The mating call indicated the onset of the summer months. But summer seemed to have entrenched itself already. The land was a brown bowl of dust, bereft of vegetation and water. For Payu and his horse, used to the forests and streams on the foothills of the Himalayas, this was unusual. Would his horse be able to make the journey? Payu had not expected such a treacherous route to Vrindavan.
The difference between the habitats of the Puru and Anu tribes settled alongside the mighty rivers was in stark contrast to these parts occupied by the Yadus. Perhaps this harshness was also responsible in part for their brutality. As that thought crossed his mind, Payu also reminded himself that he had to watch out for the elite Vricivan solders. He expected them to be camped close to the Panchala border, but so far, he saw no evidence.
The horse had now slowed down to a canter. It needed a rest and more importantly a drink. But where was he to locate water in these parts? Payu began to mutter a prayer to Indra under his breath. Soon enough, up ahead in a distance, he could make out the contours of human dwellings. Payu dismounted the horse and decided it better to walk alongside as a way to quell any fears that he may be mistaken for a solder or person meaning physical danger.
As he neared the dwellings, he realized they were desolate, perhaps abandoned due to a complete lack of vegetation, fodder and water. Might he be able to find some water for his horse? If he could only find some for the poor beast. As he looked around, he noticed a large rectangular structure that had no opening on any side, and was not tall enough to shelter humans either. He approached the structure and to his joy, discovered it contained water, very shallow and dirty, but water nevertheless. Somehow he managed to make sure the horse was able to have a drink and he too had some from the water he was carrying in a large leather pouch.
Thirst quenched, man and horse proceeded towards Vrindavan at a gallop. So, this is how the Dasa’s stored their water! He had always heard from accounts narrated by the Pani traders, but here it was, right before his eyes. So the Yadus seemed to have figured it too, no wonder they could survive in these regions, where rivers were few and those that existed, provided water mostly after the rains.
The other thing that struck Payu was why the settlement had been abandoned. It did not appear to be a regular settlement of people – there was no evidence to suggest cow sheds and fodder. The dwellings also seemed to have been hurriedly made and could very well have been occupied by the mobile Vrcivan elite army. But why had they abandoned the settlement and where were they now?
As mid-day approached, Payu came by a major Yadu settlement. His antecedents ensured that he was greeted well and taken care of, fed, watered and rested. By evening, he reached the banks of the Yamuna. Vrindavan lay on the other side.
Notes & References
The tittri (or teetar in Hindi and Gray Francolin in English) is referred to as Kapinjala in the Rig Veda. Infact two hymns – 2.043 and 2.043 are dedicated to this bird.