[A novella based on the Ramayana and S R D Prasad's Bharatakaandam in Malayalam; continued from the previous post]
C K Kerala Varma
XIII. The final journey
Some of our provinces on the banks of the river Sindhu were under the threat of attack. Rama asked me to drive away the invaders. I took my two sons along. It would be a good lesson in warfare for them. It was a well-fought battle that we won on the seventh day. Come to think of it, this was the only battle that I had led. After the war, I stayed on for five years training my two sons in statecraft. My elder son Taksha took over Takshasila. My second son Pushkala was given Pushkalavata. I returned to Ayodhya confident that the two boys were well settled in their new roles.
When I reached Ayodhya, Rama said it was time for the sons to take over. He agreed to my suggestion to make Lava and Kusha the rulers of the North and the South of Kosala. Mathura went to Subahu and Vaidisha to Shatrukhadi. Lakshmana’s sons Chandraketu and Angada took over two other provinces.
We had reached the end of our life’s journey. Lakshmana was the first to go. My wait on the banks of Sarayu will soon be over with the coming of Rama and Shatrugna. Am I happy that I have had a complete life? I have churned this ocean of life seeking the immortality of gyan and karma, overcoming the temptations of mohini-lust, iravat-power and lakshmi-lucre. I have been a prince; I have been a hermit. Have I led equally well my extremely austere life as an ascetic and the worldly life as a prince, a husband and a father? Did I have the inner peace of an ascetic and the bliss of a family man? Did I ever do anything that was not fair, that was not just? My mother and my brothers Rama and Lakshmana had misunderstood me. What did I do to deserve that? Let me now hope that I’ve laid at rest all such notions of my ambition. I can hear the sounds from my brothers’ procession. Louder is the call of the river, inviting me on her divine flow to the sea of truth.
[C K Kerala Varma is a friend of mine and a senior officer in the State Bank of India. This is the thriteenth and last chapter of his novella. Please go back in this blog if you wish to read the previous chapters. Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri]