Kurukshetra Katha

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        Oghvati was the daughter of Vedic Sarswati. The big desert eventually sucked up
Sarsawati but Oghvati, as if scorched up by the distress of the “Mahabharat” (the great
bloody war) amongst the cousins on its own banks vanished in oblivion with out any
trace. Kurukshtra, the vast battleground, is still spread out witnessing the distress of
Oghvati.
        Oghvati was a clean clear and playful river. Arjun and kakfal trees were looming
over her banks. Cranes, doves and other beautiful birds nested in those wild green trees.
The Gandhmadan mountain range was clearly visible from the banks and on a clear day
you could even see the vividly colorful, Indrakil peak, which is way beyond that
mountain range. Since the foot hills of Gandhmadan were so close to Oghavati, in the
winter the mountain tribal inhabitants, the Kirat and Naga tribes, would come down in the
undulating knee high grass of the plains with their cows, calves and horses to graze them.
The entire plains would then become vividly alive and filled with life with their small
huts and colorful dresses. Sadly enough though, on occasions, the extra color of blood
would also be added to that colorfulness from tribal infighting. Though since the last
decade Dhaumya Muni’s ashram situated on the west bank of Oghvati was a very good
reason for the diminished incidences of the bloodshed.
         Dhaumya Muni was the royal priest in the courts of Pandavs. The eldest Pandav
Yudhishthira lost his kingdom in an unfair gambling game played with his cousins and
had to proceed to the jungle for fourteen years with sadness in his bosom and shame on
his face. His four brothers and his esteemed wife Yajnaseni Draupadi were also forced to
follow him. Shortly after, the royal priest Dhaumya Muni established his ashram on the
banks of Oghvati. The Mother of the Pandavs, Kunta requested him to stay with her and
take care of the Holy Fire representing the household. Instead he chose to stay on the
other corner of the Kurukshetra, on the bank of Oghvati and accepted a partial jungle
living like his King. He never even visited Hastinapur, the Pandavs capital city after their
departure into the jungle.
        In his ashram on the banks of Oghvati, he would teach and educate children of
Aryans living near by as well as the children of the mountain tribes with the help from his
disciples and students. The science of forestry and cow husbandry were given special
attention along with the Vedic teachings of Yagna philosophy and rituals. Muni and his
large disciple family would present the tribal people with beautiful cows with calves,
trained horses, all kinds of flowering vines and seed of different species for farming and
what ever else they liked when they return to the mountains after the winter. In return he
would only ask their permission to educate their children. In the beginning of the
summer, year after year, when the tribal people would return to the mountain, there
would be a departure festival with dances and a big feast. All the tribal people would
depart for the mountain, with the dreams of returning the next winter.
        Just yesterday, the departure festival for this year was celebrated in the ashram.
All ashram residents and tribal people partied and danced late into the night and had a
final special drink of honey. While they parted for the mountains, the Oghvati waters
were shimmering in the new dawn sunlight.
        Ashram swans, doves and other birds were making sweet sonorous sounds on the
roofs of the ashram residents. Deer were pounding their hoofs in the courtyards. Cows
beckoned from the barn house as if calling the ashram girls for their daily routine to
begin. All were still in a deep sleep after last night’s hangover from dancing and partying
including Muni’s consort Suvarna, who would usually wake up way before dawn.
        Dhaumya Muni alone was up and was feeding all the crowds of swans, finches,
doves and peacocks with the basket of barley grains in his hands. This was his daily
morning routine. If at all he were a little late, all these birds would climb on his roof and
wake him up with the flapping of their wings. This morning the birds woke him up to
follow their usual schedule. This morning Muni seemed lost in deep thoughts rather than
his typical happy mood. He continued spreading barley grains from the basket very
quietly and obviously preoccupied. Usually the birds would push each other in their
crowd to go to Muni and pick the seeds from his hands and he would scold them, “ Hey,
impatiens! Can’t you wait a little?” But today they sensed the gloom on his face and
started eating quietly, only time to time; they would look up and glance at Muni. A
leader swan collected his courage and rubbed his orange velvety smooth beak with
Muni’s feet. Muni woke up from his thoughts and as if apologizing put his palm with the
seeds in front and smiled. Looking at Muni’s changed mood they all started banging
each other to come forward. Muni shouted. “Hey you all uncouth mongrels, you will hurt
this baby dove in your rush.” He then picked up the little white baby and put it on his
shoulder, saying, “Have it” giving the baby seeds in his palm.
Muni then heard a soft voice from behind.
       “Father!”
       “Madhvi, is that you?” Muni did not even turn around.
         A fifteen-year-old girl, soft like a budding flower, came to him. Her complexion
was a little darker like water laden monsoon clouds, eyes were little bigger, lively and
playful like a baby deer. She was Muni’s younger daughter. Everybody in the ashram
would acquiesce to this stubborn but lively and gay girl’s moods. But her innocence and
artistic dancing were so loveable that her stubbornness was even excused.
       As soon as she came, she took a seat next to Muni and started talking
spontaneously.
       “Father, do you know this? Tapati with Takshak…….”
       Before even she finished, Muni asked, “Who told you so?”
       As if showing Muni a great secret treasure, she started talking with soft voice and
wide eyes.
       “Last night when the group dancing was over, while coming home I started
looking for my big sister and I saw them standing close to each other under that flowering
vine canopy.”
       “Really?”
      She made her voice even softer but with enthusiasm replied, “And Father, they
were embracing each other too.”
       Muni, feeding the birds looking down, suddenly looked up and sighted a playful
mischief sparkling on her face.
        “When I caught them, Takshak says, ‘you just don’t tell Muni, I am going to tell
him that we want to get married.’ And sister says to Takshak, ‘you don’t say that, I
will.’”
       “Madhvi, did you say any harsh words to your sister?”
        “Why not? I caught them red-handed. After all, they admitted they were going to
tell you.” And she broke in to a sly laughter.
       “Well, you go to your sister, tell her to come to me after milking the cows.”
And absentmindedly, he again started feeding the birds.
        Tapati was Muni’s eldest daughter. Five years older than Madhvi, she was tall
with a fair complexion, simple heart and clear conscious. Right from her childhood she
was never stubborn, never mischievous, would always accept what ever was given to her.
Her mother would say, ‘I did not even have to rock her or sing her lullabies to put her to
sleep.’ For the last three years she was a good secretary to her father. She would take
care of Yajna ceremonial arrangements, would keep an eye on the cow herds, and was a
very good hostess to the ashram guests. And if she would find some extra time, she
would go in the kitchen to help her mother too. She was always ready to help, to love
and console everybody in need. She was just bubbling fountain of love and zeal.
