It was more than a month since Abhaya was brought to KAmarUpa.  She and Sunanda were taken to the temple of Mother KAmAksha regularly though Mauri guarded them more closely after the wayward sadhaka incident. One such day, they noticed a great number of pilgrims visiting the temple. Abhaya and Sunanda walked in the outer encirclement of the temple with Mauri and another yogini following them closely.

“I feel some of them are from the plains of Ganga.” Sunanda whispered to Abhaya pointing out to some pilgrims dressed in ochre robes. “Something makes me think they are versed in our scriptures.”

Abhaya was alerted at the mention but chose not to show it. “Princess Sunanda, try avoiding the commoner slang and take to as much chaste language as you can. If you are right, we should explore if we can send a message to the plains.”

“But how can we make sure we can trust them?” Sunanda replied shifting to the most formal accent of AryAs.

“What are you speaking? Mauri asked.

“No, I forgot a prayer and Sunanda is trying to recollect.” Abhaya gave an excuse. Mauri did know parts of Aryan tongue and both the princesses knew they had to be discreet in communicating between each other.

“Mahadeva, how can we validate an Arya in these crowds? “ Abhaya spoke in her breathe. After minutes of intense observation she was rewarded with the sound of a hymn.

“Did you hear that?” Sunanda whispered, excited.

“The purusha sukta! “ Abhaya exclaimed in a whisper looking for the sAdhu who chanted it. She went ahead faster to keep pace with the men who passed by. She identified one of them whose lip movement seemed to synchronise with the bits of Purusha Sukta she had heard.

She nodded again exchanging looks with Sunanda briefly. Heer heart began to beat fast as Sunanda gave her another look the meaning of which she could not fathom. Then, the princess of Koshala collapsed to the ground all of a sudden. An Impulsive concern made Abhaya turn back as Mauri and her companion rushed towards Sunanda. But Abhaya caught the sight of Sunanda’s hand signaling her to go ahead. She must go ahead and try to meet the sAdhu!.

Abhaya turned ahead and walked fast. At an opportune moment, she broke out of the fence which separated both the encirclements and entered the group of the sAdhus. She frantically searched for the one whom she had spotted. She found him again.

Not caring for the other sAdhus, she went up to him as he looked surprised to note her interest in him.

“Were you chanting about the virAt purusha? Best of sAdhus?”

The man did not respond but continued to walk further ahead.

“Are you from the plains mahAtma? Answer me in the name of Narayana. I beseech you.”

“Did I chant it aloud? I thought it was ringing in my mind.” The man responded, concern large writ on his face.

“By the grace of Mahadeva, you chanted it loud enogh for us to hear. MahAtma, do me a favour, take me to a secluded place where we can talk. I need your help.” Abhaya frantically requested. The man noted her concerns and pointed to a dark and deserted corner, hidden by a smaller structure which was broken. Abhaya followed him silently.

“Tell me, maiden? You don’t look like you are from here.” He spoke, his face, now showing signs of relaxing. But that did not make him any less alert.

“Great one! At a phase of life when I thought only death is my refuge, you have come to me. Do you intend to leave kAmarUpa soon and go to the plains?”

“Yes, child. Now that you have heard me unknowingly utter the vedic hymn, I must make my way out before someone else catches me.”

“MahAtma, the Lord of this place has stooped to abysmal levels of morals by having maidens of AryAvarta abducted to be forcefully inducted into vAmAchAra. I am one of those unfortunate ones. But I would rather die than give up Aryadharma. Best of sAdhus, kindly come to my help and carry my message to the Kings of the plains.” Abhaya pleaded. For the first time in her life, she had expressed her helplessness to someone who was completely unrelated and unknown to her.

Without waiting for him to respond, she continued. “MahAtma, please inform the King of Koshala that his niece, princess Sunanda is in the clutches of the vAmAcharis here along with me. Also let the news of organized abductions be known to the Pandava King and the soon to be emperor Yudhishtira.” Abhaya spoke while thinking simultaneously. “or any of his brothers” she added after she vaguely remembered that Arjuna’s campaign was Northbound and this might fall in the line of his conquests.

