the oath of the vayuputras - Page 85

‘But what if I had failed? What if I hadn’t identified the Somras as Evil? Then Evil would have won, right?’

‘Sometimes, the universe decides that Evil is supposed to win. Perhaps a race or species becomes so harmful that it’s better to allow Evil to triumph and destroy that species. It has happened before. But this is not one of those times.’

Shiva was clearly overwhelmed by the number of things that could have gone wrong.

‘You are still troubled by something...’ said the Mithra.

‘I’ve talked to Panditji as well, about this,’ said Shiva, pointing to Gopal. ‘So much of what I have achieved in my mission can be attributed to pure luck; just a random turn of the universe.’

The Mithra bent forward towards Shiva and whispered, ‘One makes one’s own luck, but you have to give the universe the opportunity to help you.’

Shiva remained stoic, not quite convinced by the Mithra’s words.

‘You had every reason to turn away after arriving in Meluha for the first time. You were in a strange new land. Peculiar people, who were evidently so much more advanced than you, insisted on looking upon you as a god. You were tasked with a mission, the enormity of which would have intimidated practically anyone in the world. I’m sure that at the time, you didn’t even think you could succeed. And yet, you didn’t run away. You stood up and accepted a responsibility that was thrust upon you. That decision was the turning point in your journey against Evil, which had nothing to do with the twists and blessings of fate.’

Shiva looked at Gopal, whose demeanour suggested he was in full agreement with the Mithra.

‘You are giving me too much credit, Lord Mithra,’ said Shiva.

‘I am not,’ said the Mithra. ‘You are on course to fulfil my mission, without having taken any help from me. But I will not allow you to do that. You must give me the privilege of offering some help. Otherwise, how will I face the Ahura Mazda and Lord Rudra when I meet with them?’

Shiva smiled.

The Mithra looked directly into Shiva’s eyes. ‘But there are some things I must be sure of. What do you plan to do with the daivi astra?’

‘I plan to use it to threaten...’ Shiva stopped speaking as the Mithra raised his hand.

‘I’ve seen enough,’ said the Mithra.

Shiva frowned.

‘Thoughts move faster than the tongue, great Neelkanth. I know you will not use these terrible weapons of destruction. I can also see that the reason you will not do so is not just because of the Vayuputra ban but because you believe that these weapons are too horrifying to ever be used.’

‘I do believe that.’

‘But I cannot give you the Brahmastra.’

This was unexpected. Shiva had thought the discussion had been going his way.

‘I cannot give you the Brahmastra because it is too uncontrollable. It destroys anything and everything. Most importantly, its effect spreads out in circles. The worst destruction is in the epicentre, where everything living is instantly incinerated into thin air. While there is less destruction in the outer circles, the damage is still significantly widespread in the vicinity. So even if those outside the primary impact zone are not immediately killed, they suffer from the immense radiation unleashed by the astra. With Lord Bhrigu on the other side, he is sure to bet that you are using the weapon only as a threat, because you would not want to hurt your own army, which would most certainly be in the zone of radiation exposure.’

‘So what is the way forward?’

‘The Pashupatiastra. It is a weapon designed by Lord Rudra. It has all the power of the Brahmastra, but with much greater control. Its destruction is concentrated in the inner circle. Life outside this zone is not impacted at all. In fact, with the Pashupatiastra, you can even focus the effect in only one direction, leaving everyone else in the other directions safe. If you threaten to use this weapon, Lord Bhrigu will know that you can destroy Devagiri without endangering your people or the adjoining areas. Then the threat will be credible.’

This made sense. Shiva agreed.

‘But you cannot actually use the weapon, Neelkanth,’ reiterated the Mithra. ‘It will poison the area for centuries. The devastation is unimaginable.’

‘I give you my word, Lord Mithra,’ said Shiva. ‘I will never use these weapons.’

The Mithra smiled. ‘Then I have no problems in offering the Pashupatiastra to you. I will give the orders immediately.’

Shiva raised his chin as a faint smile played on his lips. ‘I think you had already made your decision about this, even before you met me, uncle.’

The Mithra laughed softly. ‘I am just Mithra. But you didn’t expect it to be so easy, right?’

‘No, I didn’t.’

‘I have heard stories about you, especially about the way you have fought your battles. You have behaved in an exemplary manner until now. Even when you could have gained by doing something wrong, you refrained from doing so. You didn’t fall prey to the logic of doing a small wrong for the sake of the greater good; of the ends justifying the means. That takes moral courage. So yes, I had already made up my mind. But I wanted to see you in any case. You will be remembered as the greatest man of our age; generations will look up to you as their God. How could I not want to meet you?’

‘I am no God, Lord Mithra,’ said an embarrassed Shiva.

‘Wasn’t it you who had said “Har Har Mahadev”? That all of us are gods?’

Shiva laughed. ‘You’ve got me there.’

‘We don’t become gods because we think we are gods,’ said the Mithra. ‘That is only a sign of ego. We become gods when we realise that a part of the universal divinity lives within us; when we understand our role in this great world and when we strive to fulfil that role. There is nobody striving harder than you, Lord Neelkanth. That makes you a God. And remember, gods don’t fail. You cannot fail. Remember what your duty is. You have to take Evil out of the equation. You shouldn’t destroy all traces of the Somras, for it may become Good in times to come, when it might be required once again. You have to keep the knowledge of the Somras alive. You will also have to create a tribe which will manage the Somras till it is required once again. Once all this is done, your mission will be over.’

‘I will not fail, Lord Mithra,’ said Shiva. ‘I promise.’

‘I know you will succeed,’ smiled the Mithra, before turning to Gopal. ‘Great Chief Vasudev, once the Neelkanth creates his own tribe, the Vayuputras will not remain in charge of fighting Evil anymore. It will be the task of the Neelkanth’s tribe. Our relationship with the Vasudevs will become like one between distant relatives rather than the one which has entailed a joint duty towards a common cause.’

‘Your relationship with the Vasudevs and with my country will exist forever, Lord Mithra,’ said Gopal. ‘You have helped us in our hour of need. I’m sure that, in turn, we will help Pariha if it ever needs us.’

‘Thank you,’ said the Mithra.

Chapter 39

He is One of Us

The Mithra called the entire city to the town centre the following morning. Shiva and Gopal stood next to him as he addressed the crowd.

‘My fellow Vayuputras, I’m sure your minds are teeming with many questions and doubts. But this is not the time for that; this is the time for action. We trusted a man who had worked closely with us; we trusted him with our knowledge. But he betrayed us. Lord Bhrigu broke the laws of Lord Rudra. Lord Gopal, the chief of the Vasudevs and the representative of Lord Ram, has come here demanding justice. But, in this moment, it is not just about retribution for what Lord Bhrigu has done. It’s also about justice for India, justice to Lord Rudra’s principles. There is a purpose that we all serve, Parihans; it is beyond laws; it is one that was defined by Lord Rudra himself.’