Marching of Covid into our home

During first week of May one by one all (except one) of our family members at home contracted Covid. The remaining one member likely had contracted it about couple of weeks ago as he got stomach issue and some mild fever. Despite isolating that person in a separate floor and room for 10 or so days (though without testing him for Covid), we couldn’t prevent its spreading. Or it came from the adjacent house whose members got the illness around mid of April but we didn’t get to know about it for several days (zero interaction with them during those days).

we had been having a very hard discipline being followed (lead by my mother) of not eating anything from outside, no house maid, rigorously washing of delivered groceries/other items (took her hours daily).

Except one person, no one used to go outside regularly for work (our nearby new office remains shut from March 2020 till date – WFH). These hard restrictions had already been a cause of frequent quarrels and stress for multiple members at home.

Due to above precautions, when a member or two got some symptoms, we assumed that to be seasonal issue. However, on 5th and 6th, one by one, most remaining members suddenly started showing the same symptoms – fever primarily – and I started advocating (on 6th) to have the test done for Covid especially of my brother and father – former being sick for close to a week. The RT-PCR swab got collected on 7th and brother was reported positive the next day. Remaining people got tested on 10th and found positive (except one).

Grace Descends

On 8th morning, brother’s condition was deteriorating somewhat so parents took him to the nearby hospital without waiting for the test report. In the evening I got to know the result as positive and felt some worry. I opened Devi Bhagavatam on my laptop and asked the divine to tell me a story of inspiration; of motivation. I held page down key for a while and when I lifted it up, I found myself in a middle of a story of grace, which I’m reproducing below verbatim.

Subahu saw that Yudhajita led the blockading army, with his grandson Shatrujita beside him. Roaring, the enemy flew at Sudarshana in his chariot, his half-brother before all the others. Arrows darkened the sky, and Subahu plunged his ratha forward, his soldiers around him, to meet the enemy’s charge. Suddenly, a hush fell on that field and both armies froze in their ranks.

Yudhajita and Shatrujita froze as their horses reared in alarm, whinnying at the strange apparition which had materialised between the two forces: an immense lion, and upon the golden beast’s back rode a shimmering Goddess, her lustre like another sun risen on the earth. She rode her lion between the two armies, daring anyone to approach her.

Sudarshana opened his eyes, and murmured, “Look, Shashikala, the Devi has come to protect us.”

Subahu stood entranced. Yudhajita roared, “Who is this woman who rides a lion? What does she want here?”

At that moment, the lion gave a roar that drowned every other sound on that field. Horses and elephants bolted, and, in a moment, there was a channel cleared through Yudhajita’s legions, a way along which Sudarshana now fearlessly drove his chariot.

Yudhajita roared, “Shall we let a mere woman and one lion frighten us? Kill them, and kill the upstart Sudarshana!”

And he plunged at Sudarshana, his bow flaring arrows and Shatrujita beside him. Sudarshana held them both off for a time. Then, suddenly, the Devi was at his side on her beast. Yudhajita shot his arrows at her as well, and Shatrujita too. The crimson Devi smiled, she raised her own bow in one of eight hands. With another hand, she loosed a volley at the enemy. In a blur, both Yudhajita and Shatrujita were dead; their heads struck off by the Goddess’ crescent-tipped shafts.

Suddenly it seemed a thousand Devis stalked that field of war, in a thousand dreadful guises, riding a thousand dreadful beasts. The enemy perished in a scarlet tide before Durga’s legion of her own selves, and those that did not fled screaming.

Subahu leapt down from his chariot and prostrated himself before Bhagavati. Again and again, he lifted his head, then set it down in the dust at her holy feet.

“Mother, Jagaddhari, I have no words with which to praise you! Bhavani, unworthy as I am, today I have seen you with my very own eyes. I see how you protect your bhaktas, O Devi. You have come yourself to save Sudarshana’s life, O Apara, transcendent one! I lay my head at your feet. Mother, bless me.”

The Devi smiled tenderly, and said to Subahu, “King of dharma, name your boon.”

“What more could any man want, than seeing you like this with his mortal eyes? Not the kingdom of the Devas is more precious than what I have seen today. I beg you, Devi, for the boon of bhakti. Let my faith in you never waver, and let your grace be upon my city forever. Bless me, Sri Durga, that I be your bhakta for ever.”

The Devi said, “I will remain here in this Kasi, always, good Subahu. For as long as Kasi stands upon the face of the earth.”

Sudarshana arrived, and fell at the Goddess’ feet. Tears of ecstasy flowing down his face, he worshipped her, “Mother of the sky, mother of mercy, you have saved me today, though I have such scant faith. Let me be your servant from this day, Devi. Command me, what shall I do with my life now? Where shall I go?”

Smiling, Bhagavati said, “Have you forgotten Ayodhya, your father’s city, Sudarshana? Go to Ayodhya now, and rule as king of the Kosalas. For, that is who you are. Worship me always, Sudarshana, and I will care for you and yours. Keep an idol of me in your kingdom, pray to it at the three sandhyas, and I will be with you. Celebrate the Navaratri puja in autumn, for it is mine. Fear nothing, Sudarshana; you are my bhakta and I love you.”

As I recall, I cried while reading it, and the last line, “Fear nothing, Sudarshana; you are my bhakta and I love you.” I felt as if mother divine was directly speaking to me. No doubt, my lord responded immediately with such profound and intense story of divine grace. And he’ll continue to show his magic during the battle.

(To be continued in next entry)

Sriman Narayan