‘Lothal?’ asked Kartik.
‘Lothal is the port of Maika,’ said Gopal. ‘They are practically twin cities. Maika is where all the Meluhan children are born and raised, while Lothal is the local army base.’
‘Don’t worry about Maika or Lothal,’ said Kali. ‘They will be on our side.’
Gopal, Shiva and Sati seemed genuinely surprised.
‘If there are any Meluhans who will have sympathy for us, it will be the people of Maika,’ continued Kali. ‘They have seen the Naga children suffer. They have tried to help us on many occasions, even breaking their own laws in the process. The present Governor of Maika, Chenardhwaj, is also the administrator of Lothal. He was transferred from Kashmir a few years back. He is loyal to the institution of the Neelkanth. Furthermore, I have saved his life once. Trust me, both Maika and Lothal will be with us when hostilities break out.’
‘I remember Chenardhwaj,’ said Shiva. ‘All right then, we will utilise the support of Lothal to conquer Mrittikavati. Then we’ll use their ships to search the towns on the Saraswati. But remember, we must try and avoid a direct clash.’
The Reader of Minds
‘Do you believe we can convince him?’ asked Shiva.
The Vasudev chief, Gopal, had just walked into Shiva’s chamber. Sati and the Neelkanth were preparing to leave for Magadh with him. Ganesh and Kartik had come to say goodbye to their parents.
‘I would have been worried had we been meeting Lord Bhrigu,’ said Gopal. ‘But it’s only Surapadman.’
‘What is so special about Lord Bhrigu?’ asked Shiva. ‘He is only human. Why are all of you so wary of him?’
‘He is a maharishi, Shiva,’ said Sati. ‘In fact, like Gopalji had mentioned, Lord Bhrigu is believed by many to be beyond a maharishi; he’s a Saptrishi Uttradhikari.’
‘You should respect a man, not his position,’ said Shiva, before turning to Gopal. ‘Once again I ask, my friend, why are you so nervous about him?’
‘Well, for starters, he can read minds,’ said Gopal.
‘So?’ asked Shiva. ‘You and I can do that too. Every Vasudev pandit can, in fact.’
‘True, but we can only do so while we’re in one of our temples. Lord Bhrigu can read the mind of anyone around him, regardless of where he is.’
Ganesh looked genuinely surprised. ‘How?’
‘Well,’ said Gopal, ‘our brains transmit radio waves when we think. These thoughts can be detected by a trained person, provided he is within the range of a powerful transmitter. But it is believed that maharishis can go a step further. They do not need to wait till our thoughts are converted into radio waves, to be able to detect them. They can read our thoughts even as we formulate them.’
‘Thoughts are nothing but electrical impulses in our brain,’ said Gopal. ‘These impulses make the pupils of our eyes move minutely. A trained person, like a maharishi, can decipher this movement in our pupils and read our thoughts.’
‘Lord Ram, be merciful,’ whispered a stunned Kartik.
‘I still do not understand how this is possible,’ remarked a sceptical Shiva. ‘Are you saying all our thoughts are exposed by the movement of our pupils? What language would that communication be in? This makes no sense.’
‘My friend,’ said Gopal, ‘you are confusing the language of communication with the internal language of the brain. Sanskrit, for example, is a language of communication. You use it to communicate with others. You also use it to communicate with your own brain, so that your conscious mind can understand your inner thoughts. But the brain itself uses only one language for its own working. This is a universal language across all brains of all known species. And the alphabet of this language has two letters, or signals.’
‘Two signals?’ asked Sati
‘Yes,’ said Gopal, ‘only two – electricity on and electricity off. Our brain has millions of thoughts and instructions running simultaneously within. But at any one point of time, only one of these thoughts can capture our conscious attention. This particular thought gets reflected in our eyes through the language of the brain. A maharishi can read this conscious thought. So one has to be very careful about what one consciously thinks in the presence of a maharishi.’
‘So the eye is indeed the window to one’s soul,’ said Ganesh.
Gopal smiled. ‘It appears that it is.’
Shiva grinned, his brows raised. ‘Well, I’ll make sure that I keep mine shut when I meet Lord Bhrigu.’
Gopal and Sati laughed softly.
‘Nevertheless, we will win,’ said Gopal.
‘Yes,’ said Ganesh. ‘We’re on the side of Good.’
‘That is true, without doubt. But that is not the reason, Lord Ganesh. We will win because of your father,’ said Gopal.
‘No,’ said Shiva. ‘It cannot be only me. We will win because we’re all in this together.’
‘It is you who brings us together, great Neelkanth,’ said Gopal. ‘Lord Bhrigu may be as intelligent as you are, maybe more. But he is not a leader like you. He uses, rather misuses his brilliance to cow down his followers. They don’t idolise him; they are scared of him. You, on the other hand, are able to draw out the best in your followers, my friend. Don’t think I did not understand what you did a few days back. You had decided upon your course of action already. But that did not stop you from having a discussion, allowing us to be a part of the decision. Somehow, you guided us all into saying what you wanted to hear. And yet, you made each one of us feel as if it was our own decision. That is leadership. Lord Bhrigu may have a bigger army than ours, but he fights alone. In our case, our entire army will fight as one. That, great Neelkanth, is a supreme tribute to your leadership.’
Shiva, embarrassed as always when complimented, quickly changed the topic. ‘You are being too kind, Gopalji. In any case, I think we should leave. Magadh awaits us.’
‘Bhagirath is here?’
Siamantak nodded at his stunned emperor. ‘Yes, My Lord.’
‘But how did he...’
‘Prime Minister Siamantak,’ said Bhrigu, interrupting Dilipa. ‘I would be delighted to meet him. Have Princess Anandmayi and her husband accompanied him?’
‘No, My Lord,’ said Siamantak. ‘He has come alone.’
‘That is most unfortunate,’ said Bhrigu. ‘Please show him in with complete honour into our presence.’
‘As you wish, My Lord,’ said Siamantak, as he bowed to Bhrigu and Dilipa before leaving the room.
As soon as he had left, Bhrigu turned towards Dilipa. ‘Your Highness, you must learn to control yourself. Siamantak is unaware of the attack at the Godavari.’
‘I’m sorry, My Lord,’ said Dilipa. ‘It’s just that I’m shocked.’
Dilipa frowned. ‘Why, My Lord! Did you expect this?’
‘I can’t say that I expected this specifically. But I had strong suspicions that our attack had failed. The only question was how they would be confirmed.’
‘I don’t understand, My Lord. Our ships could have got destroyed in so many ways.’