Chapter 18 — The Great Initiation

Thus have I heard:

AT LAST the Day arrived when Ruru was to attempt the Great Test; leading to Initiation if he was successful, leading to certain destruction if not.

Was he ready for it?

Narāda had many talks with him during the weeks before the event, constantly warning and giving final instructions of every sort. But Ruru felt quite confident and looked forward to the trial, which needs a pure mind and the courage of a lion; both of which he had.

"At last the years of my search will result in my endeavours coming to fruition," he thought. And then, one evening when the Moon was full, his Master led him into his own inner sanctum, which Ruru had never before been allowed to enter. In it was an altar, and upon the shrine was placed a silver cup, fair, and shaped like a flower, set amidst purple flames which rose up from several open lamps around the cup.

Ruru was girt with his newly-made magic sword, and as the purple flames burnt brightly they were reflected upon that sharp-edged, witching weapon, which affrights the shadows of the deeps. Upon his breast he wore a golden Lamen, inscribed with secret characters. He stood before the altar, muttering the sacred words, praying for the guidance and protection of the Gods. And when his petition was over, Narāda led him to the olive grove, near to a spot on the borders of the pool, and left him there with a last blessing.

Ruru sat down and fixed his gaze upon the shining mirror of the silver Moon, upon whose brilliant countenance appeared strange scenes. And it seemed to Ruru as if he were rising up towards that argent disk in the sky. Above his head shone great glories, while his feet were wrapped in sable clouds. Mighty pillars sprang up all round and seemed to reach to heaven, a fire of smoking sacrificial herbs lapping the base of each column. It was as if his spirit were dragged from his quivering body by clutching, unseen hands. And slowly he sank down again and found himself once more, half conscious, upon the leopard skin which his Master had spread on the grass for him, and earthly sight was blotted out whilst visions from the dark commenced their magic pantomime of wizardry; a play that could lead to utter oblivion, or to the spiritual splendour of the Light of uprising Dawn, when all the mystic veils are rent.

Rushing rivers; elemental waves; basilisk-eyed bats with giant wings as wide as the East wind; evil chanting of haggard witches; sightless lairs where dwells the scorpion in secrecy; golden throne-rooms filled with evil-smelling incense, steaming before gold-embroidered black silk curtains where the Black Angel of Spiritual Death sits upon his ebon throne in audience, surrounded by his messengers, giving evil counsel to his myrmidons of Hell; Canidian Sorceries—and no Avenger—scarlet sins; hideous nakedness of sorceresses with crimson-glowing eyes; an endless panorama of every aspect of iniquity. And then a final change of scene, and he found himself within a spacious cave within the heart of a mountain.

His pilgrimage of the spirit was about to commence, and for three nights and days he would wander amidst the terrors that abide in Fire: lighting up the witchery of Dusahk's looming bastions, raging with red-hot passion; Water: unstable as malignant sin, by undreamt-of miry shores and pathless wildernesses of impurity where boasting devils wallow in the slime of their depravity; and vitiated Air: suffocating the mind's organism with vain vapours of unreality; delusive, false, deceitful; fleeting, like chartered libertines without the harmony of constancy, but raucous with the dissonance of lustful stress into the murky gloom of night. Thus the aspirant was seated by the shore of that lotus pool, his spirit in the cavern, waiting for that which was to follow; his heart now filled with ominous forebodings of the coming trials which were to succeed that sinister prelude.

A sombre sound of chanting rose and fell within the darkness of the cave, a darkness speckled with tiny red points of light; and above the singing was heard the gurgle of spectral fountains and the insane chuckle of demons in that dusky den. Following the sounds, Ruru went forward and entered a region of deep mines of crystalline treasures of amethyst and topaz, beryl and ruby, pyrophylite that shone with a pearly greenish lustre, red almandine and glittering rock-crystal, scintillating with a thousand eyes of starry light; trees of gold and silver with turbulent jewels hanging from their branches, and drifting clouds of ever-multiplying coloured sparks which became mists of fire as Ruru wandered farther and farther into the labyrinthine galleries which spread in all directions, very confusing. For hours the Seeker strove to find an outlet, but it was as if Adharma, Son of Brahmā, the destroyer of all beings and symbol of unrighteousness and vice, the very opposite of his Divine Father, stood ever in his way to block his Path in this dark abode of Avatārana, the home of the demons of the lower world.

