the world. I could imagine an angry and distraught emperor screaming at his commanders back in the temporary palace that had been his residence for the past many months. In a few days I hoped to be very far away from his madness.
Last night I witnessed the barbarism of the Mughal world directly with my own eyes. I have heard about the atrocities that they had unleashed upon our country but a part of me had always hoped that they were exaggerations. I could not believe that such cruel minds were present in God’s creation. Our spies had told us how the officials in the Mughal territories killed and mutilated the common people and violated their wives and daughters at will for minor violations of their impractical rules. How everything they respected was defiled. How they were forced to give up their wealth, their dear ones and eventually their soul itself . How they had to convert to the Islamic faith or die.
Now I can no longer escape from the truth. Being witness to the true nature of their cruelty, it falls upon me to act. Being powerless with yourself is the beginning of violence. Many Sadhus of the Akhadas permanently remove their sex organs or make them non functional. This helps them focus on what they want to be – which is become one with Mahadeva. To serve his cause. They have no need for their organs as their decision to serve is final and for eternity. That is the intensity with which they live life. The King however lacked such dedication. He wanted to have this and that and everything between. That is not the way life works. There is no space for hypocrisy in life. Mahadeva cannot be cheated.
For a few years the Kings training had gone well. He has grasped many aspects of Yoga and working diligently. For that period, Hindus were not tortured or made to convert. The illegal and crippling Jaziya tax on non Muslims was relaxed. He had stayed away from eating meat or abusing his women. And in fact he forced all his courtiers and his family to follow suit. This surely didn’t go well with the people who didn’t share his enthusiasm for his new religion. Many attempts were made on his life but thanks to the foresight gifted to me by Mahadeva, I was able to save him from them all. Just a week back a cobra that had accidentally got into his chambers retraced its path on my command. And on the next day we found the King’s favorite cousin dead from a cobra bite to his head.
One day, last week, two exquisite dancers visited the Mughal capital from Bengal. The girls were twins and hardly past their teens. In spite of their young age, their movements were perfect. They showed no flaw or lack of training. Their fair skin and the radiant beauty of their faces proclaimed the perfection of their lineage. Their performance started in the evening as the sun was setting and went late into the night of the full moon. The pleasant evening breeze and the melodies of the song blended into one and all sense organs were able to perceive nothing but the perfection of completion. No one noticed time passing. As they moved around the hall in perfect synchronization, nothing but the two dancers existed. They felt like one person with two bodies moving about the stage.
The King too was lost in their beauty. But his admiration soon turned to lust and then to greed. He demanded they join his harem and when they refused he had their limbs chopped off before putting them before his dogs. The parents and the people of the troupe were chased and butchered as they ran here and there to escape. Anyone who protested met the same fate. The palace hall when I came by to see it resembled a battlefield. There was blood all over the floor and the walls. It was then that I understood that I had to leave. Peace with the Mughals was not the solution.
The gulf between our ways was un-bridgeable. Violence is placing blame for your shortcomings on the outside. Non violence was taking responsibility for everything happening around you. Violence is believing yours is the only truth. Non violence is understanding that all reality is subjective truth. That is why the Sadhus of this land are the most non violent beings. With such tremendous power and weapons and skills at their disposal they have never used it for themselves. They have never harmed anyone except in self defense. And that too only because their lives are not their own. Their lives are dedicated to the service of the people, to Mahadeva. Paradoxically, their weapons and their harshness with themselves are the supreme symbols of non violence.
That night I understood why a war was inevitable. Why the Akhadas were the only hope for Bharath. I marveled at the brilliance of the boy of sixteen, Shankara, who had foreseen this centuries ago when he created the dasanami sampradhaya and the thirteen akhadas. And I wondered how the future he had visualized was going to unfold as I slipped past the terrace to the parapet walls of the fort. From there I dived down into the welcoming embrace of the loving arms my mother, the Ganga.
Chapter 7: The Lord of the Universe
Seven days had passed. The small boat I was tucked into slowly floated along and finally touched the banks. I had not had food or water for seven days. For any observer I was no different from a rag cloth thrown away in the corner of the boat. And I could have remained that way for months if it was needed. That the body needs food and water is a delusion taught to us when we are too young to say no.
The boat touched the banks in the city of Varanasi. The greatest city in the Universe. The first city to be built by Mahadeva himself when he walked down from the lofty mountains to be accessible to the common people. Where he himself sits in the cremation grounds and liberates anyone who dies within its boundaries. I had once spent six months with my Guru in the burning ghats of Varanasi watching bodies burn day and night. As each body slowly disintegrated into the flames I went through my own death. Over and over and over again. At the end of the six month period, I had no identification with my body. Yes. This was the city where I died. And this was the city where I was born again.