       “My Tapati with Takshak!” Dhaumya Muni, otherwise usually a detached
person, was a little anxiously worried about finding a suitable match for this very talented
and meek daughter, Tapati.
         Muni was engrossed in thinking. ‘Why did Tapati not even give him a slight
hint? He could have suggested to her quite a few young men whom Muni thought to be
more of a good match to her, a brave Yadav Satyaki’s son or a clever archer Nala from
Trigart region, and quite a few other young men. Well, just at home, there was Aaruni,
who had directly inherited the knowledge and penance from Muni himself. After all
she’s bent on this Naga youth, Takshak? Is this her choice?’ Muni kept on pondering
unhappily, as if tasting an unpleasant food from his plate. Some times one has to eat it, at
least a little, so the host does not feel insulted. His thoughts continued, “Well, he is a
good young fellow, nephew of Nagaraj Vasuki, has a mother of high character, he is
strong, intelligent. There should not be any problem.” But as if he could not eat any
more of that unpleasant food, spontaneously said, “O my Tapati is like a flower, like a
well bloomed decorated tall young spruce tree, like ever flowing and playful Yamuna
river, an heir to all my servitude and virtues. No, no,no….Takshak, no match, he is not at
all comparable! He is all right but his eyes do not reflect openness, seems hungry for
leadership, not so intelligent also. He is cleverly logical. Oh, now I know. My simple
Tapati must have been mesmerized by his logically adorned language.”
       He then spread the last remaining bird seeds with out saying, “fly away my
beloveds more tomorrow.” A chain of thinking was still going on, “It is better if this
does not happen. Suvarna is definitely not going to like it. Tapati also is not going to
move forward when her mother is not going to be agreeable, I think.” Muni apparently
recessed from his anxious thinking about Tapati and was now mainly concerned about his
wife’s reactions.
        Suvarna was the daughter of Kashiraj Sudhanva. When he was young, Dhaumya
Muni was victorious in the elite knowledge competition in the court of Kashiraj.
Mesmerized by this rare knowledge and presentation, Suvarna herself chose Muni in
matrimony. Kashiraj was not so happy with the selection, they say, but finally agreed.
Soon after, Kashiraj recommended Muni to be the royal priest in the court of Pandavs so
that his daughter can live a prestigious life as Guru-wife in their capital Hastinapur.
Unfortunately, the Pandavs were destined to live in the jungle most of their lives, it
seemed. So Dhaumya Muni could not live in the mansions of Hastinapur, even though
Kashiraj deeply wished the new couple to live in luxury. Muni also chose to live in the
jungle along with the Pandavs. But the daughter of Kashiraj was not so happy with this
kind of uncertainty and unstable jungle living. Following the latest Pandavs’ jungle
exile, Muni sent a knowledgeable disciple with the Pandavs and settled himself in an
ashram on the bank of Oghvati. Muni’s knowledge, penance and his closeness to her
were enough for Suvarna to have a “settled feeling” in the ashram on the riverbank.
Nonetheless being away from her Aryan community and surrounded by non-Aryan tribes
like Kirat and Naga did not suit her well. Some times she would unhappily tell Muni,
“Yes, You are sowing the seeds of your knowledge in an unproductive land. You are
trying hard and what are you going to get in return? Some grass, some thorns, at the most
some thorny berries!” He would smilingly reply, “In the thorny berry ashram, Lord
Vishnu himself resides. Rishis Nar-Narayan had performed a big penance there, which is
now a place of big pilgrimage called Badrikashram. So this might turn in to a pilgrimage
place some day!”
         Muni himself was not pleased with Tapati choosing Takshak, but his main
concern was that the daughter of Kashiraj would, in any case, never grant the consent to
the choice. No hopes. And if Tapati, even with out her consent, would still insist, what
would happen? This would be a big topic for the people of the ashram. Who knows, the
innocent ashram children would take this to what an extent? His own Madhvi would sing
this song like a cuckoo. Thinking of Madhvi put a flickering smile on his face. “O, my
little naughty girl!” Tapati was his future hope but Madhvi was the apple of his eye. She
would just snatch love from everywhere, every body. “What did she say? They were
embracing each other. How come a patient and stable girl like Tapati has become so
impatient? Well, youth must be it. Or every day contact with Kirat and Naga would do it
too, I suppose.” Muni kept on thinking even while taking a bath. After a bath he
performed Sandhya, his daily offerings to Lord Sun. Then he asked for Tapati and found
she was in the garden. Muni started for the garden. He saw her plucking the mango
flower shoots in the mango orchard behind the cow-house. While plucking she was
smelling the flowers. She even put an orange flower shoot in her hair and the pearl
colored pollens were spread on her beautiful pink neck inviting the orange sunrays to
play with them. She had wrapped a loose piece of cloth around her waist, carrying a
bamboo basket filled with mango flower shoots on her shoulder. While plucking the
flowers she was sweetly humming. Muni kept looking at her with tender love, ‘There is
nothing impious in her, nothing at all.’ He thought and called her,
“Tapati!”
“Coming right now, Father” she came smiling with the plucked flowers. “I came here to
pluck the extra flowers. Last year we forgot to do that and as a result we got small
fruits.”
“Do you know? This world only works on the sacrifices,” he said while taking a flower
shoot.
Tapati looked at him showing, “How, why?” in her eyes.
         “The flower shoots you are plucking away become sacrificial. They sacrifice
themselves so that their siblings can flourish better. If they insist to be there and flourish,
their siblings may suffer”. Then he respected the plucked flower shoot by taking them to
his head, said, “This shoot is really praiseworthy since it has offered its tender flowers in
a sacrificial Yagna.”
        He then paused for a while and asked, “Madhvi was saying that you would like to
talk to me.”
        She blushed and both her cheeks turned pink red. With a smile she answered
while waving the bees hovering over the flower shoots in her hair. “I was just going to
tell you today that I and Takshak….”, could not say any further. Bashfulness took her
over.
Muni asked, “You two want to get united, right?”
       “Yes, dear father”.
      Muni patiently told her, “Well, Takshak is intelligent, strong too. Did you tell
your mother?”
       “After I get your consent, I am going to tell her.”
       “So you do realize that this is going to be a tough thing.”
       Tapati laughed freely and said, “Yes, that it is, but when has mother said no to a
matter you ever approved?”
       “Well, the reason might be, because I have always wished for the things after
understanding her wishes. But is this your final choice?”
       “That is dependent on the consent from you as well as mother. I assumed your
consent. Are you not agreeable?”
