“Where am I?”

Clear skies kissing the horizon with the yellow glitter of the rising sun, the valley was laid with the tapestry of exotic orchids and herbs that indicated the painter none other than the Divine himself.

“Pranam Devi” said a voice while I was stupefied with the view. I looked beside to find a sage with folded hands standing for my arrival. White silk clothes draped around with rudraksh beads as ornaments and wristlets with three horizontal lines of Ashtagandha on his forehead and a dense black beard and matted locks on his head with rudraksha beads around it, he looked wise and full of Ojas.

”Pranam Rishivar” I bowed down to him with folded hands in namaskar mudra “I am here in search of someone. Could please help me to…”

“I know for whom you have come” said the sage “ and also who sent you.”

I smiled and then replied,”Then oh Maharishi, may there be no delay as there are other things in the making.”

“As Devi Sari wishes. Devi, please come with me.”

As I walked with him, I saw sages and seers meditating on the snow coiffed rocks and by the lakes engaged in severe austerities. Others doing yagnas and homams to please their respective deities. 

“Oh wise sage” I asked “Did any human ever enter into Siddhashrama?”

He smilingly replied,”Yes, the ones who attained Siddhatva.”

I felt a little embarrassed and reframed my question.

“And what happened to those who were not established in Siddhatva?”

“They couldn’t see anything even when we were around. This ashrama has been created with the tapas of the siddhas and special emphasis was given to make this ashrama non accessible to fellow mortal human beings. All those siddhas who have left or shedded their physical body come here to continue their work.”

As we were engaged in the conversation, something fell onto my head. I put my hands to find it a leaf. I look up to find that I have arrived near the Kalpavriksha, the tree which fullfills every desire. Large roots hanging from innumerable tough branches with a mammoth trunk standing guard. It reminded me of Goloka where I used to play with Radharaman engaging in their various pass-times. I bowed down to kalpavriksha and placed the leaf at the base of the trunk. I stood up and looking at Rishivar said,’”Let us proceed.”

The ashrama was itself a world of its own. So vast and magnificent and yet oblivious to the mortal realm. On the way, I was greeted by another great sage but this one, I knew. Draped with a red loin cloth with rudraksh beads all over his body and three horizontal lines of red sandalwood paste on his forehead, a beard that was as old as the Dwapar Yuga, laid a smile of newly bloomed lotus on his cheeks, he addressed me.

“Pranam Devi” he said.

“Pranam Maharishi Vyasa” I replied with a namaskar.

“Did you find Rishi Ahirbudhnya yet?’ He asked smirking.

“No Rishivar, we are going there only.”

He smiled again and said,”Then I won’t hold you.”

We left from there and found ourselves in front of a small cottage nearby the lake.

“We are here” said the sage.

Glancing around for Rishi Ahirbudhnya, I asked,” But where is Maharishi?”

He smiled and replied,”Here I am, Devi Sari.”

I was surprised but not shocked as Sakha had already exposed me with the ways of the Siddhas.

“Then accept my obeisances Rishivar”

“Devi Sari” replied sage Ahirbudhnya “Before Mahadeva Rudra taught the ways of the existence to us or to the Saptarishis, he offered it to his beloved consort Ambika. And then to his first disciple which is your sakha. He has all the solutions and yet he chooses to send you over to me. It must have some significance.”

“Yes Maharishi” I replied with a smile. “Sakha’s ways are as mysterious as that of Adiyogi himself. Nonetheless, it is not to be forgotten that he is not different to Shiva himself.”

“Yes, Devi Sari, in the same way as you are not apart from Devi Radha herself.”

“Maharishi but what is the work for which Sakha sent me over to you?”

“Devi, the body has its weaknesses and limitations. Although it is a great means to aid our purpose but we have to build it up as we build any yantra. Similarly, the body you have chosen is limited by its vision and until we can work through it, it cannot reach to its optimal which is essential for you and your Sakha.”

“And how are we going to do it Maharishi?” I asked him perplexed and continued “The body has to serve the period of the curse. And if we do make the body optimal, the curse won’t be completed. Isn’t it a dilemma?”

“It is.” He replied playing with his beard,contemplating.

 “But if we can still maintain the rejuvenation power of the vision, it won’t affect the curse in any way.”

“The same way Chandra Dev’s curse is maintained by Bhagwan Ashutosh’s refuge.” I exclaimed with joy.

“Yes Devi” He replied grinning.

“But how are we going to do that, Maharishi?” I asked confused.

