Remembering Mashi

Last night, I was in surprised and overjoyed when I looked at the pencil sketch that bore a striking resemblance to my mother’s eldest sister, my one, and only Mashi. Mashi had passed away when I was just a pre-teenager. It was a long time ago. I am now a middle-aged lady and a mother of a pre-teenager and a teenager. Whenever I think of her, I remember her loving and giving ways and her single-minded devotion to Goddess, Ma Kali.

Mashi, along with her husband had gone to visit Mathura-Vrindavan, the birthplace of Krishna and where most of Krishna’s childhood days were spent. Unfortunately, she got infected with meningitis during her trip and breathed her last in Delhi, where she was rushed to, for treatment.

Last year I had made a sketch of a nice lady who is celebrating her 75th birthday later this year. I had taken a photograph from her youthful days and sketched a portrait, as best as I could possibly do at that time. Needless to mention, It had a bunch of mistakes. With practice I may have learned a few things, I thought. So my plan was to make the sketch better and probably closer to the photograph and give it to her as a present for her birthday.

Yesterday, when I worked on the old sketch for some time, I realized that I could not make it look like the photograph. But all was not in waste. Staring back from the sketchbook at me, I saw a strong resemblance of my Mashi. I felt blessed and loved. If Mashi still lived, she would probably have celebrated her 81st birthday on December 25th.

Mashi wherever you are, you are certainly in my heart. Pranamas.


Story of Puranjana – I

Once upon a time,  lived a king named Purañjana, who was famous for his great deeds. He had a friend named Avijñata. No one could understand the activities of Avijñata.
King Purañjana had unlimited desires for sense enjoyment.

One day, Puranjana sets out on a journey to search for a suitable place, where all his desires could be fulfilled, leaving his dear friend. Thus he traveled all over the world to find a place to settle down.

After a great deal of traveling, he was getting starting to give up hope.
Finally, while wandering on the southern side of the Himalayas, he came to a city that had nine gates. It was surrounded by walls on all sides. Inside it, there were luxurious facilities. There were towers, mansions, canals, and pipelines. The houses were decorated with domes made of gold, silver, and iron. The floors were made of sapphire, crystal, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, and rubies. The luster of the houses in that city was comparable to the celestial town named Bhogavati. In that city, there were many assembly houses, street crossings, streets, restaurants, gambling houses, markets, resting places, flags, festoons and beautiful parks.

On the outskirts of that city was a lovely grove encircling a lake. Birds and bees were always chanting and humming in the trees. The trees surrounding the lake received moisture carried by the spring air that blew over the streams coming down from the snow-capped mountains. In such luscious and peaceful forest, the animals had become nonviolent and generous like great sages. Consequently, the animals did not attack anyone. Anyone passing by that path was invited by that atmosphere to take rest in that nice garden.

While wandering in that wonderful garden, King Purañjana suddenly noticed a young woman, taking a leisurely stroll. She was followed by ten servants. Each servant had many wives accompanying them. The young woman was protected on all sides by a five-hooded snake.

She looked at Puranjana with big eyes full of curiosity. He became attracted by the arched eyebrows and beautiful smiling face. Purañjana, the hero, was mesmerized by her beauty. Every part of her body was crafted with grace and perfection. Her nose, teeth, and forehead were exquisite. Her ears were equally beautiful and had dazzling earrings. Her long dark hair was flowing down her back. Her waist and hips were very shapely and sensuous. She was dressed in a yellow sari with a golden belt. As she walked, her anklets made a soft chiming sound.

While she walked shyly with a slow cadence, she tried to cover her round and full breasts, with the end of her sari.

She looked exactly like an apsara from the heavens. Puranjana was immediately pierced by the arrows of her lusty desires. He could not help but address her with a smile.

“My dear lotus-eyed, kindly explain where you are from. Who you are? Who are your parents? You seem to be from a respectable family. Why are you here? Why do you have ten servants and a snake as your bodyguard? Are you the goddess of fortune or the wife of Lord Siva or the goddess of learning? Please tell me all about you.”

“Your quick glance and shy smile are evoking the deepest emotions in my heart. I can no longer be at peace until you look at me directly and speak to me. Please have mercy on me. I am Puranjana, a great hero, and a very powerful king. Will you marry me and live in the beautiful city of Bhogavati?”
Purañjana was hardly able to resist himself from touching the girl and
enjoying her. The girl also became attracted by his words and accepted his request by smiling. She was also attracted by the King.
The girl said: O best of human beings, I do not know who my parents are. Nor do I know the names or the origin of the associates with me.
O great hero, we only know that we are existing here. We do not know what ahead of us. Indeed, we are so foolish that we do not care to understand who has created this beautiful place for our residence.
My dear gentleman, all these men, and women with me are known as my friends, and the snake, who always remains awake, protects this city throughout the day and night.
I do not know anything beyond this. I wish you well.  My dear lord, this city of nine gates is for you to enjoy.  I feel very fortunate that you have come here by chance.  All my friends and I shall try our best in all respects to fulfill your desires.

The  two —the man and the woman—supporting one another
through mutual understanding, entered that city.