The Immortals Siva
Tribe of Brahma
What! Who attacked you? cried a concerned Nandi as he rushed towards
Shiva and examined his wounds.
Relax Nandi, replied Shiva. You are in worse shape than I am after your
adventure in the water. Its just a few superficial cuts. Nothing serious. The
doctors have already dressed the wounds. I am alright.
I am sorry, my Lord. Its entirely my fault. I should never have left you
alone. It will never happen again. Please forgive me, my Lord.
Pushing Nandi gently back on to the bed, Shiva said, Theres nothing to
forgive, my friend. How can this be your fault? Please calm down. Getting
excited will not do your health any good.
Once Nandi had calmed down a bit, Shiva continued, In any case, I don
think they were trying to kill us. It was very strange.
Yes, there were two women involved.
But who could these attackers be? asked Nandi. Then a disturbing
thought dawned on Nandi. Did the attackers wear a pendant with a crescent
moon on it?
Shiva frowned. No. But there was this one strange man. The best
swordsman among them. He was covered from head to toe in a hooded
robe, his face hidden by a mask, the kind Ive seen you people wear at that
colour festival. What is it called?
Holi, my Lord?
Yes, the holi kind of mask. In any case, you could only see his eyes and
his hands. His only distinguishing feature was a leather bracelet with a
strange symbol on it.
What symbol, my Lord?
Picking up a palm-leaf booklet and the thin charcoal writing-stick from the
side table, Shiva drew the symbol.
Nandi frowned. That is an ancient symbol that some people used for the
word Aum. But who would want to use this symbol now?
Aum? asked Shiva.
My Lord, Aum is the holiest word in our religion. It is considered the
primeval sound of nature. The hymn of the universe. It was so holy that for
many millennia, most people would not insult it by putting it down in
Then how did this symbol come about ?
It was devised by Lord Bharat, a great ruler who had conquered
practically all of India many thousands of years ago. A rare Chandravanshi
who was worth respecting, he had even married a Suryavanshi princess
with the aim of ending our perpetual war.
Who are the Chandravanshis? asked Shiva.
Think of them as the very antithesis of us, my Lord. They are the
followers of the kings who are the descendants of the moon.
And they follow the lunar calendar?
Yes, my Lord. They are a crooked, untrustworthy and lazy people with no
rules, morals or honour. They are cowards who never attack like principled
Kshatriyas. Even their kings are corrupt and selfish. The Chandravanshis
are a blot on humanity!
But what does the Aum symbol have to do with this?
Well, King Bharat created this symbol of unity between the Suryavanshis
and the Chandravanshis. The top half in white represents the
The bottom half in red represents the Suryavanshis.
The amalgam of these is the emergent common path represented in
The crescent moon to the right of the symbol was the pre-existing
And the sun above it was the pre-existing Suryavanshi symbol.
In order to signify that this was a pact blessed by the gods, Lord Bharat
mandated the representation of this symbol as the holy word Aum.
And then what happened?
As expected, the pact died along with the good king. Once the influence
of Lord Bharat was removed, the Chandravanshis were soon up to their old
tricks and the war began once again. The symbol was forgotten. And the
word Aum reverted to its original form of pure sound without a written
But the symbol on the bracelet of this hooded man was not coloured. It
was all black . And the parts of the symbol didn look like lines to me. They
looked like a drawing of three serpents.
Naga! exclaimed a shocked Nandi, before mumbling a soft prayer and
touching his Rudra pendant for protection.
Now who the bloody hell are the Nagas? asked Shiva.
They are cursed people, my Lord, gasped Nandi. They are born with
hideous deformities because of the sins of their previous births. Deformities
like extra hands or horribly misshapen faces. But they have tremendous
strength and skills. The Naga name alone strikes terror in any citizens
heart. They are not even allowed to live in the Sapt Sindhu.
The Sapt Sindhu?
Our land, my Lord, the land of the seven rivers. The land of the Indus,
Saraswati, Yamuna, Ganga, Sarayu, Brahmaputra and Narmada. This is
where Lord Manu mandated that all of us, Suryavanshis and
Chandravanshis, live.Shiva nodded as Nandi continued. The city of the Nagas exists to the
south of the Narmada, beyond the border of our lands. In fact, it is bad luck
to even speak of them, my Lord!
