Chapter One – Agni – Champion of Fire – Part 2
Dwadasanta adjusted himself along its stories…
Asura King Vala
There is an electric calmness in the air at Ancient king Vaḷā’s palace. Everything around glitters, and Vala himself is seated in what looks like a lair, ornate but dark, his body shines and reflects the jewels around him.
While he is reclined in the corner, his counsellor hovers over his shoulder prodding him.
“Let the Magician in him find his self-esteem, then we’ll have a contest on our hands.” He roars.
king Vala is most unconcerned about battle plans and the like, but his counsellor presses for urgency.
“But, your highness, they’ve replaced King Trisanku.”
King Vala animates all over again, “Have they now, well I’m going to miss pushing around little old Trisanku, that’s for sure. Do you know great king Trisanku was born middle-aged!”. Vala roars again in mocking laughter, “Its said that one can fit an entire city of dwarves in his burroughing eyebrows when he comes brooding to battle.” He laughs again.
King Vala was considered one of the strongest beings in the known galaxies, and it was said every cell in his humungous body was made of starry magic. And then when he started to follow ancient rigours, he transmutated himself and his entire kingdom to be imbibed with shine captured from stars and stardust. It was said that his palace was the most spectacular of all the gods, even Indra.
Of course, this did not sit well with Lord Indra. And so it was inevitable, when the second age announced that the first great battle would fall to the Great Grand Dolphin’s council convener Indra and the champion king Vala.
But all celestial gods, the titans and giants shared god Shiva’s favour equally, and so the war of influence would decide the way of the second age as the advent of Time to the first gods, and the new in becomings and begettings.
It turned out further that king Vala and Lord Indra had completely polar opposite ideas at how the Universe was to be administered.
But Ancient king Vala was merely a champion for darkness, and Indra the high lord of the Universe. One amongst the youngest champions of the stars, the other amongst the oldest guardians of the living Universe.
Vala knew in the long run he had no chance of victory, but that didn’t mean he would walk away from the giants, he was made of magic, while the giants as a race were made for magic, and especially for the Earth. king Vala knew it was the same Earth he wanted to spend his eternities on, and not the stars that reflected an entire race in his prowess.
“So who are they sending for me now?” Vala simmered down.
“Sir…” the counsellor looked a little anxious.
“Good god, not Agni!” Ancient king Vala interjected to himself in disbelief, “He’ll burn it all down!”
The wind suddenly passes through the palace gently shaking everything in a pause.
Vala jumped to his feet, the counsellor shuffling his feet to keep up, “Come on then, we have a battle to plan. Agni and I have history to make.”
At the field of battle, it commences.
Agni and Vala stand evenly poised. Vala, for all his grandeur is endowed with invincibility upon the Earth, matching Agni’s own birthright of the Earth.
Vala’s various defence mechanisms up for display against the gods. (mineral like forms that break from his body to fertilise as stardust into the soil)
Battles set and reset in 12 attacks by various gods, each successfully defended by Vala by deflecting starlight from different parts of his being and body. After the 12th attack, there is splendorous reflection of the entire universe that halts both armies to heed the moment and pause.
Then it resumes.
Agni’s direct attack on Vala sears Vala to the bone until he transmutates diamond shine onto himself repelling into indestructibility.
Indra fires missives at Vala, they are deflected by a colour saphire blue to match the sky that Vala shoots from his eyes to render inert.
Vala is cut, and begins to bleed, his blood turning rubies supercharged to his own force and will.
Vala inhales smoke, in the aftermath of Agni’s attack, and turns his bile into a rain of emeralds matching his kinetic force.
His battle-cries turn surrounding rocks into Lapiz lapullis amplifying his vocal ranges of attacks.
Similarly bridging to all 12 attacks in pearls, topaz, coral, bloodstone, crystal quartz, pulaka and cat’s eye crystals.
The battle was at an impasse.
Agni is summoned to the high council of the gods again.
At the Dolphin council of the Gods, the Sisumara Mandala, and the Saptrishis with Vishvamitra are facing down Agni as he appears at the high council.
The council is in a state of flux, and several influential ancillary gods and stars are present.
