The princess had realised the whole facts, and she repented. Grief overtook her. He has become my husband. I must better him. She lost in thought for a moment. A sudden lightning flashed across her brain. She woke him up. Scrubbing eyes he stared at her.“Beloved”, she addressed him: “There is a way, the only way…by which you can achieve Vidya, divine knowledge. If you are keen to possess it, I shall impart it to you.”She looked at him. His eyes shone with anxiety.“If you walk one league away straight, you can reach the temple of Bhadrakali of Ujjain. After midnight every day, she, along with her coterie, would go out to dance in the grave yards. Wait outside until she is gone. After she is gone, enter into the Sanctum Sanctorum, bolt the room and wait patiently. She would return at Brahma Muhurta. Having found the doors closed she would ask ‘who inside’ is. Don’t answer for the first two questions. Answer the third question and express your desire in an appealing way. Go. May all good befall you! And one thing more, never look at her person with naked eyes. In the glare of her radiance, your eye-sight will be lost.”
She, with great expectations and folded hands bade him farewell. The shepherd walked straight as if in half sloth and reached the temple. It was kept wide open. The Goddess has gone. He entered inside, bolted the doors and waited with anxiety, fear and expectation. Hours passed. Then he could hear some sounds and after a little while loud noises coming near. He was in all ears. The tintinnabulations of the Goddess. Then there was a heavy knock at the door.“Who is inside?”There came a peremptory command from outside. He could hear his own heart beats. As instructed by the princess, he did not answer. “Who is inside my Sanctorum?”
He was so terrified, stood stiff, closing his eyes.“I ask who is inside.” It was an irresistible question. Somehow, he summoned courage and made a counter question: “Who is outside?” “I am Kali. And you?”“I am your Dasa. Please have mercy on me.”
“And what do you want?”“I want to be your Dasa for ever and seek Vidya from you”. “Penetrate your tongue through the key-hole.”He did accordingly. The compassionate and merciful goddess with the edge of her sword gave a tender touch at the tip of his tongue. He at once felt a divine sensation.“Now open the door and come out.”Kalidas obeyed the order instantly. With closed eyes he came out. Yet through his closed eyes and mind the radiance of her divine form flashed.
He felt something like a warm embrace, totally unknown hitherto. Sensing that the temple doors were shut, he turned back. With folded hands he fell on the ground and prostrated.
It was nearing dawn. The east horizon looked saffron in colour. The birds started chirping. A cool wind permeating the fragrance of newly bloomed flowers embraced him. He ran towards the palace. The princess was waiting at the door steps.
Seeing the newly acquired aura on his face, her face beamed with uncontainable joy. Asti Kaschit Vagvilasa. She uttered in amazement. It looks as if you have been blessed with divine knowledge. She came forward to hug him with love.
Forbidding her, he withdrew a few steps and prostrated before her. “You are my first Guru”, he said, “Don’t do this offence. It is through your first initiation that I could be the only fortunate man in the world to have a direct encounter with Mahakali.” Starting with each of the three words that the princess said, Asti, Kaschit and Vagvilasa:, Kalidas composed his three greatest ever epics as a token of his Gurudakshina to her.
KK Shanmukhan (The writer can be contacted at [email protected])
(To be concluded)