18 minute read ★

Shivansh Subramanian

At the beginning of all, there was Shakti. Who was she? No one knew. What was she? No one knew. What everyone did know was that She was there, and She is everywhere. She is the source of everything and She knows everything. She is everything and nothing, whatever one perceives Her to be.

And one day, She created Brahma. She did so to felicitate life. In the barren everything, She wanted life to flourish, Her children to flourish. Who were Her children? Everyone. How did She beget them? No one knew. Brahma, Her first child, was given the apostle of The Creator, and the task to design the world in such a way so that life could flourish. That He did. He created four realms. These four were to remain  separated, and none could travel from one realm to another due to what was between them. One was for the Suras, the second for the Mortals, the third for the Asuras while the last one was for Himself. What was between these realms? Nothing, and Everything. 

He created just one planet in each realm, and it was the Law, set by him, that everyone of the realm should stay in their realm. He created those realms and developed them accordingly. He brought forth several other creatures with several different qualities, with just one similarity. They all had Shakti within them, and had it surrounding them. Thus he created these four realms, and let them develop on their own, so as to observe what happens next.

What happened next was astonishing. It did not happen over a few days, or months, or years or even centuries. Over the course of numerous  millennia, life developed with such great speed and in such a surprising manner that even Brahma could not have predicted it. The creatures  had all developed various skills of their own depending on their habitat and needs. Some had learnt how to fly, some how to breathe within water, a few had learned how to walk and travel the terrain. All these developments were due to the Shakti they had, within them. 

This bunch didn’t faze Brahma as much as the others did, for the others learnt how to change themselves beyond the Laws that he had set. There was the Matsya species from the mortal world who had learnt how to live and thrive in the nothingness between multiple worlds. They could grow larger and larger by sacrificing their life time. This was directly in contrast to the Law Brahma had  laid down, stating that no mortal had control over his time of death. Some learnt the art of Learning, and they gained so much knowledge about the whole world and its four realms that they had become Brahma’s equivalent when it came to knowledge. They had mastered how to alter their identity, and could transform from a mere mortal to an Asura, Sura or even a Maharishi. On achieving the status of Maharishi, they were permitted to reside in the realm of Brahma, so they could meditate and become One with Shakti, which was their ultimate and only goal. Though the skill with which they changed their identity was commendable, it wasn’t as effortless as that of the Vigrahas in the Sura world, who had mastered the art of re-arranging even the atoms in their body and manipulating  the very DNA strands that they possessed in such a way as to completely change their shape, and even copy the exclusive skills, of whomsoever they saw and touched. The Vishasti clan in the Asura realm had developed in a manner in which they could absorb any amount of damage and convert it into their destructive power. This was essentially useful in the harsh environment of the Asura realm, and helped them stay alive. 

By that time what are  now called civilizations were starting to develop in the three realms. The Asura realm had a Ruler by the name of Danu, who had gained immeasurable power and beauty. She had managed to rally all the Asuras and had made their realm prosperous . Her followers were called the Danavas. One of them, their chief advisor called Shukracharya, had risen to the stature of a Maharishi. He didn’t go to Brahma’s realm, for he wanted to teach and guide his fellow Danavas to knowledge and enlightenment. Of a similar mindset was the Rishi Brihaspati, the Guru of the Suras. He helped Indra, the King of the Suras, and his Ministers to understand and control natural forces like Lightning, Water, Fire and Air. 

In the Mortal world, there was a King named Vaivasvata. He didn’t possess the magical strength of the Asuras, nor had  control over the forces of Nature like the Suras. For these reasons, Brahma had created their realm as the most peaceful one. The realm was important, for in out of the 7 Maharishis, 5 of them from the Mortal realm. The dominant species there, the Vanaras, were rumoured to possess strength beyond any other creature in their realm, and had learned how to use and make objects to attack or protect. 