And then he saw a glimmer, as if Badavā, the submarine fire, had eaten through the rocks and now stood waiting to devour the Neophyte; but Ruru made towards that glow, undismayed, and entered a vast grotto which had no limits in extent or height that he could see. In front of him there stretched an endless gulf, a very chasm of Mahājwāla—the Hell of the Great Flame—with fires unquenchable, a scalding lake that burned for ever, a monstrous burden of sin in hot travail. But in the far distance there blazed a beacon of glorious Light, beckoning with its splendour and even dimming the fires of the pit. How was he to cross that cavernous gorge of leaping flames? How could he reach that Light?

And far above his head there shone a baneful red star, like unto Mangala, the planet Mars, and it was as if the Lord of Evil and of War with his one central eye, were looking down upon the daring spirit who thus invaded his domain.

And walking along by the side of the Deep in perplexity, for he did not know how to cross that fiery cauldron, unless there was a bridge somewhere, he found at last a place where there was built a flight of seven wide steps, leading to a tortuous path that sloped its winding way down towards the lower part of the pit and led amidst the fires to the opposite shore. And emerging from the flames appeared the forms of delectable maidens who beckoned Ruru, inviting him with honey-flowing glances to descend the seven fatal steps, down to the dread place where is established the residence of carnality and lechery, salaciousness of brutal appetites and hooded death eternal. So there he stood, at the head of that stairway, undecided what to do, but within his inner ear a voice cried: "WAIT!"

More and more maidens issued forth from the flames and the pathway widened, while great rocks of onyx and malachite, chalcedony and jasper rose up amidst the fires, and they were crowded with the most lascivious females. And they called incessantly to Ruru and invited him with lubric signals and lewd, libidinous, wanton gestures; flaming sisters of shame.

Pearl-eared they were, but wanton-eyed, like bloody-toothed Durgā, the nourisher of herbs, and they reminded him of Dākini, the female fiend attendant upon Kāli, who feeds on human flesh. Golden bodied they were, exhibiting their charms like nude Kotavīs, or like Kadrū, the ill-famed daughter of Daksha and mother of a thousand powerful and many-headed Serpents; and an ocean of silvery laughter issued from their smiling lips; as if they were so many Hāsyārnavas, whose name implies this rippling mirth. And surely, Krodha-vasā, the mother of all sharp-toothed monsters upon the earth, amongst the birds, or in the waters, devourers of flesh, must have been their dam; or perchance it was Nikashā, the demon mother of Rāvana.

And so these Sākinīs, attendants upon the great Goddess, called unto him, but Ruru made no move; and then, in the twinkling of an eyelid, the maidens became like maddened tigers, and torrents of frenzied words snaked from their scarlet mouths like uncurbed serpents. And they changed their forms and turned into great demon-horde, battalions, arranged for envermeiled fight.

Ruru raised his sword as the devil-ridden secrecy of the furies and the fates stood now revealed; and horde upon horde of yelling shapes, infamous, streamed forth from the deeps of that foul cavity and gathered in front of the steps, as yet held back by their fear of the shining rays blazing from the sacred sword, chalybean, of well-tempered steel, as if they were waiting for a leader to direct them.

And there arose Su-vahu, the Rākshasa son of Tārāka, once slain by Rāma but resurrected now in Hell. And Agha, the Asura; Kansa's general, who assumed the form of a gigantic serpent in ancient times, so that Krishna's companions, the simple cowherds, entered within its maw, mistaking it for a mountain cavern when sheltering from the storm; but Krishna rescued them and saved them from destruction. And both these demons held in their hands the Agneyāstra, the weapon of fire, like that which Bharad-wāja gave to Agnivesa, son of the Fire God, who passed it on to Drona.

And there appeared the fiery God himself, Agni, the seven-tongued, who guards the south-east quarter which is called the Pura-jyotis. This time he came as Kravyād; hideously shaped and with two iron tusks projecting from his mouth. He, the greedy one who once desired to consume the whole Khāndara forest to recruit his strength, weakened by excesses. But Indra stood in his way until Arjuna, aided by the divine cowherd, Krishna, assisted Agni and he had his will. Clothed he was in black; smoke his standard and his headpiece; carrying the flaming javelin. He is four-handed and borne in a chariot drawn by red horses, and the seven winds are the wheels. Hoarsely yelling he drove through the flames of the pit, threatening Ruru and rushing along on his way past; he, the triumphant Aja, the unborn god, who scorned to take part in the conflict to come.

It seemed as if the hours flew by relentlessly as one after another of these monstrous forms appeared; but Ruru waited as commanded for that which was to come.

