“I just read up a new article on Krishna’s death, and as it so happens he did have a legit reason to die.”
That said, this new angle sure puts the plausibility of Indian mythology and the character of our beloved avatars at risk. That said, it made me keel over just to find out that Indian mythology at least took the efforts to explain some of its loopholes. As is normal with myths, the theory suggested raises more questions than it shuts up, but that doesn’t undermine the fact that it was at least thought out by the guy who wrote the story. In this case, I’m not really sure whom to put my finger on for thinking up this wormhole-ish solution, cuz it involves a crossover between the two most enigmatic epics to have ever roamed ancient literature. The Ramayan and the Mahabharat.
**The story that follows is fiction. The resolution can be confirmed through ancient scriptures, but the interactions are a pure figment of my admittedly awesome imagination 😉**
Flashback to Raghuvansh, when Valkals had just become the new cool.
You know Ram. That guy who ruined the life of every teenager on earth by being the most pretty, dutiful, dedicated, strong, sexy, charming, traumatised hero in history. He killed Sugreev’s brother Vali because the latter challenged Sugreev to a one-on-one combat. Ram hid behind a tree while the maces clashed, and just when his friend was about to snuff it, he let an arrow loose into Vali’s heart. The mighty, heavily deluded warrior fell, and as a last wish, made Ram swear he’d take care of his wife and bring his son, Angad, under his wing. The Raghupati then brought the Vanar Sena under his leadership and struck the pool of nectar that housed Ravan’s soul. The Shiva Bhakt stood no more, and Ram beheld home again with a wife, an army and a triumphant smile. And a flying chariot. Fuck you, Orville and Wilbur.
The Palace, Ayodhya.
Angad took a last sip of chilled intoxication as he mentally replayed his father’s death.
It was evening, and a whole week after Ram had ascended the throne of Ayodhya along with mother Sita. He was sprawled in one of the royal chambers, weary after a hot day of training.
It ate at him, knowing the murderer of his father was sitting on the Golden Throne, handing out royal robes to Brahmins. He had to avenge Vali, and that could only happen if he struck his benefactor, his Lord, his Daata, and robbed the kingdom of the greatest ruler that ever was to ascend the throne. His hands were cold. He started as a single drop of sweat fell onto his palm. He was surprised. The sweat was cold too.
Caught in a spiral of disciplined loyalty and natural rage, he decided to consult someone and seek for advice. He couldn’t survive like this, torn between love and loyalty; forever curled up in the void between this morning and the next. His father spoke to him every night. Demanded vengeance. He knew that the fiercely strong-willed Vali would never have done that in real life. That did nothing to silence the voice.
Angad held on to his wineglass, the only thing that seemed stable in a world spinning swiftly out of control. He had to do something. He’d made up his mind. Either the voices or the murderer had to go. He had to tell him.
“I’m glad you opened up.”
Angad snapped the clasp of his helmet as he wheeled his neck towards the throne. The metal fell to the red carpet in a muffled thud, and he yanked his foot upward to avoid getting pricked.
“So,” said the young soldier, the corners of his bulging mouth creasing with excitement, “Can I….can I….uh…do it? I mean, shall it be now or…”
“You ungrateful wretch,” a Sindoor-drowned Hanuman piped up from somewhere around Sita’s knees.
“Breathe, O son of Vayu,” said Ram to the orange mass that was his prized devotee. “And wash that muck off your face right now.”
“Why? It blends in perfectly with the faded Mehendi on Maa’s feet,” said Hanuman, raising both hands, as was his style, and letting them hover halfway across Sita’s neck. “I even had Manthara put little flowers on my forehead, look,” he added, showing a rainbow of mogras randomly stuffed across his locks.
The dusky lord sighed. “That witch of a woman.” A throaty snigger that was rippling somewhere near the palace window died instantly. There was a loud, metallic thud, as if someone had banged the pigeon-food vessel on the window sill. No one spoke.