As time progressed, the civilizations developed more and more. A stark difference could be observed between the lifestyles of the Danava, Suras and the Vanaras. The Danavas were a herd with One Ruler, One primary Guru and one Military Commander. The rest all were considered to be Equals. The Suras had a very well-defined system in tact. They believed in a hierarchy, where Indra was at the top, then his ministers, then the common Sura. It considered the Guru as an independent identity, having no direct influence on the political structure. In the Mortal world the system consisted of the Gurus at the top, then the ruler and warriors, followed by the traders, then the workers. This system had led their civilization to prosper beyond their upper limit, but it was still nowhere  near the greatness of the society the Asuras and Suras had achieved. 

In  the mortal realm, there lived a knowledgeable human called Manu. The humans were not too different than the Vanara species, and had the same roots, but they had evolved such that they had much more brain capacity and much less physical strength than their counterparts.  They thus focussed more on the mental side, learning and understanding their surroundings, themselves and others. Some often spent time with nature trying to understand Shakti better, and thus trying to better themselves. One such day when Manu was near a river he saw a very small fish, of silver scales. Manu was surprised because he had never seen a fish of that colour in his region. As it was trying to escape its predators, Manu picked it up in his Kalash and observed. He wondered out loud what a strange creature it was. The fish replied through his telekinetic power, “ Good Lord, I am of the Matsya clan, please help me from my predators”. Manu was in a dilemma, for now he had to choose. Choose between The Law of Nature which clearly disallowed him to interfere between a prey and a predator, and his own Dharma, which asked him to protect the Matsya at all cost. 

In his inner turmoil, one thing was clear. He would not be able to see the Matsya die in front of him. He chose his Dharma. He took the Matsya to his home in his Kalash and fed him. Soon the Matsya grew too big for the Kalash, and he had to shift him to a small pond nearby. There again he fed him, and took care of him till he got too big for the pond. Then he took him to a lake, and the same thing happened. Soon he had reached a size where he could now travel back out of the realm. When the time occurred for that to happen, the Matsya told Manu, “O Great Lord, I thank you for saving my life and nurturing me. I had come here to deliver from MahaRishi Vashistha. Brahma has predicted that soon all the realms will be destroyed and to preserve the children of Shakti, you must gather Two of every species here in your realm” .Not knowing how the Matsya might help him later on, but trusting his instincts, he agreed to it. He knew that no one would utter the name of a MahaRishi in vain. He went on to talk to his King, and gather two of every species. Meanwhile, the Matsya went back to its realm, for it had fulfilled its purpose as of now. 

Brahma sat silent in his realm. He knew what was going to happen, and he had to stop it. He had already sent the word to Sukracharya and Brahaspati. Sukracharya had conveyed this to the Queen Danu and his Military Commander Shiva. Shiva, the foremost of the Vishasti clan, had such a tempered body and destructive powers that he could destroy a meteor on his own. To protect his kindred from the horrendous fate, He courageously trespassed the no realm area. In lieu of his courage and determination, Brahma allowed him to enter his realm. Just like him was another, from the Sura realm. Vishnu, the leader of the Vigrahas, sent by Brahaspati. He transformed into one of the Matsya, as he travelled the no realm region, to go to Brahma. He was allowed into the Brahma realm, and granted audience with Brahma. 

When Shiva and Vishnu were presented in front of Brahma, they could feel the heavy aura around him, and the strength of one another. Shiva had brute strength as no other creature in all three realms, while Vishnu was clever and resourceful beyond limits. Brahma, on seeing them, greeted them most hearteously . He commended them on their courage and determination to save their realm and kin. Shiva, being the blunt yet kind creature that he was, requested Brahma to save them.  Brahma replied that this was not something he was meant to do, and there was no way He could stop this. Enraged, Shiva raised his voice “ How could the creator of this Universe not protect its inhabitants? Aren’t you the strongest, and the one who created us all?”. Brahma, remaining calm, replied “ That is true, but it isn’t my Karma to solve this problem. “ Fearing Shiva’s wrath, Vishnu stepped in “ You may not solve this problem, but can you help us, O Lord? We want to save the Universe and all of Shakti’s Children “ 

