Chapter 02 – The Vasus are cursed

I have heard two stories. Not sure which one is true. What they do lead to , a curse. A Curse that would fall on Arjuna and my role in that curse. I am not talking about the curse now. That will come much later. I am now telling you about Bhishma, Arjuna’s Grandfather. This story is about Bhishma’s birth.

There was a king called Mahabhisha who was a just and noble king. One day he happened to be at a place where Lord Barhma was being respected and worshiped. Many had come there, and among them was Ganga, Queen of all rivers. What Ganga was wearing was a white cloth, shining brightly, decked in jewels of all color. Suddenly a gust of wind came, and Ganga’s garment slipped exposing hr bosom to all. Seeing this, the assembled women tried to help her, men kept their eyes closed. Mahabhisha was struck by her beauty and the sight of her naked body. He kept staring at her. Seeing this Brahma was angry. He cursed both the king and Ganga. He cursed them that both be born as mortals and live as husband and wife. If they ever quarreled with each other, they would be free of the curse.
Ganga had also seen the king stare at her. And she had not hated that. She could feel what the king felt. She approached the Vasus, the celestial beings. When she met them they looked very dejected and unhappy. When Ganga asked them the reason, they said that they had been cursed by the Sage Vashishtha. They had passed the sage’s abode and had walked past, without noticing him. Angry the sage had cursed them to be born as mortals.
Ganga and the Vasus made a pact. When Ganga would be born the earth, the Vasus would be born as her children. She would kill them as soon as they were born, and the curse would be relieved. Ganga had a condition. She could not be totally heartless and she wanted a child. The Vasus blessed her and said a child would be born, with the all the qualities of the celestials, but he will not have any children and he will stay unmarried.
The king was born as Shantanu who eventually married Ganga. They had seven sons and as soon as a son was born, Ganga would throw the baby in the river flowing by. She did that seven times and on the eighth time, she was rebuked and stopped by the king. Ganga took the new born child with her, and left – her curse being over.
I have heard another tale about Bhishma’s birth which I now tell. It is all the same about Mahabhisha and Ganga. How he saw Ganga’s garment get blown by the wind, and how they both were attracted to each other and also after being cursed by Brahma to be born as mortals, Ganga had met the Vasus.The eight vasus with their wives had been roaming around and come to Vashishtha’s ashram. They saw his cow tied there. One the Vasu’s wives wanted the cow to herself and compelled her husband to steal it for her. The Vasus were cursed to be born as humans. They pleaded with Vashishta who then said that the Vasu who had commited the actual act would have to stay in this earth for long, while the other would die as soon as they were born and would be relieved of the curse. Ganga agreed to be their mother on Earth. She said she would wed Shantanu and relieve them of the curse.

———

I tell of this curse. I tell more. I open pages from my history and tell you. Tell you about my husband, his family, his birth. I will tell you about Bhishma. Also about the curse that would fall on my husband.

And some I turn some more pages of history.

 

Standard

Chapter 01 – Ulupi

I am at the river bank. The banks of the river Iravati, the river named after the mother of the great Naga king Airavata. I dangle my feet in the water. My clothes are getting wet.  Oblivious I sit on the beach. Close by I see a friend, a companion play with her grandchildren. I see her. When I look at her, I both sad and happy. Happy for her. Happy that a friend is happy. I am also sad. Very Sad. My heart cries out. If all was fine, I would have had my son with me. Today he is not there. My husband is not with me. I sit here all alone.

My skin is wrinkled, my hair grey. I walk with a help of a stick. My people are there to fulfill all my wishes. Happiness around me. And I am sad.

I am old now. Feeble. An old queen. No longer a queen but still treated as one. My subjects have been good to me. They have been kind to me when I have been said, they have been beside me when I have needed them. Now I want to be alone.

Dusk approaches. Also time for the tide to come in. My companions pull off the bank of the river. It is now time to go home.

Home.

A home is one has laughter. One has family. One has someone who can be called one’s own.

My home is empty. I have servants. I have friends. No family.

I think of days gone by. When I close my eyes and think I feel I can still hear the laughter of my companions as they run around. Chasing me, Playing Hide and Seek. Dodging the guava trees, the banana groves, the mango trees, hiding behind bushes. Running in the water,playing on the river bank, trying to catch the small water insects.

I see myself steling flowers, stealing fruits, playing games. Growing up. The daughter of the king, I had many friends. My whole life was full of fun and laughter. I was at no loss.

I see three girls running , playing, happy oblivious of the future. One of them is the daughter of the Naga King, Kauravya. That is me, your unfortunate, Uloopi.

I had been named Uloopi as I had a beautiful face, I am told. When in the summer evenings, I would stand near the jasmine vine, wearing jasmine garlands, artists would throng to capture me on their canvas, poets would come for a glimpse of my beauty, to write about their princess.

I see my myself, being trained, educated. The best of the teachers coming to teach me. I grew up, skilled in letters and also war craft. I also learnt medicine. The art of the physicians fascinated me. They would pluck leaves from various plants, mix them together and people would get well after that.

I trained my self to be a medicine girl. I learnt the sciences from the greatest of the sages. It was expected that I learn that. My mother would tell me that all Naga people knew the science and I was no exception.

My quest for knowledge was big. I kept learning. Then I discovered the hidden texts. The science of Sanjivani. The way to bring the dead to life. This too was a science. I learnt of the plants to be collected, how to process them and how to use them.

Weapons were another fascination. I learnt how to wield a sword, how to hold a bow, how to shoot arrows. I practiced well.

Arts were taught to me. I learnt the veena, I learnt singing and I learnt dancing.

I was the only child. When I attained youth , I was married off to a naga king, in the clan of Takshaka.

Like many other women I went off to my husband’s home.

A day after my wedding , my husband had to go to a war.

He went and never returned alive.

I was a widow. A young widow.

I was young, my beauty with me, pining for love, pining for a male companion.

My life went, sometime in my husband’s land, in the kingdom of Takshashila, on the banks of the Iravati river, or sometimes in my father’s home.

I tried my attention to learning. I read a lot, learnt all I could, pining for that one person who would come in my life and free me, deliver me from my passion.

 

 

 

 

 

Standard