Goddess Mansa And Bhrigu's Mirror - A Short Story by Dr Ratan Lal Basu | WBRi Online Magazine


Dr Ratan Lal Basu

A Short Story

The sage Bhrigu was elated and at the same time perturbed to learn from the celestial sage Narada that goddess Mansa was interested in meeting him and she would be obliged if he fixed his convenient time for her visit to his ashram and inform this to her through Narada. He was elated because his ashram at higher heavens had never been visited by any gods or goddesses ever since he had incurred the displeasure of Lord Shiva by opposing him at the time of beheading of King Dakshma. Mansa is the most favored daughter of Shiva and she is extremely powerful. Her visit may ease his relation with Shiva and his ashram accepted by the gods and goddesses. But the motives of this quirky goddess were unpredictable even by the greatest astrologer and visionary like Bhrigu. She being extremely cruel, power mongering and unhesitant to adopt any unfair means to fulfill her desires, Bhrigu got a bit perturbed at the same time. But denial would be disastrous for him. So he replied the letter of the goddess by expressing his sincere thanks to her and fixed a date for her visit. Narada left with the mail with the expectation that some complications would result from the visit of the goddess to Bhrigu’s ashram and he would enjoy it.

Bhrigu directed his disciples to take immaculate preparations to welcome the goddess and make ample provision for all conceivable amenities liked by the goddess. His mind again got filled with worries. She could request him to do something complicated that might lead to other problems for him. But it would also be perilous to deny her request. He remembered what she had done to the merchant Chand to force him to worship her.

On the day of her visit the sage was agitated from the very dawn but his tensions were removed as the goddess entered the ashram with smiling face and pleasant demeanor. She was dressed as an ordinary woman with a simple sari and a necklace adorned with a diamond locket designed like the head of a serpent. He was relieved that she had not worn any necklace of living snakes. Notwithstanding her blind eye, she looked so beautiful and enchanting even in the simple outfit that everyone got spellbound to watch her entering slowly the gate of the ashram amidst blowing of conch shells and sprinkling of petals of heavenly flowers. She was a bit embarrassed while the disciples of the sage started offering her pronam being prostrated at her feet. Then the sage came forward to receive her and they exchanged pranams with folded hands. Brigu’s mind was filled with ecstasy and pride as the goddess addressed him father.

The goddess said politely, ‘I must tell you about my purpose of this visit. This is a very simple task on your part. You are the greatest forecaster of future in the universe and I’m interested only in the future of the country Prasi.’

Bhrigu replied, ‘goddess, it’s a very simple task for me. Now you take rest and visit the ashram for some time and I’ll call you to my room after completion of my meditation.’

He then directed his trusted disciples to show her to the guest room and help her according to her wish.

The goddess thanked the sage and left with his disciples. Now all his apprehensions dissipated and Bhrigu completed his meditation peacefully and thereafter informed the goddess by a disciple that she might call on his room if she was ready. After a while the goddess entered his room and the sage offered her a beautiful soft asana made of heavenly velvet and painted with a large lotus at the middle. He then took out a mirror from a shelf and handed it to the goddess saying, ‘this is a magic mirror. You cannot see your image in it.’ The goddess took the mirror close to her god eye and said, ‘yes, it looks dark and what I’m to do with this mirror.’

Bhrigu smiled sweetly and said, ‘you now think of Prasi and the future time period you are interested in. You’ll immediately be taken to the history of the country during that period. But at first you should concentrate on the matter of your interest sweeping off all other thoughts from your mind.’ 

Mansa closed her eyes to concentrate on the future of Prasi and while she opened her eyes she was astonished to find herself transported amidst the future of Prasi and series of events started flowing before her bewildered eyes. She looked back at Bhrigu and exclaimed, ‘what a wonderful mirror it is!’ Bhrigu said, ‘but watching random flow of events would not serve your purpose. So tell me in detail your exact purpose and the specific events you want to watch. Then I’ll redirect the mirror and you would find only the specific events that would serve your goal.’

Mansa handed him back the mirror and started her story from the very beginning.