The council itself, Sisumara Mandala comprised of 14+1 primary members, with several others esteemed for their histories through time, most of them reticent sages who would not especially interfere in the ways of the universe. For the most part, Indra would convene, only seldom intervened by its other members.
All of these primary members gathered in proximity of each other was considered a moment most auspicious to know, and if not for why they are there, it was something special, Agni chuckled to himself.
What Agni did not know then was they he was going to become one of them sooner than he could have anticipated.
All the same, none of them intervened that day, and all the counsellors prodding to close the war, decided to trick Vala in order to defeat him.
Agni the champion refused to stand for it. The Saptrishis demanded Agni offer them an alternative, for some of them are still smarting from Agni’s past declarations of affection for their consorts.
Agni concludes to come up with a plan, but the high council was still not fully satisfied.
The High Council of the Gods, or Sisumara Mandala, or the soul of the Universe was the Divine Dolphin. And through it, Shiva, the grand Universe itself could be communicated to, and traversed.
There were three quadrants to the stars, the high council itself was the lowest quadrant out of them. The Dolphin bridged the second.
The High Council, however was the greatest authority actively speaking for the galaxy, and Indra, of the Ursa Minor was its officiator.
Agni is dismissed to plan his attack.
Meanwhile Vishvamitra and Indra come up with a plan, prodded along by King Nahushi.
The rules of fairness in the universe state that animals reside with the highest divinities. Therefor any sport or contest with animals meant honour was paramount, and force was never fatal.
The devas(Indra’s armies) decide, if and when all other attacks on Vala failed, they would pretend to look dismayed, and in desperation challenge Vala to a sport of animal instinct in a one-on-one contest..
God-king Nahushi incites that Vala will accept the challenge boastfully and mockingly. That he would surely abandon Vritra’s council, and reason to himself that if the entire kingdom of the Universe watching the battle loses faith in gods losing a contest, he would surely come up triumphant.
Indra pauses to consider it. Nahushi urges, “Besides, even if that did come to pass, between their forces and ours, the test of faith will always have our favour.”
Vishvamitra interjected, “But we can’t chance that!”
Indra sat down to think. Vala was the last Asura warring in the first age. He knew that the second age had several more that had yet to be contended, what with Vritra, Ravana and Mahisasura still waiting in the ranks.
Perhaps it was time for him to finally bend the rules.
“Agni won’t stand for it.” Indra said out loud, almost to himself.
“He doesn’t have to know, surely even Agni won’t back down from a contest of sport.” Nahushi closed his coercion.
There was a weighted silence, as if a decision had been made.
Suddenly, Matanga, The divine Elephant animal god, stood up… The tension of the Heavens was palpable. His gait expressed his displeasure, as he walked away from this crowd of gods rather than accept it.
This crack in the Sisumara Mandala council of the gods was going to be permanent.
The remaining members had order to maintain.
Katha Himavati was prodding Dwadasanta for the more of the story, or rather Agni’s part in it. Kathaiṃ was the both the mountains left of the stars, and the river from heavens as Ganga, as was her right decreed by Shiva.
But for all the time she knew Dwadasanta, he once told her they shared an origin story but had not yet still, told her how. She thought this was the day, she quickly realised it was not.
“Dwadasanta, will you stop distracting me when I’m thinking.”
“Well you wanted to know Agni’s story, do you know your own origin story with Shiva though. Because Agni’s story with Swaha, at this point of time becomes Shiva’s story.”
Kathaiṃ looked up at him, her body still drooping downwards on her shoulders.
“Tell me how.”
At the scene of the battle, Agni challenges Vala, using Indra’s weapon, as prodded by the devas.
Enough force to kill an elephant, instead of knocking him down since the contest is of land animals.
Agni, however, by now in the aftermath of union with Swaha, senses something amiss and partially pulls back…
But the impact of force through Agni and Vala had already ensued.
In that divine pause, Matanga, the divine Elephant appears and steps in as Shiva, deflecting the attack to purify it.