“Alright, child, I shall take this message to both the Kings. But who are you?” He asked, moved at her helplessness.

 “I am the daughter of Dharmasena, the King of Anagha.” Abhaya replied. “My province is located to the near west of Avanthi.” She added guessing that Anagha was not a province heard of by people in the gangetic plain.

“Don’t you want me to tell your father about you, child?”

Abhaya looked at him, her mind going blank. “How can father and his army afford the long travel all the way to the eastern Himalayas? How can my small army even attack this formidable kAmarUpa? I find myself here because he trusted Vaasudeva’s suggestion that I should travel to Indraprastha and not stay back at my home” She thought aloud and laughed sadly. “There is no use of that, mahatma. I am as good as dead.”

“You give up hope very early, child. The one responsible for your safety should know about your state.” The man advised gently.

“My father is not the one who is responsible for my safety. It is hard to find that person as you can’t be sure where he goes when, great one. You would even laugh at my optimism if I asked you to carry my message to Krishna Vaasudeva of Dwaraka.” Abhaya resigned when a thought struck her about the swayamvara of the princess of Koshala, Sunanda’s cousin.

“If you can meet him in person, best of sAdhus, tell him this.”

“Krishna, abducted and almost imprisoned, I am everyday, coaxed, coereced and threatened to abandon the Dharma as elucidated by the seers and the Dharma given to me by my father. The stooges of the perverted vAmAchAri king Bhauma ask me to submit to his wiles and consent to Maithuna. But I shall stand by the Arya dharma for all I am worth and till my last breathe. If you don’t come to my rescue, Lord, accept my final salutations for it is only you who I have in my heart and I live for you! The life which cannot be of use to you is of no use to me. The very moment which sees me weakening in front of these heretics shall be my last moment in this life. But I refuse to lose hope, Vaasudeva. My hope bases itself on your words that those who stand by Dharma do not need more assurance than Dharma itself.”

Abhaya broke into tears at the efforts to put into words the prayer she had in mind all these days and knelt at the sAdhu’s feet in gratitude and reverence.

“Your resolve to stand by Aryadharma is commendable, princess. Stay without fear, for Narayana, the preserver of the three worlds shall protect you!”

With this blessing, he left and soon after that, Abhaya stepped out of the corner just in time to find Mauri looking for her.

“Where did you go!” she demanded. “Surely you can’t be thinking of escaping. You saw with your own eyes how impossible it is to escape without the wishes of Lord Bhauma.”

“I was only looking for water for Sunanda. Someone told me there is water here. But..”

“There is lots of it.” Mauri pointed towards the temple tank at the rear. How did you miss something as big as this?”

Abhaya thanked the Gods for making her excuse valid and proceeded to meet Sunanda. Their shortly planned venture was successful.

Sunanda was pleased to hear about the news. “But we resorted to deceit and falsehood to achieve this.” She commented sadly.

“What do you mean by deceit and falsehood? This was Apad-Dharma. Did we find any other way out?” Abhaya was surprised.

“Sri Rama was faced with greater difficulties. Devi Sita was also abducted. But she never resorted to tricks like this.” Sunanda explained. “But we cannot match to their standards. Can we?”

“Well, I don’t have such ambitions.” Abhaya replied almost annoyed. “What is happening here is Adharma. This is perversion in the name of the Mother of universe. Using of force to make people follow their ways is simply not acceptable! Why do you bring the secondary issues into this, princess?”

“Truth is never secondary Abhaya!”

“Alright, let us go and tell it to Vasumathi and Mauri about what we have done. That brahmana would get caught along with us. But who cares as long as we are truthful?”

“Fine, don’t get so angry, princess. If we turn against each other, how can we face them all?”

Abhaya softened and turned to Sunanda, pain large in her eyes. “We both are clear that we do not want to stray away from Aryadharma. But other than courting death and to get out of this place alive, we need to resort to some tact, Sunanda. I pray, do not complicate things by bringing up debates like this.”

The End

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