SOMETHING GREATER THAN LOVE
The island of Lanka burned. A part of it with a fire, a part of it with rage. The Vanar Sena ran around in a frenzy outside the main walls of the city, in the dense jungles facing the sea. It was their hideout now from Meghnads constant terror attacks. His attacks came like tremors on them. He carried Devi Sita in his arial chariot, and none of them could fight him for just that fact. Lakshman had tried to, but seeing his mother seated unconscious, just the very sight of her diverted his attention and in the blink of an eye, Meghands powerful weapon, the Shakti, stung him hard. He fell to the ground, his fall louder than the groan of a lion, and more painful for Ram than anything else at that moment.
“Hanuman, have the Rishis been able to find the herb required?” asked Ram, with Lakshman head on his lap. He constantly rubbed his hands over his forehead and through his hair, comforting Lakshman and hoping he would wake up.
A soldier of the Vanar Sena came running in just then and handed some herbs to the Vaidya seated next to Ram.
“Are these the ones Vaidya Ji?” He asked, panting.
The Vaidya, Sushena, observed them closely and smiled.
“Yes, these are the ones! The Sanjeevani. Sumitra Nandan will surely be cured..”
Saying so, he immediately with Hanuman made a paste of the sacred herbs and applied them on Lakshman’s wounds. Lakshman’s eyes twitched, and Ram understood the herb was very powerful.
“Don’t worry Lakshman,” he said softly,”everything will be fine.” He kept patting Lakshman on his head. Ram couldn’t recall the last time Lakshman lay as motionless as now.
“In these 14 years, you, Lakshman, you have never even rested. You sacrificed your sleep for me and Sita. So why are you not awake now Lakshman? Lakshman..” Ram broke down. His tears fell on Lakshmans hair. Hanuman tried consoling Ram, but seeing his Prabhu in tears, Hanuman too lost control on himself.
“Lakshman,” Ram tried to get a stern voice amidst the teary scene, “You are breaking your promise to the Lord. You told you will always be present at every moment with me. So why do you lay unconscious now Lakshman? Why?”
“Ram, today I want you and your brothers to serve food to your peers and juniors, and also to the Rishis and their students who are coming to spend a night here. I am leaving this duty on the four of you.. Will you be able to do so?”
Ram stood up and seeing him his brothers too stood in front their Guru, Guru Vashisth. The days in the Ashram were going by nicely, though it had only been a few days there.
“It would be our honour Gurudev. We will make sure none of the Rishis feel a lack in hospitality today.” Ram said, looking at his brothers who nodded.
At Lunch, ten Rishis and their hundreds of students arrived at the Gurukul. Ram summoned his brothers to look after the different activities and he himself served the food to the guests and his classmates.
It had been long since the guests had retired to rest. Ram sat under a tree, reading a book given to him by Guru Vashisth.
Ram looked up and saw a tired Lakshman, hair ruffled and skin wet with sweat.
Ram kept the book away and made the small Lakshman sit next to him.
“What happened Lakshman?”
After a pause, Lakshman said tiredly,
“Bhaiyya, if we were at home, we needn’t have done anything of this. The servants served food to us, and we would just eat sitting on Maa’s lap.”
Ram smiled. “Lakshman, that way we could never have been strong. Here at the Gurukul, we will learn how to do everything ourselves, because you never know, when time takes a turn and you have to do everything yourself. ”
“So does that mean we will have to do everything by ourselves for our life?” the innocent boy asked.
Ram laughed and placed his hand on Lakshmans shoulder.
“Maybe not for life, but for a major part of it.”
Lakshman sighed and rubbed his eyes.
“Are you sleepy Lakshman?” Ram asked.
“Umm.. No Bhaiyya.. I mean..”
“You dont need to hide anything from me, brother.”
After a pause, he said,
“Actually Yes Bhaiyya. But my room and mat have been given to the guests. So I can’t sleep now.”
“Who said you can’t? Sleep on my lap.”
Lakshman looked at him in doubt.
“But Bhaiyya, Maa said that you should never disturb your elders and..”
“You will not disturb me, I know. Sleep on my lap.”
Ram smiled and seeing the glow on his face, Lakshman couldnt resist himself. He smiled and slept on his lap. He was so tired that in an instant he fell asleep. Ram smiled and went on reading his book.
Ram suddenly remembered the last time Lakshman had slept on his lap. He gulped thinking how times had changed since then. Since the Gurukul, Lakshman had changed completely. He was no longer the small child, he was Rams’s anchor and emotional support now. Not a moment had passed in their lives when they had been separated. The Gurukul, Taraka Vadh, Mithila, Marriage, every major incident in Rams life was shared with Lakshman. And now they were search for Sita, the woman who resided in both their hearts, playing a different role in each’s. Yet here too, they shared the same pain, and same distress.
Ram was brought back from his thoughts and looked at Lakshman. Lakshman moved slowly, his eyes opening lightly and then closing again.
“He is coming back to life!” Yelled Sushena.
Ram wiped his tears and softly cupped Lakshman’s face.
“Come on, Lakshman, Wake up for the sake of God! I know you are the most powerful, you won’t lose so easily.”
Lakshman groaned in pain. Each of his groans pierced Ram in the heart. He touched lakshmans head lightly and said,
“It won’t pain Lakshman. I am telling you, believe this brother of yours. Wake up, come on.”
