Saturday, 17 December 2011

The spider weaves its web

At first glance, Kaithal seemed an unlikely venue for a meeting to strategize a major war. Predominantly a religious centre, people visited Kaithal more to perform religious rituals and participate in occasional spiritual discourse. Lush greenery abounded. The settlement nestled between two rivers that were providers of life to humans and varied species of plants and animals. There was an unwritten code amongst the local people not to kill animals for food, clothing or any other reason, including weapon making and medicinal purposes. The cattle they owned was the  basis of their sustenance supplemented by primitive agriculture. While most settlements in the ancient world of the Arya underwent constant upheaval, Kaithal stood out as an exception. The tranquillity could easily lull one into a state of somnolence.

The three rajans must have felt the same as they took their seats in the hut dwelling and would have been wondering why Bharadvaja’s had chosen this as a venue for the talks. Perhaps, sensing this, Bharadvaja began the talks by pointing to Devavata’s fire and saying, “That is the main reason for our meeting here at Kaithal.”

“There have been more illustrious Purus to have come before and after Devavata, but none can boast of leaving behind a mark that symbolizes the glory and power of the Purus as this eternal fire.”

“If the Vrcivans want to establish their supremacy over the Purus, dare them to douse this fire.”

The provocation was very obvious. It stirred the rajan’s out of their serenity.

“But, Risihivar, based on their current might, it is only a matter of time that they will blaze their way across our lands and reach Kaithal. Who and what will stop them?” asked Srnjaya, unsure if this wager made sense.

“No one will stop them Srnjaya, infact you will provide their army a safe passage”, answered Bharadvaja and then after a deliberate pause, continued, “In return, we will demand of the Vrcivans that not a single settlement or single person be harmed.”

Author's note: In order for the Vrcivans to reach Kaithal, they would have to pass through South Panchala.

The idea seemed preposterous. Cayamana, the non-conformist, seemed to think the old man had gone mad. So, the most powerful army was to be allowed entry right into the heart of Arya land and then what?

“The spider does not go looking for its prey. It spins a web and waits for the prey to come to it. In the same manner, we will let the Vrcivans come to us, not the other way around.”

“But, Rishivar, by letting the Vrcivans come right into the heart of Puru territories, will we not make it easier for them to overpower us? How much time before they destroy our army and then demolish Devavata’s fire?” asked Cayamana.

“If you do nothing, the Vrcivans will destroy your settlements, one by one, till they overthrow Kampliya, then, continue to Ahichhatra and eventually into your lands as well Cayamana. With their current might, even your combined armies, untrained, unprepared as they are, cannot stop them. Do you really wish the annihilation and destruction and of your people, your armies and your lands?” 

“Well, I do concede, if the Vrcivans do agree to the offer of safe passage, the destruction of Panchala settlements and the killing of the people will be spared, but will it not hasten our defeat. For, our combined armies are no match for their, and therefore defeat is inevitable”, responded Cayamana.

“Not if we ensnare them in a web. Come with me.”

Bharadvaja rose and briskly strode out of the dwelling towards the western bank of the Apaya. Not far away to the east, and very much visible to the naked eye, was the bigger Drsadvati.

“The two armies will face each other on the other side of the Drsadvati. In order for the Vrcivan army to take control of Devavata’s fire, they will have to cross two rivers.”

“After offering initial resistance, your army, will deliberately withdraw, making it possible for the Vrcivans to cross the Drsadvati”, an animated Bharadvaja said to Vadhryasva.

“A few months after the rains, when the water in the Drsadvati is neither too high nor too low, it becomes very difficult to cross it. The pebbles that make up the bed of river become extremely slippery, and both horses and foot soldiers have to wade very carefully to reach the other side. With more than half their army in the river, Cayamana, your soldiers will shower the front flank of the Vrcivans with arrows from the west bank and Srnjaya, your men will attack from the rear. Trapped in the middle of the river, not able to move forward or back, it is the best and probably only chance you have of crushing the mighty Vrcivans.”

The three rajans looked at each other, their faces marked partly in awe and partly with disbelief.

“One more thing, we have to get Virshika to agree to the war after the rains. It is critical that we get him to agree, as it will also give you time to prepare for the war.”

The wily Bharadvaja had just produced a flash of genius. They were unanimous; if ever the Vrcivans could be defeated, then this was the only way.

But would the prey enter the web?

Notes & References

Extracted from Wikipedia -

The Drsadvati River (dṛṣad-vatī, meaning "she with many stones") is a river already mentioned in the Rig Veda (RV 3.23.4) together with Sarasvati and Apaya. In later texts, Vedic sacrifices are performed on this river and on the Sarasvati River (Pancavimsa Brahmana; Katyayana Sratua Sutra; Latyayana Srauta Sutra).

In the Manu Smriti, this river and the Sarasvati River define the boundary of Brahmavarta.

Manu 2.17. That land, created by the gods, which lies between the two divine rivers Sarasvati and Drsadvati, the (sages) call Brahmavarta.

The Drsadvati River has often been identified with the Chautang River.[1] Talageri (2000) identifies it with the Hariyupiya and the Yavyavati. It is also identified with the Jaxartes, while the Sarasvati has been identified with the Oxus river.
According to the major religious work Srimad Bhagavatam, the Drsadvati is one of the many transcendental rivers in India.


  1. Hey, You can convert this into a major novel the way you are going. Its good to see a writer amongst us. Lage Raho Yatinbahai!