A prefatory narrative
Jhilleeka and Prachetas were visiting Lootika and Somakhya. Prithika, the daughter of the latter two was much excited as she resembled and was to resemble her youngest aunt in more than one way – they seemed to have a some special connection. Thus, she clung to Jhilleeka until she was put in bed. Then the adults went up to the terrace of Somakhya and Lootika’s house, where Jhilleeka started narrating the special matters pertain to their visit even as the pleasant prathamī moon shone above them: “A while back when you and Vrishchika were away Varoli and me had conspired with Prachetas and Mitrayu to do our summer internships at labs in Turushkarajanagara. One evening after dinner we went up to the terrace of the house in which were staying and started plying the planchette with the hope of snaring a vetāla. I must confess that I wished to test Prachetas’ mettle to see if he was really up to my level in prayoga matters. agrajā I wonder if you did something like that with Somakhya? Lootika merely smiled and said: “I don’t want to break your narrative with our exploits; pray continue.”
Jhilleeka: “After a while a vetāla did seize our bhūtacakra. He announced his name Pṛthuroman. I immediately, deployed the mantra known as Harahuṃkāram and made the vetāla seize Prachetas. He seemed to be totally taken over by it. Varoli and Mitrayu wanted to intervene right away but I bound both them with the Sarasvatī-bandha and they were unable to intervene. Only late that night Varoli broke free and greatly upbraided me. She even wanted to call Vrishchika and tell her what I had done but I convinced her that I would ensure that no real harm comes to Prachetas in the event he is unable to defend himself. He will now tell you what happened next.”
Prachetas: “Thus, attacked by surprise by my future patnī I succumbed to the seizure by the vetāla. I took a bus in that state to seizure and went to what in those days was a little hamlet at the outskirts of Turushkarajanagara. There, I walked at the dead of night to the boundary of a cemetery. Despite being a just a hamlet there seemed to be a brisk flow of corpses which were being fed to Kravyāda. I wandering under the possession I sneaked in through a hole in fence of the cemetery to enter the grounds. Evidently the vetāla was guiding me there for some reason. But whatever the reason, I suddenly realized what had happened to me. I realized that it was my future patnī who had caused this possession – but at that moment I was livid with anger and wanted to perform a powerful prayoga to strike back at her. But first I had to get myself free of the vetāla. My eyes had by then adjusted themselves to the dark and I saw a corpse of a young man lying in the vicinity. He seemed to have a noble bearing. I wondered who had left the corpse there without it being cremated. With some effort I deployed the gandharva mantra and performed svāveśa with a gandharva, who then drove out the vetāla. Intended to dispatch the gandharva then at Jhilli so that she might seized by him like Viśvāvasu seizing a young woman. The vetāla entered the corpse that I had just seen. The corpse underwent a strange transmogrification thereafter. The young man aged rapidly and his hair fell off and what remained whitened. Then the corpse seated itself cross-legged and began to speak: ‘That girl Jhilleeka who is your friend is going to be your wife in the not so distant future so don’t let any harm reach her due to your pratikriyā. I realized that when the vetāla speaks we get a prognostication. To make him speak more I deployed the Sarasvatī-pravāha.
He pranced about a bit and then grabbing one hand of his with another he said sat down and scrapped some ashes and applied it on himself. I observed him more closely and he looked strangely familiar giving me a fright for the first time. He then said: “I was a brāhmaṇa like you. I descended from the clan of a bhārgava or an aṅgirasa. I performed many vaidika rituals and drank soma. One day when I traveled to Turushakarajanagara to visit the #$*& institute. [Prachetas: strangely that happened to be the institute next to where Jhilli and I worked]. As I was talking to my host there suddenly a centrifuge spun out of control in the floor below us and it smashed through our floor and struck me. Thus, I expired. As I had no close relatives, my corpse was dumped by the cops after their investigation at the cremation ground for the general cremation which would take place at 4:00 AM. I glad you have heard my story. In pocket lies a letter for a girl who lives in the Bhatahata sector the city. If you post it so that it might reach her then good would come to you. But I tell you a death not different from mine could be yours and your wife’s too unless you become the master of tīkṣṇatuṇḍa. He then handed me the letter in his pocket and shrieking loudly ran into the darkness and dropped down about 25 meters away from me. I snapped out of the āveśa and withdrew the gandharva I had intended to seize pretty Jhilli. I took the first bus I could get in the morning and returned to our rental after posting the letter of the animated corpse. I was brooding over the prognosis of our deaths and wondering what tīkṣṇatuṇḍa was as I entered our dwelling. I and Mitrayu lived on the ground floor while Jhilli and Varoli lived on the first floor. Even as I came in Mitrayu had freed himself from the bandha and had joined Varoli in screaming at Jhilli. I calmed them all down and even as I did so I forgot about the strange prognosis.
Jhilleeka: “Last night I had a terrifying dream in which I saw a spinning object come flying through the floor and kill a young man. I then saw a young woman jump off a building and die. I narrated it to Prachetas who told me it was a very deadly sign and mentioned that only if we figured out what tīkṣṇatuṇḍa was we could be saved. You agrajā and Somakhya are our elders and guides hence we place ourselves at your feet so that you may help us cross the noose of Vaivasvata that the young brāhmaṇa in Turushkarajanagara could not.
Somakhya: “By tīkṣṇatuṇḍa what is meant is the mantra-vidhi of Śarabheśāna that we shall we reveal to you. It is hard to master even by a good brāhmaṇa. Many have tried and failed but he who does so shall be saved like Mārkaṇdeya of the race of the Bhṛgu-s when confronted by Antaka at the dead of night when the powers of the Dānava-s are exalted.”