Ram gulped, trying to control the tears brimming up in his eyes.
“Lakshman, wake up for this brother of yours, please.” Rams voice cracked.
Lakshman heard Rams voice and it hit him in the heart. Even if kept blind, he could sense Ram from miles away. And being so close, he understood every single emotion Ram was going through.
I have to wake up, even if I die after that,” he thought to himself.
Lakshman gathered all the strength he had and opened his eyes. Ram smiled, his face wet. Lakshman looked at Rams tired and dull face and gulped. He pushed all the power through his veins, muscles and every part of his body.
Ram, Ram, Ram’ he went on telling himself in his struggle to get up. Somehow, the word had an immense effect on him. His bones seemed stronger, and his heart beat faster.
Ram held onto him from the side, and eventually after a few moments, Lakshman sat upright, panting . The entire army rejoiced in the wee hours of the day. Ram smiled widely, crying at the same time and hugged Lakshman lightly, so as not to hurt him.
“I am sorry Bhaiyya,” Lakshman said sobbing.
Ram broke the hug and looked at him.
“Don’t be stupid Lakshman. Why are you saying sorry? Rather it is I who should be apologising. I couldnt protect you..”
“This is exactly I feel guilty, Bhaiyya.” Lakshman tried to not show his tears, but the young man was so bad at hiding his expression that has nose turned red and eyes burned, clearly showing his emotions.
Ram placed his hand on Lakshmans head.
“Lakshman, you fought with all your power and might. You had almost defeated him. But he turned invisible, and own you say Sitae you got disturbed. It is natural Lakshman, had I been there too it would have happened. ”
“Bhaiyya, when I saw Bhabi it just reminded me of the last time I saw her at Dandakaranya. That sight, that very sight of her, I shall never forget Bhaiyya. If only I had waited there for her, if only.”
“Raavan. Lankapati Raavan has taken her. Thats all I know Lord.. GoodBye…” Jatayu breathed his last. Ram closed his eyes with his own hands and put his head down on the raw soil.
He fell down on his knees, so hard that the birds flew away in shock.
“SITAE!!!! Why did you leave me Sitae!!!” He looked up and cried. But all he could see was a cloudless sky, dark and gloomy.
Lakshman saw all of this threw away his bow and arrow.
“What use is this when I couldn’t protect my Mother when she most needed me! I am worthless… I might as well die.”
Crying furiously and in blind anger, Lakshman took out the dagger from his knife-hold pouch and almost went to cut his vein, but his hand was held by a strong man.
“No Lakshman.” Ram sternly said, his face stained with dirt and water. He had noticed Lakshman taking out the dagger, and then and there ran towards him to stop him in time.
“No Bhaiyya, I deserve this punishment. What has happened is because of me. Had i listened to you… Leave it. I will kill myself. ”
He went to lift his hand again, but Ram took the dagger and threw it away.
“Are you out of your mind Lakshman? How many more ways will you find to hurt me?”
Lakshman hugged Ram tightly and the two brothers cried in each others embrace.
“Bhaiyya, what can I do? I am dying of guilt. I can’t survive like this.”
Ram broke the hug and held his shoulders.
“Anuj,” he said angrily, ” We have to survive. Lot of time has been wasted. No more. We have to survive for Sita. For Dharma. Are you ready?”
Rams words instilled a new force in him.
He picked up his bow and arrow and stood strong .
“Bhaiyya, now let any storm come our way, I will not stop till we find Bhabi and end Raavan.”
Both of them though about the same and sighed. They were still fighting, for Dharma and for Sita.
“You know Lakshman,” Ram spoke up,” for all this time that you were unconscious, I thought what would happen if I would have lost you in this journey. I might have given up, you know.”
“Bhaiyya, I will conquer death and bend the rules of nature, but I will not let you go alone in this fight against Adharma.”
“Raghuvanshi Shri Ram Chandra Ki Jai! Raghuvadhu Sita ki Jai! Ayodha Ka Mangal Ho!”
Rams crowning ceremony was going on at full pomp. He and Sita sat on the throne as flowers were rained on them from all sides. Heaven smiled upon them. Raavan had been defeated, their 14 years of exile was complete. And now only Ram was left to wear the crown.
The priest crowned Ram and the entries world , universe seemed to sing a song of joy for them. Lakshman stood beside Urmila and cried tears of joy.
Ram looked at Lakshman and smiled; he knew his brother was happier than him today.
After all, he was the second hero.
“Bhaiyya, you are leaving behind a world behind you. A Yug behind you. How can you just leave like this?” Lakshman yelled as Ram stepped into the cold waters of the Sarayu.
“Sitae has left Lakshman. Without her, Ram has no value.”
The world fell silent. Devi Sita had been called back to the earth. And Vishnu had realised his purpose. He was ready to undergo his journey to heaven.
“Bhaiyya”, Lakshman spoke up, ” There is one person whose life too has no purpose without you.”
“Who is it?” Not that Ram didnt know the answer.
Urmila took in a deep breath and prepared herself.
“It is me, Bhaiyya.”
The universe witness the Dev and his Servant smile at each other, amidst tears. Vishnu moved into the water, whilst Shesha Nag went behind him.
After all, their relation was something greater than that of love, wasnt it?