Here appears Alambusha, the great Rākshasa worsted by Sātyaki, and Muru, the demon with his seven-thousand sons; bad-faced Dur-mukha, one of Rāma's monkey allies; Emūsha, the black boar with an hundred arms, who once raised up the earth; Kabandha and Maddhu, who sprang from Vishnu's ear when at the end of a Kalpa he lay asleep, and a host of Mukhāgnis, the fiery-faced goblins and spirits, bleating and bellowing like Mayu.

It was as if a lamp of torture had been lit within the grot, searing the very fibres of Ruru's mind with its white-hot rays that sang a dirge of anguish and of terror.

Now the mighty wall of crimson flames rose higher, ever higher, and, howling with insatiable gales of wrath confronted Ruru's spirit, and there appeared the black form of the great Angel of Night, dread Commander of the evil forces, with secret smiles, ominous and cruel, and casting baleful glances with his dark and sinister eyes upon the Candidate, who, armed with unseen strength, now faced the cryptic terrors; his spirit clad with the steely armour of grim determination. And further multitudes of dwarfish elementals came into view in the form of harshly crackling flames, and as each flame sprang out of the central fire it took shape and mocked at Ruru in savage tongues and magic maledictions.

And Andhaka the demon, son of Kasyapa and Diti, thousand armed, Shīva's victim, attended by a troupe of headless Asuras, in company with Dur-vāsas, the ill-clothed one of the vile temper, accursed of his Sire and predicter of Krishna's death, a stranger to remorse, an enemy of the Gods, increased the throngs of horned phantoms.

Now, the Lord of Evil commenced an enchantment, seeking to dismay that still and silent being with the gleaming sword, and his wild song rang through the cavern as if to burst the distant iron sides of the vast mount enclosing it. And, towering far above Ruru's head, he uttered dreadful curses and secret words of intimidation and sacramental death, like a Soneteer of Occult Spells, in strange notes of despair. Quivering rocks and red fountains of flame grew into mighty anthems of fierce Satanic power, the grotto's vault embattled with streaking meteors and fire-tailed comets. And now he gave the sign, and, rushing up the steps, the demon army commenced to attack that solitary figure, and the urns of wrath were emptied out upon the Neophyte before that flaming portalice. Pressing forward they sought to tear down the Hero who valiantly defended himself, and as he fiercely struck and smote, the trench below was filled with the slaughtered, venomous brood, and clouds of smoke and sulphurous fumes hissed from their hideous wounds as the great sword took toll and mowed down their ranks.

But with tenfold fury the maddened throngs surged ever forward to fresh attacks, spurred on by their Leader. Like a tempest of maniac exultation, plumed with burning vapours, the profligate flambeau of war raised high, the fervent passions of the diabolical horde blazed ever higher amidst the ghastly turmoil, with pendulous vibration of fluttering, flaring bursts of rage ringing above the carnage. The vile and most malignant fiends, malevolent offspring of Kasyapa and Krodhavasā, created out of the stray drops of water which fell apart when Brahmā produced gods and men; they perished beneath the gleaming rays of that mighty, striking sword, as Salya was slain by Yudhishthira.

There stood Ruru, unconquered, like Ajita, god-like in his bravery, confronting fiends like Bhīshma, the terrible, son of king Sāntam and the holy river goddess Gangā, the river-born, who was pierced by innumerable arrows from the hands of Arjuna, but even then his mighty will kept him alive for eight-and-fifty days, he having the power to fix the day of his own death.

Red crested and black limbed they waged merciless war against the lonely being at the head of the steps. And now the staircase was cleared for the advent of the warrior Duryodhana, he who is 'hard to conquer'; the great adversary of Bhīma of whom he was violently jealous on account of his skill with the club. So he poisoned Bhīma and threw his body in the Ganges; but Bhīma—deathless—sank to the region of the Nāgas, who restored him to health and vigour. Now Duryodhana came to try his treacherous skill single-handed, matching his great club against Ruru's sword. This was the most desperate part of the whole battle, but the Gods of Fate stood by his side and Ruru, wielding his weapon with undiminished power rushed forward, and with one ferocious blow clove the club in two and then, moving like quicksilver, striking like lightning, smashed the giant's thigh, like Bhīma did before, after the Nāgas had brought him back to life. But before he, Ruru, the subduer of the thunderbolt of that great club, could spring back to the top of the steps, a new horde of Kālamukhas, the black-faced ones, who spring from men and female demons, tried to capture him, for such was the meaning of the trap, and with them were the red-winged and tuft-haired ones of the underworld, and they appeared in form like Kesī, the demon who fought with and was defeated by Indra, but like another god Ruru met them and slew and slaughtered undismayed, gradually retreating up the steps until he stood once more upon its topmost rung; and courage crowned him with a diadem, a veritable Kirītin, like that of Indra or Arjuna. And the scene resembled the field of Kurus where the great battle between the Kauravas and Pandavas was brought to a bloody conclusion; or like the vast arena of the Mahābhārata.