“I think I have the way and hence your Sakha sent you over to me. During my long penance for Lord Surya Narayana, I was bestowed with a vidya by him which is specifically dedicated to vision. It came to be known as Chakshushi Vidya/ the knowledge of vision.  By the application of this Vidya, any kind of disease relating to vision can be cured and treated. Vasudeva also advised his son Sambh to use this vidya to get out of his curse. Since the body has to fulfil the period of the curse, I won’t suggest you to use it to cure the ailment of the body but enough to maintain the vision throughout the time you all need to use it.”

“Yes, Rishivar. The acceptance of the curse was a conscious choice that we took but I am glad that you showed us the way to get around it.”

“Devi, I am just a means. It is He who is the player all the way round.”

“Yes, Rishivar. Without a doubt.” I grinned at him.

“The Uttarayana is near. It is the time when the sun will shift to the northern hemisphere. It will be the time when you will be initiated into this sadhana by me. With this sadhana, not only will you be able to treat the body but also the grace of Adityanarayana will be at your disposal. Come back during the prescribed time and we will start with your sadhana.”

I came forward and touched his feet. “I am extremely grateful to become your disciple, Gurudev.”

He made me stand and replied,”The privilege is all mine, Devi. You are doing such a big sacrifice and yet you like to go unrecognised. Why?”

I replied smiling,”It is not a sacrifice, Gurudev. When I see Radhamadhav, my sacrifice is nothing. If I can be of any aid to their divine play, it will be my greatest privilege.”

“Sadhu, devi Sari, sadhu” he replied overwhelmed with my answer.

“Then on this note I will take my leave Rishivar. I will return at the Uttarayana and start with my sadhana”

“Kalyan ho, Devi Sari” he said.

Gurudev Ahirbudhnya escorted me to the gates of Siddhashrama and I left for Hridaya Guha. Snowy cliffs with cold winds gushing the trees created a weird cacophony of sounds. As I was coming down, I was ambushed by daityas from all sides. I raised my defences looking all round with hands in fighting mode.

“We are not here to fight or harm you, Devi Sari” said a distinct voice.

I looked around to find none other than the guru of daityas standing in front of me.

“Daitya guru Shukracharya” I exclaimed.

“My obeisances to you Devi Sari. I am only here to ask you about the whereabouts of Devi Kishori and your Sakha. I went to Naaglok as well as Vaikuntha but unfortunately, was not allowed entry but here you are” looking at me smiling, he continued,”and now you will tell me their whereabouts.”

“And what gave you the impression daityaguru that I will tell you about them” I replied smirking.

“Then you have left us with no choice but to capture you. You won’t be harmed in any way. It is just that it will give them enough reinforcement to reveal themselves to me.”

“You can very well try Bhargava Shukracharya” I replied with a faint smile on my cheeks.

He signalled his daitya soldiers to capture me with his eyes. The daityas approached me and I, looking at them, vigilant with my hands in fighting mode was ready to smash them onto the ground.

As one of them approached to grab me, a loud sound of the conch reverberated throughout. The daityas closed their ears and started panting on the ground not able to bear the sound anymore. The ones who did manage to get past that were still after me but in an instant, something with the speed of lightning pierced through their necks and their heads lopped off onto the ground leaving their bodies dancing without their heads. 

“What is the Sudarshan Chakra doing here?” Exclaimed Shukracharya, irritated.

“Because of me”said a voice that I could never miss.

“Kumari” I exclaimed with joy.

Holding the Dakshinavarti conch on her hand with the sudarshana chakra orbiting her she said,”Daitya Guru, you must leave at once, NOW. OTHERWISE, THE WHOLE PATAL LOKA WILL FACE MY WRATH.”

Her charcoal red eyes was more than enough to reinforce Daitya Guru to leave the place in a moment. I ran and hugged her tight. She reciprocated.

“How did you know I was here?” I asked.

“I did not” she replied.

“Then how did you know?”

“Because of this.” She opened her left palm to reveal a leaf. A leaf that was same as the one which fell on my head. A leaf that belonged to Kalpavriksha.

“When I was returning back to Hridaya Guha by air, the leaf stuck on my arm. I found out it emanated the fragrance of your presence. As I was going to catch it, it flew away so I chased it. After a while, I found out that daityas had ambushed you and hence I rushed to help.”

I took the leaf from her and examined it carefully. It radiated a big smile on my face.

“What is it, Sari?”Kumari asked, confused.

“It was not my fragrance but someone else’s with whom I have always lived. Someone, who is the basis of my very being” I replied smiling overwhelmed with tears.

“What do you mean Sari?” Asked Kumari perplexed.

I closed my hands with the leaf inside and opened it again to reveal it to her. Equally as overwhelmed as I was at that moment she replied with tears,” The peacock Feather.”