We stood accompanied by three others at the rim of the kandukaprastha. They were: the fallen brahmin, whose eyes were fixed on the exceedingly rare tIkShNa-tripatha strI ratna-s, much like those of the bauddha bikShu, which were set on the serving ladies in the Kashmirian monastery. Then there was the brAhmaNa who followed the vaiShNava mata, whose nose was verily like the hooked beak of the carrier of his chosen god. Then there was the shUdra, who was indeed much like a heaped mass of collyrium. His hair stuck out like needles, like sUchIroman. We walked along the rim of the kandukaprastha towards the foot of kapyAdri and then sat down at the nether end. Suddenly an animated discussion broke out on yuddha of dvAdashanantara. The rest of the three showed their weapons as we watched. Then the fallen prathama and the shrIvaiShNava went away and only the shUdra remained with me. He was terrified by the weapons of the former two and asked me if I would accompany him to train at the dhUrtashAlA.
I did not want to but I acquiesced nevertheless for reasons unknown to me. Everyday of the hot sweltering summer the shUdra used to come and take me along to the dhUrtashAlA. We returned just after noon, and I ate my afternoon meals in solitude. The in the evenings I would mount my ashva and ride upto the dhUrtapITha, just beyond the shrine of the elephant-headed one. At the same time the vaiShNava and the patanIya used to go to the R^ikShashAlA. One evening, taking my faithful old ashva I strayed in the direction of the shrine of chaNDikA. I first passed the shrine of The god. Then I passed a shrine of madhumativallabha, which had pictures of the nine nAthas starting from the hallowed matsyendra. Then I passed the shrine of the fiery kapi. Shortly, there after I was lost in my own internal solitude, when I head someone call out my name in a rattling accent. With my reverie broken, I looked up and saw the powerful jyeShThadanta hrasvaroman standing on our path with his fast ashva. He asked how we spent our time were during the days. I replied: “In the dhUrtashAlA with the kR^iShNa-shUdra”. A smile of satisfaction seemed to pass his face. I returned the same query to him. He said with a tinge of triumph “I go to the R^ikShashAlA, and thereafter in the afternoons, to the rasashAlA”. I smiled and asked him who were his bhrAtR^ivya-s there and how they were doing.
jyeShThadanta hrasvaroman replied: “Oh foreign brahmin, I am happy not see you at those places, else you might have discomfited all of us. There are of course patanIya and vaiShNava who offer stiff resistance. There is also the tIkShNa tripatha-strIratna who makes us very uncomfortable with her yuddha-kaushala, but thankfully she deludes the former two with her mukha-vakSha-saundarya, while I who has suppressed kAma am not affected by that. But above all of them is that co-ethnic of yours, the fierce foreign brahmin, rAjaka, the first son of the brilliant brindA. He is unstoppable- he beat even that shiromaNi of the local brahmins, he burns us down in the training sessions like rudra at the end of a kalpa. He finds errors in all of us and is never stumped by any astra sent at him. Our local brahmins were exceeding proud before his coming, but even they are forced to respect him these days, and he has spread terror on the kShetra even as brindA had done in her days amongst our parents.”
I said: “Indeed the son of brindA is more than a mouthful for anyone. I have heard much of his yuddha-naipuNa and in the brief encounter with him could feel his scorching fury. But then in the company of the shUdra in the dhUrtashAlA, why do I need to worry myself over this co-ethnic of mine – after all it is the rich and the famous who need to be threatened by his ugra-tejas.”
h.j: “Oh vAjaratnAyana, while I am happy that you are not there at the R^ikShashAlA or rasashAlA to add to our woes in the yuddhA~NgaNa, why is that you have choosen to go to the dhUrtashAlA? . What goes on at the dhUrtashAlA? ”
I: “Oh mighty hrasvaroman, while my father is of moderate means, enought to provide me with an ashva and good food, we do not have the riches to waste on R^ikShashAlA-s. Further, I have wielded astra-s even as a kid, and have even survived even the aforesaid son of brindA, albeit in a short encounter. So while I do not want to appear boastful, I do feel I am capable of survival without going to the R^ikShashAlA. I am not as ambitious as you all are in the directions you wish to conquer, and I am content studying the veda-s and other rahasya-s of existence rather than clamor after the glories you all seek. Hence, I do not go to the glorious places. For reasons I do not know, I go with my faithful shUdra fellow-traveller to the dhUrtashAlA. It is not a pleasant place but like vishvAmitra, we see the rich inner world even while being surrounded by extraordinarily boring and fallen characters.”
Then we went our ways. I rode some distance towards the shrine of chaNDikA, and the proud Kartik passed us on his ashva. We then looped back and were riding ahead when aurvasheyI crossed our path on her ratha. We stopped to converse.