The funny celestial sage Narada used to rejoice complications and quarrels among gods and goddesses and his mind was always filled with naughty designs to foment such disputes. One morning while he was roaming across the sky on his flying machine, he noticed the serpent goddess Mansa happily dancing in her flower garden. Her merriment was not at all pleasant to Narada and suddenly an idea struck him to make her angry with Lord Shiva, her loving father. He immediately dropped to her garden and Mansa greeted him with creased forehead to decipher the motive in his mind. She, however, honored the sage-god in a courteous tone requested him for refreshment. Narada replied that he had no time for refreshment as he was deeply worried about the goddess. Mansa squinted her good eye (the other eye had been destroyed by her step mother Chandi), and asked about the reason for his worry. Narada replied in a sad tone, ‘goddess, I sincerely feel sorry for you that you’re not getting the honor you deserve from your father Shiva.’  Mansa got agitated, ‘you’re mistaken sage. I’m the most favorite daughter of Shiva.’ Narada replied smiling, ‘the facts do not substantiate your conviction. You’re no doubt one of the most powerful deities and capable of exterminating any evil force, but you’ve never been sent by Shiva as incarnate on earth to eradicate evil forces whereas Lord Visnu and Mother Chandi have several times been entrusted with that noble and glorious task. I think this is but a gross injustice to you on the part of your father.’

Mansa flew into rage and vowed to seek redress from Shiva in no time. She thanked Narada for reminding her of the injustice she had been meted with.. Narada left happily expecting a quarrel between Lord Shiva and her garrulous daughter. Mansa in an agitated mood proceeded for Kailash, the recluse of Lord Shiva, to meet her father. As soon as she entered Kailash the land quaked by the vehemence of her anger and everyone started fleeing in panic. As soon as she reached near the meditating Shiva, his deep meditation broke and opening his eyes he found his beloved daughter in an agitated mood. He said in affectionate tone, ‘my sweet daughter why do you look so aggrieved and unhappy?’

Mansa burst into weeping and replied in an angry tone, ‘don’t call me sweet daughter any more. I’m your bad and neglected daughter.’

Shiva at first got flummoxed at her sudden outburst but closing his eyes he could vision that foul play of the incorrigible Narada who had nothing to do but foment trouble. He patted her on the head and replied in a placatory tone, ‘I’m very sorry that you’ve not been sent down to earth to exterminate the demons, but next time you would be the first choice. Now tell me daughter which place of the earth you prefer for the birth of your incarnate.’

Mansa now collected herself and apologized for her rough behavior with Shiva and said, ‘I’m very popular among the people of the Prasi country and widely worshipped there. So I want to born as an incarnate in that country only.’ Shiva squinted and thought for a while and said, ‘but there’s one problem in this regard. Prasi is a very peaceful country and completely free from evil. An incarnate is sent only to destroy evil forces and without the existence of evil forces there’s no necessity of sending an incarnate. And what would the incarnate do if there’s no evil? You better select some evil infested place.’ Mansa stubbornly replied, ‘my lone choice is Prasi and I don’t like to go to any other place. In future there could be evil forces in the now peaceful Prasi.’ Shiva smiled and said, ‘certainly if there be evil forces in Prasi, no body else but you would be sent there as an incarnate. Now cheer up and go back to your palace and wait patiently for the propitious time.’

Shiva once again closed his eyes and went into deep meditation. On her way back Mansa thought that if there be no evil in Prasi in near future she would have to generate such evil forces by her magic power. But first she ought to know the courses of future history of the land. She thought it would be wise to seek advice of Narada in this regard. She called the sage by telepathy and Narada immediately appeared before her. Learning about her predicament, he told her that that the sage Bhrigu, the greatest astrologer, was the lone person in the universe to predict the future courses of history of Prasi. So to meet her query she would have to call at him in his ashram in the higher heavens. ‘But’ Nrada added, ‘he is in disfavor of your father and your visit to his ashram may incur his displeasure.’ Mansa replied, ’I’ll look into it that my father is not displeased. Now can you help me by dispatching my letter requesting an appointment to the sage?’ ‘Certainly.’
Narada got elated to predict the anger of Shiva at his daughter’s visit to his arch enemy. Mansa wrote the letter and Narada flew immediately to Bhrigu’s ashram to dispatch the letter. The positive reply came in no time and now she was in his ashram in front of Bhrigu.

Bhrigu listened to her story with rapt attention and after she had finished, replied smiling ‘I’ve now understood what I’m to show you in the mirror. You are very fortunate daughter as ominous looks of the planet-god Shani is soon going to fall on Prasi destroying all its peace and making the land a honey comb for the evil forces.’ He handed her the mirror and as soon as the goddess looked into the mirror a series of historical episodes in the future of Prasi started flowing before her eyes.

