excerpt from: The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi
Late in the morning the next day Shiva and Nandi entered the private royal office to find Daksha, Parvatheshwar and Kanakhala waiting for them. A surprised Shiva said, ‘I am sorry your Highness. I thought we were to meet four hours into the second prahar. I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.’
Daksha, who had stood up with a formal Namaste, bowed low and said, ‘No, my Lord. You don’t need to apologise. We came in early so that we wouldn’t keep you waiting. It was our honour to wait for you.’
Parvateshwar rolled his eyes at the extreme subservience that his emperor, the ruler of the greatest civilization ever established, showed toward this barbarian. Shiva, controlling his extreme surprise at being referred to as the ‘Lord’ by the emperor, bowed low towards Daksha with a Namaste and sat down.
‘My Lord, before I start telling you about the legend of the Neelkanth, do you have any question that you would like to ask?’ enquired Daksha.
The most obvious question came to Shiva’s mind.
Why in the holy lake’s name is my blessed blue throat so important?
But his instincts told him that though this appeared to be the most obvious question, it could not be answered unless he understood more about the society of Meluha itself.
‘It may sound like an unusual question your Highness,’ said Shiva. ‘But may I ask you what your age is?’
Daksha looked at Kanakhala with surprise. Then turning back towards Shiva with an amazed smile, he said, ‘You are exceptionally intelligent my Lord. You have asked the most pertinent question first.’ Crinkling his face into a conspiratorial grin, Daksha continued, ‘Last month I turned One hundred and eighty four.’
Shiva was stunned. Daksha did not look a day older than thirty years. In fact nobody in Meluha looked old. Except for the Pandit that Shiv death a had met at the Brahma temple.
So Nandi is more than a hundred years old.
‘How can this be your Highness?’ asked a flabbergasted Shiva. ‘What sorcery makes this possible?’
‘There is no sorcery at all my Lord,’ explained Daksha.
‘What makes this possible is the brilliance of our scientists who make a potion called the Somras, the drink of the gods. Taking the Somras at defined times not only postpones our death considerably, but it also allows us to live our entire lives as if we are in the prime of our youth – mentally and physically.’
‘But what is the Somras? Where does it come from? Who invented it?’
‘So many questions my Lord,’ smiled Daksha. ‘But I will try my best to answer them one by one. The Somras was invented many thousands of years ago by one of the greatest scientists that ever lived. His name was Lord Bhramha’.
‘I think there is a temple dedicated to him that I visited on my way to Devagiri. At a place named Meru?’
‘Yes my Lord. That is where he is said to have lived and worked. Lord Brahma was a prolific inventor. But he never kept any of the benefits of his invention to himself. He was always interested in ensuring that his inventions are used for the good of mankind. He realized early on that a potion as powerful as the Somras could be misused by evil men. So he implemented an elaborate system of controls on its use.’
‘What kind of controls?’
‘He did not give the Somras freely to everyone,’ continued Daksha. ‘After conducting a rigorous countrywide survey, he chose a select group of adolescent boys of impeccable character – one from each of the seven regions of ancient India. He chose young boys so that they would live with him at his gurukul and he could mold their character into becoming selfless helpers of society. The Somras medicine was administered only to these boys. Since these boys were practically given an additional life due to Somras, they came to be known as dwija or twice born. The power of the Somras combined with the tutelage of Lord Brahma, along with their other inventions, resulted in this select group achieving a reverential status never seen before. They honed their minds to achieve almost superhuman intelligence. The ancient Indian title for men of knowledge was Rishi. Since Lord Brahma’s chosen men were seven in number, they came to be known as Saptarshi.’
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