While attempting to re write Abhaya, I was stuck with a scene for a long time and found myself unable to move forward. I decided to break the ice by attempting latter scenes. Once I find a connect, will copy the stuff to the main tree.
The morning after the new moon, Abhaya, weak from the rigorous fast, still managed to follow the strict routine of her worship. The chant of Narayana did not leave her lips. The room became warmer with the Sun's rays flooding inside from the small window above the door. She felt the door open brightening the room further.
"Who could it be? Mother Vasumathi? or Sunanda?" Abhaya turned to look at her visitor.
Shielding her eyes from the sudden brigthness that enveloped her, Abhaya opened her eyes to catch a glimpse of a pair of dark hued feet that shone in the reflection of the plain golden anklets they wore. The glimpse paralysed her gaze as a slow realization dawned upon her.
"Could it be true!" she wondered still in a daze that disabled her from lifting her eyes.
"Princess of Anagha." The voice seemed to have come from all sides.
She could have died to hear these words. They jolted her from her daze as she sprung up to stand and receive him.
She looked up for the first time and his gaze met hers. A smile bloomed on her face like the blossom after the autumn and words escaped her mouth. "Vaasudeva? You killed the demon Bhauma!"
She was still not sure if it was all real. When she saw Krishna moving forward, she stepped ahead despite feeling faint due to weakness and unsuccessfully tried to supported herself against a pillar.
Next moment, her heart swelled with joy as she found herself being held in his arms. Tears flowed freely from her eyes and her smile of bliss became more pronounced.
"Be seated Lord" was all she could manage to speak out as she joyfully convinced herself that it was all real.
Abhaya's whole body quivered with ecstasy as Krishna seated her on the stone bench in the room and seated himself beside her.
"Princess of Anagha, you willingly courted this captivity and suffering all these months? What did you want to achieve by walking into this 'hell' ?" Krishna's concern touched the heart of the princess.
"Lord," Abhaya replied, her eyes full of reverence. "The gopikas of Vrindavan who found their place in your heart were endangered and had to be saved. Their immeasurable faith in you, their darling mountain lifter and saviour had to be upheld. The reputation of Krishna Vaasudeva, the champion of Dharma, the saviour of those who follow dharma can't be risked come what might. My life was after all a small price to pay."
Krishna looked intently at Abhaya whose famished and starved face glowed with a new found energy as she spoke like the one possessed. Abhaya continued.
"Do you ask what I achieved Vaasudeva? This moment which brought you to me is worth sacrificing a hundred lives or more."
"Princess, did you think my reputation stays safe when the life and honour of a noble princess are endangered? I had promised the King of Anagha that his daughter would not fall into undeserving hands. In your rash move to save the gopikas, din't you risk this promise of mine?" Krishna spoke like he would to a child who committed a thoughtless act.
Abhaya looked up pleadingly. "Vaasudeva, I would never endanger your promise! I would any day prefer to court death than throw myself into undeserving hands. . The fact that I am alive in your presence is because the God of Gods showed me a way to protect my honor."
Her voice broke into sobs as she struggled to control them. "Vaasudeva, Does not matter to me that you had once rejected me for your own reasons that I respect. But having have pledged myself to you. Would.. I.. ever...."
"Be at peace Princess of Anagha." Krishna interrupted to assure her, lifting her downcast face now drenched with tears that moved him.
"Abhaya, you do not have to say that, Noble princess. I would have preferred that you had not subjected yourself to this ordeal. Did you not think once about the unforgiving ways of the Arya world?"
"Lord, If I go against my heart and resort to cowardice for the fear of the world, would this life be worth living? I know that the innocent gopikas of Vrindavan are safe from cruel hands. I know that my father, the Lord of Anagha would be proud of me for this. I know that You, the very life of my life believe in me. What do I fear the world about Vaasudeva?"
Krishna smiled thoughtfully. "Sure princess, you don't fear the world."
Abhaya gazed at the meditative face of Vaasudeva like the one enchanted for a long time. As she began to wish that this would never end, She saw Krishna opening his eyes and a strong resolve in them.
He suddenly stood up decisively and turned to her. "Princess, how many women are captured are imprisoned by Bhauma?
Abhaya noticed the startling change in him and was overwhelmed at his gaze. The gentle Vaasudeva who did not even twitch a brow during a fierce battle seemed like a God completely beyond anything in the three worlds. Involuntarily she knelt to touch his feet before she replied.
"Vaasudeva, the number of women is not of my knowledge. probably a hundred, probably hundreds of them. Some gave up their lives. Some are imprisoned in worse prisons. Some fell prey to Bhauma's fearsome practices and in shame, threw themselves into the precipices around. Some fell into his ways. Many have resorted to an arduous ways of life to shield themselves from his advances. Many are waiting to court death."
