The Immortals Siva

Abode of the Gods


back to Srinagar?

That also sounds like a good idea, said a smiling Shiva. Why Nandi,

you are almost like a fount of brilliant ideas!

Nandi laughed along with Shiva, always happy to be the harbinger of a

smile on his Lords face. Ill just be back, my Lord.

Shiva lay down on his bed and was quickly lost in the thoughts that really

mattered to him.

Ill finish the meeting with the Emperor as soon as it is humanly possible,

give him whatever the bloody hell he wants and then scour the city for Sati.

Shiva had considered asking Nandi about the whereabouts of Sati but had

eventually decided against it. He was painfully aware that he had made a

less than spectacular impression on her at their first meeting. If she hadn

made it easy for him to find her, it only meant that she wasn terribly

stirred by him. He didn want to compound his mistake by speaking

casually about her with others.

He smiled as the memory of her face came flooding back to him. He

replayed the magical moments when he had seen her fighting. Not the most

romantic of sights for most men of his tribe. But for Shiva, it was divine.

He sighed recalling her soft, delicate body, which had suddenly developed

brutal, killer qualities upon being attacked. The curves that had so

captivated him swung smoothly as she transferred her weight to swing her

sword. The soberly tied hair had swayed sensuously with each movement of

the sword arm. He breathed deeply.

What a woman!

Early next morning Shiva and Nandi crossed the bridge between the

Tamra and Svarna platforms to reach the royal citadel. The bridge, another

marvel of Meluhan engineering, was flanked on the sides by a thick wall.

Holes punched into the walls enabled defenders to shoot arrows or pour hot

oil on enemies. The bridge was bisected by a massive gate, a final

protection in the likelihood of the other platform being lost to an enemy.

Shiva was completely taken by surprise when they crossed over to the

Svarna platform, not by the grandeur of the royal area but by the lack of it.

He was shocked that there was no opulence. Despite ruling over such a

massive and wealthy empire, the nobility lived in a conspicuously simple manner. The structure of the royal citadel was almost exactly like the other

platforms. There were no special concessions made for the aristocrats. The

same block structures that dominated all of Meluha were to be found in the

royal citadel as well. The only magnificent structure was to the far right and

sported the sign Great Public Bath. The Bath also had a glorious temple to

Lord Indra built on the left-hand side. The temple was built of wood and it

stood on a raised foundation of baked bricks, its cupola plated with solid

gold! It seemed that special architecture was reserved only for structures

built for the Gods or ones that were for the common good.

Probably just like how Lord Ram would have wanted.

The only concession to the emperor, however, was that his standard block

structure was larger than the others. Significantly larger.

Shiva and Nandi entered the royal private office to find Emperor Daksha

sitting on a simple throne at the far end of the modestly furnished room,

flanked by a man and a woman.

Daksha greeted Shiva with a formal Namaste and said, I hope your

journey was comfortable.

He looked too young to be an emperor of such a large country. Though he

was marginally shorter than Shiva, they differed in their musculature. While

the strapping Shiva was powerfully built, Dakshas body indicated that it

had not been strained by too much exercise. It wasn that he was obese

either, just average. The same could be said about his wheat-complexioned

face. Average sized, dark eyes flanked a straight nose. He wore his hair long

like most Meluhan men and women. The head bore a majestic crown with

the sun symbol of the Suryavanshis manifested in the centre through

sparkling gem stones. His clothes consisted of an elegantly draped dhoti

and an angvastram placed over his right shoulder. A large amount of

functional jewellery, including two amulets on his right arm, complemented

Dakshas average appearance. His only distinguishing feature was his smile

— which spread its innocent conviction all the way to his eyes. Emperor

Daksha looked like a man who wore his royalty lightly.

Yes it was, your highness, replied Shiva. The infrastructure in your

empire is wonderful. You are an extraordinary emperor.

Thank you. But I only deserve reflected credit. The work is done by my


You are too modest, your Highness.

Smiling politely, Daksha asked, May I introduce my most important

aides? Without waiting for an answer, he pointed to the woman on his left,

This is my prime minister, Kanakhala. She takes care of the administrative,

revenue and protocol matters.

Kanakhala did a formal Namaste to Shiva. Her head was shaved except for

a tuft of smooth hair at the back which had been tied into a knot. She had a

string called the janau tied across from her left shoulder down to the right

side of her torso. Though young-looking like most Meluhans, the flab on

her torso between the white blouse and dhoti didn escape Shivas keen

eye. She had a dark and incredibly smooth complexion and like all her

countrymen, wore jewellery that was restrained and conservative. Shiva

noticed that the second amulet on Kanakhalas arm showed a pigeon. Not a

very high chosen-tribe amongst the Brahmins. Shiva bent low and did a

formal Namaste in reply.

Pointing to his right, Daksha said, And this is my chief of the armed

forces, General Parvateshwar. He looks after the army, navy, special forces,

police etc.

Parvateshwar looked like a man that Shiva would think twice about taking

on in a battle. He was taller than Shiva and had an immensely muscular

physique that dominated the space around him. His curly long hair had been

combed back severely and fell from under his crown in a disciplined array.

