The Immortals Siva
Vikarma, the Carriers of Bad Fate
Shiva was walking in the verdant gardens of the royal guest house. His
belongings were being moved into the royal guest house by Nandi along
with an efficient aide of Kanakhala. Shiva sat down on a comfortable bench
overlooking a bed of red and white roses. The cool breeze in the open
gardens brought a smile to his face. It was early afternoon and the garden
was deserted. Shivas thoughts kept going back to the conversation he had
had with the Emperor in the morning. Despite Dakshas controlled reaction,
Shiva could understand that his blue throat was of great significance to the
Meluhans, even to the Emperor. It meant that the legend of the Neelkanth,
whatever it was, was not restricted to some small sect in Kashmir. If the
Emperor himself took it so seriously, all of Meluha must need the help of
But what the bloody hell do they want help for? They are so much more
advanced than we are!
His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of a dhol, a percussion
instrument, and some ghungroos, which were anklets worn by dancers.
Someone seemed to be practising in the garden. A hedge separated the
dance pavilion from the rest of the garden. Shiva, himself a passionate
dancer, would normally have stepped in to move to the rhythm of the beat,
but his mind was preoccupied. Some words floated in from the group that
No my lady, you must let yourself go, said a distinguished male voice.
Its not a chore that you have to do. Enjoy the dance. You are trying to hard to remember all the steps rather than letting the emotion of the dance
flow through you.
Then a ladys voice interjected. My lady, Guruji is right. You are dancing
correctly, but not enjoying it. The concentration shows on your face. You
have to relax a bit.
Let me get the steps right. Then I can learn to enjoy them.
The last voice made Shivas hair stand up on end. It was her. It was Sati.
He quickly got up and followed the sound of the voices. Coming up from
behind the hedge, he saw Sati dancing on a small platform. She had her
hands raised rigidly to her sides as she enacted the various movements of
the dance. She danced in keeping with the steps, first to the left and then to
the right. She moved her shapely hips to the side and placed her hands
precisely on her waist, to convey the mood of the dance. He was
mesmerised once again.
However, he did notice that though Satis steps were right, the Guruji had
a point. She was moving in a mechanical manner; the uninhibited surrender
that is characteristic of a natural dancer was absent. The varying emotions
of bliss and anger in the story being told were missing in her movements.
Also, unlike a proficient dancer, Sati wasn using the entire platform. Her
steps were small, which kept her movements restricted to the centre.
The dance teacher sat facing her and playing on a dhol to give Sati her
beats. Her companion Krittika sat to the right. It was the dance teacher who
noticed Shiva first and immediately stood up. Sati and Krittika turned
around as well and were clearly astonished to find Shiva standing in front of
them. Unlike Sati, Krittika could not control her surprise and blurted out,
Sati, in her characteristic composed and restrained manner, asked
sincerely, Is everything alright, Shiva? Do you need my help?
How have you been? Ive missed you. Don you ever smile?
Shiva continued to stare at Sati, the words running through his mind, not
on his lips. A smiling Krittika looked at Sati for her reaction. An even more
serious Sati repeated, very politely, Can I help you with something,
No, no, I don need any help, replied Shiva as reality seemed to enter
his consciousness once again. I just happened to be in the area and I heard
your dancing. I mean your conversation. Your dance steps were not loud
enough to be heard. You were dancing very accurately. Actually, technically
it was all…
Krittika interjected. You know a bit about dancing, do you?
Oh, not much. Just a little, said Shiva to Krittika with a smile, before
turning rapidly back to Sati. My apologies Sati, but Guruji is right. You
were being far too methodical. As they say in the land that I come from, the mudras and the kriyas were all technically correct. But the bhav or emotion
was missing. And a dance without bhav is like a body without a soul. When
the emotions of the dancer participate, she would not even need to
remember the steps. The steps come to you. The bhav is something that you
cannot learn. It comes to you if you can create the space in your heart for
Sati listened patiently to Shiva without saying a word. Her eyebrows were
raised slightly as the barbarian spoke. How could he know more than a
Suryavanshi about dancing? But she reminded herself that he had saved her
life. She was duty bound to honour him.