Matanga’s ivory tusk(tooth) breaks, thereafter being known as Vakratund, as he becomes a reflection of the universe’s divinity to the moment. Matanga gave up his seat among the gods.
The next animal of sequence and what Vala had adopted was the Horse(Asva). Despite Matanga’s deflection, Indra’s weapon, a thunderbolt called Vajra in Agni’s hand still catches Vala in his mane(hair) and by virtue of Vala’s universal light magnetises the impact, what with Shiva’s sudden appearance on the battlefield as Matanga, Vala can survive if he wants to, but upon seeing Indra abandoning honour hesitates.
The weapon Agni fired, becomes the first son of Shiva, Ganpati.
But in the ricochet appears Kartike, slaying the fine horse Vala was sporting as the moment.
Agni is mortified, but upon seeing Shiva calms himself to meet Vala in his final moments of the battle.
The red horse that was struck on the hair-mane splits into two spirit horses.
The remaining members of the Sisumara Mandala are all on the battlefield look on and find in themselves their necessary blessings to the part.
Their own stories too often misunderstood, and the Sisumara constellation that would in time hide itself in several other stars. In that moment however, they found its beckon, in the privilege of knowing and finding in the kindness of every blessing, no matter its necessity. The first age was ending.
Agni – Swaha
Not too long prior to the battle, Agni and Swaha recapitulated to their memories in integration.
When she had found him, Agni was about to set him ablaze in a forrest of stars, beset in his unrequited desire for virtue and the Saptrishi consorts.
Swaha, sister to the subjects of Agni’s affections, herself holds desire for Agni.
She approaches great lord Shiva for her trouble, as the solution proposed to her was that she gives herself to Agni for her own sake, and additionally for want of soothing Agni, she would emulate her sisters such that Agni’s past affection stood sated and pacified.
Agni, moved at the gesture, had accepted.
But then he stood called to be the next custodian of Earth and to battle king Vala.
Between his first appearance at the high council, and the war that begins, Agni and Swaha consummate.
Swaha’s shadow, Swara, the holy alphabet, changes its form.
At this stage, however Shiva’s aid to Swaha’s story reflects deeper.
A child is borne, in time to be named Kartike.
Reflections create their inferences, the stars shedding light, Ganpati the elephant headed, broken toothed son of Shiva. His would be called the glory of the Earth for a new age, its understanding veneration and auric glories in veneer to know.
Swaha was able to emulate six of her sisters (of the Saptrishi consorts), but not the seventh for depth of her devotion, Arundati. Who in time would be known as the most famous love story in the Universe, with Vasishta of the saptrishis.
Chapter 2 – Evening of Stars – Arundati, Part 1
Agni on the battlefield with Vala finds himself reticent.
Neither Agni, nor Vala has yet abandoned their divine honour. Vala, by virtue of being a good sport and taking a low-blow, has yet not sullied the contest, as Indra had originally intended. He chuckles at Agni, that in dying, in that way he’s proving better than Indra.
Agni, in those moments consoling his opponent puts together Shiva’s shadowy resplendence with Kartiké and Ganpati, one of whom was now also shared as his son.
And Agni himself, now a fully fledged member of the Sisumara Mandala high council of the gods, and the star closest to the Earth at the time of the second age.
The Earth was truly losing a graceful champion in Vala, Agni lamented.
Now Vala too, would become part of Shiva.
Vala, to Agni, and to the Earth offered his spirit… and in that great divine moment… Agni, for honour, and Vala, in honour.
The both healing, the white spirit horse and the black, reflecting the Asvins were the stars of that moment, and Shiva’s form as an Ashvagandha flower began to sprout from the soil.
The great Matanga’s visage loomed a blessing, a kind-hearted god-loving boon of beneficence no more of abode in the stars.
And as Agni stepped back, tears held back in his eyes. Vala offered to him, the weapon used on him, the Vajra, erstwhile only lent, now and then forever shared by Agni, apart from its original wielder Indra.
Of his body, and of his will he bore then three proofs of it.
The first, the seed of the encounter, known thereafter as the Bhisma-stone.
The second, the bloodstone, The Rudhiraktya, which Agni would offer to his spirit-twin with Shiva, Rudra, that which reflected inner fire, to restore balance to the Universe.
