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Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Saffron Robes

Read the previous part here
That night Sulabha ensured that Vinay was fast asleep. She slowly got out of the bed and walked towards the bathroom. She loosened her hair, turned the knob of the shower and stood beneath it. Standing beneath the cascade of water, she mentally prayed for the success of the penance that she was to undertake.

She came out of the bathroom clad in a saffron saree. Vinay slowly semi-opened his eyes and looked at her. She was wearing a big red bindi on her forehead. Her eyes were embers and her sight was frightening. Vinay closed his eyes tightly and pretended to be asleep.

Sulabha walked into the drawing room. She arranged the havan kund and lit the fire. At the beginning she asked for forgivance. A sin was committed on that premises, and though not a direct party to it, by staying in the house she was drawing upon the fruits of that evil karma. Besides, the one who was involved in it was her best friend. She was undertaking this penance on his behalf. He couldn't do it by himself, for the spirit would have finished him off in the first night itself given the weight of his sin. With Sulabha things were different. Her track record was clean. She could undertake it.

The offering fire was lit. Sulabha made an offering of milk, ghee, rice, sugar and honey to the sacred fire. With every offering, the flames kept growing. Sulabha started chanting the verses and a circle of light hovered above her. She had to tame this spirit.

Vinay and Nisha who were watching this almost fainted on seeing the halo.
'What is that?' Vinay asked.
'Hsssh.' Nisha said and gestured him to keep quiet.

Sulabha started swaying rhythmically as the sadhana proceeded. For a moment Vinay thought she was hallucinating too. He couldn't believe that the woman who wore an exterior of a rationalist was adept at such ceremonies. He was dazed. Nisha ushered him to his room and went to her room. The door of her bedroom was ajar and she watched everything from the gap. At a point her teeth were clattering with fear. The entire episode lasted up to one in the midnight. Thereafter, Sulabha offered an obeisance to the fire pit and walked as her usual self.
'Your wife is an adept tantric. The practices that she is undertaking is to cage the soul wandering in your house.' Mauli said.
'Isn't it good if she is bringing a restless soul to peace?' Nisha asked.
'How would you feel if you are restless and in order to bring peace upon you, you are locked in a room of two by two square feet?' Mauli counter-questioned. 'Liberation of a soul and forcibly tying it down are two different things. What Sulabha is doing is the latter one. No one except an adept tantric can do it.'
'What will be the consequences of it?' Vinay asked.
'Temporarily, the soul wouldn't be able to cause any harm to others. But it will certainly add up to the bad karma of the persons who undertake the practice.' Mauli replied.

'Doesn't Sulabha know of the consequences?' A concerned Vinay asked.
'Of course she does.'
'Then why is she doing it?'
'Out of love and friendship. The way a father helps his son cheat in exams and a mother quotes false salary of his son so that he will get married.'

'Can we do something to prevent her from doing so?'
'Persuade her. Yesterday, was no moon day. She will continue her practices for another twenty-one days. The practice will fructify only when the final offering is made on the last day. If she is prevented from making the last offering, she will be saved of the evil karma.'

'Can't you do something to counter her actions?' Nisha asked.
'Sorry, I don't indulge in such activities. As I had told you earlier, I am a mere seeker.'
'But there must be some way.' Vinay said trying to control her anger.

Mauli smiled and said, 'Observe her. She must be abstaining from certain foods.'
'Yes, yesterday when I made tea, she said that she has developed lactose allergy and won't take anything made up of milk. I found it strange. Being a doctor, I knew she had neither the history nor any symptoms of lactose resistance' Nisha said.
'If you could somehow coax her into eating the food which she is abstaining from and break her fast, her power will be reduced and she will have to undertake the penance for double the amount of time.'
'Do you think, it is that easy? You know how stubborn she is.' Vinay said as they were returning.
'I agree Vinay. She is adamant. But we are her family. If she is going astray we have to bring her back on the right track. I mean by hook or crook.'
That night when Nisha offered to cook the dinner, Sulabha plainly refused.
'Let me do my work.' She said.
'Have some rest Di, until I am here. Once, I am gone, you are all by yourself.'
'That is what I am afraid. Habits are easily formed. Once you go, I will feel handicapped.'

When Vinay took her the tea next morning, she took the cup in her hands. She poured some tea into the saucer and took it near her lips as Vinay watched her with holded breath.
'Vinay, you have poured milk in it. Don't you know about my lactose intolerance?' She said and placed the cup and saucer aside.
'Indeed, Vinay it is not that easy.'
'Nothing is impossible. Even the word impossible says I am possible.' Vinay smiled.
'Vinay don't tell me you have done it? Tell me how did you do that?'
'Patience dear, patience. Everything has to be told at the right time and place.'
That night when Sulabha sat for her practice, she felt utterly restless. Something was amiss, but she couldn't pin point at that. She continued her practice, but she could feel something was pulling her back. The halo on her head was smiling. 
Read the next part here
Read my short read My Spiritual Journey 


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