Krittika, however, took offence at this caste-unmarked foreigner
pretending that he knew more about dancing than her mistress. She
glowered at Shiva. You dare to think that you know more than one of the
best dancers in the realm?
Shiva gathered that he may have caused some offence. He turned to Sati in
all seriousness. I am terribly sorry. I didn mean to insult you in any way.
Sometimes I just keep talking without realising what I am saying.
No, no, replied Sati. You did not insult me. Perhaps you are right. I
don feel the essence of the dance as much as I should. But I am sure that
with Gurujis guidance, I will pick it up in due course.
Seizing his chance to impress Sati, Shiva said, If it is alright with you,
may I perform the dance? I am sure that I am not as technically correct as
you. But perhaps, there may be something in the sentiment that will guide
me through the correct steps.
That was well put! She can say no!
Sati looked surprised. This was unexpected. Umm, okay, she managed to
A delighted Shiva immediately moved to the centre of the stage. He took
off the angvastram covering his upper body and tossed it aside. Krittikas
anger at the perceived insult to her mistress was quickly forgotten as she
beheld Shivas rippling physique. Sati, though, began to wonder how Shiva
would bend such a muscular body into the contortions that were required of
this dance. Flexibility was usually sacrificed by a human body at the altar of
Playing lightly on his dhol, the Guruji asked Shiva, What beat are you
comfortable with, young man?
Shiva folded his hands into a Namaste, bent low and said, Guruji, could
you just give me a minute please? I need to prepare for the dance.
Dancing was something Shiva was as accomplished in as in warfare.
Facing east, he closed his eyes and bowed his head slightly. Then he went
down on his knees and reverentially touched the ground with his head.
Standing up, he turned his right foot outwards. Then he raised his left leg
off the floor in a graceful arching movement till the foot was above knee
height, as he bent his right knee slightly to balance himself. His left foot
bisected the angle between his right foot and his face. A calm breeze
provided relief to the silence that enveloped the audience. Enraptured, the
Guruji, Sati and Krittika gazed at Shiva with amazement. They did not
understand what he was doing but could feel the energy that Shivas stance
Shiva raised both his arms in an elegant circular movement to the sides to
bring them in line with his shoulder. His right hand was holding an
imaginary dumru, a small, handheld percussion instrument. His left hand
was open with its palm facing upward, almost like it was receiving some
divine energy. He held this pose for some time; his glowing face indicated
that Shiva was withdrawing into his inner world. His right hand then moved
effortlessly forward, almost as if it had a mind of its own. Its palm was now
open and facing the audience. Somehow, the posture seemed to convey a
feeling of protectiveness to a very surprised Sati. Almost languidly, his left
arm glided at shoulder height and came to rest with the palm facing
downwards and pointing at the left foot. Shiva held this pose for some time.
And then began the dance.
Sati stared in wonder at Shiva. He was performing the same steps as her.
Yet it looked like a completely different dance. His lyrical hand movements
graced the mystical motion of his body.
How could a body this muscular also be so flexible? The Guruji tried
helplessly to get his dhol to give Shiva the beats. But clearly that wasn
necessary. As it was Shivas feet which were leading the beat for the dhol!
The dance conveyed the various emotions of a woman. In the beginning it
conveyed her feelings of joy and lust as she cavorted with her husband. The
next emotion was anger and pain at the treacherous killing of her mate.
Despite his rough masculine body, Shiva managed to convey the tender yet
strong emotions of a grieving woman.
Shivas eyes were open. But the audience realised that he was oblivious to
them. Shiva was in his own world. He did not dance for the audience. He
did not dance for appreciation. He did not dance for the music. He danced
only for himself. In fact, it almost seemed like his dance was guided by a
celestial force. Sati realised that Shiva was right. He had opened himself
and the dance had come to him.
After what seemed like an eternity the dance came to an end, with Shivas
eyes firmly shut. He held the final pose for a long time as the glow slowly
left him. It was almost as if he was returning to this world. Shiva gradually
opened his eyes to find Sati, Krittika and the Guruji gaping at him wonder-
The Guruji was the first to find his voice. Who are you?
