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

the Neelkanth.

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

was dancing.

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

was emanating.

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

its own.

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

Saptrishi himself.

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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