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Sansaaraaranyaye Dadayakkaraya

(The hunter in the wilderness of sansara)

Chapter1 :(Part 10)

Ancient stories

Thereafter, the hunter followed the crowfoot signs and discovered the treasure trove. It was filled with gold coins and jewellery. He did not know whether the glittering ornaments were actually made of gold. He did not feel he needed to know either. He looked around rather bemused. Finally, the Bahirawaya genuflected before him and followed him back to the entrance of the cave. The hunter knew that the Naga King was following the Bahirawaya and for this reason he realised that they had once again surfaced on the top of the rock. Seeing the Tree Spirit waiting for them, he felt that he could trust everything to be true.

The Bahirawaya was nowhere to be seen. Once the Tree Spirit confirmed to himself that the Bahirawaya was indeed gone, he turned to the hunter.

ĎYou donít have to trust the Tree Spirit O Giant. Although he does not speak in a language you would understand it would suffice to trust this Naga King. There are seven arrows carved on the rock around the crowfoot mark pointing to seven directions. This is the truth. At a distance of seven leagues from there in the direction of each of these arrow marks you will find seven such rocks and upon each a similar crowfoot mark.

At the foot of each of these rocks you will find treasure troves similar to this. Therein you will discover seven treasures all made of pure gold. The day that you see gold as gold, that day they will be gold to you.

ĎThis vast forest has been bequeathed to you. It is not just another forest. It was born on the remains of seven other such forests that were birthed, decayed and perished, one after the other. Seven civilisations lived and died therein. Their remains lie in seven layers of earth, one stacked upon the other. These as well as those seven jungles all belong to you, O Giant. All treasures that lie here too are yours.í

Amidst all these thoughts, feelings and actions, Golu Puncha was able to comprehend one truth alone. He realised that he was not Puncha or Golu Puncha, but Giant.

The Giant stood upon the rocky outcrop, surveying for a moment the life of the forest with all its rocks and treasures that had now become his inheritance.

The Naga King and the Tree Spirit looked at his gigantic frame with deep respect. The Naga Lady was unable to bear the heat that was the aura that surrounded his stature. She tried to retire timidly into her cave but found that she could not move, as though victim of a strange immobilizing spell. The Giant glanced at her briefly with some pride and the next moment cast his gaze on the rocky pool. He saw it with new eyes now.

It was not a random creation of nature. It was in fact constructed by craftsmen who lived and died a long time ago, another and ancient civilisation.

Having discerned this fact, the Giant made his way down the rock, along with the Tree Spirit and while walking down he realised something else. There were steps carved on the rock to make ascent and descent easier.

The bottom half of the mountain was covered in thick jungle. There were steps, he discovered, neatly carved right down to the roots of the gigantic trees at the very bottom of the mountain.

Some were broken but this fact did not prove to be an obstacle to the journey. Who had constructed this stairway which had not existed on his way up to the top of the rock? Perhaps they did exist all along. Perhaps he had ascended from a different place and in a different direction.

In any event, the Giant climbed down the flight of steps her had just discovered. The Tree Spirit followed at his heels, as though insisting that he too shared credit for the discovery and that the Giant should not entertain any doubt about the Tree Spiritís loyalty.

We should not forget that the descent did not end at the bottom of the rock. The earth surface of the present was not located at the visible base levels of the trees. When they had reached the end of the tap root of the most gigantic trees they encountered the ruins of an ancient civilisation.

Beneath this was another layer of earth. Thereafter, they found the ruins of yet another civilisation. In this manner, they descended through seven civilisational strata. The Tree Spirit pointed out that it was those who peopled the first civilisation that had carved the flight of steps.

The Tree Spirist saw the Giant gazing with a certain unperturbed vacancy at all these ruins of all these civilizations, the wealth buried therein and the remnants of uncountable creatures that had lived and died across the centuries.

The Tree Spirit noted equanimity in the Giantís gaze. It is not surprising that the Tree Spirit could not detect the Giantís eyes, hidden as they were by a set of large, many-folded and heavy eyelids. A tremor had passed through the deep caverns within which the Giantís thoughts resided on account of seeing the seven buried civilisations, one after another.

He felt his entire being shake, but it was not on account of sudden cognizance of the enormity and sole propriety of his inheritance.

He felt his entire body being enveloped with goose bumps. And yet he wandered about the ancient and subterranean ruins with the Tree Spirit without indicating a hint of this discontent. There were very few ruins at the first civilizational layer, the seventh that they encountered. There were skeletal remains of animals but very few belonging to humans.

A massive forest had perished here and walking through it all, he encountered the skeleton of a human being. He stopped and stared at it for a long time. The Giant surmised that the man whose bones these were would have been as tall and as well built as he was.

He saw a well crafted axe lying near the skeletal remains of the manís hand. It was large. Its blade was made of granite. The hand of the axe was made of some kind of metal. He felt an inexplicable shiver run through his body.

He picked up the axe and examined it carefully. He realised that it was a weapon that suited him when he hung it from his shoulder, the hand falling down his back and blade upon collar bone.

The moment he strung the axe thus all fear and doubt vanished. He felt a great relief encompass his being. He let the axe remain this way even after returning to the earth of present-time and yet an undefined thought remained resident within him regarding the original owner of the axe, whose mortal remains he had discovered at the bottom-end ruins.

He felt instinctively that this ancient creature who lay amidst the scattered remnants of countless other lives across several eras was tied to him in some inexplicable way, perhaps on account of some blood-tie in a different life time or in some umbilical manner. This thought didnít leave him.

For seven years thereafter he roamed the jungle, axe upon his shoulder. This axe had endowed him with a clear understanding of his strength. It gave him self-belief and kept away fear and doubt.

He had seen the boundaries of the jungle and noted its defining characteristics the first day the Tree Spirit led him to this place. The most important component of the jungle was the seven layers of civilisation that lay beneath the surface.

The next important characteristic was the specifically patterned arrangement of hill and valley across the length and breadth of the vast jungle. The Tree Spirit spared no pains to explain to the Giant that this constituted the remains of an irrigational complex.

ĎThere was a massive earth dam that ran across the Mee Oya, the river that forms one boundary of this forest. There was an enormous reservoir here. Beneath the dam was a massive tract of paddy land that was watered by this reservoir.

There were seven other reservoirs that collected the water that passed through the paddy fields. The water from each of these reservoirs fed the paddy tracts below them and the residual water flowed into seven further reservoirs from each of them.

In this manner the water from the Mee Oya as well as the water that fell from the sky was collected and channelled through this irrigation network into a large number of paddy tracts in an area that is now covered by this jungle.í

While gathering in eye and mind the ruins of this irrigation complex, the Giant also had opportunity to see all the treasures pointed to by the arrows pointing out from the crowfoot sign.

He encountered the Nagas and the Bahiravas tasked to protect each of the relevant treasure troves.

During these seven years the Giant developed the habit of descending the mountain after having his midday meal. He would pick up the axe which he left at the foot of the mountain.

He roamed the entire jungle. He passed through the most minute elements of life within the jungle. In time it is possible that he acquired the habit of sleeping even as he stood, even as he walked through the trees and through all plant and animal life.

At all times he was acutely alert about the mysterious as well as vast forest that was his inheritance. All creatures within it, the poisonous and dangerous, the gentle and respectful and all other creatures in all their immense variety were protected by the Gaint and on account of his axe.

The part of the inheritance that lay beneath the surface, decaying daily and dropped even deeper into the past, was also protected as it all lay beneath his feet.

 

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