That marked the dawn of a new day; the dawn of hope for the devas and the munis.
Narakasur was a rakshas. He was very powerful. The Devas were afraid of him. So were the rishis and the munis. He showed no one any mercy. He had his way always.
One day, while he was out with his friends, seeking fun, he saw Devi Bhuwaneshwari, the consort of Lord Shiva. He had never seen such beauty. He could not take his eyes off her. For him, it was a case of love at first sight. He sighed, “If only I can have her as my mate!”
He did not keep this secret. Soon the news spread. The devas muttered and groaned. One of them said, “The rakshas knows that Devi Bhuneshwari the consort of Lord Shiva. And yet he has the cheek to claim her hand!”
“Vinasha kale vipreeta buddhi,” a sage quoted a sloka. (It means, Evil thoughts come when ruin is round the corner).
The devas and the munis went to the Devi. They bent, touched her feet and stood on one side with folded arms.
“What’s the matter? What brings all of you here today?” she asked.
“Devi. We have come to you to warn you about the evil designs of Narakasur.”
“Can a rakhsas ever think good. Well, tell me, what is his evil design?” Devi asked with a smile.
“Devi! The raskhas says he will make you his wife,” the leader of the group kept his voice low.
“Aha! That’s not so serious as to make all of you loose your cool. Stop worrying. Go and tell him that I am ready to marry him. Ask him to come here,” Devi laughed.
“You mean it Devi,” the devas and the munis were shocked.
“Of course. Go and convey the news to the Raskhas,” Devi told them.
They didn’t know what the Devi proposed to do. Yet they were sure she had a plan. One that would put the rakhsas in his place.
They sent a messenger to Narakasur. The rakshas received the messenger in his court. The messenger bowed and said, “I have a message from Devi Bhuvanewari. She wishes to see you. She is eager to meet you.”
Narakasur could not believe himself. He was happy to learn that the Devi was eager to meet him.
He used his magical powers to present himself before the Devi, in a second. He greeted her and said, “Devi. How happy am I now!”
She ran her eyes over him before saying, “I am told that you want to marry me. I am ready, but I have a condition.”
“What is it? You can command me. I will do anything for you, Oh lovely Devi!” he crooned.
“Build a road to my temple. Pave it with stones. I want the road to be ready tonight. Do that and I will be yours,” Devi Bhuwaneshwari set down her condition.
“That’s pretty easy, Devi! Your wish will be fulfilled, right away,” the raskhas walked off, happy when the Devi smiled in appreciation.
He set down to complete the task. It was not easy as the place was all lush green and full of vegetation and trees and it was hard to find big stones to build the road. But mighty Narakasur brought the big stones from far off places and started work. He made rapid progress. Soon the road began to take shape. The Devas and the munis and the rishis watched with bated breath. They were scared that Narakasur might succeed in his effort. They became more and more nervous as the road almost neared completion. Only a small stretch still remained to be laid..
The Devas and the munis rushed to Devi Bhuwaneashwari and told her that the road was almost complete. “Devi, what will happen if the demon completes the road. Then you may have to keep your word, go with him,” they were in tears.
“Have faith in me. I know how to check the rakshas,” Devi smiled.
The devas and the munis went back to a small hillock that overlooked the temple. From this lofty perch, the watched the rakhsas at work. The road was now nearly finished. “If only the night would end before he finished the task!” the devas and the munis muttered to themselves.
There was still no sign of dawn. It looked as though Narakasur would complete the task.
Then they heard a flutter of wings. They turned and noticed a cock flying towards the small hillock. The devas and the munis made space for the cock to land. They were happy to see the cock. One of them mumbled, “The cock has come. Dawn won’t be far behind.”
The cock rent the air with its Cuckroon Coo… and lo! the sun peeped from behind the trees and his rays ran over the hillock.
That marked the dawn of a new day; the dawn of hope for the devas and the munis. The rakshas alone was unnerved. For there was still a feet of road to be laid to reach the temple’s entrance.
Narakasur conceded defeat. He trudged back, dragging his weary feet. Never again did he cast looks on the Devi.
Why did the sun hurry over when the cock made its loud notes?
The cock was none else but the Devi. The sun obeyed her command. Together they made the day dawn early, just when the rakshas was about to complete the task.
This teen story was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2002).
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