The third, was in the broken tooth of the encounter. All of Vala’s teeth would to become pearls when they fell upon earth, and some that were lost in the vajra of lightning to become cloud pearls.
The chipped tooth, that was once Matanga’s ivory, imbibed then as Vala, and the VakraTund of Ganesh, it fell as a cloud pearl, and had a part of Agni.
This, in the sunlight was Pushan, a aditya-likened form, who thought himself Dwadasanta, in time to be, as a charioteer for the sun.
And Agni, full-minded to the encounter, and with Swara’s reflection in his heart.
And the part of fire that was Dwadasanta momentarily split from Agni, almost like body to spirit into a continuum covering in cycles of 12. Traversing the courses of sound, and forever seeking . Time would find Dvadasanta offering a chariot of seven horses to the sun when required, each reflected in a pristine refraction from Saraswati’s own creative goddess form. But that was the story of Pushan, reflected by the Asvins where they witnessed the encounter of Agni and Vala.
But this cloud pearl was the one that also had Swara’s discretion to it. And by a stroke of blessing somewhere sometime when the rains and clouds would decree, would pour down in the wonders rare in rain.
Back at the after math of battle, the opponents have fused, there aren’t left any protagonists or antagonists, only witnesses.
Agni steps back, himself aflame as he walks upon the Earth. Each scorching step now imbibed with all of Vala’s strength and love for their shared progenitor, the Earth. And their love for honour and grace, shared thereafter in the tongue of fire, and as every part of Vala became mineral.
In that explosion of form, every essence of the Universe that emanated from Vala was magic, and its power something every god, every demon, every being, save Agni and Swaha wanted.
The beeline of the crowding gods and monsters began.
The blood of Vala,… Rubies sprawling across all that is red across the galaxy. The New Sun god, Martanda sprints, youthful and bashful, uncertain yet in his ways, proud of his own horses, the asvas being second to none.
But lo and behold, Ravana, yet to lose a battle, and a braggard to chase everything away. Martanda, not yet accustomed to being Surya, falters himself seeing shadows of Ahi the Ooroborous, in the moment, and Ravana secures his catch of falling stars.
Bringing them down, they flowed as the Ravana-Ganga, something Kathaiṃ Himavati was still yet to reconcile with.
The green bile of Vala sprawled as emeralds and was leaped for by the Naga god of Snakes Vasuki, eager to get away but yet intercepted by the mighty bird god Garuda…. Who took away most all of it with his birds.
Mixed with Vasuki’s own entrails, all the stardust that became part of Hydra, and when Vasuki and Nahushi (Draco) converged was what was left yet of it. Except for all of the emerald sky that fell on the Earth, that is.
The bones of Vala glittered into diamonds in fall.
His own star life’s work of cries and adulations becoming all of Lapiz Lazulli, or the Vaidurya as affectionally adorned.
The skin of Vala broke off as Topaz.
The eyes of Vala, blue as the clear sky, stronger even in light as proved by Indra turned Saphire in all their particles, known as the Indranil, scattered mostly though by birds like Chakravarta’s and cuckoos, both part of the Asura Vritra’s brigade.
All of Vala’s mighty teeth, fell into pearls merging to oysters, temples, snakes, bamboos, boars, elephants and clouds.
Smarting Vasuki, his own divine snake essence creeping out leftover of Pulakas in his naga foot prints as he fell to the earth.
His minions polished into red corals of his entrails mixed with Vala’s.
Amongst then the most prized possession of the moment became the nails of Valadṛsya, the Cat’s eye as we know them today.
And finally to surmise the clean-up crew when Indra took for the gods the spoils of the battle…The great monkey god-king Langali gathered all the remaining fat and marrow of Vala… and all that would become Crystal and Quartz to time.
Meanwhile, Martanda begets and becomes the new Sun as Surya. Met upon by Dvadasanta, self-reflective to his breath shining… He recognises the course of the stars and the history of spatial journeys.
Elsewhere other stories gathered grace and awaited their turns to speak and bequeath in understanding.