“We have arrived, Devi Kumari.”

I looked around and it was true. The magnificence and lavishness of the Loka didn’t dissipate at all. It has been several Manvantars since I came back to this place and it only increased million folds. I got off from the Vimana with Devarshi Narada and someone unexpected was there to welcome us.

He approached me, bowed down and with namaskar mudra said,”Pranam, Devi. It has been long since we have met. Although, I used to keep a watch about your whereabouts but Bhagwan recommended not to continue.”

I went up to him and raised him up to standing pose. He was still in namaskar mudra. I did namaskar and said,”Oh Garuda Dev, one who has your protection doesn’t need to fear anyone I have spent a lot of time on your back flying off into the 14 Bhuvans (dimensions). You have nurtured me nad trained me in various combats. You are my master in many ways. Hence, it is my privilege to offer my obeisances to you.”

I touched his feet. He picked me up and said,”Devi, shall we enter into Vaikuntha the way we used to?”

I nodded with a smile and climbed up on his back. His fluffy feathers were more comfortable than the most elite mattresses found on Prithvi. 

“Devarshi, would you join us?” Said Garuda looking at Narada.

“Narayan, Narayan, Garuda Dev. I am fine here and would like to walk the rest of the path. It is my prabhu’s abode and I want to cover the path on my own. You both continue.”

“As you wish Devarshi” said Garuda and looking at me, he continued,”Devi, shall we proceed?”

I nodded in acceptance and we flew through the 7 gates. At the end, he stopped and I understood why. Jay and Vijay were standing guard. I looked at them and offered my obeisances while on Garuda’s back. They reciprocated it back with a smile and a namaskar and opened the doors. 

The Ksheer Sagar, the milk ocean where Ananta Shesh wrapped around Prabhu to provide shade and be his bed, was distinctly visible. We flew above the Ksheer Sagar and landed straight on Shesha’s tail. The gigantic Shesha, with his enormous body made steps for me so that i could ascend comfortably and meet Prabhu and Mata. 

Sheesha was so considerate that he put the scales of his body away and instead provided the supple back skin as steps so that I don’t get hurt while stepping up. As I reached the top, my eyes were filled with tears of ecstasy. There they were. Resting lavishly but consciously. Smile, minute but a radiant one. Eyes closed while the entire body was draped with sandalwood paste. Vaijayanti garlands adored his neck while his Koumudaki simply rested on his right. The Dakshinavarti Shankh/conch exuded its grace while resting on his upper left hand while the Sudarshan lighted the entire cosmos, simple dancing on his right index finger. I touched his feet and again realised that his feet are so tender that even a petal felt like a stone, when in comparison. 

Taking note of my facial cues, Mahadevi said,”Yes. I also take note of it while I massage Bhagwan’s feet. They are so soft that I fear anything may hurt them but he proves me wrong every time he conducts his Leelas in the Mrityloka. “Yes, mother. He has his ways. Now, when I am doing the same. I have started to get a hang of it.” 

There she was, smiling with all her opulence, majestically seated on the bed of Shesha towards the end of my Bhagwan’s lotus feet. Adorned with the most opulent jewels from the 14 Bhuvans and draped with a red saree with the fragrance of freshly bloomed lotus, her body was covered with small drops of water as it is with the lotus leaves. I said,”Only someone with hands as tender as the lotus can massage Bhagwan’s lotus feet.”

“And only someone like Swami’s daughter has the wit to praise her mother like that.” She replied sarcastically.

I touched her feet which was adorned with toe rings and anklets and was  elegantly decorated with Alta. As soft as father’s, I put my hands back onto my head. 

“Did someone address me?”

We both looked towards him as he slowly opened his lotus petalled eyes with an ever lasting smile which always adorns his face. 

“I offer my obeisances to you, Father” I said with my hands folded in namaskar.

He closed and opened his eyes slowly accepting my offering.

“Father, Devarshi informed me that you wanted to have an audience with me. Is everything ok?”

“So, I can have an audience with my daughter only if something is not ok?”he asked in a serious formal tone.

“It is not what I meant, Prabhu” I replied anxiously.

A grin emerged on his cheeks and I immediately knew what he was upto.

“You are teasing me, Father!” I replied, embarrassed.

“Can’t I have a little bit of fun with my daughter?” He asked, smiling faintly.

“You always can, Bhagwan.” I replied with a faint smile.

“Dear Kumari, I called you here in Vaikuntha because the time is near when you will be taking the lead. Sari and Kishori have played their parts and now it is your time. Are you ready for it?”

“When Prabhu and Mata are by my side and I have Bhrata’s constant guidance with me, what fear do I have? It is just that…”

“What is it daughter? Speak” asked Mahadevi, concerned.

“It is just that I might do something wrong which may let you down and that is what makes me anxious.”

They smiled at each other and looked at me with a loving glance.

“The one who can forsake her divinity for the well being of others is incapable of doing anything that will lead to anything other than the well-being of the existence” replied Mahadevi, smiling.

“I agree, Mahadevi. Whatever you do, will one way or the other, lead to the well-being of the cosmos, daughter” said Prabhu in a reassuring tone.

