Mauri entered Abhaya’s room excitement written all over her face. Though startled at the sudden interruption Abhaya who was in conversation with Vishvavara and Sunanda welcomed her. Despite Mauri’s crude life style and carriage, Abhaya had taken a liking for the daughter of the commander of Kamarupa. She was the one they could trust could guard them from forceful coercions by the multitude of sAdhakAs residing at Kamarupa. She had taken care that only Vasumathi and another select yoginis could enter the premises where the non cooperating maidnes were housed.
“Our Lord has returned.” She announced. “Lord Bhauma has returned.” She repeated as the other three did not comprehend her words at first.
Abhaya exchanged a meaningful glance with Vishva and the latter looked at Mauri. “Well, we would like to meet him. When can you take us to him Mauri?”
“He would be visiting you all this evening anyways. But you all were not even ready to listen to Vasumathi. Why do you want to meet the Lord?” Mauri asked doubtfully.
“Yes. We do not have any interest in your Lord either. We want to convince him to release us and all the other women who have no interest in either embracing or continuing the path of vAmAchAra.” Abhaya stated counting in her mind, the increased numbers of former yoginis who wanted to abandon the vAmAchAra.
“I tell you for your own good. Give up such hopes and imbibe our ways. You would not regret it later.” Mauri tried to convince them.
“But Anila and her companions are already regretting.” Sunanda pointed out.
“Because this BrahmachAriNi has confused them.” Mauri pointed at Vishvavara. The Lord is going to be very angry at her. If you both side with her, you would become the object of his rage too.” She warned Abhaya and Sunanda.
“Don’t worry about us, Mauri. We shall talk to your Lord.” Abhaya assured her.
In the inner chambers of the building that stood opposite to the temple of KAmAksha, a private council took place. Bhauma, whom people considered as the chosen Lord of Kamarupa presided over it. Bana, the Lord of ShoNita who had befriended Bhauma in the recent years was seated to his immediate left. Commander Mura, Acharya Pinaka and Vasumathi who was regarded as the informal mistress of Kamarupa were seated in their appropriate places.
Bana expressed his delight over the number of women brought in to vAma fold in the recent months.
“All is not that well, Your Majesty.” Pinaka remarked. “We have rebels among the new women.”
Bhauma, past his sixties turned his half drunk gaze towards Pinaka. “How could anyone resist our ways, Acharya?”
“They are the ones who are stead fast in their commitment towards the vedic fold.” Vasumathi commented.
“There are atleast twelve younger yoginis who want to go back to the vedic fold.” Pinaka added. “I would not be surprised if there are more.”
“What am I hearing, Lord of Kamarupa? This breeds trouble.” Bana commented his muscular shoulders flexing in displeasure. “Acharya, why weren’t the rebelling women convinced? It is deplorable that nothing was done to change their minds in the past two months. If they started threatening our ways by influencing the yoginis, you must have resorted to force.” He spoke sternly to Pinaka.
“Lord of Shonita, I have embraced this worship of the Divine Mother way before you were born. We do not force women who are unwilling.” Pinaka reiterated. He had disapproved of Bana’s interference into Kamarupa’s affairs from the beginning. This young King of Shonita had clear political aims and was open about using the vAma ways to achieve his ambitions. Pinaka had wished that Bhauma was intelligent enough to see through Bana’s cunningness. But his wishes were always in vain.
“Was nothing done even when the new woman killed one of our sAdhakas? Commander, what do you have to say for this?” Bhauma turned to Mura.
“Forgive me, Lord. The wayward sAdhaka tried to molest a yogini. This woman, I don’t remember her name, only tried to protect the yogini from his advances. Acharya Pinaka had always maintained that women are to be worshipped. When she only punished the wayward sAdhaka, what more could I do? ” Mura replied in a polite yet firm air.
“Why does your lordship appoint such weaklings in high positions?” Bana remarked hearing Mura’s explanation.
Mura clenched his fists restraining himself from flying into rage. “Any other unsolicited remarks might make it difficult to control myself. And my Lord Bhauma, If you deem me unfit to command your fort, I shall leave the place immediately.”
Pinaka’s heart sank at Mura volunteering to relinquish his position. The faithful commander had been his support and his hope to resurrect the failing affairs at kAmarupa. If he is gone, BaNa would exercise his unrestrained influence over the already weakened Bhauma and even take over the place. What was once the revered home of Divine mother would turn into a place of anarchy where the worshipful rituals would turn into sinful activities in the name of Mother.
“Bhauma, mark my words. The day Mura leaves your side, Kamarupa would fall. I shall leave the place before witnessing any more of desecration of the Mother’s home.” Pinaka spoke and rose to leave.
“Commander and Acharya, Please do not leave.” Vasumathi finally broke her long silence. “ Lord knows how indispensable you both are to kAmarupa.” She added flashing a contemptive glance at Bana and hoping to prod Bhauma to react.
“Well, I wont have my well wishers clash over some captive maiden. Mura and Acharya, you are going to stay. And Vasumathi, I give you two months of time to change the minds of those rebelling maidens. If you do not succeed, I am afraid I should listen to Bana.” Bhauma spoke finally.
“Lord, abduction of unwilling women was not my idea. How would I agree on a limit on time taken to coax those maidens? I would not recommend angering the Divine Mother by resorting to violent means.” Vasumathi protested.
But Bhauma had collapsed to a side under the influence of the wine he had been drinking all the while. Vasumathi, though unwilling, requested Bana to stay in the guest quarters till Bhauma came back to his senses.
After Banaleft, Vasumathi guided Bhauma to his chambers as Mura and Pinaka continued to dwell upon the impending harm if Bana continued to wield his influence over Bhauma.
“You should inform Bhagadatta about the happennings here.” Pinaka advised Mura.
“Bhagadatta himself is a weakling. He would not do anything to anger Bana, the coward that he is. Else, he would not have agreed upon providing a free pass to abducting women upon the suggestion of Bana.” Mura remarked.
“Only the Mother can save Kamarupa.” Pinaka uttered a prayer before he left the hall.