His smooth, swarthy skin was marked by the proud signs of long years in

battle. His body was hairless, in a rare departure from the normally hirsute

Kshatriya men who considered body hair a sign of machismo. As if to make

up for this deficiency, Parvateshwar maintained a thick and long moustache

which curled upwards at the edges. His eyes reflected his

uncompromisingly strong and righteous character. The second amulet on

his arm showed Parvateshwar as a tiger, a very high chosen-tribe amongst

the Kshatriyas. He nodded curtly at Shiva. No Namaste. No elaborate bow

of his proud head. Shiva, however, smiled warmly and greeted

Parvateshwar with a formal Namaste.

Please wait outside, Captain, advised Parvateshwar, looking at Nandi.

Before Nandi could respond, however, Shiva cut in. My apologies. But is

it alright if Nandi stays here with me? He has been my constant companion

since I left my homeland and has become a dear and trusted friend.

Of course he may, replied Daksha.

Your Highness, it is not appropriate for a Captain to be witness to this

discussion, said Parvateshwar. In any case, his service rules clearly state

that he can only escort a guest into the emperors presence and not stay

there while a matter of state is discussed.

Oh relax Parvateshwar. You take your service rules too seriously

sometimes. Turning to Shiva, Daksha continued, If it is alright with you,

may we see your neck now?

Nandi slid behind Shiva to untie the cravat. Seeing the beads darned on

the cravat to convey the impression that the throat was covered for religious

reasons, Daksha smiled and whispered, Good idea.

Even as the cravat came off, both Daksha and Kanakhala moved in close

to inspect Shivas throat. Parvateshwar did not step forward but strained his

neck slightly in order to get a better look. Daksha and Kanakhala were

clearly stunned by what they saw.

Daksha reached out and lightly touched Shivas throat in awe, The colour

emerges from within. There is no dye. It is real.

Daksha and Kanakhala glanced at each other, tears glistening in their

astounded eyes. Kanakhala folded her hands into a Namaste and began

mumbling a chant under her breath. Daksha looked up at Shivas face,

trying desperately to suppress the ecstasy that coursed through his insides.

With a controlled smile, the Emperor of Meluha said, I hope we have not

done anything to cause you any discomfort since your arrival in Meluha.

Despite Dakshas controlled reaction, Shiva could see that both the

emperor as well as his prime minister were taken aback by his blue throat.

Just how important is this bloody blue throat for the Meluhans?

Umm, none at all your Highness, replied Shiva as he tied the cravat back

around his neck. In fact, my tribe and I have been delighted by the

hospitality that we have received here.

Im happy about that, smiled Daksha, bowing his head politely. You

may want to rest a bit and we could talk in greater detail tomorrow. Would

you like to shift your residence to the royal citadel? It is rumoured that the

quarters here are a little more comfortable.

That is a very kind offer, your Highness.

Daksha turned to Nandi and asked, Captain, what did you say your name


My name is Nandi, your Highness.

You too are welcome to stay here. Make sure that you take good care of

our honoured guest. Kanakhala, please make all the arrangements.

Yes, your Highness.

Kanakhala gestured towards one of her aides, who escorted Shiva and

Nandi out of the royal office.

As Shiva exited the room, Daksha went down on his haunches with great

ceremony and touched his head to the ground on which Shiva had just

stood. He mumbled a soft prayer and then stood up to look at Kanakhala

with tears in his eyes. Kanakhalas eyes, however, betrayed impatience and

a touch of anger.

I don understand, your Highness, glared Kanakhala. The blue mark

was genuine. Why did you not tell him?

What did you expect me to do? cried a surprised Daksha. This is his

second day in Devagiri. You want me to just accost him and tell him that he

is the Neelkanth, our saviour? That he is destined to solve all our


Well, if he has a blue throat, then he is the Neelkanth, isn he? And if he

is the Neelkanth, then he is our saviour. He has to accept his destiny.

An exasperated Parvateshwar interjected. I can believe that we are

talking like this. We are Meluhans! We are the Suryavanshis! We have

created the greatest civilisation ever known to man. Are we to believe that

an unskilled, uneducated barbarian is to be our saviour? Just because he has

a blue throat?

That is what the legend says Parvateshwar, countered Kanakhala.

Daksha interrupted both his ministers. Parvateshwar, I believe in the

legend. My people believe in the legend. The Neelkanth has chosen my

reign to make his appearance. He will transform all of India in line with the

ideals of Meluha — a land of truth, duty and honour. His leadership can

help us end the Chandravanshi crisis once and for all. All the agonies they

now inflict upon us will be over — from the terrorist attacks to the shortage

of Somras to the killing of the Saraswati.

Then why delay telling him, your Highness? asked Kanakhala. The

more days we waste, the weaker becomes the resolve of our people. You are

aware of the terrorist attack just a few days back in a village not far from

Hariyupa. As our response becomes weak, our enemies become bolder,

your Highness. We must inform the Lord quickly and announce his arrival

to our people. It will give us the strength to fight our cruel enemies. I will tell him. But I am trying to be more farsighted than you. So far our

empire has only faced the morale-sapping influence of fraudulent

Neelkanths. Imagine the consequences if people were to discover that the

true Neelkanth has arrived but refuses to stand by us. First we must be sure

that he is willing to accept his destiny. Only then will we announce his

arrival to our people. And I think that the best way to convince him is to

share the whole truth with him. Once he sees the unfairness of the attacks

we face, he will fight with us to destroy evil. If that takes time, so be it. We

have waited for centuries for the Neelkanth. A few more weeks will not

destroy us.

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