These days the world is wracked with the menace of Islamic fundamentalism. They have spread much terror across the globe but do not realize that they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction. Here it is worthwhile remembering the story of the foolish demon Bhasmasura, whose lust for power led to his downfall. Bhasmasura was a demon and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He wished for power at any cost. After praying for a long time, Lord Shiva appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. Bhasmasura asked Lord Shiva for the gift of immortality.
Lord Shiva shook his head. ‘I cannot grant that’, he said, with an air of finality. ‘All those who are born must die some time.’ Bhasmasura thought for some time. Finally, he said, ‘Lord, grant me whosever head I touch, that person should be reduced to ashes.’ Lord Shiva raised his hands in blessing and granted his wish. Bhasmasura began running after Shiva, intending to place his hands on his head. The two ran towards a wood, with the desperate Shiva praying to Vishnu for help. Bhasmasura was about to follow Shiva inside a clump of trees, when he stopped.
Before him stood the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He asked her who she was. She laughed and said she was Mohini and was out collecting firewood to cook the evening’s meal. Bhasmasura asked her to marry him. Mohini continued, ‘I am a dancer. I can only marry a man who can dance as well as me.’ They began dancing, and Mohini soon had a move where she kept her hands on her head. Without thinking Bhasmasura did the same! In a flash the foolish demon was reduced to ashes. A chastened Lord Shiva returned to Kailash, thanking Lord Vishnu.