As the color of the sky brightened in the east, Usha, the goddess of the morning colored the sky crimson. The sun rose languidly, full of guilt and shame, knowing the great horrors of the day before. Its first rays fell on the ash-smeared form of the yogi who wandered the lands of Bharata, the land of the gods. But this was no ordinary ascetic; he was the Swayambho the self-born, the celestial ascetic. Tall, fair and well built, his head framed by matted locks, he was dressed in nothing but a loincloth made from the skin of dead animals. The trident he carried glimmered in the morning light, thirsting for more of the gore and destruction that it had witnessed the night before. The yogi seemed unaware of the world around him as he walked slowly, aimlessly, in a trance. His half-closed eyes were blood-shot, his face streaked with tears. As he moved, he would sometimes jerk his head, his locks flying around like angry serpents, a ferocious energy coursing through his limbs, barely under control, like a wild animal straining at its leash. He would often open his eyes, look around in surprise and then, looking at the load he carried in his arms, burst into tears. Sadness would give way to anger, his eyes would roll upwards, and his eyelids would droop as he entered the semi-trance state again. The spot on his forehead between his eyes, where he smeared ash, would start glowing. He had wandered this way the whole night, crazed with anger and sorrow.
There were those who followed him, keeping their distance, scurrying away to take shelter amongst the trees and shrubs when he had his bouts of anger. They cowered at a distance, not able to muster the courage to walk up to him, talk to him, console him or stop him from the course he had set himself on. Anger had blinded him the previous night, and had slowly given way to profound sorrow. Almost as a reflex, the yogi had entered the meditative state in which he had spent decades in a secluded stone cave high up in the mountains. Along with his followers he had subsisted only on roots and fruits, not knowing cooked food or stitched clothing. They ate what nature gave them and used the skin of dead animals for clothing, when needed. Scores of years the yogi meditated, unraveling the mysteries of the world to those who would come seeking it from him – the Devas, the Asuras, the mortals and the ascetics; he refused help to none. He had taught his followers Yoga and Aarogya and Natya and Tantra. He had existed like this since times immemorial, since before time itself, and would have continued to do so had he not consented to marry Sati.
The memory of the name brought him to his senses; he woke up, as if from sleep. Looking at the form he carried in his arms, charred beyond recognition now, he convulsed with anger and rage……………………………..Excerpt from ‘The Cosmic Dance’ from the book ‘The Battle of Panchavati and Other Stories from Indian Scriptures’. An Amazon Bestseller. Available on Amazon and Flipkart.
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