Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ahalya


“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. 

22 comments:

  1. Beutiful!
    “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.

    Beautiful .

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  2. I always knew this story.
    I have this whole story woven on a Baluchuri Sari gifted to me by my father in law immediately after my marriage.
    I wonder if he tried to convey any message then.
    He is no more.

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    1. Ahalya's story has been interpreted in umpteen ways, Indrani. Who knows which interpretation your father-in-law wanted you to remember?

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  3. A great message wonderfully worded!
    I think all these stories have symbolic values, for nobody knows whether these are true...

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    1. Of course, Amit, all myths and scriptures are metaphorical, allegorical... it's up o us to interpret them and discover OUR truths.

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  4. Popular story...Beautifully narrated and an Amazing Ravi Varma painting :)

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    1. This story is one I heard long, long ago, but in a different form. It's only when we are confronted with similar problems that we begin to interpret such stories in our own way and arrive at our own truths.

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  5. A very beautiful insight, Matheikal! And wonderfully presented. I've read it thrice before commenting and each time it revealed a new insight. It appears that these are some prophetic lines carrying message from very far.......

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    1. I've got a lot of questions already on this, Ravish. The last was from my wife who asked what I really wanted to say through this. I escaped saying that Joseph Conrad's prefaces to his own novels were silly because his novels were too complex compared to his own interpretations.... Well, I'm grateful to people who see the complexity. I cannot say anything more. Honestly.

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  6. What a creative representation of a lore...splendid

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  7. Ahalya's story in ur style.. Definitely it becomes interesting from the angle you have written. Ahalya's deliverance by Lord himself reminds me again of my fav of Taote's lines:
    The Tao doesn't take sides;
    it gives birth to both good and evil.
    The Master doesn't take sides;
    she welcomes both saints and sinners.

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    1. You got my focus absolutely right, Roohi. Not taking sides, not being judgmental. Francois Mauriac, in one of his short stories, says that it is because God knows everything that he can accept the reality. If we see the complete picture we won't be judgmental, we will be more understanding, caring...

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  8. Loved the way you presented this one, especially the last stanza, it was beautiful...

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