"Abhaya, do you still want to see me as the champion of Dharma and take part in upholding my reputation as you see me now?"
Abhaya clutched at his feet in devotion. "All my life with all my heart, Vaasudeva. I shall do anything I can. Order me Lord." Her heart told her that he had a daunting task for himself and her. But it did not matter how daunting the task is as long as it is his order. She lived for his cause now.
"Princess of Anagha, Assist me in this task. Liberate all the unfortunate captive women. Convince them to live, those who are looking forward to death. Assure them they would be sent back to their families with due honours. If they fear rejection from their families and ridicule of the world, convey that their new home awaits them. The home that will give them the warmth and respect of a family. The home which they can belong to as rightful daughter in laws, as the wives of Krishna Vaasudeva!"
Krishna looked down to see the horror in the face of the princess. Words betrayed her and her throat was devoid of any speech.The old assuring smile returned to his face and tenderness showed up in his eyes. "Have you changed your mind about me princess?" the boyish naughty smile was more pronounced.
Abhaya found her hear melting into tears. "Vaasudeva, you are forever the champion of Dharma. You have liberated us all from the dangers of dishonor in the hands of Bhauma. We are indebted to you for life and beyond. We are indeed yours! But Lord, this world would not fathom the depth of your act. You think of an exploit which is humanly unthinkable! Your worship worthy self is going to earn nothing but endless ridicule from the world. They would brand you as being 'weak' for women. Its a ridicule I cannot live to hear about you. I can't live to have your flawless name sullied by an association with me. I shall prefer to die at your feet than hear the world defaming you."
Krishna held her by arms as the princess stood, overcome by emotions. "Now who is fearing the world. The fearless princess?"
Then he turned serious. "Tell me princess. Will Dharma flourish in the world where women are cast away for no wrongdoing of theirs? The commitment of a woman towards the world and the respect that she commands in return, determine the strength of dharma in that society. Abhaya, My dharma cannot end in just the killing of Bhauma. In fact I am now responsible for the future of all those women persecuted by him. The hope of deliverance which kept them alive till now needs to be fulfilled. This deliverance is of no use if it can't grant them a life of dignity."
Abhaya looked at him transfixed, a new surge of devotion welling up in her eyes. Her hair stood on their end hearing each word of his. Another thought clouded her mind.
"Best of Yadavas, have you thought about how your family would react. Would they welcome us who are 'tainted' in the eyes of this world? How would your wives, the noble princesses of Vidarbha, Avanti, Kekaya and Madra take it? To see the very light of their lives surrounded by refugees who would only taint your name and theirs is a shock they cannot bear."
The princess felt her head reel at the very thought of the reaction of yadava household.
"Daughter of Dharmasena, Would my yadavas be happy to see these women immolate themselves out of sheer ridicule from the world. Is this not enough to shake the very faith on Dharma to see innocents imprisoned by a wicked tyrant and when they are freed, they have only the land of manes to go to? Won't that be cowardice on my part to leave them to that fate? Would my wives wish to see me as a coward who cannot take up the cause of Dharma? "
"The bravest of the Brave, who can dare call you a coward? Dont your past exploits extol your tale of bravery enough? Those are pitiable fools who call you a coward. And Lord, How are you responsible for the fate of these women? When their own families cannot trust their chastity or at the least forgive their helpless state, how can one expect you to stand by us?"
Krishna smiled like the one unaffected by even the deluge of universal destruction.
"Abhaya, bravery is not the one that is only seen on battlefields. It does not personify in only wielding a weapon or facing the fiercest of opponents. True Bravery lies in facing and overcoming the weakness that threatens to destabilise the very faith of people in Dharma. In opposing the narrow minded hypocrisy that rejects the rightful place of innocent women. In establishing and reaffirming Dharma which protects the ones who commit themselves to it."
A feeling of reverent ecstasy enveloped princess Abhaya as she felt a new light brighten up her whole self. Her tears dried and her eyes glowed with renewed feeling of devotion.
"Lord, Are you the Vaasudeva who is omnipresent in the hearts of men, Are you the Narayana, the eternal sustainer? Are you the eternal Rita itself personified in this form? Whoever you are, Lord, I am immensely blesses to have seen you, to have spoken to you, to have been purified by your touch. Accept my surrender, Lord and steer my soul in the path of dharma. I am yours in thought word and deed.
Krishna saw her offering herself at his feet, her palms folded in soulful surrender. He extended his hand, his radiant smile resembling a cresent lighting up the dark skies. "Arise Abhaya. Stand by my cause and walk by me in my path of dharma."
"As the Lord commands." Abhaya responded, her eyes down with sudden bashfulness as she pronounced the word "Lord" and placed her right hand in his, leaving herself to experience the joy of the touch, the touch of the union of her self with His.