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

written form.

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

Chandravanshi symbol.

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,

police etc.

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

destroy us.

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