There are seven layers to the city and seven cities buried one below the other – each in a different age. If there was a center to this religion; a religion that is so diverse that it affords no center, it is this city. Powerful mystics whom you might find with great difficulty in other places are found in every street corner here. There is no book about philosophy or science or architecture that is not present in the city.
My boat touched down near the Hanuman Ghat. A small secret entrance led me directly into the fortress of the Mahanirvani Akhada. No one – king, soldier, beast or supernatural being – can pass through these walls without permission. The city itself is under the protection of Kalabhairava – the lord of time – one of the most powerful and beautiful expressions of Mahadeva. This was where he removed the fifth head – the ego – of Brahma. Symbolizing the defeat of the intellect by the magnificence of Mahadeva. As long as Kalabhairava protects this city no army can enter it. The sadhus and along with them the treasure trove of the knowledge of Hinduism is safe within its boundaries.
Tomorrow there will be a huge meeting of all the akhadas happening in this very place. I have to share my understandings of the threat of the Mughals and even greater evils that are going to come after them. But before that, I had to visit someone very important: The Lord of the Universe.
Vishwanatha. He rules the universe sitting in this very city. His palace is the largest temple in this city and the grandest you can find anywhere in the world. A tower so high that you can hardly see all of it unless you look up and bend backwards. The entire inner sanctum is covered in gold and dazzles in the morning light. The purpose of the dazzling gold is to show to the people of the world that gold is nothing compared to the blinding light that is Mahadeva, Vishwanatha.
Before the war, it is his blessings and his advise that I go to seek. Sitting inside the garbha graha I am lost in his greatness. When I am sitting with him, I see his past going all the way back to the beginning of time and the future where he continues to radiate for ever. So many visions reveal themselves to me. But they are all so diffused because the core of my consciousness is filled completely with Him. He is sitting there and smiling at me with love that is not love and an acceptance that is not acceptance the way people think about it. It is the love of the father who sees you as your potential and moves you to reach it. After what seems like an eternity I saw him give me a look as if asking me whether I did not have some work to do. And suddenly every vision collapsed into the present and I had the answer that I was looking for. The answer to the question that I hadn’t asked but which was inside me. I fell at his feet and quickly returned to the fort. I had a long journey to make and many things to do before that.
Chapter 8: The Greatest Empire in History
I am in a palace of breath taking beauty. The intricacy and beauty of the sculptures I see around are unparalleled in the world. Each sculpture would have been the lifetime achievement of one person. But as I am taking in with my two eyes the beauty of this city of Vijayanagara, I simultaneously see its future with my third eye. Statues being smashed to smithereens. The giant statue of Narasimha outside this palace being disfigured and defiled in the most violent way. Women and children being raped and massacred in the hands of animals with the body of humans. The vision I see breaks my heart. The pain is more because the people of this kingdom are the ones who will undergo this fate with the full knowledge of what will happen to them. They are the ones who stay behind to distract the soldiers of the Sultan. They are the ones who will stand up to sacrifice their lives, their loved ones, their honor and everything they had for the sake of Veda Mata – the mother of all knowledge. Tears rolled down my cheeks, I could say, for the first time in my life.
Many thousands of years ago a legendary King called Vikramaditya had ruled all of India and the world from the south with his capital at Ujjain. After the rule of Lord Rama, his empire was the grandest and the most prosperous. The only empire in India that is comparable to his in size and grandeur today is the Vijayanagara Empire. Much bigger in size than the Mughals and bigger than any empire of India in recent history – Guptas, Mauryas or Ashoka. Their art and sculpture is the peak of beauty and intricacy showing the depth of their understanding and their love of life. They built and restored many temples as far south as Madurai. And all this amidst a hundred years of continuous war with the barbaric Muslim Sultanate from the north who attacked them with relentless ferocity and animalistic hatred.
This empire will be the key to our victory. The victory of Dharma is never like the victory that the Kings fantasize. The victory of Dharma is continuity. Making available to the future the great knowledge of the past. If this is done, we have succeed. Kings after all have a limited life. The knowledge that constitutes the Sanatana Dharma is for eternity. A single line of a single book can remove a lifetime of suffering for someone. The value of that cannot be measured in material terms. And in exchange for this I will be asking the people of this nation to sacrifice their lives, the lives of their loved ones, their cities and the works for art of immeasurable beauty. History would say that they were defeated. Only the future and I would know that it is only they – and no one else – who has won.