But why would a Naga attack me? Or any Meluhan for that matter?
Cursing under his breath, Nandi said, Because of the Chandravanshis!
What levels have these two-faced people sunk to? Using the demon Nagas
in their attacks! In their hatred for us, they don even realise how many sins
they are inviting upon their own souls!
Shiva frowned. During the attack, it hadn appeared as if the Naga was
being used by the small platoon of soldiers. In fact, it looked like the Naga
was the leader.
It took another week for them to reach Devagiri. The capital city of the
Meluhans stood on the west bank of the Saraswati, which emerged at the
confluence of the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. Sadly, though, her majestic
flow and mighty girth had now ebbed. But even in her reduced state, she
was still massive and awe-inspiring. Unlike many of the tempestuous rivers
of the Punjab though, the Saraswati was achingly calm. The river seemed to
sense that her days were drawing to an end. Yet, she did not fight
aggressively to thrust her way through and survive. Instead, she unselfishly
gave her all to those who came to seek her treasures.
The soaring Devagiri though, was in complete contrast to the mellow
Saraswati. Like all Meluhan cities, Devagiri too was built on giant
platforms, an effective protection against floods as well as enemies.
However, Devagiri differed from other Meluhan cities in its sheer size. The
city sprawled atop three giant platforms, each of them spreading over three
hundred and fifty hectares, significantly larger than the other cities. The
platforms were nearly eight metres high and were bastioned by giant blocks
of cut stone interspaced with baked bricks. Two of the platforms, named
Tamra and Rajat, literally, bronze and silver, were for the common man,
whereas the platform named Svarna or gold was the royal citadel. The
platforms were connected to each other by tall bridges, made of stones and
baked bricks, which rose above the flood plains below.
Along the periphery of each enormous platform were towering city walls,
with giant spikes facing outwards. There were turrets at regular intervals
along the city walls from where approaching enemies could be repelled.
This spectacle was beyond anything that Shiva had ever seen. In his mind,
the construction of a city like this must truly be mans greatest achievement.
Shivas entourage rode up towards the drawbridge across the field of
spikes to the Tamra platform. The drawbridge had been reinforced with
metal bars at the bottom and had roughened baked bricks laid out on top so
that horses and chariots would not slip. There was something about the
bricks he had seen across the empire that had intrigued Shiva. Turning to
Nandi he asked, Are these bricks made by some standard process?
Yes my Lord, replied a surprised Nandi. All the bricks in Meluha are
made in accordance with specifications and guidelines given by the Chief
Architect of the empire. But how did you guess?
They are all of exactly the same dimension.
Nandi beamed with pride at both his empires efficiency as well as his
Lords power of observation. The platform rose at the end of the
drawbridge, with a road spiralling up to the summit in one gentle turn,
facilitating the passage of horses and chariots. In addition, there was a
broad flight of stairs leading straight up the incline for pedestrians. The city
walls and the platform extended steeply onto the sides around this slope,
making it a valley of death for any enemy foolish enough to attack the
platform from this direction.
The city gates were made of a metal that Shiva had never seen before.
Nandi clarified that they were made of iron, a new metal that had just been
discovered. It was the strongest of all the metals but very expensive. The
ore required to make it was not easily available. At the platform entry, on
top of the city gates, was etched the symbol of the Suryavanshis — a bright
red circular sun with its rays blazing out in all directions. Below it was the
motto that they lived by Satya. Dharma. Maan: Truth. Duty. Honour.
Even this initial introduction to the city had left Shiva awestruck.
However, what he witnessed at the top of the platform, within the city gates,
was truly breathtaking both in its efficiency and simplicity. The city was
divided into a grid of square blocks by the paved streets. There were
footpaths on the side for pedestrians, lanes marked on the street for traffic in
different directions, and of course, there were covered drains running
through the centre. All the buildings were constructed as standard two
storied block structures made of baked bricks. On top were wooden
extensions for increasing the height of the building, if required. Nandi
clarified to Shiva that the layout of the buildings differed internally depending on their individual requirements. All windows and doors were
built into the side walls of buildings, never facing the main road.
