ChitvA pAsham apAsya kUTa-rachanAM bha~NktvA balAd vAgurAM
paryastAgni-shikhA-kalApa-jaTilAn niHsR^itya dUraM vanAt |
vyAdhAnAM sharagocharAd atijavenotplutya gachChan mR^igaH
kUpAntaH patitaH karoti viguNe kiM vA vidhau pauruSham ||
Having broken the snare, avoided the concealed traps, and forcibly broken nets,
escaping bundles of flaming fire brands [running] far from the forest;
Though in within the range of the huntsmen’s arrows bounding away with great speed, goes the deer,
And it has fallen in a well, so indeed what can a man do when fate is adverse!
-A verse by the great emperor lalitAditya of kAshmIra
It is interesting that lalitAditya composed this verse. It was even a matter of seriousness that it came from him – after all he was one of the great heroes of our land who had brought to a stop the march of the marUnmatta-s exploding from the west and the chIna-s pouring from the east. And in his own home turf he brought to an end the neo-maurya yashovarman, the destroyer of the rising Bengali pride, praised by the great kavi vAkpati rAjA. Then he went beyond to subjugate the proud karNATa-s and kali~Nga-s of the east limits of bhAratavarSha. But in the end he knew well how all this kShatra-glory could come to naught and even his land cease to exist. It emphasized to us, as our old Iranian cousins and rivals would say, that the lordly Xvarena is like falcon that sits on ones shoulder today and on another’s tomorrow.
As we lay like the valiant dattAjI shinde, we thought: “If we survive we will fight again!”. Then we wondered if the grip of mR^ityu may over take us before the highest conquests are achieved. Glory does not lie far away to those who are given luck by the deva-s but it is only few who grasp it thereafter, the rest sinking much like lalitAditya’s deer. This indeed we call fate. After all, bhartR^ihari had said in the days of yore:
khalvATo divaseshvarasya kiraNaiH saMtApito mUrdhani
ChAyAm AtapavairiNIm anusaran bilvasya mUlaM gataH |
tatraapy Ashu kadAchid eva patatA bilvena bhagnaM shiraH
prAyo gachChati yatra bhAgya-rahitas tatrApadAM bhAjanam ||
The baldy scalded on his head by the rays of the lord of the day,
seeking the sun-shielding shade went to the foot of a bilva tree;
there, then by chance indeed swiftly fell a bilva fruit which cracked his skull;
Perhaps wherever the luckless goes, there he attains misfortune!
Why indeed are we in these straits we wondered? In the great back to back battles of rAvaNa’s heads and the Aditya-s we rode past the smoke and dust leaving behind many who were perishing or being defeated. Having surpassed our striving rivals as any man must, we sat beside the collyrium-hued tribesman with his ouija board. He plied the ouija and uttered some right forecasts, like the fall of the nakShatradarShA. We then asked a question at the goading of our clansman. The answer came: “When you conjoin with her who is the cloud you will complete the first circle”. While cryptic to most, we understood what it meant, and so did our clansman. Hence, he remarked go forth to the tIkShNatripathikA, who is among rarest of the rare. We turned to him and said: ”She will be a chatuShpathikA not a tIkShNatripathikA. May be the tIkShNatripathikA is for you” Then the tribal looked up and said: “He will enjoy the pleasure of several but not the tIkShNatripathikA nor varAvantikA.” That night we went to the kulA~NganA and mentioned the forecast. She laughed and said: “Hey, ouija boards cannot tell you the future.” We pressed her: “You seem to know more than that statement belies.” She spoke like völva to the old German Ariovistus : “I wish you had understood when the niShAda’s board called out nabhas. These battles of the enemies of vasiShTha or the months will be nothing when the time of that great battle comes. You will be tested like never before and the cloud shall descend upon the battlefield. You would need to continue fighting even after your ratha has broken up and you have been wounded by the great astra-s. In the cremation ground saMmelana when you conjoin with me in the great churning of the bhairava the dreadful yoginI-s of the jAla-shaMbara will come to give you the sword that will take you to victory in battle and we’ll be omniscient in yoga. In the Ragnarok-like future, you will hasten to the cremation ground for the saMmelana with me, bewitching as ever, but you will be struck by the pAshastaMbhinI prayoga of bagalAmukhI.”
While we prepared to fight, we were attacked by the mighty force. It felt like the unstoppable kuMbhakarNa demolishing hanUmat:
hanUmA~n shaila-shR^i~NgANi shilAsh cha vividhAn drumAn |
vavarSha kumbhakarNasya shirasy ambaram AsthitaH ||
hanumAn flying in the sky showered mountain tops, rocks, and a variety of trees on kumbhakarNa’s head.
tAni parvata-shR^i~NgANi shUlena tu bibheda ha |
babha~nja vR^ikSha-varShaM cha kumbhakarNo mahAbalaH ||
The mighty kuMbhakarNa smashed to pieces those mountain peaks and the shower of trees with his trident.
tato harINAM tad anIkam ugraM
dudrAva shUlaM nishitaM pragR^ihya |
tasthau tato .asyaapatataH purastAn
mahIdharAgraM hanumAn pragR^ihya ||
Seizing his sharp trident he rushed against the fierce army of the monkeys. There stood hanumAn in front of him holding a mountain peak even as he advanced.
sa kumbhakarNaM kupito jaghAna
vegena shailottama bhImakAyam |
sa chukShubhe tena tadAbhibhUto
medArdra gAtro rudhirAvasiktaH ||
Enraged, with great velocity he struck kuMbhakarNa, who was endowed with a terrible body like a great mountain. He [kumbhakarNa] was agitated when humiliated by that blow and his limbs were wet with fat and blood.
sa shUlam Avidhya taDit-prakAshaM
giriM yathA prajvalitAgra-shR^i~Ngam |
bAhvantare mArutim AjaghAna
guho .achalaM krau~ncham ivogra-shaktyA ||
Striking with that trident emitting electrical discharge, resembling an erupting volcanic peak, he smote mAruti between his arms, even as kumAra had struck the unshakeable krau~Ncha with his fiery shakti.
sa shUla nirbhinna mahAbhujAntaraH
pravihvalaH shoNitam udvaman mukhAt |
nanAda bhImaM hanumAn mahAhave
yugAnta megha-stanita-svanopamam ||
As the trident cleaved him between his great arms in that great battle, hanuman vomited blood from his mouth, and uttering a great cry like the thunder from a cloud at the end of a yuga, and he lost consciousness.
tato vineduH sahasA prahR^iShTA
rakShogaNAs taM vyathitaM samIkShya |
plavaMgamAs tu vyathitA bhayArtAH
pradudruvuH saMyati kumbhakarNAt ||
Seeing him thus felled the rakSha-s ranks rejoiced and erupted in cheers. The wounded monkeys thus afflicted with fear of kuMbhakarNa fled from the battle.
As we lay thus with a part of our consciousness curtained by the pain in our mind flashed the words: “gAyatraM gAyatrI varuNAya”. We thought of our ancient clansman shunaHshepa. Could we continue in this great battle? But then the man who stops fighting dies.