Vishnu understood the situation well, and knew how to present his case. Pleased with their courage, for it did take courage to transcend one’s realm and go through the no-realm region where a normal creature’s body would burst out, Brahma granted them a boon. He promised them that for the immense courage and bravery they displayed, they will not die in the apocalypse. There would be a piece of land near the Brahma Realm which would be unaffected by meteors, and which would sustain Life. Shiva did not take this well, for he thought it  a mockery to even think of leaving his Kin behind and running away selfishly. In his wrath, he stormed out of His palace, and went back to his realm. Vishnu, always being the more mysterious and clever one, humbly thanked Brahma for his boon, and went back to his realm too. Satisfied or not, what Brahma said must come true, for Braha never spoke a lie, even as a jest. 

Vishnu understood it better than Shiva did. Even with his outstanding intelligence, the answer didn’t strike him immediately. On his way back from the Brahma realm, he was about to transform, when he saw a very peculiar Matsya approaching him. On coming near him, he conveyed with his Telekinetic power the state of the mortal world. He told Vishnu about what Manu was doing. He also told him he was sent this by Maharishi Vashishta, and according to him it was his destiny to meet Manu again. That’s when it struck Vishnu. He and Shiva were immortal for the time being. They could not die, and there would be a piece of habitable land safe from the destruction. If they could somehow manage to transport the Mortals this Manu was gathering, and the Suras and Asuras, they had to take pot luck and make it work.

Then arose the question of how to transport such a large amount of life from one place to another, that too in the no realm world. Except for Him and Shiva, he just knew Two others, Indra and Danu, who could travel through the no realm without succumbing to the external lack of pressure. That would not work. Even with all these obstacles in front of him, the blueprint of his final plan was coming together in his brilliant mind. He had already figured out the transport part; he would have to transform into one of the Matsya. This idea resonated with the fact that Maharishi Vashishta had chosen that particular Matsya to go to the mortal realm. Vishnu had to become him. What troubled him a lot was the fact that he might not have enough time to transport everyone from the Sura, Asura and Mortal realm. He guessed that was why Manu was asked to gather just 2 of each species, enough to have a progeny. He thought of taking the Suras, who were the Ministers, and their family, so that the Sura realm could prosper in a new world. It was completely dependant on the Ministry, and if that were to collapse they would be in trouble. Of the Asura world, He didn’t have any say, for he had figured out how Shiva was, and if it was he, and not Shiva himself, who took the decision of leaving behind the Asuras, Shiva’s anger would be unfathomable. This decision of leaving behind his fellow Suras did not sit well with Vishnu,, but he knew and understood how thin an ice he was walking upon, and some quick decisions had to be made. He transformed into that Matsya, and went to the Sura realm first. He had to talk to Indra, and had to make arrangements as soon as possible. The major problem still troubling him was how to create a safe space, so that other creatures don’t burst out due to the no realm region. He thought of discussing that in the presence of Brahaspati and Indra. 

On presenting the case before them, Indra too was stuck in a muddle. He didn’t want to leave the other Suras. He couldn’t bring himself to agree to Vishnu’s idea, because all of this was  a big risk. Whether it worked or not, heavy casualties were assured and he couldn’t wrap his head around it. Brahaspati though, understood the gravity of the whole thing. He calmed Indra down and then said that Vishnu’s decision seemed the wisest right now.
“It won’t be possible to evacuate everyone, and for the sustenance of this universe, we will need Suras, Asuras and Mortals. As the King, you have more knowledge about the Governance, you must take the decision of informing your people or not, about the Great Apocalypse, and our decision. Whatever you decide on, we will agree. Now Vishnu, we must discuss how to protect the people you will be carrying. “ 