She said: “My spashas have informed me that the yuddha of dashAnantara was going to be intense and that there was a new highly feared warrior- the son of brindA.”
I said: “Oh Mis-creant, indeed I hear that at the R^ikShashAlA, the son of brindA is spreading terror. But you do not go to the R^ikShashAlA, just like me, so why break our heads with such information. Everything can be settled on the real field of battle. Plus, why do you need to fear anything Oh aurvasheyI.”
kalashajA said: “I am itching for an encounter with this rAjaka, the son of brindA. He had given me an existential challenge in the battle of rAShTra-saMkula that we fought when you were studying the purANas instead of participating in that gaviShTi. I will scorch the son of brindA in the mahAyuddha”.
Almost an year later I was standing in front of the stone walls about a 1/2 kilometer away from the upa-giri when the the news reached us of the fierce encounter. hrasvaroman had fought fiercely and destroyed patanIya, tikShNa-tripatha-strI and the vaiShNava in the saMgrama. Others like Igul, kuNDa-bhedI, nAstIka and others were blown to bits by him. However, as he was advancing he was overthrown by the son of brindA in one of the fiercest saMgrAMa-s that had been ever witnessed. But even as he was bearing away his vAja, kalashayonI destroyed him at the last the frontier. On that day we learnt to respect aurvasheyI’s skills in battle for good.
Many years later the gods had sent people down their paths- it is said that indra gives every one their due fate. hrasvaroman, despite his defeat had done well enough in the saMgrAma that he settled down as the yuvarAja of his father’s jagir. He continued to enrich his estate despite having to paying tribute for 6 years to brindA’s fiery son. The son of brindA after all his fiery exploits on the field was crushed by kalashajA, but she relinquished her conquests for higher quests. Hence, he got to keep most of his gains in combat and attain extraordinary heights. But then the force of fate omits none, and he had fallen in a pit of misfortune. He was wandering thus, when one day he ran into kalashajA’s husband. aurvasheyI’s husband took pity on him and pointed him our way. We saw the great warrior of old, now like the Wang Khan shorn of all his splendor after intersecting with the Khan of the Borjigins. We enquired of his mother, and his well-being and having let him rest allowed him to go his way.
Why had Brinda’s son fallen? I pondered over this for some even as I was blocked from making contact with my clansmen like the atri, aunt Spring and Jx by the grip of the kR^ityA. As I was in a reverie feeling like one in the desert of existence, I received a call from aurvasheyI. What follows is saMdhyA-
kauNDiNyA: Does the vArtAlI of the dreams favor you?
I: Apparently not.
kauNDiNyA: Is that why you wander in the marukShetra with no yakShiNI in sight?
I:Indeed. I took the winding path beyond pAtAla-ga~NgA and returned then to my fortress. There was no yakShiNI in sight other than fleeting glimpses of nIlalohita-mekhalA who saved me on that fateful day.
kauNDiNyA: The only way out is the fire of prANa-rasAyana! Seek it.
I: Indeed but that does not shake off the kR^ityA that is blocking me from my clansmen.
kauNDiNyA: The fate of our “compatriot” rAjaka the son brindA comes to mind.
— end of the veil–
I: How did it come to be?
kauNDiNyA: When we were still kids we sat on the top of the hill of chaNDikA as vivasvAn plunged into the golden western depths. It was just the two of us- a cool malaya-marut blew around us and we saw the whole city of the founder of the Maharatta nation beneath us. Beside us were the two human skulls one nearly whole and the other a fragment. The spell of chaNDikA was protecting us from the dAsyU-s who crouched yonder. At one end of the mountain ridge was the hill of the vetAla-s were the one forsaken by the gods had fallen. I asked why had he fallen thus. Even beyond it lay the large pit where lived Vidrum the Lingayata. I asked how this mountain-scaling Vidrum was captured by the the pishAchas for 5 years. You then narrated the tale of the goblins of the vIrabhadra hill, which held the answer for all those events. I was hooked and sought to pursue this matters. One day when I had gone to see the “red” girl who behaved like a bartender, I stumbled upon MJ that mistress of apabhramsha who lived beside her in an opulent vihAra. MJ, who as you know mastered the lore of bhUtaDAmara, showed me the tangled skein that connected the fallen of the forsaken one, with the capture of Vidrum. I followed the yarn further and found the trap that was waiting for brindAsuta. You know well that I am the keeper of spiders. Ponder Oh vAjaratnAyana : Why did the pUShaN spell of the ancient atri bring up the venomous scorpion? Why did the car sent forth by the 10 sisters in aditi’s lap not reach you? Why was the muni destroyed completely in the battle of dashAnantara?
I: The one who drinks the draught of soma in his head becomes amartya.