That voice still brought pleasant ripples around Ram’s upper abdomen, making him stoop his lean frame a little. It wasn’t a hesitant insinuation like one of his royal ministers. It wasn’t a sweet command like his father. It was strong-willed and pleasant, determined and interrogative, concluding yet suggestive. He felt a weight lift from his lungs, as the humming chatter from the court resumed like a dewdrop carefully leasing itself from a lotus leaf. She’d leased the tension on the crowd in one word. His name. The way she said it. He could metaphorise it for a decade.
“What about him?” She pointed at the swiftly sobering foot-soldier.
The Vanar, now slowly regaining his faculties, was cursing himself to hell for being so naive. Ram sensed his discomfort, and allowed the hint of a faint smile to play with his features once again- partly to soothe his enstranged devotee, and partly as a balm for the nervousness that was eating him from within. He was human, and so many times had the people forgotten that. Now was the time to remind them again. Fuck justice. He had to act a human and save his neck.
“Not this once, Angad,” quivered Ram, a hand finding its way to Sita’s and firmly pressing for courage. She was looking at him with unquestioned love; a heavenly damsel that knew exactly what he was going through. She never once considered him a God. The Swami she used in front of the old codgers at court was just a formality. Elsewhere, he was Ram. Her Ram. And her Ram was scared right now. And why shouldn’t he be? The son of Vali had just asked for permission to kill him, the bastard. Given the freedom, she would’ve exiled him for fourteen years and had his wife kidnapped just to show him what that shit could do to your survival instinct. Then she remembered Angad didn’t have a wife. The kid.
Angad was poised with the butt of his wineglass sticking out of his fist like a dwarfed sword hilt. His face fell comically, and a couple of royal horses peeping in from one of the windows neighed a quiet snigger. Ram never tied them up. They’d led his chariot high and braved the nose of every arrow that’d threatened to touch their lord. They deserved an eternity of freedom.
Sita pursed her lips. All of them had grown used to believing that every action of their Lord served some latent purpose. “Yeah, it’s not like he asked for much,” she thought as she rolled her eyes. The entire hall tentatively clicked their tongues.
Now was the hardest part. Could he tell the son of a warrior that had died from his arrow, that he didn’t wish to die right now? There was no trick about it; no second motivation. He loved his life here in Ayodhya, and he didn’t want to let it go. He’d always thought he was a brave man. Serve him right.
Ram closed his exaggerated lotus lashes and recoiled from speech. The court promptly enveloped into thick, pressing silence. For a whole minute, the gradual flickering of the fire, the occasional clack of a passing hoof, and the stifled cough of a courtier was all that could be heard. The restlessness hung over the scene like a palpable balloon that was getting closer and closer to climax.
It was Sita again.
“Because he fucking deserves to live!”
The whole court turned around in outraged awe. Sita panned the thunderstruck audience half-shyly, gauging the reactions of her royal servants. Some of them looked shocked in a worshipping kind of way, others looked plain distraught. And for good measure. Never before had a swear word found its way into the conversations at court. Such obscenities, let alone from the queen’s tongue, were reserved for bedroom and stable talk. Sita had just violated an unspoken part of the court decorum. How would the Raghupati react?
Ram fiercely rubbed his eyes. The lashes had gotten entangled because he’d opened them too quickly. He looked cartoonish, putting up a show on the raised platform that bore his throne. He didn’t care. The look on Hanuman’s face and the shocked vibrations that ran through the crowd confirmed what he had heard was true. It had actually happened. Sita had sworn. In a court. Full of people.
“W-what did you say?” said Ram, looking at the head of the pendant that was slung across her full torso. It was a beautiful piece of work. He mentally took a note to reward the royal jeweller. Sita stared stiffly into the crowd, circumventing her husband’s vexed face.
Hanuman lumbered over, his face duly washed and wiped dry. He was staring perplexedly from Ram to Sita, picking his head for Mogra remnants. For the first time since he’d met him, Ram beheld the monkey that’d always resided within the peripheral sheath of civilisation the Vayuputra usually put forward. Sure, he’d had his share of goofiness that he’d leave his Lord to cover up for, but this was the first instance Ram felt as if he wasn’t in a royal court, but back in the caves where he’d first met the young ape- blunt, uninhibited, and brutally honest.