The meeting in Varanasi ended with all the Akhadas and the pandits deciding to move all the treasures of the country to the South. Books, art, secrets, people. When the war starts, the north will not be safe. For a hundred years we will tolerate the current ruler and his progeny so that everything we have can be saved and moved to the south. But after that, we will make sure that there is no Mughal rule in this country. The kings of the Maratha kingdom will ensure that the Mughals never come down south and those of Vijayanagara will make sure everything worth preserving in Bharath will be preserved. That will be real the victory of Veda mata. The war will be bloody and even Varanasi, which Kalabhairava protects, will not be spared in the struggle. But as of now, all these events are still many years away. And the work at hand is enormous.
Boat after boat and vehicle after vehicle left the city of Varanasi and many others towards the Southern kingdoms. Each carried a treasure trove of knowledge. These would be burried in secret locations known only to a few. This is our insurance in the war that was to follow. The end of the Mughal empire is near. They do not stand a chance against the will of Mahadeva. But they will not go without a struggle. And their struggle will be, like themselves, extremely violent.
Chapter 9: The Eyes of The Fish
Sometimes when you are wandering, the world around you comes to a standstill. The sounds fade away into silence. The setting sun seems to playfully loiter on the horizon with such grace. Things move around you very slowly. You feel you have no body. Only the silent presence of your heart is felt. And that too disappears after a while. What remains of you are the eyes that are seeing this beautiful world. Such moments are when life really exists. These moments are the essence of Advaita, non duality. Those who have experienced this know it. Others sadly have to wait.
I feel I am my eyes and nothing else. The eyes that are the eternal witness. And as I sat there in that complete vibrant silence of the world feeling nothing inside me but my eyes, something strange happened. Something that has never happened before in me. The person who has had so many mystical experiences across many lifetimes. And across many bodies in the same lifetime. I suddenly realized that the eyes I was seeing the world with were not mine. The eyes I was seeing was that of my beloved. The same eyes that I had seen in the cremation ground decades ago. The eyes that had guided me through my death as a sadhu and my rebirth as this ascetic warrior. The eyes that had drawn me into this war for the protection of the civilization of Bharath. I suddenly was nothing. Really really nothing. Not even my eyes. Me, my eyes and everything around me was permeated by her. By her smile, her playfulness and her intense presence. My nothingness was now complete and the whole cosmos was filled with her feminine fragrance.
I now understood – not intellectually, but actually; not by words, but by the sheer absence of them – what the word Meenakshi meant. The one whose eyes can liberate you just by looking. Many many years ago my liberation had happened. Today I allowed myself to be lost in that liberation.
Such was the amazing being who had sent me to lead this war. But before sending me, she had made herself the core of who I am – just with the one look that she had laid on me.
Three thousand years ago, Meenakshi, the warrior queen of Madurai had conquered all the kingdoms of the world including the heights of Kailash. The only thing that stopped her was her surrender to the love of Mahadeva. Such was the person who had been leading my country to battle. What force can stand against such power. I knew for sure that our victory was certain and the days of the Mughals were numbered. There could be no doubt about it. By his divine grace, the akhadas – the warriors of Mahadeva – have finally fulfilled our destiny and liberated this nation.
Epilogue: The Banyan Tree
Years hence, my work is done. The knowledge is now safely hidden and the armies of the akhadas are ready for the final battle. I travel back south. I am physically at the same place where it all started. I walk down a narrow path covered with high shrubs on both side. After a few minutes of walking the path opens into a large open ground. And standing right in the middle of the space is a immense banyan tree. One unlike anything I have seen before. So Majestic. So alive. Many many dimensions seem to emanate from it. It seems to be pulsating with such powerful energy. Beyond anything I have seen. It is surely many centuries old.
Under its wide canopy, sitting in padmasana, are a few hundred young sanyasis, balasants. The oldest of them couldn’t be more than twelve. There was not a sound coming from the area where they sat. Perfectly still and silent. And what more, I could not read any thoughts inside them either. And yet their eyes are open and they were looking at me curiously. Looking at this naked sadhu with matted hair reaching to his ankles. Who walks with confidence into this sacred space where no one is allowed.
She floats up to me and looks into my eyes. There is nothing else that I can see other than her eyes. It is as if I am looking into myself. Or rather she is looking at herself. After sometime when I can again see and recognize the world again, I ask her about the tree. Curiously like child asking his mother. “Oh.. this is for a different time” she says almost as if ignoring my question. “The Mughals are not the end of the problem. There are things to come which are worse than the Mughals. And this tree and these children are being prepared for what will come after those evils”. “Like you” she added “they are waiting for him. They are waiting for the Yogi of Arunachala.”