I am Shiva.
No, no. Not the body. I meant who are you?
Shiva crooked his eyes together in a frown and repeated, I am Shiva.
Guruji, may I ask a question? asked Sati.
Of course you may.
Turning to Shiva, Sati asked, What was that you did before the dance?
Was it some kind of preparatory step?
Yes. Its called the Nataraj pose. The pose of the Lord of dance.
The Nataraj pose? What does it do?
It aligned my energy to the universal energy so that the dance emerges on
I don understand.
Well, its like this: amongst our people, we believe that everything in the
world is a carrier of shakti or energy. The plants, animals, objects, our
bodies, everything carries and transmits energy. But the biggest carrier of
energy that we are physically in touch with is Mother Earth herself — the
ground that we walk on.
What does that have to do with your dance?
You need energy for everything that you do. You have to source the
energy from around you. It comes from people, from objects, from Mother
Earth herself. You have to ask for it respectfully.
And your Nataraj pose helps you to access any energy that you want?
asked the Guruji.
It depends on what I want the energy for. The Nataraj pose helps me to
ask respectfully for energy for a dance that wants to come to me. If I wanted the energy for a thought to come to me, I would have to sit cross-legged and
It seems that the energy favours you, young man, said the Guruji. You
are the Nataraj, the Lord of dance.
Oh no! exclaimed Shiva. I am just a medium for the boundless Nataraj
energy. Anyone can be the medium.
Well, then you are a particularly efficient medium, young man, said the
Guruji. Turning to Sati, he said, You don need me if you have a friend
like him, my child. If you want to be taught by Shiva, it would be my
honour to excuse myself.
Shiva looked at Sati expectantly. This had gone much better than he
Say yes, dammit!
Sati however seemed to withdraw into herself. Shiva was startled to see
the first signs of vulnerability in this woman. She bowed her head, an act
which did not suit her proud bearing and whispered softly, I mean no
disrespect to anyone, but perhaps I do not have the skills to receive training
of this level.
But you do have the skill, argued Shiva. You have the bearing. You
have the heart. You can very easily reach that level.
Sati looked up at Shiva, her eyes showing just the slightest hint of
dampness. The profound sadness they conveyed took Shiva aback.
What the hell is going on?
I am very far from any level, Shiva, mumbled Sati.
As she said that, Sati found the strength to control herself again. The
politely proud manner returned to her face. The mask was back. It is time
for my puja. With your permission Guruji, I must leave. She turned
towards Shiva. It was a pleasure meeting you again Shiva.
Before Shiva could respond, Sati turned quickly and left, followed by
The Guruji continued to stare at a flummoxed Shiva. At length, he bent
low with a formal Namaste towards Shiva and said, It has been my lifes
honour to see you dance.
Then he too turned and left. Shiva was left wondering about the
inscrutable ways of the Meluhans.
Late in the morning the next day Shiva and Nandi entered the private royal
office to find Daksha, Parvateshwar and Kanakhala waiting for them. A
surprised Shiva said, I am sorry your Highness. I thought we were to meet
four hours into the second prahar. I hope I haven kept you waiting.
Daksha, who had stood up with a formal Namaste, bowed low and said,
No, my Lord. You don need to apologise. We came in early so that we
wouldn keep you waiting. It was our honour to wait for you.
Parvateshwar rolled his eyes at the extreme subservience that his emperor,
the ruler of the greatest civilisation ever established, showed towards this
barbarian. Shiva, controlling his extreme surprise at being referred to as the
Lord by the emperor, bowed low towards Daksha with a Namaste and sat
My Lord, before I start telling you about the legend of the Neelkanth, do
you have any questions that you would like to ask? enquired Daksha.
The most obvious question came to Shivas mind.
Why in the holy lakes name is my blessed blue throat so important?
But his instincts told him that though this appeared to be the most obvious
question, it could not be answered unless he understood more about the
society of Meluha itself.
It may sound like an unusual question your Highness, said Shiva. But
may I ask you what your age is?
