The Naga queen
The Naga queen13 mins 274 13 mins 274
It was the age of magnificence. An era where the sun sparkled with the efficacy of a million topaz stones and the moon rose every night with a radiance that promised to dispel fear, pain & suffering from every inch, every corner of the earth. Pain and suffering had given way for happiness, tranquillity, and a new dawn bathed in the sunshine of hope. Finally, peace had prevailed; the Devas and the Nagas had, breaking centuries of tradition, started living in harmony. The Naga king and the Deva queen, looked on the horizon, watching the majestic sunrise hand in hand, as a flood of memories engulfed them...
After centuries of incessant fighting resulting in unspeakable destruction, the Devas, helmed by King Agnivarsha, the mercurial Sun God managed to defeat the Nagas, banishing them into the underworld. King Agnivarsha created a magical barrier between the two worlds with the help of an ancient ritual involving dark magic, performed by the sages of the holy mountains. This ritual, however, demanded that the king conceal all his occult powers in a magical conch, sacrifice his heavenly form, and become a mortal instead. This magical conch could only be blown by a being that had Deva blood running through its veins and was fearless of heart and mind. However, the conch wielder would be poisoned and would survive for only a night unless all the poison left the body before sunrise. After placing all of his magical powers in the conch, the king acquired a mortal human form, for he no longer possessed the invincibility of the Devas. Battered and poisoned, King Agnivarsha had to retreat to the garden of the healers. This garden, filled with shrubs, planted by the gods themselves had magical medicinal properties. It was here that King Agnivarsha fell in love with a half-Deva, half-mortal priestess - Chandramati, who nursed him back to health. The king gave the magical conch to Chandramati, now his wife, as a token of his undying love for her. The queen vowed to safeguard the conch and had it hidden away, deep in the treasury of the royal palace. The benevolent King Agnivarshaa, along with queen Chandramati, ruled Pataliputra justly and peacefully for several years.
However, the royal couple, despite all the wealth, joy, and happiness in the world, remained childless. The want of a child slowly seeped into their deepest desires and yearnings, bringing about a flood of sorrow that engulfed everyone. The queen could often be heard wailing for hours in the palatial gardens with a cry so heartbreaking that the oceans in the sky seemed to open up, drenching the entire world in a perpetual downpour of gloom and sadness. One fine day, the king woke up with steely resolve in his eyes and proclaimed. "Never again! Never again shall Chandramati sail in this sea of longing with tides of unfulfilled desire. I shall bend time if need be, for I am the vanquisher of evil and the emperor of both worlds. I shall leave at once for the mystic mountains in the north and pray for an offspring. The great mystics will grant me this wish, as my resolve is absolute and my intentions pure. This misery, this suffering ends now. I promise you, Chandramati!"
The king ventured deep into the mystic mountains to fulfill his oath, leaving the kingdom of Pataliputra to be ruled by queen Chandramati. After years of penance, the great mystics, impressed with the noble king's sheer dedication and determination, granted him his wish. They asked the king to ensure the queen consumed a magic potion every full moon for the next two years. The king returned to Pataliputra and gave the magic potion containing the holy water from the mountains to the queen, instructing her to do the sages' bidding.
The king and the queen constructed an entire universe of treasured hopes and infinite memories that were meant to be unlocked by a baby's laughter, finally breaking the shackles of worries and self-doubts in their hearts. Eventually, that golden day arrived, and the royal couple was blessed with a baby princess. The earth glowed with a beautiful fragrance and flower blossoms sprang up around the land overnight. The entire kingdom rejoiced and sang songs thanking the gods for blessing them with an angel in the form of a baby girl. The little princess was like the first drop of dew, endless without edges, absolute as solitude. As the princess blossomed, so did the kingdom of Pataliputra.