“I am indebted to you Prabhu, Mata for your trust in my conduct but for me the truth is, without your guidance and support I can’t do anything.”

“It is always what a devotee feels, daughter” said Mahadevi. She continued, “but that doesn’t alter the truth that it is the devotee who makes things happen around the world, not their Ishta.”

“And the ability to do what is needed  comes from their Ishta, Isn’t it Mata?” I asked, smirking.

“You are truly your Father’s daughter, Kumari. Trying to entangle me with words is a skill that you have acquired from Swami. Bhagwan, please handle your daughter. I have accepted my defeat” replied Mahadevi, little frustrated.

“Daughter, I just wanted you to know that although I will be in Yognidra for a definite span of time, I will always be available to you in my mantric form” he replied smiling.

“I know, father. Dhruva and Devarshi were an integral part of that realisation.”

“Narayan Narayan”

We looked at Devarshi as he offered his obeisances to us.

“Prabhu, Mata and Devi Kumari together, what an auspicious moment for this devotee? Narayan Narayan” said Devarshi, blissed with devotion.

“Kalyan ho, Devarshi” replied mother while father nodded in reciprocation.

“Prabhu, has the time finally arrived when Devi Kumari will be bestowed with what she really deserves?’

They all smiled at me. I was perplexed.

“Yes, Devarshi” replied Prabhu smiling. “It is time Devi Kumari truly embraced what she was in denial, all this time.”

“I can’t, father” I said, hesitating. “I had forsaken it for something which is not yet completed. And hence, I can’t.”

“It is not for you, dear daughter” said Prabhu in a formal tone. “It is for the activity that you are going to do. And it is imperative that you are empowered. Hence, we decided that it is time that you are given the things that you are the worthy recipient of.”

“If it is your decision, Bhagwan, then I have nothing to say. I am delighted” I replied in gratitude.

“You should have taken it long time back, daughter” said Mahadevi. “but you wanted to do the things all by yourself. Hence, we supported your decision. But now the time has come when you have to make use of your rights and privileges.”

“Yes, mother” I said folding my hands in namaskar.

They both looked at each other and smiled. I put my palms in front in the mode of receiving. 

“Mahadevi” said father looking at mother, smiling, “you have waited for this time to arrive and here it is. It is my wish that our daughter gets empowered with your grace first.”

“Yes, Swami” replied Mahadevi, overwhelmed. Slowly opening her hand in Var mudra/mode of benediction, she manifested a conch on my hands. “Not only as a mother but also as your Ishta, I am highly delighted to offer you my Dakshinavarti Shankh. It is among the 9 Nidhis that I possess. With this Shankh, you will have the potency of providing refuge to anyone who comes to you, seeking refuge. I am empowering you with the ‘Shree’ tatva/ the element of ‘Shree’. Whatever the world can ever seek is already enshrined in you, hence you are the end of everyone’s Lakshya/goal. Hence, I bestow you with my ‘Lakshmi’ tatva. With this you will have all my opulence and radiance. The one who can please you will also be a worthy recipient of my grace and I personally will take care of his/her needs.”

“I am delighted, Bhagawati” I replied imbibing the Shankh in me.

“Swami, it is your turn now”said Mahadevi, delighted.

He nodded with a smile and looked at his upper right hand. The glazing Sudarshana traversed from his index finger and stopped near my right shoulder. 

“Daughter, I offer you my Sudarshana. When the darkness of Tamas obstructs one’s vision, only the light of perception can shatter it. With Sudarshana’s help not only can you light your own way through the darkness of uncertainty but also light the consciousness of others’ too. And should the need arise, don’t hesitate to use it to finish off those who are beyond upliftment. Accept it, daughter.”

I lifted up my right index finger and the Sudarshan graciously placed itself on it. With my siddhi I imbibed it in me and provided my obeisances to the duo. 

“Go daughter, be the refuge of the saints and the disaster for the wicked. We are always with you” said Mahadevi reassuringly.

As I offered my obeisances to Devarshi, he replied with assurance,”Not only your Ishta, Devi Kumari, but also the siddhas and yogis are with you in this endeavour. We will always be available to you whenever you need us.”

“I am delighted Devarshi and I must say, soon we will need your help.”

“And that time I will be there” replied Devarshi assuring me.

“Now, give me permission to depart, Bhagwan, Mata. I have to be at my desired place soon. I don’t know what is happening at Hridaya Guha.”

They nodded and Prabhu said,”Mahadevi, my time for Yognidra has come. During this time, the responsibility for the world’s sustenance comes onto your shoulders and I know it well you will do it brilliantly as usual.”

“With your support, Bhagwan” replied mother, overwhelmed once again with the cyclical pain of separation.

He smilingly glanced at us and closed his eyes slowly to slip into Yognidra.

We offered him our obeisances. As I was leaving the premises of Vaikuntha, Garuda approached me and said,”Devi Kumari, your uncle came to visit you and asked about your whereabouts but Prabhu and Mata very diligently avoided the topic. I think he is upto something.”

“My uncle?” I asked, shocked.

“Yes” Garuda replied. “Bhargava Shukracharya.”