Daksha looked at Kanakhala with surprise. Then turning back towards
Shiva with an amazed smile, he said, You are exceptionally intelligent my
Lord. You have asked the most pertinent question first. Crinkling his face
into a conspiratorial grin, Daksha continued, Last month I turned one
hundred and eighty four.
Shiva was stunned. Daksha did not look a day older than thirty years. In
fact nobody in Meluha looked old. Except for the Pandit that Shiva had met
at the Brahma temple.
So Nandi is more than a hundred years old.
How can this be, your Highness? asked a flabbergasted Shiva. What
sorcery makes this possible?
There is no sorcery at all my Lord, explained Daksha. What makes this
possible is the brilliance of our scientists who make a potion called the
Somras, the drink of the gods. Taking the Somras at defined times not only
postpones our death considerably, but it also allows us to live our entire
lives as if we are in the prime of our youth — mentally and physically. But what is the Somras? Where does it come from? Who invented it?
So many questions my Lord, smiled Daksha. But I will try my best to
answer them one by one. The Somras was invented many thousands of
years ago by one of the greatest Indian scientists that ever lived. His name
was Lord Brahma.
I think there is a temple dedicated to him that I visited on my way to
Devagiri. At a place named Meru?
Yes my Lord. That is where he is said to have lived and worked. Lord
Brahma was a prolific inventor. But he never kept any of the benefits of his
inventions to himself. He was always interested in ensuring that his
inventions were used for the good of mankind. He realised early on that a
potion as powerful as the Somras could be misused by evil men. So he
implemented an elaborate system of controls on its use.
What kind of controls?
He did not give the Somras freely to everyone, continued Daksha. After
conducting a rigorous country-wide survey, he chose a select group of
adolescent boys of impeccable character — one from each of the seven
regions of ancient India. He chose young boys so that they would live with
him at his gurukul and he could mould their character into becoming
selfless helpers of society. The Somras medicine was administered only to
these boys. Since these boys were practically given an additional life due to
the Somras, they came to be known as the dwija or twice born. The power
of the Somras combined with the tutelage of Lord Brahma, along with their
other inventions, resulted in this select group achieving a reverential status
never seen before. They honed their minds to achieve almost superhuman
intelligence. The ancient Indian title for men of knowledge was Rishi. Since
Lord Brahmas chosen men were seven in number, they came to be known
as the Saptrishi.
And these Saptrishis used their skills for the good of society.
Yes my Lord. Lord Brahma instituted strict rules of conduct for the
Saptrishis. They were not allowed to rule or to practice any trade —
essentially anything that would have accrued personal gain. They had to use
their skills to perform the task of priests, teachers, doctors, amongst other
intellectual professions where they could use their powers to help society.
They were not allowed to charge anything for their services and had to live
on alms and donations from others.
Tough service rules, joked Shiva with a slight wink at Parvateshwar.
Parvateshwar did not respond but Daksha, Kanakhala and Nandi guffawed
loudly. Shiva took a quick look at the prahar lamp by the window. It was
almost the third prahar. The time that Sati would probably come out to
But they followed their code of conduct strictly my Lord, continued
Daksha. Over time, as their responsibilities grew, the Saptrishis selected
many more people to join their tribe. Their followers swore by the same
code that the Saptrishis lived by and were also administered the Somras.
They devoted their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and for the wellbeing
of society without asking for any material gain in return. It is for this reason
that society accorded these people almost devotional respect. Over the ages
the Saptrishis and their followers came to be known as the Tribe of Brahma
or simply, the Brahmins.
But as with all good systems over long periods of time, some people
stopped following the Brahmin code, right?
Absolutely, my Lord, answered Daksha, regretfully shaking his head at
the familiar human frailty. As many millennia went by, some of the
Brahmins forgot the strict code that Lord Brahma had enforced and the
Saptrishis had propagated. They started misusing the awesome powers that
the Somras gave them. Some Brahmins started using their influence over a
large number of people to conquer kingdoms and start ruling. Some
Brahmins misused other inventions of the Saptrishis as well as Lord
Brahma and accumulated fabulous wealth for themselves.