And now came the final assault of the Loha-Mukhas, the iron-faced men; swift they are and undecaying, strong man-eaters withal, and they were led by the very horrible Asura named Naraka, wielding Musala, the pestle-shaped mace carried by Balarāma, the hero; and it was named Saunanda.

But clothed in the impenetrable armour of virtue, Nivāta-Kavachas, they were met by Ruru, and slain, lips extended to ears in their death-agonies; and Sani the slow, regent of Saturn, black of visage and dressed in robes the hue of soot, looked down from the sky with approval—for the harvest was rich.

But still the attack went on; from all sides they swarmed upon the stairway, still urged on by the harsh commands of their dark Master, and Ruru thought: "Will those black battalions never cease their onslaught? Will those multitudes of appalling shapes be never overcome? Oh, for the guiding hand of my Master! Oh, that his mighty strength might be added to my feeble endeavour!"

But no! He must fight these armies of destruction and conquer them without assistance, and he must not waver once, or he would succumb in agony and perish for ever. Steadfastly he watched and struck that storming, raving host, while in his mind he concentrated on the Holy Name, the Word of Power. And then at last there sounded from his Soul the order: "NOW!!"—and circling his sword above his head until it resembled a huge white flame, and fixing his eyes upon the Lord of Night, he uttered the sacred WORD; Holy and Terrible; and it shook the very foundations of that gigantic mountain.

Thunders echoed through the cavern as the Satanic Master vanished, defeated by Ruru's protecting symbol of the flashing, circuline Sword and his utterance of the Dread Name. From the multitude of elementals rose up a sound of wolvish howling, and triumphantly he saw the distorted troops fade out in the Rays of a rising Light; and a Song of Praise rang forth from within its radiant Heart, like the tolling of a golden bell in unspeakable resonance. The whole cave was lit up with the white flaming effulgence of that Song, and the rustling of a thousand Angels' wings breathed cooling air where the hot conflict waged before. The flames of the pit had died down, and a white bridge bespanned the chasm over which Ruru walked unharmed to the farther shore; the first part of his Test completed.

But the shining Beacon seemed to be as far away as ever on the remote border of the grotto when the great Light had subsided again and the jubilant Chant was ended.

The region in which he now found himself was very desolate and seemed endless. The ground was covered with stones and rocks for miles, impeding his progress. It was now the second evening in the cavern, but it was as if the previous day had lasted for centuries on account of all that had occurred; and all that night he went on, just being able to see because of the distant Light he wished to reach; and when it was day again upon the earth he found himself confronted by a sullen sheet of water, a vast lake, murky under the evil, gleaming atmosphere of that gigantic cave, which was now lit up by greenish vapours. The dark and threatening waters were covered with phosphorescent sparks, like myriads of tiny eyes, and distant reddish flares lumed the shadowy deeps of the grotto.

And then there was an ominous stirring within the waters, causing numerous ripples to spread in all directions, elongating and distorting the glisterings of the specks and agitating the surface. And a dank smell rose up, like that of a muddy river in which the crafty amphibians lurk, cold, cruel and ferocious; or like the lingering miasma of heavy-petalled flowers, green and leprous white, luxuriant in the dark, exuding tropic poison-sweat; and it was surpassingly bitter to the nostrils.

Here and there the luminous specks came to the surface, and with loathing in his mind Ruru beheld the pointed heads and darting tongues of venomous water-snakes. The specks were eyes after all, he thought, as they stared at him with ferine, unwinking glances. And soon the whole of the dark surface was literally covered with awful monsters like alligators, sea-spiders or macropods; pike with deadly jaws, filled with needle-like teeth; gymnotus or lamprey, stinging-rays and torpedo-fish, and dreadful beasts with crawling tentacles and jelly-like forms; and all were hurrying towards the spot where Ruru stood amidst the jaundiced bones of previous Seekers which lay bleaching on the oozy shore, and so he watched these legions of writhing serpents and other horrors, joined in the wedlock of Vimoha—the Place of Bewildering. And now they reached the muddy strand, and, assuming elemental forms, they stalked him from all sides, hoping to entrap the lone visitor or forcing him to retreat.