“You’re…you’re amazing,” whispered Ram to Hanuman and Sita at once, taking them both in his arms, and felt his spirits raise in a brief, swelling bubble of joy. In just a fleeting moment, however, those feelings pivoted to a sick, slushy depression. Sita had just spoken something unforgivable. Something that had to be punished. He couldn’t shy away. Not now. He had to stick to the rules. He’d written them. He slowly detached Sita from his grip, and looked at her in the eye.
What he saw startled him. It wasn’t nervousness. It wasn’t instabilty, anxiety or remorse. It wasn’t any of the things Ram was feeling himself, or what he’d expected her to feel. Her gaze was- there wasn’t any other word- scorching. Ram suddenly felt as if he was in a blazing furnace, with every pulpy bead of sweat on his body an account for those two blazing almonds that bored at him from the other side of the world. She knew what was coming, she knew what her husband had to do, and she was going ahead with it. It didn’t make sense, and yet it fell together more perfectly than their first night with each other. Sita looked like herself on their first night with each other. The beading forehead, the vibrating nostrils, the heaving chest; everything spoke of unclothed anticipation and excitement, with just a dash of fear. It was the perfect emotion that, for that one night and for many nights to follow, had sparked the usually unrippled Ram into an animal not unlike the ones he was currently surrounded by.
Hanuman sighed inwardly as he read the dilemma on the Lord’s eyebrows. He knew Shriram like he knew the back of his mind. He was sure if someone would tear open his chest right now, they’d see an image of the Lord, the Mother, and himself imprinted on his lungs. He was careful not to say this out loud. You never knew it with the royal scribes. He’d been high last night, and he feared he’d let something like that slip in front of one of the night guards, who was sure to tell a scribe. Not wanting to milk the current problem at court, Hanuman had to suffice with cursing to himself. The buggers could raise a hullabaloo out of anything. He was sure they were currently huddled in some secluded corner of the royal chambers, wobbling their chins over this newest piece of gossip and wondering just how they could shoe-horn it into Valmiki’s chronicle. He scoffed. Celebrities suffered. In just a few generations, they’d have twisted the poor guy’s epic beyond rescue. Bloody buggers.
Ram was still staring at Sita. The world had blurred for him, and all that remained, all that ever was for him to live for, was the woman now holding his hand so tight it was cutting into him; a reminder to her husband that she was real. But oh, she was so much more than that. Ram reeled his memory back to the thunderous crack of Shiva’s bow that had won him the most beautiful maiden in his life. He also recalled, with the slightest tinge of humor, the following tense encounter with the eccentric sage Parshuram, who was enraged someone had dared to commit such a divine folly. Ram had shushed him with his collection of mythological quotes, kudos to Vashishth, but the nagging doubt hadn’t disintegrated. The guy shared his name. Yes, he had been a Ram, another Ram, and it was obvious from the divine battle-axe that dangled from his right fist, why people had deemed it fit to add the prefix Parshu, which meant battle-axe. And that was when Ram was sure. Sure that he wasn’t the only one who’d felt this way.
Ever since he recalled of having possessed coherent memory, Ram had always had a tingling hint of him being a part of Vishnu. It wasn’t prominent enough for conscious attention, and the fear of being ridiculed by his peers had made it less so through the years; but in that infinitesimal moment it had burst forth in all its splendour, as Ram beheld what he was sure had been another piece of God- another piece of Vishnu- and, judging by the blazing white hair matted on the Rishi’s forehead, one that had come into existence much before himself. There wasn’t a doubt. Others might have had to squint hard to notice it, but Ram could spot the similarities right away. Parshuram was an avatar of Vishnu. Like himself. And there had been one moment in that chaotic exchange between the two part-gods, one teetering second of realisation, when they had looked into each other’s souls and given a unanimous nod of agreement.
Could that be the solution to this double-edged dagger? The reunion of two divinely intertwined beings had happened before, and both parties had realised what they were going through. Could something like that, if Vishnu willed, be forged again? That would solve Angad’s problem; one end of the rope. He looked at Sita one last time, her blazing eyes daring him to set her the hardest punishment possible. She would go through it for him. But, reasoned the little voice at the back of his head, wasn’t ten months in the company of a stranger, shackles on her body and desires, and a humiliating test of purity afterwards enough to assert her love for him? His lungs sighed millenially as he closed his eyes to the God. He was going to be selfish. He didn’t want any other way. He had chosen. He couldn’t see himself suffer. He couldn’t see Sita suffer. Oh, Perpetrator, give him strength.