And some of the Brahmins, interjected Kanakhala with a particular sense
of horror, even rebelled against the Saptrishi Uttradhikaris.
Saptrishi Uttradhikaris? inquired Shiva.
They were the successors to the Saptrishis my Lord, clarified
Kanakhala. When any of the Saptrishis knew that he was coming to the
end of his mortal life, he would appoint a man from his gurukul as his
successor. This successor was treated for all practical purposes like the
So rebelling against the Saptrishi Uttradhikaris was like rebelling against
the Saptrishis themselves?
Yes, my Lord, answered Kanakhala. And the most worrying part of this
corruption was that it was being led by the higher chosen-tribe Brahmins
like the eagles, peacocks and the swans. In fact, due to their higher status,
these chosen-tribes were actually not even allowed to work under the Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, lest they get enticed by the lure of the material
world. Yet they succumbed to the temptations of evil before anyone else.
And chosen-tribes like yours, the pigeons, remained loyal to the old code
despite working for the Kshatriyas? asked Shiva.
Yes, my Lord, replied Kanakhala, her chest puffed up with pride.
The town bell sounded out the beginning of the third prahar. All the
people in the room, including Shiva, said a quick short prayer welcoming
the new time chapter. Shiva had learnt some of the ways of the Meluhans. A
Shudra came in, reset the prahar lamp precisely and left as quietly as he
came. Shiva reminded himself that anytime now Sati would start her dance
lessons in the garden.
So what revolution caused the change your Highness? asked Shiva
turning to Daksha. You, Parvateshwar and Nandi are Kshatriyas and yet
you clearly have taken the Somras. In fact I have seen people of all four
castes in your empire look youthful and healthy. This means that the
Somras is now given to everybody. This change must have obviously
happened due to a revolution, right?
Yes, my Lord. And the revolution was known as Lord Ram. The greatest
emperor that ever lived! Jai Shri Ram!
Jai Shri Ram! repeated everyone in the room.
His ideas and leadership transformed the society of Meluha dramatically,
continued Daksha. In fact, the course of history itself was radically altered.
But before I continue with Lord Rams tale, may I make a suggestion?
Of course, your Highness.
It is into the third prahar now. Should we move to the dining room and
have some lunch before continuing with this story?
I think it is an excellent idea to have lunch your Highness, said Shiva.
But may I be excused for some time? There is another pressing
engagement that I have. Could we perhaps continue our conversation
tomorrow if that is alright with you?
Kanakhalas face fell immediately while Parvateshwars was covered with
a contemptuous grin. Daksha, however, kept a smiling face. Of course we
could meet tomorrow my Lord. Will the beginning of the second hour of the
second prahar be all right with you?
Absolutely, your Highness. My apologies for this inconvenience.
Not at all my Lord, said an ever smiling Daksha. Can one of my
chariots take you to your destination?
Thats very kind of you, your Highness. But I will go there by myself. My
apologies once again.
Bidding a Namaste to everyone in the room, Shiva and Nandi walked out
quickly. Kanakhala looked accusingly at Daksha. The emperor just nodded
his head, gesturing with his hands for calm. Its all right. We are meeting
tomorrow, aren we?
My Lord, we are running out of time, said Kanakhala. The Neelkanth
needs to accept his responsibilities immediately!
Give him time, Kanakhala. We have waited for so long. A few days is not
going to cause a collapse!
Parvateshwar got up suddenly, bowed low towards Daksha and said, With
your permission your Highness, may I be excused? There are more practical
matters that need my attention as compared to educating abarbarian.
You will speak of him with respect Parvateshwar, growled Kanakhala.
He is the Neelkanth!
I will speak of him with respect only when he has earned it through some
real achievements, snarled Parvateshwar. I respect only achievements,
nothing else. That is the fundamental rule of Lord Ram. Only your karma is
important. Not your birth. Not your sex. And certainly not the colour of
your throat. Our entire society is based on merit. Or have you forgotten
Enough! exclaimed Daksha. I respect the Neelkanth. That means
everybody will respect him!
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