Episode-I consisted of a series of scenes depicting the degenerated condition of the prosperous and peaceful Prasi:

Rulers of Prasi have become corrupt and inefficient and jungle rule prevails. Houses have become dilapidated and musty; there are signs of poverty and indigence of the masses strikingly contrasted by pomp and merriment of the few rich people. Cumming people are conspiring in closed rooms to exploit the masses and become richer in a short span of time. Hooligans are busy with smuggling and trafficking in drug and women. Corrupt politicians organize the criminals under a gang called Durmads and soon most of the criminals of the country get organized in its fold. The gang unleashes horror on common people by extorting money and property of the people, rampant raping their females and selling them to brothels and foreign traffickers in prostitutes. People, unable to endure torture, rise in revolt, but lack of leadership and clear thinking turns their revolt into chaos and anarchy further enhancing their misery.

Siddhasur comes to the scene and manages to assume the throne by removing the powerless king. He assures people that he would remove their misery and bring back peace and prosperity of the country. By his strong rule he manages to drive out the Durmads and suppress the anarchic revolt. But soon he reveals his demonic character by renewing exploitation and oppression of the people. He gives the rich people and criminals absolute freedom and legal protection to exploit common people.  People again rise in revolt and Siddhasur suppresses the revolt by the cruelest means. There is wanton killing of people, many of them completely innocent and having no connection with the revolution, by his police force and toughs.

Episode-2 depicted a horrible carnage of people by the goons of Siddhasur:

Siddhasur is consulting police officers in a closed room and expresses satisfaction at the information that most of the suspected revolutionaries have either been killed in open encounter or arrested to be killed later on in custody.

‘But we suspect that there are still about two hundred young boys, related somehow to the revolution’ says a high level police officer.

‘What makes you think so?’ Asks Siddhasur.

‘From their movements and way of their conversations’, replies the officer.

‘Why don’t you kill them right now?’

‘We are to find at least some clue. They are still students and we’ve not yet got any positive evidence that they are linked with the revolution. But, sir, our spies are working hard and soon we are likely to find the clue and take immediate action.’

‘O.K., inform me as soon as you get the clue.’

The police officers leave and Siddhasur picks up the telephone receiver and rings the leader of his hooligans.

Episode-3 depicted the meeting of Siddhasur with the leader of his criminal gang:

‘Why have you called me sir?’ The gang-leader asks Siddhasur.

‘Tonight you’ll have to perform an important task. Do you know Park View Lane?’

‘Yes sir. It’s a straight lane without any bye lane and there are parks on both the ends.’

‘Tonight, with your boys, block both the approaches to the lane and kill all the young boys there and don’t ask me the reason.’

‘That could be a very difficult and risky job and I’d need about fifty toughs for the purpose. Can you sir increase the payment per boy for the task?

‘Certainly. If you’re successful you’ll get double the usual rate along with all expenses incurred for the noble job. Moreover you’ll have absolute right over all movable properties and the females. But remember you’re to start the action right at twelve thirty A.M. and finish by three thirty.’

‘What to do with the dead bodies?’ 

‘Force some truck driver at gun point to carry the corpses and drop those in the river and after completion of the job kill the driver and his helper and immerse them along with the truck into the river.’

Episode-4 showed the horrible scenes of killing and raping and wailing of helpless people for help.

Mansa could not bear the scenes and turned aside her eye. Still she could not escape a few horrible flashes – cutting off of the breast of an elderly woman, gang raping a nine year old girl even after she was dead, mutilating hands, feet and eyes of young boys. Snatching away a six month old child from its mother’s lap and killing it by throttling and forcing its mother to drink the blood dripping from its mouth before gang raping and killing the mother.

The flashes raised the anger of Mansa and fire emanating from her eyes burnt the mirror in a moment. Bhrigu did his best to moderate her anger and at last she cooled down and Bhrigu handed her a new mirror.

Episode-5 showed the emergence of Joibasur as the new King:

Torture of Siddhasur makes people desperate and Joibasur organizes them and by a sudden midnight attack dethrones Siddhasur and deports him to a neighboring country. Because of long drawn struggle against Sddhasur and his criminals, the aged Joibasur becomes morbidly tired and requests his followers to give him an opportunity to take some rest for some time. The followers immediately accept the proposal and send him right to the pleasure palace for rest. They knew fully well that leaving the heavenly pleasure there, the leader would never express willingness to return to the ordeals of ruling the country.  So they place the clown Budhasur to the throne. Peace and happiness returns to the country and people goes out to the road with dance and music to celebrate the occasion. But their happiness is short lived.

The followers of Joibasur start patronizing the Durmads again and with their help begin extorting money from the masses and snatching young girls to enrich their harems.