        Muni replied with a serious note, “I do not have any opinions yet. There should
not be any kind of a final decision from any of us. I think marriage is such a big venture
compared to getting expertise in Vedic knowledge or Bhraman knowledge, which is
relatively totally trivial. Look at your mother; she is so exhausted just following in my
footsteps. You can very well see that, right?”
“But there are no short comings of any kind in Takshak, I think.”
“Yes, he is very logic oriented and he is definitely strong too. But I do not know how
trustworthy he is.”
No sooner she heard him say so than all the color from her face drained down as if an
orange rising sun was suddenly overshadowed by a dark cloud.
She barely could speak, “He respects you and all of us immensely.”
“Possible. Have you ever talked to my disciple Aaruni about this?”
“Lately he is not even here. And I never wanted to disclose this before I got your
consent.”
“He should be here in a day or two. Talk to him. He has a clearer vision. He will be
even helpful in making your mother understand your choice. If you really want to do this,
I am sure, you will need help from many of us,” said Muni lovingly patting her shoulder.
Disheartened Tapati did not say a word. “We will further think about this. But right now
you will be busy with some thing else. We just got a message that Bhagwan Shri Krishna
is going to visit us next week. Aaruni is coming home too. Shri Krishna is coming with
his Yadav group. We should prepare ourselves for a very good reception for them. I
think we should use the ashram garden for their temporary lodging. Would you please go
and look if it is alright to build temporary housing near the river bank?”
        If it were some other time Tapati would have been delighted with this news. She
has seen Shri Krishna a couple of times. Thinking to herself Tapati remembered, “Who
in the northern part is not aware how handsome he is, how sweet his voice is, how he
talks to the people with love. Wherever he would stand, joy would spring up as if he is
here just to avert the unhappiness of the world. Last time when he visited the ashram,
Rukmini, his wife was also with him. I was shy. I used to look at her from a distance.
All of a sudden, Krishna would pull me near him and say, ‘Young lady, come and sit near
my queen Rukmini so that her glittering ornaments may be dimmed by your pure ashram
beauty and luster. My eyes are dazzled after looking at her ornaments.’ Then he told
Rukmini, ‘we have sons. I miss having a daughter. If Muni allows, let us steel her to
Dwarika with us.”
       “You are never going to forget THAT art!” Rukmini laughed, teasing Krishna
about his “art of stealing butter” in Gokul in his childhood days.
        “How can one forget a habit acquired from the childhood? Used to steal butter,
stole Symantak jewel, even you were kidnapped. Now I have just one longing, a
daughter. Would you come with us, little girl and be our daughter?” said Shri Krishna
addressing Tapati.
Tapati used to keep on remembering this episode again and again. Her Father considered
him as an incarnation of God. She was gleefully proud of herself for getting a status of a
“desired” from him. Normally the news of Shri Krishna’s arrival would arouse an ocean
of joy in her. Alas! Today, she could not even feel a little stream of joy from this news.
“Our land of ashram will be blessed by his feet imprints.” was her soft reply to her father.
        After Muni left, Tapati stood under the mango tree, with a branch in her hand, for
a long time. She did not expect this unenthusiastic approach from Muni. She believed
Muni would give her his blissful consent gladly. And her belief was not just based on her
imaginary infatuation, since Muni had for years talked about the mingling of Kirat, Naga
and Aryans. Then why was he resistant in giving his blessings? At the forest fire of
        Khandav-van, lots of Naga lost their lives. Pandavs were somewhat responsible
for that mishap. Even though Muni was their royal priest, he was really angry and told
King Yudhishthra, “Maharaj, let these forest dwellers live in their forest. As rain is
dependent on forests, you are dependent on these forest tribes, who maintain them. We
drove them out from the banks of Sarswati and Ganga let them live in peace wherever
they are. That’s only fair.”
        She knew this incidence. That’s why she was so confident that Muni would be
very proud seeing her unite with a young Naga man. Based on Muni’s reaction Tapati
realized that this was difficult and he would prefer that her interests in Takshak would not
have occurred. Until now she was sweetly dreaming about the wedding. ‘She with
Takshak would carry away a few beautiful cows and calves received as wedding gifts on
the other side of the Gandhmadan hills in one of the valleys, maybe even establish their
own ashram. They would also take the fruit trees, seeds for sowing, medicines and all.
They would clear the forest with the help of Kirats and Nagas perhaps teach them
farming, build small dams. In the evening they both would sit together and would sing
Vedic hymns while performing Yagna. Naïve tribal people would follow and learn all
these things. And some times when Muni would visit the ashram, he would be very
happy seeing a clean and neat ashram as well as the newly weds sweet smelling life. And
our healthy children…..’
All these dreams were suddenly crumbled down. A brick from the base of a building if
removed would take down the entire structure. Father himself was not agreeable, what
were the hopes from the others? She was very sad. The flower basket slipped down from
her shoulder spilling the flowers onto the ground.


                                            -2-
         Before the ashram was established, only the thorny bushes used to grow in the
foothills of Gandhmadan. Muni and his disciples cleaned up the bushes and planted the
shady useful trees and thus, behind the ashram a beautiful garden-forest flourished. Now
they would get a lot of wood worthy for building beautiful houses from that garden
forest. In this garden-forest all different kinds of medicinal plants and vines were also
grown. People from the nearby small city-states would come for the medicines to be
used by the elites as well as commoners. This turned out to be a good channel for the
news from the close by surroundings. The garden-forest was also blooming with lots of
fruit laden trees. The flow of a stream running down hill was redirected right from the
top of mountain so that the garden-forest gets continuous flow of water. Ashram students
dug up the small channels from the stream so that water was led to flow to each and every
tree to saturate with the water especially in the summer.
         Tapati had worked very hard in setting up this garden-forest from a thorny bushy
land, had tucked up her skirt to wrap around her waist and cut the wood to build the
houses for the ashram. Under the tree shade she would sit with her cows and watch them
graze. In a way this garden-forest is like a real companion to her because there are no
girls in the ashram except Madhvi, her sister. Muni quite frequently had to go away from
the ashram on business. She would always finish helping her mother in the kitchen and
would rush for the tree shades here with a few of her favorite cows and calves. From the
dense canopy of the trees the sunshine would sieve down, she would be delighted to sit
underneath and would sing the Vedic hymns. The brown rabbits with their ears up and
fearful eyes looking all around would venture to come out of the base of the vine canopy
or the bushes. She would come from behind the tree and scare them and make them hop
away. She would water the trees, spray them too, pluck the ripe fruits from them give
the slipped vine a new support, weed out the useless vines from the tree thus making
them free. She was fully acquainted with this constant companion, her garden-forest.