Meanwhile, the Nagas in the underworld were in deep turmoil. Defeated and vanquished, the ruler of the Nagas - Adishesha, had fallen into a never-ending abyss of doubt and despair. Heavily wounded, the king fell terminally ill. On his deathbed, Adishesha called his queen Nagini by his side and wept his heart out. "Our ancient race of the Nagas is doomed. In my unrelenting quest to achieve the power to rule both the worlds, I never realized that hate and destruction were the only allies to which my heart listened, instead of following the path of righteousness. Now, as the world crumbles around me, I ask you to make amends for the insurmountable damage I have caused. Promise me, my dear Nagini, that you shall govern the underworld with the true virtues of life - love, hope, and mercy; virtues which I considered sins and eventually led to our downfall. Promise me, that you shall teach our son - Nagarjuna, to embrace these virtues and follow the path of righteousness without torment and malice. For the world is full of illusions, and only the naked truth can bring about peace from within. I shall keep loving you, as I burn in the pyres of hell to atone for my sins". Adishesha breathed his last, lying in the arms of the new ruler of the underworld, the rightful leader of the Nagas - Queen Nagini. The queen ruled the underworld with an iron fist, ensuring that the follies of the past were not committed again. True to her word, the queen started embracing the holy scriptures and would sing the lessons and morals she deduced from them, in the form of songs and fables. These songs carried thoughts and emotions of such astounding clarity that the goddess of music - Saraswati herself, impressed, bestowed her own divine voice to the queen. "Your voice shall be an embodiment of mine and will reach the ears of those pure of hearts and clear of malice. No barrier or obstacle can ever stop your voice from spreading. The little prince - Nagarjuna too, under the able tutelage of the queen, began embracing the ancient scriptures that taught about honor, loyalty, and kindness being the three essential pillars for achieving greatness - evolving into a fine young boy.
Years passed by, and the princess of Pataliputra turned seven. The princess, now with a mind of her own, was full of life and curiosity. She had an uncanny penchant for exploring the unknown, for her curiosity was equaled by her fearlessness. She would often ask the king "How much do you love me?" and the king would take her to a new part of the kingdom and would say - "Do you see the holy river - the Ganges? As deep as that", he took her to the foothills of the mountains and would proclaim "My love for you is steeper than a million mountains" and the princess Athira would giggle and hug her father tightly. When she asked the same question on her seventh birthday, however, the king took her to the royal treasury to showcase the wealth that the entire Agni dynasty had amassed. "You see these rubies and diamonds, these million gold coins, all of them are reserved for that one innocent smile because the greatest wealth I have is you and that smile". The little princess overwhelmed with love for her father embraced him with a tiny peck on his cheek. As she strode happily, looking at the beautiful paintings and the gemstones that glowed brightly as the sun, there was an artifact that caught her attention. It was a conch that emitted an otherworldly glow. It had a texture of such impeccable artistry that left the little princess spellbound. Unable to control herself, she stepped towards the conch and clasped it with both her hands. "No, little one. Not now. The entire world is yours for the taking. You need to be patient. This will be given to you when the time is opportune, and you have mastered the magical arts. For now, this conch has within it, magic, so ancient and powerful that it can destroy even the strongest and the fearless" exclaimed the king, whisking her away.
Princess Athira, however, was transfixed, for the memory of the magical conch wouldn't leave her dreams and had captured her imagination. Nothing else pleased her anymore, not the golden dresses knitted for her, nor the choicest delicacies prepared for her. She vowed to have it in her hands and waited for the night of the full moon - when the entire kingdom would be lost in festivities, in celebration of the yearly harvest. When the night finally arrived, princess Athira sneaked into the royal treasury; for she knew about the secret tunnel that her father had constructed in case of a siege. This tunnel directly connected the sewers to the royal treasury. The magical conch was finally in her hands, and the princess felt like she had twisted destiny itself, for, after all, she was the daughter of the king who had done the same - twisted fate.
While returning, the little princess, charmed by hearing a voice so melodious, stopped in her tracks, spellbound by the sound that seemed to emanate from the heavens. The princess at first, mistook the song to be sung by an exotic magical bird; but, being a sharp girl, was not long deceived, and she went towards the woods to ascertain the source of the divine voice. As she reached closer, the music gained a heavenly texture. "I ought to find the magical weaver of these melodious tunes," she said aloud. Lured in this way, the princess penetrated the dark center of the forest, moving closer. The song, however, became more overpowering than before, and the princess out of impulse drew up the magical conch and blew it, matching each note with a musical syllable of her own, to serve the gracefulness, which the song demanded. Magically she found herself standing over still water, on top of a small lake, and, much to her astonishment, the darkness of the night had evaporated, but the heavens were thick with stars. The song magically ended, and, wearied with her wanderings, the little princess fell asleep. Little did the princess know that she unknowingly had opened the magical barrier between the two worlds and had stumbled across.