The blank walls that faced the main roads bore striking black etchings
depicting the different legends of the Suryavanshis, while the walls
themselves were painted in the sober colours of grey, light blue, light green
or white. The most common background colour though, appeared to be
blue. The holiest colour for the Meluhans was blue, denoting the sky.
Green, representing nature, happened to be placed just after blue in the
colour spectrum. Meluhans liked to divine a grand design in every natural
phenomenon and thought it wondrous that blue was placed just before green
in the colour spectrum. Just as the sky happened to be above the earth.
The most recurring illustrations on the walls were about the great emperor,
Lord Ram. His victories over his enemies, his subjugation of the wicked
Chandravanshis, incidents depicting his statesmanship and wisdom, had all
been lovingly recreated. Lord Ram was deeply revered, and many Meluhans worshipped him like a god. They referred to him as Vishnu, an
ancient title for the greatest of the gods meaning protector of the world and
propagator of good.
As Shiva learned from Nandi, the city was divided into many districts
consisting of four to eight blocks. Each district had its own markets,
commercial and residential areas, temples and entertainment centres.
Manufacturing or any other polluting activity was conducted in separate
quarters away from the districts. The efficiency and smoothness with which
Devagiri functioned belied the fact that it was the most populous city in the
entire empire. The census conducted two years back had pegged the
population of the city at two hundred thousand.
Nandi led Shiva and the three soldiers to one of the citys numerous guest
houses, built for the many tourists that frequented Devagiri, for both
business and leisure. Having duly handed over their exhausted horses to the
care of the stable boy, they strode in to register themselves. Shiva took in
the guest house with a familiar eye, similar to so many he had seen
throughout their journey. There was a central courtyard with the building
built around it. The rooms were comfortably furnished and spacious.
My Lord, its almost dinner time, said Nandi. I will speak with the
housekeeper and get some food organised. We should eat early and get
enough sleep since our appointment with the Emperor has been fixed at the
beginning of the second prahar tomorrow. Sounds like a good idea.
Also, if it is all right with you, shall I dismiss the soldiers and send them
back to Srinagar?
That also sounds like a good idea, said a smiling Shiva. Why Nandi,
you are almost like a fount of brilliant ideas!
Nandi laughed along with Shiva, always happy to be the harbinger of a
smile on his Lords face. Ill just be back, my Lord.
Shiva lay down on his bed and was quickly lost in the thoughts that really
mattered to him.
Ill finish the meeting with the Emperor as soon as it is humanly possible,
give him whatever the bloody hell he wants and then scour the city for Sati.
Shiva had considered asking Nandi about the whereabouts of Sati but had
eventually decided against it. He was painfully aware that he had made a
less than spectacular impression on her at their first meeting. If she hadn
made it easy for him to find her, it only meant that she wasn terribly
stirred by him. He didn want to compound his mistake by speaking
casually about her with others.
He smiled as the memory of her face came flooding back to him. He
replayed the magical moments when he had seen her fighting. Not the most
romantic of sights for most men of his tribe. But for Shiva, it was divine.
He sighed recalling her soft, delicate body, which had suddenly developed
brutal, killer qualities upon being attacked. The curves that had so
captivated him swung smoothly as she transferred her weight to swing her
sword. The soberly tied hair had swayed sensuously with each movement of
the sword arm. He breathed deeply.
What a woman!
Early next morning Shiva and Nandi crossed the bridge between the
Tamra and Svarna platforms to reach the royal citadel. The bridge, another
marvel of Meluhan engineering, was flanked on the sides by a thick wall.
Holes punched into the walls enabled defenders to shoot arrows or pour hot
oil on enemies. The bridge was bisected by a massive gate, a final
protection in the likelihood of the other platform being lost to an enemy.
Shiva was completely taken by surprise when they crossed over to the
Svarna platform, not by the grandeur of the royal area but by the lack of it.
He was shocked that there was no opulence. Despite ruling over such a
massive and wealthy empire, the nobility lived in a conspicuously simple manner. The structure of the royal citadel was almost exactly like the other
platforms. There were no special concessions made for the aristocrats. The
same block structures that dominated all of Meluha were to be found in the
royal citadel as well. The only magnificent structure was to the far right and
sported the sign Great Public Bath. The Bath also had a glorious temple to
Lord Indra built on the left-hand side. The temple was built of wood and it
stood on a raised foundation of baked bricks, its cupola plated with solid
gold! It seemed that special architecture was reserved only for structures
built for the Gods or ones that were for the common good.