Now it has become the witness of her deepest feelings in her life. Right here she
experienced the first dawn of her new love. This happened quite recently. It was just last
winter. But in these few months her world had completely changed. Her mental state
went from one end to the other, she thought. Her world before was like silvery
moonlight, cool and with happy mood. This new state was filled with colorful sunrays of
dawn full of new enthusiasm to reach the sky. As if her inner consciousness was quietly
creeping up with new feelings from the slumber. A young bird as if found a new set of
wings, and was eagerly ready to fly in the endless sky. All these just happened here, in
the same garden-forest.
        Not long ago, in last winter, when all the trees and the vines were quivering in the
extreme cold she had to go and find Kiran in the forest. Kiran was her favorite newly
born calf. She was as fresh as the morning sunrays. Last evening when she went to feed
the cows, she saw and pampered Kiran. And in the morning she was gone, not there!
The door to the cow barn was open. Kiran’s mother was distressed with lot of milk in her
bosom. Tapati was so much worried that she ran to find Kiran and forgot to mention to
any body about that. She had bad thoughts about Kiran, “What if Kiran died of cold in
the forest, O God, please don’t let this happen. A year before, a newly born calf of the
same cow was killed by wolf because some body forgot to close the door to the cow barn.
What if similar incidence happened this year too? What if Kiran might have fallen down
in the creek or slipped down the cliff! What if some body stole her? Madhvi recently
mentioned that, a group of Shamber tribe was seen roaming around. They are especially,
very fond of baby cow meat. What if Kiran was in their hands? My poor Kiran!”
         Tapati ran all around looking for Kiran among all the bushes, running up and
down the near by hills. She would shout for Kiran time to time. She made the garden-
forest up side down, but could not find Kiran. As a second thought she felt, may be
Kiran was just in the vicinity of the ashram. As she was about to turn around, she heard a
feeble, “moo…moo…”. The sound was coming from the hollow at the end of the bushes
where a small stream was flowing. Tapati immediately ran towards the sound and found
Kiran mooing pitifully. Her four feet were tangled up in a net. Some body must have
spread the net near the stream to entrap the animals. Tapati tried to cut the net with her
teeth. Then she heard, “Shii….shii….shii…”. Tapati saw four Shambers coming down
the hill slops from the other end of the stream. One of them was carrying two dead deer
on his shoulder. Blood was dripping from the dead deer’s neck. One of them had a net.
They were carrying a heavy wooden sticks and knives. Their skin was copper colored,
eyes were dreadfully red and lips were thick. They said some thing but Tapati could not
understand. They signaled her to get away from their path. Tapati said, “This calf
belongs to ashram.” When she thought they did not understand a bit, she tried to tell
them by gesture, ‘This is my calf. I have come here to find it.’
They showed her the net and dead deer. ‘Who ever trapped is ours. If you get trapped
you are ours too. We will eat you.’ They made it very clear by gesture again.
         Since she was in rush to find Kiran, Tapati forgot to carry a thick wooden stick
with her for protection. Actually she did not think she would have to come so far. She
started saying Vedic prayers in her mind. There was no question of leaving Kiran behind
and go back to ashram. She stood against Kiran to protect her. The oral negotiations
with Shambers were not possible. Tapati jumped and climbed on a big tall rock to hide
behind it. She collected a few big round stones from close by. Shambers saw this and
laughed to ridicule her. They started moving down in the stream, no sooner they took a
couple of steps, and the man with the deer on his shoulder screamed and sat down in the
gushing water. His sheen bone was broken and his blood was flowing with the deer
blood in the stream. Before they can even think what happened, another man with the net
broke his forehead, like a coconut. Shambers hesitated for a while. One of them threw a
knife to Tapati. She just sat down in time to avoid it but she got his knife. She wanted to
disable them all for her safety. She had heard that Shambers sacrifice even humans for
their rituals.
        Two out of four were disabled but two were still there unhurt. They ran fiercely
like mad, wild boars. Tapati also ran along the bank, before she could reach one
Shamber jumped with a long leap towards Tapati, his blood red eyes were glimmering.
Tapati raised her knife to attack; but a devil palm grabbed her hand. Before she realized
her hand was broken with a soft sound like breaking of a tender tree branch. Some body
also grabbed her from the neck. She could hear the cheering sound of the two she had
wounded. She felt suffocated her temple veins were stretching. She was trying to
concentrate and pray Almighty Sun. As soon as she saw Sunrays, she felt her neck grip
was being relieved. She opened her eyes and saw an arrow pierced in the neck of that
Shamber who grabbed her. The other one was jumping over the stream to run away with
those wounded ones. And on a distant rock she saw, Takshak, the nephew of Nagaraj
Vasuki, with his bow and arrow all drawn, stood gracefully and shining brightly like a
personified God of destruction.
As he came down Tapati asked him, “Will you please cut the net where Kiarn is
trapped?”
       Takshak helped her getting up, sprinkled stream water to freshen her up. He then
cut Kiran’s net. Kiran started leaking Tapati as soon as she was free from the net. Tapati
rubbing Kiran lovingly said thankfully, “Kiran would not have been saved if you were
not here today.”
       “And you?” asked Takshak as he was tying up the wounded Shambar with his net.
Tapati gave him a sunny smile but did not reply.
       This was the first glow of their love, like a first soft gleam of a sunray after a long
dark night.
         Takshak made the wounded and netted Shamber walk ahead, put Kiran on a rocky
trail, made a support by ripping his top cloth to support Tapati’s broken hand, while
Tapati kept on saying, “I am fine, I don’t need it”. They started walking on the rocky
trail together.
       “When Muni did not see you in the ashram he sent a few of his senior disciples to
look for you.” said Takshak.
       “But how could you make it here at the right time?”
       “What if I were just a little late?” Takshak was scared even with the thought of
the danger Tapati would have faced.
       “What else? Shambers would be taking me, all tied up with ropes. Like him..”
She said with a scare in her voice, while showing the wounded Shamber.
       Tapati could see that Takshak was deeply disturbed even with that thought.