Furtive snakes, lizards and serpents crawled between them, staring at him with their expressionless eyes: a lustrous, gleaming heap of brazen beastliness—vermicious.

Here comes the stealthy toad, full of poison; yon the basilisk and iguana; again the scyllarian, armed at each side with four antennae, side by side with other grim and giant crab-like terrors, waving their great claws in the air, ever seeking for prey. Spiders of huge size rushed along in greedy haste, and the scorpion and tarantula rustled past mysteriously, adding to the dreads of the dusky twilight. And there flap the satanic wings of carnivorous, squeaking vampire bats with tiny, baleful faces, betraying the secrecy of the stagnant, sultry air like sudden phantoms, in and out of the shades above that starless, languid lake in the unprofitable gloom. And a great dragon rises up from amidst the slimy forms in the water, shaking the crawlsome multitudes from his rainbow-coloured scales. This was Mahāraga, the Great Serpent, like unto the great snake Sesha; and proud he was of mien, as if he were Makara himself, he, the vehicle of Varuna, who carries that Sea-God across the wild ocean.

From the subterranean country of Pātāla, hordes of treacherous adders come up in undulating, sinuous herds, travelling to the surface of the earth within the grot. Among them are seen the amphisaena that can crawl backwards as well as forwards, adding to the horror of their twisting shapes; and asps with golden crests and crimson-hooded vipers raise up their noxious, hissing heads. And the infernal regions of Pātāla are so pervaded by the vapours of illusion that the very Saints stand bewildered, not being able to distinguish truth from falsehood there; like the Sage who declared upon his return to Indra's Heaven after a visit to the lower world that it was much more delightful than Paradise itself, abounding in every kind of luxury and sensual gratification.

And Ahi, the demon serpent of drought, and Ananta, the infinite one, the greatest of all serpents, descended from Kadrū, came slithering along, he, the many-headed, accompanying Kāliya, the five-headed serpent king who dwells in a deep pool of the Yamunā, with numerous attendant serpents. His mouth vomited fire and smoke, and once he caught Krishna when yet a child as the bright young god jumped into his pool. But Balarāma called upon the boy to exercise his divine power and he got free from the coils. And here is Arbuda; slain he was of yore by Indra, but now alive again within his own domains to wreak vengeance upon the weak and unwary. And Kulika in dusky brown with a half moon for his tiara; he now hails Panchajanya, the conch-shell, who dwelt in the ocean till Krishna killed the fiend and used the shell as a trumpet for many years.

Ruru stood still, undismayed, by the edge of the moody waters that lapped the ambiguous shore; the great golden Lamen upon his breast flaming with the names of God. But the silent activity of that spawn of devilment around him, created by the nether gods for their own grim amusement and the bewilderment of men, was even more unnerving than the battle of the steps. The sliding, grating sounds of harsh scales dragging across the wet mud or uneven stones and rocks, the nimble scurrying of the uncountable acaridan feet of hoary spiders, the absonous squeaks of the squealing bats: they all combined to form a discordant symphony of glutinous, soft and occult clamour that swelled by ceaseless repetition into a squally turmoil, tearing at reluctant nerves with nothing to accoy their contumagious agony.

Great clouds came rolling along above the lake; big-bellied they were with unshed mischief, ready to burst; insubordinate and proud. And torrid mists descended above the dishonest waters, concealing their smirking smoothness and spreading over the shore. And the mists condensed and took on the form of fierce Chandikā, or the ten-armed variation of Durgā, a weapon in each hand; her terrible countenance dripping with blood. Encircled is she with snakes, hung round with skulls and human heads, grinning at Ruru when she remembered him as the boy with the babes at the burning-ghat. And after regarding him with malevolent eyes, she rose up to the grotto's roof in a dissolving mass of vapour.

