My Adiyogi sat in the perfect posture, with his spine erect and shoulders relaxed yet very much attentive. A serene look dawned on his face and perfect eyes, which were closed in the bliss of meditation for the last eighty thousand years. The ice-cold snow and biting wind that made it impossible for any other creature to exist seemed perfectly comfortable for my Adiyogi, the first practitioner. In his heart, I see a divine form, a woman, far more beautiful and youthful than I am. Her beauty is unearthly. I feel a tinge of jealousy and a pinch of pain, “Another woman, in my Shiva’s heart?”. Just then, he opens his deep eyes, eyes that define my existence, as only for them, I exist.

He looks at me and smiles, “ Oh Varanane! You never miss this day. Do you?” he chuckles, and I feel myself getting drawn to his ethereal voice like a moth to flame. But I cannot think of anything else other than wondering who this other woman is. Somnath smiles again, “Look closer my dearest” he says reading my mind like he always does. I can’t bear to look at her radiant, auspicious face but I somehow manage to lift my eyes and look into hers. Her dark and deep, doe-like eyes may be the most beautiful pair that exits in this universe after that of my Lord’s. And just beneath them, her perfectly shaped nose adorned with an exquisite nose pin. My nose pin!! How did she get her hands on that? It is made of the rarest emerald, there could be no two of that. My fingers slightly brush against my own, I realised I am still wearing my nath. I look at her and she is doing the same. I smile. She smiles back.

Mahayogi Laughs with with joy and love. “It’s your love and innocence kanmani, that makes it impossible for me to breathe without you”. I feel warmth spreading on my cheeks and want to look away but how can I? How can I look away from my very essence? “Beauty resides in the mind of the perceiver Gauri, only if you could see from my eyes, you would know how beautiful you are, far more than every mirror in Chintamani Gruha ever witnessed” and he looks at me like nobody else ever has, in his ever-sparkling eyes I see the entire creation and countless celestial objects. “Eighty thousand years have passed in penance my dear, I will be coming back to home now. To you.”

I open my eyes and see the stones embedded at the roof of my chambers in Chintamani Gruha staring back at me with a mischievous smile, as if teasing a new bride who has been dreaming of her husband’s return. It was the day of Mahadev’s homecoming from his solitude. Every moment without him feels like eternity. Even the finest silks that covered my mattress could not provide me the comfort that only comes from being in his arms. I lay there for some time, waiting for the Surya Bhagwan to come up and pay his obeisance. I feel the tranquil and contentment that made my own penance worth it. Soon, the palace will be filled with the bustling excitement and everyone will be busy in arranging the perfect welcome for their Lord.

This dawn is not so peaceful like every other, my elated heart is pounding loudly. Like the day it did when I married him. I could not sleep the whole night, even though it was forever ago, it feels like yesterday. That day, very much like this one, I bathed and donned the most beautiful silks and he showed up in a tiger skin covered with ashes accompanied by most fearsome creatures that depicted no civilization. While the queen Mainavati, my mother was dejected and embarrassed, I could not keep my eyes off him. He was the divine I had yearned for so long and finally he was mine. All mine. That day, I could not look at him and I could not take my eyes off him, oh! what a dilemma it was. Sitting next to him while performing the rituals, my hand was placed over his and I experienced his touch for the first time. I looked at him, knowing that it would be not be proper to pass affectionate glances amidst all the priests and holy men but I craved for his sight and he looked back at me with his soulful eyes filled with so much love and longing. I shied away but he didn’t. I knew this was not the first time or the last time. I knew, at that very moment, that we were not two separate beings but eternally one and bound to find each other through the mists of cosmic play, transcending time and space.

“Mother, your bath is ready” I am pulled out of my thoughts by one of my Nityas who takes very special care of me. My Anklets announced my waking at my slightest movements and the tinkling of my bangles accompanied them. I walk to the life-size mirror just in front of our bed and let my hair go free. Looking at my reflection, I realize that it doesn’t matter to me, I see myself through his eyes. I smile shyly at this very thought and make my way to the bathing area. Nityas have prepared the most exquisite bath with unearthly fragrances but I only sense the essence of lilacs and roses that filled our Mandap where we sat while Vedic mantras bound us together with timeless love across all lifetimes. I slip into a trans-like state whenever I think about our wedding-day. Well, you can’t blame me, I was a bride very much in love. I still am. Every wall and every stone embedded in the walls of this palace is witness of it.

Mindlessly I slip off my nightgown and step into the lake but I cannot feel the water touching my body. I can only feel my Rudra getting closer with every step, I can precisely tell where he is and what he is feeling. He is thinking of me, of my eyes and my smile. I close my eyes and let him into my mind to convey his longing. I feel a strange pull in my heart, love, admiration and affection in abundance, more than I can handle. An hour in the lake felt like seconds, I come back to my senses when Surya Bhagwan graced me with his bright rays paying his obeisance.

Still in a trans-like state, I get up and Nityas wrap me with silk robes. They dried my rather long, dark hair and begin to plait. “Let it go free”, I said. They have brought the finest of sarees and jewellery, sensing their happiness and excitement I let them dress me in a beautiful red silk saree with golden borders and golden flowers going all over the pleats and they adorned me with a heavy gold necklace and earrings. Mahadev is very close now; he could be here any minute. I hurry back to my chambers and prepare a small plate with offerings for his Arti with Bael leaves, sandalwood, honey, holy ash, Ber and Milk to wash his beautiful feet. I suddenly feel like something is missing from my attire, but what? I beg my mind to help me remember when I hear roars and cheers of excitement and joy. He is here!!

My Naath is here! I rush towards the main hall, my right hand holding the offerings and the left one holding up the pleats of my heavy saree so that I can walk as fast as I can. I reach the main hall but there is no one here. Nandi caught my eye “He is still at the door mother; he would not come inside without you welcoming him.” he says. I smile at his childlike innocence and love. I reach the North gate which is a huge beautiful Arc made of pearls and gold. “Mother is here” Nandi Announces and The Bhutas and Ganas, Nityas and Yoginis part away paving my way.

And there he is, standing tall in his graciousness! The being I love and worship. I am suddenly overwhelmed, overcome with affection, reverence and devotion all at once. I am weak in my knees. I want to surrender myself at his feet and stay there. I want to place my hands on his heart and make it my forever home. My vision is blurred with tears as I smile with joy. “ Oh Gauri! Will you make me stand here for the rest of the day?” He asks and laughs. I hand the plate over to one of the Nityas and go down on my knees to place my forehead on his feet. Feeling the entire universe in his presence, I feel every life form, awake and sleeping, every forest and every ocean, I feel the burning warmth of volcanos and freezing cold of kailasha, I feel the wheel of time and play of karma, in that moment, I feel every duality that veils the true singularity, I feel oneness, I feel Love.

Dotingly I wash his feet with milk and sandalwood and perform his arti by singing his endless glories. After applying a little tilak on his ever-shining forehead, I invite him in. “You look beautiful my dear Devi, beautiful as ever. but aren’t you forgetting something?” He asks with a mischievous grin. I look at my Nityas who are even more clueless than I am. He slowly reaches towards the thaal in my hands, dips his finger in vermilion and places his hand on my head and smiles. That was what was missing! I had forgotten it during the rush, how could I forget that!?

Mahakaal laughs again “You did not forget it Priye, I wanted to do it myself. I am the timeless one, but I will always be bound to you” I smile and take my bhagwan into our home.

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