         In a way Takshak was not even a senior student in the ashram. He just joined the
ashram some three years ago. He was not even well acquainted with Tapati. She heard
from the other students that Takshak does not like being close to anybody. Aaruni had an
impression about him that, ‘He likes followers and not friends. He is intelligent, stay
ahead of every body in archery contests. In a debating society to stand against him is like
standing against a bright fire, impossible. His oratory is swift and clever as if a sickle
easily sweeping through a harvest. Even with all these he was hardly loved by any one
because every body thinks he speaks harshly and is a bit quarrelsome. Once he quarrels
with some body he would never compromise. Subhadra, his cousin and a student from
his own tribe, and Takshak were very close once. They were very good friends at one
point. They quarreled in a hunting expedition. After three months Takshak does not even
look at Subhadra, never misses a smallest opportunity to harass Subhadra and his
friends.’ Tapati knew all these through Subhadra, since Subhadra was a favorite student
of her mother. His smiling face was adorable and his aptitude to help every body was
loveable too. He would never sit idle, you would always see him doing something,
cleaning, knitting or anything. His hands would be always busy and so his tongue too.
He would talk about all sorts of things. Some times he would not even care if some one
is listening or not. He contributed substantially in keeping Muni’s house clean and neat.
Well, a few months ago, it was Subhadra who kept Takshak’s hut clean and neat, would
fold his clothes also. Both were nephews of NagRaj Vasuki. Subhadra also had a few
servants at home but he would not think about it. Takshak also was a good friend once,
but unfortunately that hunting expedition changed it all. Tapati was very much agonized
by this. She always thought that she would talk to Takshak some day and make him
understand that, (‘Forest fire is better than jealousy-fire.’) ‘ Loving friendship is
superior to jealousy fighting.’
But she was hesitating to see Takshak thinking he might insult any body that advised
him. She thought she would at least talk to Aaruni some day about this.
While walking together today, she saw a totally different Takshak. He actually saved her
life at the risk of his own life. He seemed very modest and courteous about it. Usually
he would walk with his head up, proudly, to day was walking with his head down,
modestly. No body uttered a word till they reached ashram. Tapati finally asked, looking
at the captive Shamber who was being dragged behind, “What would you do with him?”
“What ever you would like to do with him.” asked Takshak.
“Let him go.”
“I think, let him be purified by a blessed glance from Muni.” said Takshak.
       Tapati kept quiet. Then after cutting the net of the Shamber, Takshak said, “Go
away.” And by throwing his head in front of her Takshak said, “Bow down to her.”
As soon as Shamber bowed down, ran away from there for his life.
“Since you are the representative of Muni, I made him bow down to you.”
While entering the ashram Tapati said, “Why every body says, you are a quarrelsome
person.”
Takshak looked on to her and said to her with a serious note, “Every body else’s opinion
might be alright. What do you think?”
Tapati replied with a smile, “Only a vital, powerful person is quarrelsome, Father says.”
Takshak with his hands folded said, “I humbly accept the compliment.”
Well, this was their first ray of love…..
        When Muni learned the full story of Tapati’s rescue, blessed Takshak by putting
his hand on Takshak’s head. Muni’s wife specially invited him for a dinner. After that
Tapati and Takshak saw each other quite a few times, while milking the cows, some
times in the garden-forest, some times at the quiet river bank… Tapati always thought,
‘Why people say he is quarrelsome, he always talks politely, he doesn’t seem over proud
of himself. Every body has a proud self respect, it is necessary too.’
Once, while milking the cow together, Tapati asked Takshak, “Well, your quarrel with
Subhadra does not look good on you. Any way he is younger to you. Even if he is at
fault you should let it go. With out compromise your relationship is always on a brink of
igniting .”
“What do you say to this? What ever you say will be done.”
“Why, what ever I say, you can very well think about this also.” said Tapati.
“Assumed, you are my guru.” Takshak replied while milking.
“Then guru commands, forget every thing with a big heart.” Tapati said semi jokingly.
“Guru must have thought about every thing, I assume and I accept.”
For a while he kept on milking the cow. Then said, “Do you know what kind of things he
is talking about me?”
“No.”
“He talks to his colleagues, I am getting attracted to you.”
Tapati was startled and barely saved the milk pot from falling down.
“Subhadra!”
“Yes, Subhadra, he talks and Madhavi also sings to that tune.”
“Subhadra would not do that, I think.”
“Just ask him. If he is truthful he will tell you so. What ever he may think about me, I
am going to compromise with him starting from to night if you say so.”
“But…” Tapati could not utter another word.
They just kept on milking the cow and only the noise of the milk streaking in the milk pot
was heard.
And with it, her mind also kept on brimming with streaks of soft feelings like the streaks
of fresh soft warm milk, sweet and creamy.
        Tapati wanted to talk to Subhadra but she did not get time, or may be she could
not prepare herself for that! ‘What did she hear? Takshak loved her?’ That little
sentence, churned her feelings. The entry of a small little sunray in early morning, all of
a sudden steels away the vast darkness of the night showing the green trees, beautiful lake
and the mountain range beyond, very clearly. Touch of that sunray just created a
wonderful world for Tapati replacing the deep darkness in side her and lighted up a
beautiful invisible world of her mind. And in that world birds were singing, mountain
peaks were shining, playful water streams were flowing. What an experience? She did
not have any idea about the existence of Takshak just before he saved her and the net-
trapped Kiran. And now? Her mind was longing to be with him while milking the cow,
though she would keep on working a little sadly if he were not around. Her mind would
take a notice when she would not see him in study classes, but once after finding him
there she would hardly look at him. When ever she would be working in the garden fully
engrossed in her work, would feel as if Takshak has turned up unknowingly behind her.
What an experience was this? He would take away the sickle from her and rip the grass
for her cows. He would help her putting a big heavy bundle of grass on her head. While
doing that she would watch and unknowingly admire his erect head like a peak of the
Gandhmadan and his fleshy and graceful hands. And above all she would secretly
admire his dedication! And every body said, he was uncontrollable and very proud! She
was having totally opposite experience of him. ‘I think, he must not be that
uncontrollable. Or he would not do as she wishes. Or may be, do I have the capacity to
tone down an uncontrollable?’ Thinking about him would color her mind and her world
around her with the rainbow colors.
       Finally one day she got an opportunity to ask Subhadra about him. Subhadra was
spreading the soft grass carpets in the Yagna Hall and she was carrying the wood for
Yagna rituals in the hall. There was nobody else around. With some artificial anger in
her voice Tapati asked, “Subhadra, I am going to complain to Father about you.”
Subhadra was surprised to hear this kind of tone in her voice. Usually she would always
smile sweetly and talk softly.
“What? Tapati, I am sorry I have forgotten to feed the cows last night. Yes?” He said.
“No, this is even more serious.”
Subhadra was a simple hearted lad. “I do not remember doing any thing else, I suppose.”
He continued.
       “You are talking unpleasant things about me to your colleagues.”
        He stopped laying the carpets and said firmly, “No. Never, it is impossible. Who
says so? Your unpleasant talks and from my mouth? You know, my tongue would be
shattered in to thousand pieces before that.”
