“I knew you would come to deliver me from my stony existence,” Ahalya said touching Rama’s feet.
“I’m just a means,” Rama said with an understanding smile. “Deliverance is one’s own choice, not given by somebody else.”
“But your touch sent grace flowing through my being. I could feel it. I felt the stone within me melting away. The lightness of my being now brings me bliss untold.”
|Ahalya - a Ravi Varma painting|
Ahalya was living in a granite cave ever since the intercourse she had had with Indra, the lord of svargaloka. Gods can transform your life in either way, she realised. Here is a god who liberated her from the monolith that weighed down her consciousness, a monolith that was put there in her consciousness by another god.
She had become a monolith after Indra visited her that day when her husband, Sage Gautama, old man with wrinkled skin and matted hair, had gone to fetch the materials required for his religious oblations. Indra looked like Gautama; he had disguised himself as Gautama. Gautama without wrinkles. Gautama whose hair was more scented than matted. Gautama whose eyes exuded the intoxication of lust.
Ahalya felt her youth moistening and longing for intoxication. She succumbed to the temptation pretending that the man who was doing it was indeed her husband.
When the disguised Indra left having satiated his lust, the real Gautama stood before Ahalya whose body was still recovering from the tremors it had experienced.
“I thought it was you,” she said sheepishly to her husband.
Rage flared in Gautama’s eyes. No mother mistakes her offspring whatever disguise they may come wearing. No woman mistakes any disguise for her husband. Disguises are our conscious choices, thundered Gautama. I curse you for this.
“Curses are our conscious choices, so is grace,” said Rama. Every error is an invitation to see our reality better, to realise where our consciousness is and where it can be. When we refuse to reach out to the potential of our consciousness, a curse befalls us.
Yes, I refused to reach out..., reflected Ahalya. I failed to stand up to my conscience. I deluded myself.
All curses are self-delusions, she thought Rama was saying. Every deliverance is a perception and an acceptance of truth. One’s own truth. Truth cannot be anyone else’s.
Rama was walking away. In his consciousness was arising a flame, a flame that would test the truth of another woman in a few years to come, the woman most beloved to him, the woman most chaste... the woman whom he would have to consign to a fire test for the sake of delusions. Endless human delusions.