The frustration of all this and the tension was visible on Indra. Brahaspati was searching for a solution. There must be a way to create a protective layer around Vishnu. Then it clicked. In the Sura world, there was a Vihaga clan. They were said to possess the ability to control the wind, and could carry it in their abnormally expansive belly. The issue was that it was very taxing for them, and there was a reasonable risk involved in which they would not be able to hold it till Vishnu carried everyone to the safe land. They had no choice, they had to move fast. No one knew when it would happen, but Vishnu’s gut told him that it would be soon, and they will not be having enough time.  Indra had made the decision, He had already asked all his Ministers to ask their family to come with the absolute necessities. He was not going to tell the people. He knew what would happen if he did, everyone would panic. Time was not in their side, and he could not afford even a moment of panic. He must go with them too, though he wished to stay behind with his people, for he must talk to Danu and Vaivasvata, to convince them to make quick decisions. Vishnu had already asked Brahaspati to contact Shukracharya about their plan, to make all the arrangements. When all the arrangements were made from their side, he contacted the head of the Vihaga clan, Garuda. They were taking a lot of their clans for their requirements. Once everyone was ready, Vishnu transformed into the Matsya and grew. It was the same silver Matsya that he had seen on his way back from Brahma. It had to be, for some reason he did not know but his gut knew. As he grew, the Bigrahas first sucked up as much air they could, and covered themselves. Then, they went around Vishnu and covered him, as the Suras climbed him. Then they took off, towards the Asura realm. 

When they were outside the Asura realm, Indra decided that Brahaspati and he must be the ones who entered the realm. They went on the back of Garuda, straight into the palace of Danu, where they could see a large crowd which was assembled. Upon entering the castle, they were very respectfully greeted by the Queen Danu, the Teacher Shukracharya and the Commander Shiva. Danu went straight to the point, “ Welcome, revered Indra and Guru Brahaspati. We received word of your plan from Shukracharya. Though it pains me to lead to the direct death of my kin, I must do it, as the Queen. I can understand the inner turmoil that Indra must have gone through too. I have decided to take all the young ones, all the Teachers, and Shiva and his wife. Shiva is tasked with not only our protection, but also Vishnu’s, and of everyone on him. I am honoured to have met you Indra, but I must bid you goodbye, for I need to confront my people about this. I am staying here and dying with them. “ 

Indra understood her stance. This was something that he had wanted to do but couldn’t, for he was required to talk to the Asuras and Mortals. He bid adieu to them, as they climbed up on Vishnu. Shiva did not immediately recognize him, but on inquiring about it from Indra, he got to know that the Matsya was Vishnu himself. Indra inquired of him that why more of his clan members did not come with him, for they wielded such destructive prowess. Shiva replied, “ O Great King, in our realm, it is considered a matter of pride to stay back and die with our Kin. I am required here for I must protect all of us who are on Vishnu, otherwise I would have been with my Queen and my kin.” 

Vishnu respected that, for he knew that there were but very few who would have thought like the Vashishti clan did. On their way to the Mortal realm, they encountered a very peculiar Matsya, who resembled Vishnu in all respects but size. Vishnu greeted him and invited him to go with them. He must be present while the mortals climbed up Matsya, for there was a huge number of mortals present. This time, Indra, Garuda and the Matsya went down to greet King Vaivasvata. While Indra and Garuda went to the castle of Vaivasvata, Matsya stayed out to meet Manu, his saviour. Manu conveyed to Matsya that they had gathered two of each species from the mortal world, his family and the King and their important ministers. This was a lot, and the Matsya thought it would be very difficult for Garuda alone to carry them in time. Given the circumstances and the fact that a lot of the Vihagas had perished due to exertion, there was no other choice than for him to help in transporting them. He grew as huge as Manu, and his family climbed on his back, and one by one everyone did so and he transported them. He understood the risk involved, for he had grown very big and his lifespan was cut in proportion to that. As he arrived, Vishnu grew bigger and accommodated them on his back. Garuda soon came with the King Vaivasvata and Indra. They had to be extremely quick, for they were anticipating it to start anytime now. As they were going to the piece of land Brahma promised would be in the middle of the Brahma World and Sura world. 