Tapati was embarrassed now, she could not think about how to change the topic. She
kept on arranging the firewood for Yagna, said, “Don’t worry, and never mind.”
Subhadra insisted, “No, please tell me who told you so and I am going to have a duel
fight with him.”
Tapati was even more confounded.
“That is not a big deal. Don’t get that angry.”
“No that is a big deal. You have to tell me.” He said emphasizing on ‘Big deal’.
“Yes, but only if you do not quarrel with him.”
“All right, I will not.”
“Never? Never.”
“Well, never on this point.”
“Did you say that Takshak is getting interested in me?”
“Ooo, So, that’s it? Aye. That’s how I think it must be. I might have told it to some
body. But it is not against you!”
“No, not me. But..”
“But you said I was talking against you. I am sure he must have told you so.”
Tapati kept quiet.
“Seems he is very deep. He came to me a few days ago and says, ‘Subhadra, we come
from the same tribe and we are some what related too. We should not be jealous of each
other and should not blame each other also. Yes, I have annoyed you and have done some
backbiting on you and you also have reciprocated in the same coins. Let us forget all
these and compromise.’ ”
“I said, ‘What else is sweeter than friendship?’ and we went to jungle, hunted a deer and
had a feast. Now he says that I talk mean thing about you.”
“No, no, may be I made a mistake either in listening to him or understanding him. I am
sure he told me clearly that you are talking about him. Subhadra, let us not worry about
that, it is not necessary. We all are friends and should help each other out.” Tapati said
promptly.
“No my sister Tapati, in fact I wanted to warn him that every body else is talking that he
is getting attracted to you. And he should be more conscientious.” Subhadra seemed a
little worried.
“What did he say then?” Tapati asked cautiously.
“He said, ‘I don’t care what others think, my heart is pure, I don’t have any malice in my
mind. See, as I worship this pious Yajna alter, I worship the daughter of our Guru the
same way. She is also very pious and encouraging. ‘”.
“Subhadra, do you believe what he said?”
Subhadra hesitated a little, but continued, “Well, he comes where ever you are. It was
not like that before some time. Seems he has lost his concentration, some times very
joyful and some times gets lost in deep thoughts. When he is with you his eyes radiate
joy but he becomes bashful to talk to you. He actually used to mingle and talk very
normally. Looking at all these gestures, I think…….”
“Hey, Subhadra when did you start to observe others so minutely?” Tapati twisted his ear
and said jokingly.
“Every body observes it and some times show me by hitting me with their elbow to draw
my attention.” Subhadra was still rubbing his red ear.
“That should be stopped. If he is attracted he will have to suffer. I think Father is always
there to judge what is right or wrong.” Tapati sounded serious in her tone.
“When we all used to intermingle with you to play, he would always say, ‘we are here to
get the knowledge which should make our tribe cultured and progressive. We, poor Naga
people, cannot afford to goof off. And now he himself is roaming all around you.
Obviously now they are going to tease him for that. Won’t they?”
After listening to this Tapati smiled.
“He would tell the story of Kach-Devyani to all of us and say, ‘Our Naga people are
awaiting us.’”
“Subhdra let us not look at somebody’s shortfalls. Right?”
“Yes, you are right. This is just because you mentioned.”
Tapati was really perplexed by the mention of the Kach-Devayani story. She had heard
about the failed love affair of Devayani, the daughter of Guru Shukra with Kach, a son of
Dev(gods) guru Brihaspati in past. He came to learn the art of immortality from Guru
Shukra.*
When she first heard about that story, she was not disturbed. Instead she was proud of
Kach. Immortality of the Dev (gods) community was dependent upon the sacred ashes of
Kach. Now she was thinking from other perspective, was that the only way for the gods
to attain immortality? Did Gods not owe anything to Devyani who revived Kach to life
three times? Why did all-powerful gods let Devyani’s love and life turn to ashes?
At least Kach was hailed in pride, received ample of fame. But the daughter of the Rishi
Shukra, Devyani, just ended up getting married to a lustful, lowly King Yayati and led a
life with a stigma. And gods did not even glimpsed at her, did not even sprinkle a few
drops of nectar from their nectar-pot on her ruined life. So sad story!
That night she could not sleep till very late. ‘Am I on Devyani’s path? No, no. Takshak
and I are not even that close. So… ‘ But her mind was telling her again and again that,
‘you are on the same path so beware. Walk consciously.’
‘Yes, walk as you did previously.’ Tapati’s mind was urging to her.


                                             -3-
        Usually Tapati would go to the students’ hut to ask them about their needs. She
would peep in Takshak’s hut also. Lately she would go there at least every other day.
After that sleepless night she did not go there at all, rather kept on doing different chores
with Father. Next day Tapati did not go to milk the cows and broke the routine. After
bathing she was placing the wet cloths on the line to dry. She saw Takshak returning
from the cow barn though he did not see her. He was walking with his eyes fixed at the
ground. He was carrying a big milk pot to the school area. He glanced a little at the
Guru’s house and continued walking unenthusiastically. This routine continued for a
couple of weeks.
       Tapati would keep herself busy with house chores and whatever chores her Father
would want her to do. When others were not present, only then she would go to cow
barn. But as a routine she would place the wet clothes on the clothesline behind the vine
canopy on time to see Takshak carrying the milk pot. That was the only thing she would
not miss.
        One of these days Subhadra asked while cleaning the room, “Tapati are you
alright?”
       “Well, I am fine. Why do you ask?”
       “Recently you do not go to cow barn to milk the cows. Actually Takshak was
asking me.” Subhadra said with a little smile.
        Tapati replied promptly, “Why he does not come here with you?” No sooner she
finished the sentence, [she] was embarrassed a lot.
       Next evening Subhadra came up to Tapati in the kitchen with Takshak. Tapati
was busy cooking, gave a hauler from the kitchen, “Subhadra are you there?”
        “You have to use a sentence in plural.”*(to respect a person you use ‘you’ rather
than ‘thou’)
       “Well, you do not use a respectful plural for a younger person.”
        “No, not in ‘respectful’ sense. We are two I have Takshak with me. You told me
to bring him in.”
        She was startled. She was warming up the milk. Hot milk burned her fingers.
She was about to say, ‘It was not what I meant.’ But her mind did not agree to that.
When she came out, she saw Takshak cleaning yoga room and Subhadra was arranging
the flowers with his back on Tapati side. Takshak looked up a bit and asked, “Were you
not well?”