And this is followed by a heaving of the sandy shore when Dhundhu, whom Kuvalayāswa slew in combat, rises up from beneath the sea of sand where he was hid, to regard the Candidate with eyes of icy green. And out of rocky holes rise up the Mauneyas, Gandharva sons of Kasyapa, who dwell beneath the earth in millions. And there is a mighty stirring in the waters when the great rainbow-coloured Serpent lashes his tail impotently; tired of inaction. And Ruru beheld the threatening, boiling torment of the snapping waves, devouring one another as the avid breakers rolled and tumbled in indecent haste towards the shore. And the great, leaden-hooded clouds broke in a million shivering drops, weeping down in squally rage. The gutters of the sky broke down and gigantic waterfalls fell from the grot's dark ceiling and splashed and smashed like pachyderms on muddy shores. Each drop was like an arrowed shaft of stinging pain, and streaks of glittering tears enskeined upon the wind, entangled in a wet confusion of slashing, sparkling, hurling drifts—aslant.

Vast hailstones fell upon the bitter waters and the acrimonious soil—accursed; the waters of separation from the Light, ruled by Parjanya, the rain-god.

And there stood Ruru; coldly and immaculate as the waters and the spirits trespassed and strove by the lake, as if they were the waters of Meribah where once the prophets sinned against the Lord Jehovah.

And then the rest of the clouds burst with a thunderous roar and the avalanches fell—screaming like the agonised ocean of perplexity and the torrents of death.

But suddenly it ceased—and there was silence, broken only by the soft glidings and slitherings of the serpents and the rest.

"Hah," thought Ruru, "at last the time for action has come," and he cast a spell upon the great dragon who with malevolent mien had issued his silent commands to the subtle legions under his ferocious sway without his minions being able to execute his behests, for Ruru was ringed round with an invisible but powerful shield of protection, projected by his will, which nothing could penetrate. And so he hypnotised the draconian monster, that evil master of the elemental forms who had been threatening from all sides, even amidst the rain, and he made him powerless and invisible to his creeping, swarming armies.

"Fall, thou Serpent!" was his command, and the dragon collapsed in a swirl of waves, like Namuchi, the demon slain by Indra with the foam of water, for the spiritual power of Ruru was at that moment as great as the might of Rāvana, the demon king of Lankā, the mightiest demon of all, who made servants even of the gods; or as Hanumān, the celebrated monkey chief, son of Pavan and Anjanā, who tore up trees, carried away the Himālayas and seized the clouds; his complexion is like molten gold, his face as red as the brightest ruby; he roars like thunder and is Rāma's spy and valiant warrior: thus was the strength of Ruru in that grot. And in order to overcome the hordes he assumed the body of their Lord and took command. And he ordered the Pātālian brood back into their underground retreats, and sending out the force of his magic power he dissolved the bats and spiders, the spirits and demons into the nullity of nothingness and all the rest back into the waters. And he commanded them to stay on the surface of the lake to make a path for him across it like a raft, and when it was done he walked fearlessly across towards the farther shore. And so ended the second evening of his Test.

And when he had safely crossed that turbid tarn he went straight on, without a single backward glance, until upon the morning of the third day he reached a great abyss, wide and deep and utterly black. There it lay between him and the still distant beacon of glorious Light.

How was he to cross that profound Deep which still separated him from his Goal? Within its depths was heard a droning sound, like a wild stirring of the quivering wings of countless swarms of angry wasps; and a blast of air ascended, agitating the interior of the cave with appalling fury. Scolding winds raged over his head, only to drop suddenly to boding silence, and dull sounds muttered in disturbing, ghastly harmonies of throbbing low-voiced music without tune: as if the aerial tribes of tempest-laden air prepared for battle betwixt each hush.

A chant of hidden spectres moaned in strange fascinations upon the evil air, aimlessly and faint with a monotony of unmelodious wickedness, as if the supernatural voice—Upasruti—itself was heard as it calls in the night, revealing the secrets of the future. The black breast of nocturnal mysteries was heaving with occult emotions, as if a legion of monsters were dancing a leaden-footed measure, trampling the uneasy elemental dust with ponderous steps to celebrate their sempiternal damnation. The sleeping winds had departed from their stony caves aloft and rushed abroad from the eightfold quarters of the world and seemed to enter within that mountain-grot for dire contest, led by Vāyu, the god of air, who rides in Indra's car, driven by the divine charioteer himself; and the winds pressed mightily, breathing heavily upon Ruru as he stood in front of that deep gorge, as if they were the spirits of perdition themselves, smiling in derision.

Thunders reverberated in the blusterous air in solemn chords of pulsing, stormy anthems; and strange sobs, the muted trumpets of the gale were heard and ambient lights shone in the blinding, darkling atmosphere, which even dimmed the beacon of light. Piping blasts, rocking in stormy gusts, shrieked in the barren solitudes of upper air; whirling, rattling, sighing dirges of forsaken despair, now vindictive, then rebellious, in reckless versatility, as if a villainous tavern, void of victuals, spewed out its thirst-maddened frequenters, frothing forth vituperations.