On their way to that, suddenly Shiva exclaimed, “ The Maharishis!”. Vishnu stopped at once. He had forgotten. They were in trouble, for in front of them they could see the Mortal world shaking. The Matsya volunteered to make a run for it and get the Maharishis. While Vishnu raced towards the safe land, the Matsya flew towards the Brahma realm. It was not even a few minutes when they heard a loud scream which sounded like Om from the direction which he flew.  The Matsya had perished. He had laid out his life to save the Mortals. Vishnu was in panic mode, he could not think properly. He flew as quickly as possible towards the Brahma realm. He could sense it, the apocalypse had started. The mortals, suras and asuras saw in horror as the mortal realm behind them was shaking and splitting up into a million pieces. They were fortunate to not have heard their screams as they died, for that would have frozen Vishnu in his spot and they would have been in the way of destruction. They rushed to the Brahma realm, but not everyone was allowed to enter there. Shiva went with Shukracharya and Brahaspati to get the other 5 Maharishis. It was of utmost importance that every one of them survived, for they were the books of the whole universe, having knowledge about everything and everyone. As Shiva was about to take them to Vishnu, he exclaimed, “ Brahma! Where is he? We need to get him too!” To this Vashista replied, “ He is no more. He has finally become one with Shakti, which started the apocalypse. He is everywhere now. “ Not having the time to register this, Shiva hurried them up to Vishnu,as they flew to the safe land. The moment they escaped they saw the Brahma realm getting ripped into a million pieces just as the Mortal realm did. It was a rat race now. They had to reach somehow. Vishnu had grown very big now and the count of Vihagas had decreased a lot due to exertion. Garuda was pushing himself the most, covering almost a third of Vishnu’s area on his own, equivalent to a thousand Vihagas. It had to be done. Everyone had understood that by now. 

Suddenly there was a deafening silence. There was no more collisions and movement of Land. This made a chill run through Vishnu’s spine as he stopped. Something was wrong. All the pieces of Land in the no-realm area which was flying just a minute ago had stopped mid-air. All of a sudden, they started to come together at blinding speed. Vishnu’s eyes widened as he understood what was about to happen. They were merging at a speed he could not comprehend. Inside a second there was a humongous piece of rock in front of them. They were defeated. He will not be able to cross it, he knew that. It was just that big. 

There was also no more movements. He understood that the Apocalypse was over. He and Shiva were mortals now, and any more time that Vishnu spent as Matsya could end up taking his life, and that would mean the end of all the Life on his back as well. Vishnu understood all this, for he was intelligent beyond any other creature. Shiva, on the other hand, jumped on top of a Vihaga. Garuda was close to death, covering close to half of Vishnu’s area now. The Vihagaa asked Shiva of what they were supposed to do now. Shiva asked him to fly as fast as possible towards the giant mass of rock. Shiva must take in as much damage as possible, and try to destroy it. It was foolishness, Vishnu thought, for there was no way Shiva was going to take in that much damage and stay alive for enough time to destroy the rock. As the VIgraha sped towards the rock at speed which was but slightly less than that of the smaller pieces of land merging, Shiva jumped ahead and collided. He did it once more. And once more. Close to death, he asked the Vigraha to do it one last time, and as he collided, he released all his destructive power at once. Nothing happened. Not a single sound as Shiva fell down, black bodied and charred as the Vigraha rushed to pick him up. Then there was a crack heard. 

And with a Big enormous roar, it burst apart. With such an enormous force that even Vishnu could not stay in his place as Indra, Suras and Vaivasvata protected everyone from the rocks. This was what later was called the Big Bang. Once the initial barrage was over, Vishnu grew in size so as to protect the ones on his back from the smaller rocks and sped towards the promised land.  Shiva was close to death, and was brought to Vishnu by the Vigraha, who soon died after it. He had exerted himself beyond his limits. Garuda was close to fainting, for he was now covering up for almost 2000 VIgrahas. VIshnu sped to the land and as they reached, his vision was blurry. He could not figure out whether he was about to die or faint. Whatever the result may be, it would mean the instant death of all life. Shiva had already died, Garuda would too, very soon, and then everyone else would. With all these thoughts in his mind, he had to rush. He must honour their deaths by saving his people, even if it meant that he would die. He grew bigger. He grew as big as the size of the humongous piece of rock which Shiva had destroyed. He sped. There was no time to be spared, and once Garuda was to faint everything was gone and no one would be able to live. 