        “I was fine but was very busy and did not get any time.” Takshak kept on
working quietly. Tapati also stood there for a while quietly and left for the kitchen. In
the kitchen she would look at the fire, look at the setting sun, one after the other,
thinking, ‘I wish no body would have mentioned this to me, especially Subhadra. Then I
would still mingle and work normally, naturally with every body. The stories others
talked about, may be just to tease us as a joke, did it plant an infatuation in my mind?
Subhadra said, Takshak considered me as pious and enlightened as Yajna alter, what is he
to me? Is he like a brother, a friend, like a golden tree seeking sun warmth? I don’t
know, I cannot pin point any thing for now. At least a few days ago he was like a same
age friend, with whom I could talk freely about any thing. But now…..’
       “We are leaving, Tapati.” Subhadra came to her and interrupted in her thoughts.
       “Please wait a minute.” Tapati went in the room and came with two glasses of
barley-honey drink. “Please have this.” She said.
       “I and Madhavi had it yesterday.” Subhadra said.
       “I do not feel hungry for that, thanks.” Takshak added.
       “Every body knows, this is good for inducing appetite,” Tapati emphasized.
        Both the young boys prayed ‘Som’ and emptied the glasses. Subhadra went out
to put the glasses away.
        Takshak seeing the opportunity, asked, “Did I tell you something the other day is
that the reason why you do not come to the classes?”
       Tapati kept quiet.
       “Subhadra is very simple hearted. You should not take him seriously. Well, if
you would not come to the classes some would feel it weird and it would be even hard on
a few.” Takshak added.
        Subhdra came back, after putting the glasses in the kitchen and they both left as
they heard the bells ringing in the Yajna alter area. “Are you coming there, I wish?”
Asked Takshak as they were leaving. Tapati as if, did not listen to it, was thinking ‘It
would be even hard on a few.’ The sentence kept on ringing in her ears. She could not
even sleep till late night once again. She kept on tossing and turning in the bed as if some
body kept the fire under it. She could not get a clear vision about what to do? She would
run all chores but absentmindedly. She could not eat well, could not sleep well. What
had happened to her? She could not go to the student dorm, wondering lest she might
come across Takshak. Who was stopping her? Her own mind! Actually she really
longed to see him, to work with him, to listen to him, which was very clear in her mind.
For that she had to come out and confess courageously to her own mind, which was
obviously not easy for her. Tapati would never cheat any body. How could she cheat her
own mind, her companion forever! She had to have an answer for it. ‘Is this the ‘love’
people used to call? If that is ‘it’ than would it ever be fruitful? Muni always wished and
worked for the well being of the mountain tribal people. In fact he established this
ashram mostly to educate them. There were many examples of marriages between
Aryans and non-Aryans. So, why would he say ‘no’ to our relationship? Yes, there is
one hitch as Subhadra mentioned. Is this like Kach-Devayani ……?’
        She would be working apparently normally, but she was very agitated and
confounded in her own mind and would ask herself again and again that, ‘what is this?
What is going to happen to her?’ Some times she would think of telling every thing to
Father. And she might cry on his shoulder to empty her feelings. But what would she
tell him? First she wanted to make sure in her own mind about those strange feelings.
       Finally one day she totally recognized those feelings. Once again Subhadra was
involved here. She and Subhadra were washing the clothes on the bank of Oghavati.
While ringing the clothes he said, “Dear Sister, we learned a lot in our class today.”
       She replied absentmindedly, “yes. What was that?”
        “We had a debate for our debating society. Muni, Aaruni, and we all were there.
I actually sent Madhavi to fetch you but she could not find you. Are you listening?”
       Asked Subhadra looking at absentminded Tapati.
       “What?” Tapati woke up.
       “That’s what I was telling you. You are not listening.” He said with a smile.
“These days you don’t look happy.”
       “I am not feeling good, Subhadra.”
       “What is wrong?”
       “I don’t know; I don’t feel good. Just continue with your story.”
       “Debate was on Kach-Devyani topic….”
       Suddenly Tapati started paying attention.
       “Every body thought, Kach was right. But Aaruni said, Kach-Devyani were
studying to gather in ashram, they are like brother – sister. That would be a sin if Kach
would say ‘yes’ and accept Devayani’s love.”
       “Why?” Tapati asked.
        “Process of getting knowledge needs concentration. So it is of utmost importance
that the mind does not diverge from attaining knowledge. That is the reason Mother
Saraswti, Goddess of Knowledge is a virgin forever. And intense desire for marriage is
the root of dejection, mental confusion.”
       Tapati talked to herself, “Yes. That is absolutely right.”
        “So, all the children studying together in ashram should be told again and again
that they are like brother-sister and marriages amongst them are totally forbidden. That
culture should be ingrained in them. Kach was the pioneer of that thinking, according to
Aaruni.”
      Tapati looked down with disappointment while watching the setting sun.
Subhadra was very excited to tell further and did not notice her dejection.
        “Now comes the real interesting part. Muni had a great counter argument. We all
started pondering on it. Muni said, ‘Well, it was very appropriate that Kach did not
accept Devyani, because he was tied up with the promise given to all gods. He sacrificed
himself, his pure love for that promise given to gods. But if he were not tied up by the
promise he would have been esthetic by accepting Devyani and would have elevated his
life with her unique love. More over he was reborn from the belly of Rushi Shukra,
which makes him like a real brother to Devyani. So, that was a hitch also.”
        All of a sudden, Tapati’s face got luster, her eyes sparkled as if all the stars
reflected in them. Her mind was lighted up with thousand flames. She said
spontaneously, “Subhadra, How delighting! Father just always sees it through.”
        “He also added that Aaruni’s view point is correct too. Ashrams and all other
teaching institutions should not turn into places for the self-selection for marriage. But in
this case even with that love, diversion, Kach gained knowledge of immortality in the
companionship and by the grace of Devayani. Actually speaking, the deep and true love
always injects zeal and energy in gaining knowledge, wealth, fame and even salvation.
True love is never unfortunate, it is rather always superbly fortunate.”
       Tapati was extremely delighted. “It was shame I was not there. My huge
mistake.”
       “Aaruni was puzzled, asked, ‘but What about concentration?’” Subhadra
continued.
        “Muni replied, ‘Well, it can come from all directions. Life is limitless. Let there
be lots of highways of rules. But there are going to be innumerable small trails also.
They sometimes lead you to the goal faster than the highways. Well, you might not
totally approve of those trails but do not put hindrances on making the new trails.’”
       Tapati’s face turned red with enthusiasm. Unknowingly the washed clothes fell
down from her hands.
          Naive Subhadra asked, “You do not seem very happy to day.”