“Not in this life, Angad,” he gushed. “I…I want to live. In another era, surely. In another time. In…in another piece. Sita, I forgive you.”
Now her gaze showed insult, anxiety and instability. She wanted him to live, sure, but she was furious she’d been treated like a weakling. Now the courtiers murmured among themselves like a swarm of gnats out to kill. Now he looked inside, and saw nothing but pure disgust. He’d violated the dharma for his own needs.
And he knew.
He knew he’d pay.
And not just this once.
He’d pay in another time. In another era. In another piece.
Even before the arrow hit me, I knew it was bringing my death. I felt my features contort in blind pain as I gripped my skull with both hands and let out a blaring, agonised scream that seemed to curdle my own blood. I hadn’t expected it to hit the palm of my foot. That place was sensitive. My eyes clouded over from the corners, and white floaters frenzied in the sky. I scrunched up my foot in pain like I’d never felt before, and almost on cue, felt it double as the wretched metal cut deeper into the sinew. I could not move to confirm my instincts, but I was sure I heard the distant, rhythmic pitter-patter of footsteps growing louder by the minute. In an instant, someone had traversed the distance between us, parted the bushes and kneeled down beside my twitching body.
My vision was splattered with red, but I could lift just enough of my eyeballs to drink in the outline of my accidental killer. Through all that screwed-up pain, I inwardly smiled. The outline was all I needed.
It was him. I squinted harder.
Lord Vishnu had been more merciful than ever. It wasn’t his son. It was him.
The lives had changed. The times had changed. The outlines hadn’t.
I managed to blurt out a guttural laugh as I realised my color hadn’t changed either. Strange how you never thought about these things when you had the time.
A near-final sigh escaped my mouth as I tried to twist my tongue into meaningful words. I wanted to say so many things; to tell him it was okay, to tell him it wasn’t his fault, to tell him it was just karma being a bitch. But all I could say was a single, spitty sigh. And that sufficed.
For just before I felt the life in my feet start to freeze, I saw his pupils dilate in shocked recognition.
And I knew he knew.
I grimaced in bliss. It was time for me to go. And go I did. Finally. In peace.
A.N. Too much work! I’m so sorry, couldn’t help getting worked up when I read this amazing theory of Vali being the Hunter 🙂
A few things.
1. The story is NOT TRUE. I mean, Angad did ask for vengeance and Ram did tell him that he’d get it in the next life, but ALL the rest about Hanuman and Sita and swearing and god-knows-what is just me. Put your biases aside and try to enjoy. Luv ya 🙂
2. Ram really did suffer a lot after getting recoronated. He overheard some commoner raise questions about Sita’s virginity even though she’d given the ultimate Test by Fire. Ram realised too many people were talking about how Sita could’ve just gotten cosy with Ravan. He sent Sita to exile. Yeah, he did 😦 I think that was just really bitchy of him and that he should’ve valued his wife more than his subjects. But yeah, Sita birthed Luv and Kush in the forest and they eventually brought Ram and Sita back together. Seeing Ram was still hesitant to take her, Sita snapped and disappeared into a huge abyss in the earth, never to be seen again. Thus traumatised by the ways of life, Ram drowned himself in the sea. Yeahhhh, not the ending you dreamt about.
3. Jara, the hunter who accidentally killed Krishna eventually remembered everything from his previous birth and reconciled with his fate. Legend says he heard the Lord talk to him in his dreams, explaining how he wasn’t responsible for what happened. He accepted the ways of Karma and moved on. Thank God for telepathy 😉
4. Finally, I just wanna thank you so much for reading this. It took me all I had to get my ass on the chair and actually write an original story. Once I’d started, I couldn’t sleep without getting it done. I’ve not been very meticulous with the facts; I lifted the skeletal premise and fleshed it the way I wanted. Hope you liked it 🙂
The rest, I leave to you, and to Him. Vaishnave Namaha.