The leaders get together and all of them agree that the ordinary Prasi people are not very hardy as slaves and the women are not capable of meeting their lusts. One of them reports that there are some nomadic Prasi people living in deep forests who are very hardy and their women extremely voluptuous. The leaders decide to get them settled at the wasteland known as Chilly Marsh in the southern part of the country.

A Durmad meets the leader of the nomads and the latter gladly accepts the proposal.

The nomads are settled in the wasteland and construct their huts.

The leader of the nomads is conversing with Durmad leaders in his hut and accepts the first proposal to send his men at times to work as free slaves in the houses of their leaders. Then the Durmad chief puts forward the second proposal that they should send their young women at night to the houses of the leaders. At this the leader of the nomads angrily refuses the proposal and asks the Durmads to immediately leave the place. The Durmads bring out guns, kill the nomad leader and tries to rape his wife and daughter. All nomads rush to the spot and the Durmads flee away.

At night the Durmads return with more men and arms. They set fire to the huts and starts killing men and raping women indiscriminately. Unable to cope with the Durmads fully equipped with modern arms, many nomads jump down into the large river at the end of the wasteland simply to be devoured by the crocodiles.  The atrocities of the Durmads on the nomad village pale into insignificance the carnage by the goons of Siddhasur.

But this time Mansa controlled her emotion and remained all through a detached spectator.

Episode-6 depicted the killing of some sages.

A few sages start meditation praying for eradication of evils forces from the country. A spy informs the matter to the leaders. They consult the royal priest who says that this meditation would weaken them and may even lead to their removal from power. The Durmads are sent to kill the sages immediately.

The Durmads sprinkle petrol on the meditating sages and burn them alive

The mirror stopped showing anything more and Mansa returned it to Bhrigu and said, ‘I must immediately meet my father and inform him of what I’ve seen in the mirror.Bhrigu smiled and said, ‘daughter, Lord Shiva knows everything. Soon your incarnate would take birth on earth.  She, however, would never know who she is. She would at first be a very simple girl and unconcerned for the events in the outside world. But the horrible tortures of people by the goons and police force of Siddhasur would awaken her protesting nature. But being powerless at that time, she would not be able to do anything to redress the misery of the masses. Still she would resolve to exterminate the evil forces and her divine power would start blossoming. She would go ahead with her mission and during the rein of Joibasur and later on of Budhasur, her prowess would take a significant shape. Her authentic love for common people, deep concern for their sufferings, intrepid crusade against the evil forces and unconditional dedication would earn her love and respect of the suffering masses. They would accept her as their unrivalled leader and messiah. But the unscrupulous businessmen, the hooligans, the corrupt followers of Joibasur and the Durmads would be panicked by her emergence as their destroyer and would try their best to kill her and malign her good name. But now your power would directly flow into her and protect her from all hazards. Her name would be Kindness and she could never be cruel to anyone, even the despicable Durmads.

But being powered by divine forces and the love of common people she would appear so menacing to the evil forces that they would flee in panic from the Prasi country and permanent peace would return to the country after half a century long turmoil. Now go home and be happy.’

Mansa left the sage’s ashram in a jovial mood and on her way back called Narada to inform him of her good fortune. Narada smirked to congratulate her, but was utterly frustrated for his scheme being reversed and Mansa could decipher his evil intensions from the appearance of his face. Narada went back in a morose mood but soon an excellent idea struck him. He plotted in mind to instigate goddess Chandi and pit her against Mansa. So he immediately started for the palace of Chandi. But all of a sudden an enormous serpent took hold of him and in panic he observed that the horrible snake was dragging him down toward the Netherlands. He heard the voice of Mansa, ‘plotter sage, live in peace among the snake girls of Netherlands until my mission in Prasi is over.’   

Dr.Ratan Lal BasuRatan Lal Basu, Ph.D. (Economics) is an ex-Reader in Economics and Teacher-in-Charge, Bhairab Ganguly College, Kolkata, India. Dr. Basu has written & edited several books on Economics. Dr Basu us a valued and regular contributor to Washington Bangla Radio.

Check out WBRi Online Bookstore Recommendatiuons on books by Dr. Ratan Lal Basu: CLICK HERE >

Apart from his passion for the field of Economics, Dr. Basu's other interests are Boxing & Small Game Hunting (gave up the nasty games during college life); Swimming in Turbulent Rivers (physically impossible now); Himalayan Treks, Adventure in Dense Forests, Singing Tagore Songs and also writing travelogues and fiction in Bengali and English.

Dr. Ratan Lal Basu can be reached at rlbasu [at] rediffmail.com.