          Tapati said while ringing the wet clothes, “Well, what Aaruni says also sounds
right.”
         “Yes, we also feel the same way. If every body is allowed to make their own
trail, as Muni suggests, then there will not be any kind of rules or social regulations.
          “Did Takshak participate in the debate?”
        “No, he did not. Don’t know why. Some thing has happened to him. He doesn’t
participate in any thing. Either he is reading some thing or is just walking along the
riverbank absentmindedly. Right now he should be walking along the bank, I am sure.
Why don’t you tell him a few words? At first we all were just guessing but now we are
pretty much convinced.”
          “About what?” Tapati asked abruptly.
          “He worships you as a goddess.”
          “Subhadra, do you really believe that he is infatuated with me?”
        “Let me tell you some thing. The day when he saved you from the Shambers,
your top cloth must have been ripped off in that scuffle. He still has that piece of your
top, he always keeps it under his pillow.”
          “When did you learn to find out other’s secrets?”
        “Oh, no. Listen to me. A few days ago he had a fever. I was taking care of him.
While making his bed I found that piece from your top. I asked and he accepted that you
are like a goddess to him and he is your humble devotee.”
       Subhadra started laughing after his own comments.
       “Is he having a fever?” Tapati was now worried.
       “Yes, a few days ago. He is fine now.”
       “Well, you may leave now. I will take a bath and come to ashram later.”
        After quite a few days Tapati took a relaxing bath, cleaned her feet, washed the
hair and set for a long time in the water playing with the fish. She was looking at the
cranes and ducks on the opposite bank of the river with very calm mood. She felt so
content that every thing was in its right place. Nothing remained to be done. As if it
rained adequately in the fields, crops were gracefully oscillating in the breeze and were
waiting to be harvested. She had nothing to worry about. ‘Father actually bound himself
in front of every body by saying; we should let the new trails develop. Kach promised
the gods that he is going to learn the art of immortality. Takshak or I are not bound by
any promises like that. This can be a highway or a trail, does not matter. O Takshak.
How naïve and devoted you are. How he stole a piece of my topcloth and confesses that
to Subhadra. If I were in that position I would not utter a word. I could not tell the truth
even if I would like to. Thakshak is really nice and simple hearted. I will tell my Father.
Definitely, I do not think, he is going to say NO. He loves all the forest people, even
more than he loves me.’
        She came out of the water. All her distress, her restlessness were washed away
with the dripping water. After changing she climbed a big rock on the bank. She saw
Takshak loitering on the sand. He did not see her. Tapati became emotional watching
him. She started walking towards him. As she was coming closer, she was puzzled and
did not know how to talk, what to talk. She was not that Tapati of old days. Till
yesterday, Takshak and Tapati were two separate entities, in two individual rooms. There
was not a door between them. Now suddenly there, she found a door, which was not
having a lock. It just needed a little push to open. Did she have courage to give it a little
push? All her fingers were trembling like lotus petals in a sweet breeze. She stumbled
against a small rock and fell down. Her head banged against a dead tree stump. Takshak
saw her and rushed to help. Her forehead was bleeding. He helped her to get up and
wiped her forehead with his upper garment.
      “This is not as scary as the other day.” Tapati said smilingly. She did not stop
him wiping her forehead.
       “Well, you were not afraid even the other day.” Takshak said while wiping the
forehead.
        “As I was getting close to being scared, you came to rescue me at the right time.”
Tapati set down and took the support of a tree trunk.
       “These days you seem to be in deep thoughts, Takshak.”
       “You do not show up in the classes these days.” Asked Takshak ignoring her.
       “I should be able to attend the classes, it seems.” Tapati replied.
       “Good! May I tell you some thing, if you do not feel bad…”
       “Oh, no. I am not a thankless person. I should never feel bad about any thing
from you.”
       “When you are not there, I become so sad and do not feel good.” Takshak said
with hesitation.
       “That is some thing new, unusual.”
       “I did not feel that way before. I keep on praying to Gods , ‘Please take away this
sadness. Take away.”
       “They will.”
       “I wish your words come true.”
       “They will.”
      Tapati, unlike recently, was in a joking mood. She sounded brimming with
emotions. Now it was Takshak’s turn to be puzzled.
       “You are saying these like a fortune teller. Are you one?”
      “Well, trust me, as far as this is concerned, yes I am.” Tapati was smiling.
Takshak had puzzled and untrusting expressions on his face. She laughed a lot watching
Takshak.
       Takshak was even more puzzled.
       “Tapati, you are making fun of me. I am a naïve forest dweller and don’t know
anything.”
       “No. This forest dweller is not naïve as well as knows lots of things. He is very
smart and clever also.”
       “Now I am really scared. What is my fault?”
      “The forest dweller stealing a piece of the upper garment of a girl with out her
knowledge and keeps it under his pillow can not be called naïve.”
       Takshak was really nervous now. He had sweat drops on his forehead. ‘What
would Tapati think about him?’ He lost his voice. He said in a barely audible very low
voice.
        “Tapati, please excuse me. I did not have any bad intentions. I really worship
you. That day I saw you standing up against those Shambers, and risking your life to
save a young calf, I saw with devotion, Goddess Usha (Dawn) personified in you.
Women of our tribes are also courageous and strong, but they are not so broadminded to
fight for others, especially for a small calf. I saved that piece of the upper garment and
kept under my pillow as to remember that vast heartedness. I did not have any other
malintentions.”
       Takshak said all these with his hands folded. His narration sounded so genuine
and true that Tapati was melted away. Even Lord Shiv also will be melted looking at this
genuine devotion. She emotionally grabbed his hands spontaneously.
       “Takshak, do not make me ashamed of myself. Let that piece be with you.” She
continued after a very short pause. “Along with that, may the other thing also be with
you.”
         Takshak was flabbergasted. His face lighted up as if listening to the heavenly
music.
         “Tapati, I am very insignificant and low. You are great….”
      “Please do not utter a word. Either I have to become insignificant or you have to
become great. There is no other way!”
        They stood there for a few minutes. Those minutes were so long yet so short.
Tapati felt as if a vast blue sky and green grain laden earth are standing next to each
other.
         Next minute she heard a voice, “Sister, Father wants you..”
        They drew their hands apart. Madhvi was on the other side of the trail calling her.
Tapati was startled to hear her, took care of her self and told Takshak, “I will talk to
Father. See you then.”
         “Coming. Right there…” She replied to Madhvi.
       Takshak was excited could not believe what happened, ‘Did the elephant really
poured the holy water on him! Was he really chosen?’
         He saw Madhvi as a Rahu engulfing the moon for the eclipse.

				
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