Finally, he could see the land. It was prosperous and Natural. He could see water there, and trees. There was light, whose source was unknown. He sped like a mad man. On reaching there, they descended. FIrst came down Manu, the saviour of the Mortal world. He confirmed the presence of Air there, fresher and purer than it ever was in their realm. Then came down together Vaivasvata and Indra. Then the Suras and Asuras. Then the Mortals. Then the Maharishis. At last came down Garuda carrying Vishnu and Shiva, both of them unconscious. The moment he landed them, Garuda fainted too.  

They took a moment to let it sink in. Everyone had lost everything, but there was not a glimpse of sadness. There was ecstasy, and it was of survival. There was joy. There were some tears of happiness as they escaped from death. There were five heroes.

Manu was crowned as the First Man, for having saved the Mortal world and ensuring that such a large crowd from that realm could be made to come together in such a small time. Vaivasvata, in honour of him, declared that from that moment, all of the human species would be called  Manavas, which meant ‘The Ones who came after Manu’. 

Matsya, the rare silver coloured one of the ever mysterious species. Vashishta had selected him for he was the first one to have evolved in such a way to speak and convey to any creature in any world through telekinesis. He was the last of Matsya, for everyone else had died in the apocalypse. He was honoured by all the ones who were alive, for he had given up his life to transport the Mortals to Vishnu. 

Garuda, the Vigraha. He alone had covered the equivalent of 2000 Vigrahas at a point and was one of the Major reasons everyone was alive. Without him it would not have been possible to have survived, and he was crowned as the King of All who Flew. 

Shiva, who did not die, but was grievously wounded and exhausted. He was charred black by the explosion, and there were more places from where he was bleeding than from where he was not. He was the reason they could reach here. He was crowned as the ‘Destroyer of the World’ for he had destroyed the previous world. Though he was an Asura, he was hailed as the strongest by everyone.

Vishnu. He too was alive, miraculously. He slept for 10 straight days due to exhaustion and had gone very weak. He was crowned as the ‘Protector of the World’, for he had protected all life in the world. He was the pioneer, and this would not have been possible without him. He was hailed by all three. 

They all lived together harmoniously. Once Vishnu had recovered, he approached Vashishta, for some things were troubling him. He greeted him, and asked, “ O Noble Lord, I have some questions about how things proceeded. First one is regarding Lord Manu. Why did you choose him? He was a human. Not the strongest and not the most intelligent in the Mortal world. It bothers me as to why him, and why was he able to do the task. “

To this, Vashishta replied, “ O revered Vishnu, The reason for choosing Manu was because he was Human. In every species in every realm there was but one similarity. There is Shakti within each. This Shakti was the source of power, and can be used to change one’s self, or to influence others. This is the most within Humans, of all the creatures in all realms, and that is the reason you see that 5 out of the 7 Maharishis are Humans. “

Vishnu then asked his second question, “ Lord, Why didn’t Shiva or I die? For I know very well that we had gone beyond our Limits. I should not have been able to have grown to such a size if I was not immortal. I am sure the apocalypse had stopped before the Big Bang. Then why did we not die?”

To this Vashishta replied by saying “Brahma had granted you and Shiva a boon of immortality till the apocalypse stopped. It is destined that it would be the both of you who will save the world, but ultimately lay down your life during that apocalypse. This one was not the one which he talked about. There is another one coming, so be prepared for that. For now, we have time, but when it does come again, the Destroyer of the World and the Protector of the World must lay down their life. “

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