Probably just like how Lord Ram would have wanted.
The only concession to the emperor, however, was that his standard block
structure was larger than the others. Significantly larger.
Shiva and Nandi entered the royal private office to find Emperor Daksha
sitting on a simple throne at the far end of the modestly furnished room,
flanked by a man and a woman.
Daksha greeted Shiva with a formal Namaste and said, I hope your
journey was comfortable.
He looked too young to be an emperor of such a large country. Though he
was marginally shorter than Shiva, they differed in their musculature. While
the strapping Shiva was powerfully built, Dakshas body indicated that it
had not been strained by too much exercise. It wasn that he was obese
either, just average. The same could be said about his wheat-complexioned
face. Average sized, dark eyes flanked a straight nose. He wore his hair long
like most Meluhan men and women. The head bore a majestic crown with
the sun symbol of the Suryavanshis manifested in the centre through
sparkling gem stones. His clothes consisted of an elegantly draped dhoti
and an angvastram placed over his right shoulder. A large amount of
functional jewellery, including two amulets on his right arm, complemented
Dakshas average appearance. His only distinguishing feature was his smile
— which spread its innocent conviction all the way to his eyes. Emperor
Daksha looked like a man who wore his royalty lightly.
Yes it was, your highness, replied Shiva. The infrastructure in your
empire is wonderful. You are an extraordinary emperor.
Thank you. But I only deserve reflected credit. The work is done by my
You are too modest, your Highness.
Smiling politely, Daksha asked, May I introduce my most important
aides? Without waiting for an answer, he pointed to the woman on his left,
This is my prime minister, Kanakhala. She takes care of the administrative,
revenue and protocol matters.
Kanakhala did a formal Namaste to Shiva. Her head was shaved except for
a tuft of smooth hair at the back which had been tied into a knot. She had a
string called the janau tied across from her left shoulder down to the right
side of her torso. Though young-looking like most Meluhans, the flab on
her torso between the white blouse and dhoti didn escape Shivas keen
eye. She had a dark and incredibly smooth complexion and like all her
countrymen, wore jewellery that was restrained and conservative. Shiva
noticed that the second amulet on Kanakhalas arm showed a pigeon. Not a
very high chosen-tribe amongst the Brahmins. Shiva bent low and did a
formal Namaste in reply.
Pointing to his right, Daksha said, And this is my chief of the armed
forces, General Parvateshwar. He looks after the army, navy, special forces,
Parvateshwar looked like a man that Shiva would think twice about taking
on in a battle. He was taller than Shiva and had an immensely muscular
physique that dominated the space around him. His curly long hair had been
combed back severely and fell from under his crown in a disciplined array.
His smooth, swarthy skin was marked by the proud signs of long years in
battle. His body was hairless, in a rare departure from the normally hirsute
Kshatriya men who considered body hair a sign of machismo. As if to make
up for this deficiency, Parvateshwar maintained a thick and long moustache
which curled upwards at the edges. His eyes reflected his
uncompromisingly strong and righteous character. The second amulet on
his arm showed Parvateshwar as a tiger, a very high chosen-tribe amongst
the Kshatriyas. He nodded curtly at Shiva. No Namaste. No elaborate bow
of his proud head. Shiva, however, smiled warmly and greeted
Parvateshwar with a formal Namaste.
Please wait outside, Captain, advised Parvateshwar, looking at Nandi.
Before Nandi could respond, however, Shiva cut in. My apologies. But is
it alright if Nandi stays here with me? He has been my constant companion
since I left my homeland and has become a dear and trusted friend.
Of course he may, replied Daksha.
Your Highness, it is not appropriate for a Captain to be witness to this
discussion, said Parvateshwar. In any case, his service rules clearly state
that he can only escort a guest into the emperors presence and not stay
there while a matter of state is discussed.
Oh relax Parvateshwar. You take your service rules too seriously
sometimes. Turning to Shiva, Daksha continued, If it is alright with you,
may we see your neck now?