Bhima-Sena, the terrible god of the wind, called wolf's belly, strode heavily round the cave, swinging his club, heaping contempt upon Ruru, as once he did on Kama. He, the drinker of blood, who killed the elephant at a single blow, the unfair fighter, truculent and brutal when in a passion. He, the red tulip of crimson tyranny, intolerant and despotic, ventilating his treacherous wrath while his winds fought duels with the clouds and one another.

The storm made windy epigrams about the mangled maidenhoods of virgin clouds when brutally he had his will and tore their shrouds asunder. Like mocking-birds the ostentatious gale did laugh the solitudes to scorn; it was a very Sabbath of Prodigality, without the stint of avarice.

High above Ruru's head there rode the spirits of the storm, their flashing shapes alight with bluish flame. And circling round and round in ever narrowing rings they descended and threatened Ruru with their galvanizing spears and javelins. With infuriated glee they swooped down, pointing their flaming assagais at the solitary figure, baffled with rage when 'something' ever seemed to spoil their aim; hurtling down their fiery bolts, wild-eyed in the gloom when all their missiles failed to reach him.

And Māha-Kāla, the eight-handed form of Shīva stood expectantly as the demon Trināvartta came rushing along, donning the flying robes of the whirlwind; and other monsters, like Sūrpa-Nakhā, with nails like winnowing-fans, grimaced at Ruru in the tempest amidst the Yātus, the evil spirits in their various forms, fluttering in the tornado.

The brazen trombones and the flutes of the four winds sounded like unto the gale that blew upon Elam, and the desperate verbosity of the storm resembled that great bluster which bawled against the ships of Tarshish, or the destroying wind of Babylon—vehement.

And now broke forth an avalanche of yells and curses, taunts, jeers of malice, scoffs and sneers, insults like those of the black dwarf—only much more deadly—until Ruru's spirit towered in righteous wrath when at last the multiform monsters and hordes of harpies and of furies rushed at him in a concerted attack, like the lawless Barbarians of the North. And with a voice louder than the storm he challenged them and made a thought-form of a blazing Pentagram in the midst of which he stood, intoning the powerful words of the great Tibetan Ritual: "A—um—A—Hum . . . Sva—Ha!!!!!!!!"

And the evil forms melted away in the Light of his magic Emblem, for the Light, to them, is as great a torment as fire is to mortal man, when, like a tongue of Holy Flame, the dreadful incantation rang forth from his lips. The whole black region shook and quailed, as if the Gales of God's dread Tribulation had burst forth, bent on one fell and final overthrow of its wild inhabitants and of their habitation in the air.

And then the consecrated clarion choirs of the great Messengers of Life and Light sent forth their awful Challenge, thrice sanctified by Holy Law of Unknown Deity—Timeless and Formless—yet everywhere in full Omniscience and Power.

A Fountain of transcendental Light sprang up within the dark abodes and rushed triumphant, full of radiance towards the cavern's dome and burst apart the mountain-sides with giant power, transmuting blindness into Sight! And, carried by that great blast, as it were, Ruru was impelled across the abyss and found himself beneath Dyaus, the deep blue sky in which the Moon, two digits less, sailed in majesty amidst the stars.

It was as if the air was full of lofty Essence, awaiting the Creative Word to spring into Being, full of ardour with the holy Fire of the Sons of God; and Ruru was filled with immortal fervour, in mystic blend with that great Sacrament.

And preceded by a rain of flowers there sounded from Heaven the divine voice of an Angel, and there loomed the Figure of a Goddess, wrapped in the habiliments of Light, and everywhere, above and around, the noble litanies of Spirits in praise of God rang out.

He worshipped, full of awe, and rejoiced in his new-found Life in infinite and luminous Grace; the scent of flowering Spring within his Soul and Mind and Heart.

The air was filled with an intoxicating fragrance, like that of Gandha-Mādana, the forest hill in Ilāvrita, the central region of the world, containing Mount Meru. And Kandu, the Sage, could have felt no greater happiness when for an hundred years, that passed like a day, he dwelt in bliss with the celestial Nymph Pramlocha, than Ruru did when released from the deeps.