Nagarjuna set off for his customary stroll - by the lake, where he sought to catch the early sunrise as a way to rejuvenate his senses. For in the underworld, the sun rose only for an hour and the prince ensured he always had a glimpse of the rising sun as for him, it was a symbol of hope. The prince reached the banks and sat down to meditate slowly, letting the rays of the sun surround him. As the light improved, the prince to his utter surprise, saw something so unbelievable, that he stood up." I must be dreaming", he uttered. At the very center of the lake, was the outline of a human-like figure, that of a child, which seemed to glow with a ferocious golden haze, illuminating the entire lake. "This can't be real, can it?" The prince uttered loudly as he plunged into the lake. Swimming against the currents, the prince reached the center of the lake, and incredibly there was a young girl, no bigger than seven or eight, unconsciously floating as if she were weightless. She wore a robe of exquisite magnificence that reeked of nobility. The prince brought the girl ashore and tried everything to bring her back to consciousness. Alas, to no avail. For, since the magical barrier had been unknowingly opened by the little princess, she had only the night to live. With dawn fast approaching, the princess hardly any time left. Consequently, her body turned black and blue, and she became weightless, almost as if her soul was starting to evaporate.
At his wit's end, Nagarjuna hurriedly carried off the little girl and brought her to Nagini's castle.The queen, initially, repulsed at the sight of the little girl from the world above. For she was a reminder of the shame and misery inflicted on the Nagas and the reason behind the death of her king. She stood by the palace window, tall and still, gazing absently at the blurred distance. She had two choices: both unattractive, out of which, she would have to make a decision. In these brief lapses of misjudgment, she was reminded of the promise she had made to the king, of showing mercy in the face of adversity. She suddenly knew what needed to be done. Immediately sensing that the little child who lay in front of her, was dying a slow death due to being poisoned by a rare magical poison, the queen dug her fangs deep in the neck of the little girl, slowly sucking out the poison herself. The queen summoned her guards and decided to go to the kingdom of Pataliputra to return what was rightfully theirs.
The queen entered Pataliputra with the young princess in her arms, much to the astonishment of the common folk. She walked swiftly with a purposefulness that commanded respect. No one dared to stop her, fearing for the worst as she reached the golden palace.
"Oh mighty king Agnivarsha, I come to you with a proclamation of peace. Time has unwillingly conspired to lift this barrier between our worlds by playing a cruel test of fate and destiny. I come here to return what is rightfully yours, doing my best to aid you and your world in this twisted turn of events. The time is opportune, for us to bury old rivalries and egos for the sake of the problem in front of us. I have done my bit, and you need to do yours." Saying this, the queen placed the body of the princess in front of the king.
The king, with great difficulty, could muster the courage to look straight at his daughter's face, for it had turned a pale shade of darkish blue. He felt as if his heart had been ripped off and drained off all its blood. Limping, the king edged towards his daughter, collecting his daughter in both his arms. Seeing the life sucked out of her from the closeness of his bosom, the king wept. To his utter dismay, the king spotted two distinct fang marks, as he caressed his daughter's beautiful face. "I shall not spare you, a snake true to its nature reserves its most venomous bite for the last. You have done the same. The Agni dynasty will not rest unless it has slain every Naga man, woman, and child," the king thundered. And in a single sweeping motion, brought down his sword, felling the head of the Naga queen. Blinded by rage, the king sought retribution by vowing to eradicate the entire race of the Nagas. He ordered his troops to get ready for war.
When the carnage and the fires of sweltering anger subsided, he found to his amazement, the princess Athiya breathing, though still unconscious. The blackish tinge had vanished overnight, for now, the poison which had laid bare in death's own arms had begun to fade away. The king, in an instant, realized his grave folly and fell deep down, sobbing. Every bite that he took was like cinders in his mouth, and every moment felt as if he were being buried alive under a mountain of guilt. The king, bereft with the will to live left for the misty mountains, leaving the kingdom in disarray. Hoping to atone for his sins by begging for forgiveness, for anger and haste had consumed him, blinded & destroyed him.
Princess Athiya, now fully recovered, could only remember the divine voice that had sung to her, revealing the true meaning of life being love, hope, and mercy as the only virtues that mattered. She went on to adopt the same doctrine, as she ruled the kingdom of Pataliputra. The princess eventually made peace with the Nagas by begging for forgiveness and marrying the Naga prince Nagarjuna. Finally, the world of the Nagas and the Devas had become one, bound by a single strand of love. The kingdom of Pataliputra set an example for the world, as it had no barriers, no boundaries, a magical realm where everyone was welcome, irrespective of the form, gender, caste, or the world they came from.