Nandi slid behind Shiva to untie the cravat. Seeing the beads darned on
the cravat to convey the impression that the throat was covered for religious
reasons, Daksha smiled and whispered, Good idea.
Even as the cravat came off, both Daksha and Kanakhala moved in close
to inspect Shivas throat. Parvateshwar did not step forward but strained his
neck slightly in order to get a better look. Daksha and Kanakhala were
clearly stunned by what they saw.
Daksha reached out and lightly touched Shivas throat in awe, The colour
emerges from within. There is no dye. It is real.
Daksha and Kanakhala glanced at each other, tears glistening in their
astounded eyes. Kanakhala folded her hands into a Namaste and began
mumbling a chant under her breath. Daksha looked up at Shivas face,
trying desperately to suppress the ecstasy that coursed through his insides.
With a controlled smile, the Emperor of Meluha said, I hope we have not
done anything to cause you any discomfort since your arrival in Meluha.
Despite Dakshas controlled reaction, Shiva could see that both the
emperor as well as his prime minister were taken aback by his blue throat.
Just how important is this bloody blue throat for the Meluhans?
Umm, none at all your Highness, replied Shiva as he tied the cravat back
around his neck. In fact, my tribe and I have been delighted by the
hospitality that we have received here.
Im happy about that, smiled Daksha, bowing his head politely. You
may want to rest a bit and we could talk in greater detail tomorrow. Would
you like to shift your residence to the royal citadel? It is rumoured that the
quarters here are a little more comfortable.
That is a very kind offer, your Highness.
Daksha turned to Nandi and asked, Captain, what did you say your name
My name is Nandi, your Highness.
You too are welcome to stay here. Make sure that you take good care of
our honoured guest. Kanakhala, please make all the arrangements.
Yes, your Highness.
Kanakhala gestured towards one of her aides, who escorted Shiva and
Nandi out of the royal office.
As Shiva exited the room, Daksha went down on his haunches with great
ceremony and touched his head to the ground on which Shiva had just
stood. He mumbled a soft prayer and then stood up to look at Kanakhala
with tears in his eyes. Kanakhalas eyes, however, betrayed impatience and
a touch of anger.
I don understand, your Highness, glared Kanakhala. The blue mark
was genuine. Why did you not tell him?
What did you expect me to do? cried a surprised Daksha. This is his
second day in Devagiri. You want me to just accost him and tell him that he
is the Neelkanth, our saviour? That he is destined to solve all our
Well, if he has a blue throat, then he is the Neelkanth, isn he? And if he
is the Neelkanth, then he is our saviour. He has to accept his destiny.
An exasperated Parvateshwar interjected. I can believe that we are
talking like this. We are Meluhans! We are the Suryavanshis! We have
created the greatest civilisation ever known to man. Are we to believe that
an unskilled, uneducated barbarian is to be our saviour? Just because he has
a blue throat?
That is what the legend says Parvateshwar, countered Kanakhala.
Daksha interrupted both his ministers. Parvateshwar, I believe in the
legend. My people believe in the legend. The Neelkanth has chosen my
reign to make his appearance. He will transform all of India in line with the
ideals of Meluha — a land of truth, duty and honour. His leadership can
help us end the Chandravanshi crisis once and for all. All the agonies they
now inflict upon us will be over — from the terrorist attacks to the shortage
of Somras to the killing of the Saraswati.
Then why delay telling him, your Highness? asked Kanakhala. The
more days we waste, the weaker becomes the resolve of our people. You are
aware of the terrorist attack just a few days back in a village not far from
Hariyupa. As our response becomes weak, our enemies become bolder,
your Highness. We must inform the Lord quickly and announce his arrival
to our people. It will give us the strength to fight our cruel enemies. I will tell him. But I am trying to be more farsighted than you. So far our
empire has only faced the morale-sapping influence of fraudulent
Neelkanths. Imagine the consequences if people were to discover that the
true Neelkanth has arrived but refuses to stand by us. First we must be sure
that he is willing to accept his destiny. Only then will we announce his
arrival to our people. And I think that the best way to convince him is to
share the whole truth with him. Once he sees the unfairness of the attacks
we face, he will fight with us to destroy evil. If that takes time, so be it. We
have waited for centuries for the Neelkanth. A few more weeks will not
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