Prabodha-Chandrodaya—'the rise of the moon of knowledge'—intoxicated with learning, could have sensed no greater joy than Ruru after his Test; he, who now resembled Kumuda, the Lotus, when it has reached full maturity. And the Krittikas, the Pleiades, gazed down from their heavenly dwelling places and smiled upon the youth who had conquered the Terrors, as if, by defending himself, he had survived the battle of Hastinā Pura, the capital city of the Kauravas where the Great War was waged; he, who had merited the title of Kāvya-Darsa, or 'Mirror of Poetry,' when he declaimed his Great Poem to the little folks within the wood when standing upon the hill; so long ago as now it seemed; he, the equal of great Jāmbavat, King of the Bears: for had he not destroyed the lower elemental forms, as would be the future task in larger measure of the warrior bees he had beheld within the crystal pillar on that halcyon day when first he met his Master?

And it was as if he shone like the celebrated gem: 'Sya-mantaka,' which once upon a time was swallowed by king Jāmbavat himself. And the divine spirit of Janārdhana, the adored of mankind who is Krishna, sent blessings to our Hero. And Chandra-Kānta, the Moonstone, sent her cooling rays of light.

Into the utmost depths of the arcane crypts of Sanctity descended his Spirit and beheld the veiled form of Wisdom there; and he received a magic draught from the wizard-cup of true Initiation within the centre of the blazing Beacon in which he stood, surrounded with Glory. His brow was henceforth crowned with a garland of deathless flowers; and in the distance across the lotus pool he saw the hateful form of the black dwarf vanishing in the Dawn-light of his Enlightenment and Irradiation.

And when he returned to the olive grove it was lit up by his inner Light, so that it resembled Vaibhrāja, the celestial grove of the gods on Mount Supārs, west of Meru.

And (while embedded within the Fourth Element—the Earth—as't were) he had milked the underworld of the three Truths of Fire, Air and Water, like Prajapāti milked the holy Veds of the Vyāhritis, according to Manu, the three mystical words which are:

Bhūr, from the Rig-Veda;
Bhuvah, from the Tajur-Veda;
and Swar, from the Sāma-Veda.
These are the three luminous Essences.

And Prajapāti milked them from the Veds by healing them—as it is told—for when he uttered the word Bhūr, it became this Earth; and Bhuvah became this firmament which is the space between the Earth and Sun; a threefold Space; and Swar became that sky, which is Indra's Heaven, between the Sun and the Pole-star. And to complete the Plan there is also Mahar: the abode of Bhrigu and the other Saints who are with Brahmā.

"And," thought Ruru, "is it not true that the other Elements also played their part in this Great Initiation? For all comes from the Fifth, which is the Æther, the Mother of Substance, the Balancer and Preserver, under the eternal sway of Time: the Sixth—the Element of Duration and Continuity; and the Seventh: Space—the Element of Volume and Dimension."

And Eka-Danta, the one-tusked one, who is Ganesha, trumpeted in the sky and filled the air with joy. And Ruru thought with blessings in his heart of the holy Muni who had made all things possible for him. And he remembered the story of Gālava, the pupil of Viswāmitra, who wanted to make his Teacher a present after completing his studies with him. And his Master was indignant because of his disciple's presumption, and told him to bring eight hundred white horses, each having one black ear; for how can a pupil ever repay his Master when he has led him to the very Throne of the Unknown, Unseen and Unknowable God? Nevertheless, Gālava fulfilled his task, delivered the horses, and was blest for evermore for his loyalty and gratitude.

"Oh," thought Ruru, "if I might only perform a similar deed for my Master!" But that was not to be; nor was it necessary—as we shall see.

And hearing a slight rustling in the grass, he turned round and beheld his Master whose austere yet benign countenance glowed with joy. Jumping up, Ruru ran towards him and threw himself into the waiting arms of Narāda, the holy Pilgrim, and was received with the warm embrace of a Father who has been anxious about a far away Son; and the tears of divine emotion rolled down the cheeks of both.

"Well done, my dear Son and beloved Disciple, now my equal," said Narāda. "Bless you for your steadfastness and determination."

"Oh, Master," cried Ruru, "never your equal on Earth or in Heaven, but always your humble pupil for all Eternity."

And gently the Holy Hermit led the former Neophyte, now grown to full Adeptship, towards his dwelling-place.

Next: Section Five — The Double Five or Decad
(Now regard each Chapter as the dual triplicity of the Unit)

Chapter 19 — Māiāvatī

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© COPYRIGHT 2014 J Michaud PhD and — all rights reserved