Ulupika had nurtured Aravan, and he had matured without his father’s guidance. He had always obeyed his mother. Even after Krishna revealed the prophecy, Aravan remained unmoved; will submit only if his mother gave permission.

“If not your son, it will be your husband, Arjuna, who will go to Durga,” said Krishna, when he met Ulupika and Aravan.

“O Krishna, I would sacrifice you to satiate Durga,” said Ulupika. “If that is not possible, let Arjuna go to Durga. He has not looked back at me or my son. What use is he to us?”

“He is the only one, the Chosen One, who will lead Truth to Victory.”

“Truth? It’s your truth you wish to realise. I and my son will have nothing to do with this slaughter you plan to unleash on humanity.”

“Ulupika, know your roots,” said Krishna. He waved a hand over her face. Light went into her eyes and she saw; remained spell bound. He said, “I’m sending your son back to you. Will you stand in his way? Will you keep him away even as he reaches to embrace you?”

Ulupika gasped and fell to her knees. She was one of several avatars sent to earth by the Goddess Kali; she was Durga incarnate. Ulupika’s chest heaved. She clutched her breasts in anguish and cried.

“O Krishna, you’re a cruel being.”

“Yes, cruelty comes from me, too, as do all the softer emotions.”

But Ulupika’s attachment to the mortal world and transient emotions proved strong. She could not deny the hand of fate and nor would she give up her son. She had come up with the two conditions, hoping that one or both will prove obstacle enough to stop Aravan from ascending the sacrificial altar.

Aravan must not die a virgin. She was confident no father would allow his daughter to marry a man who will die within a day. No father will allow his daughter to enter sati before she has given a grandson.

If perchance a father and his daughter came forward, she had a second condition: Aravan must die a warrior’s death on a battlefield. If offered as a sacrifice to Kali, he will not attain a warrior’s death. By such means, she tried to thwart what she suspected was Krishna’s ploy.

“Truly, your mother is a wise woman, Aravan,” said Krishna. He turned his attention to Arjuna as he spoke. “But no one, not even an avatar of Maha-Vishnu, can prevent the hand of fate from touching the free choices made in the realms of reality.”

*** Copyright @ 2022, Eric Alagan ***

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