‘Mohini Bhasmasur’

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Bhasmasur, like many Asuras, was capable of hard and difficult penance. Actually, was it penance, this difficult meditation- was he punishing his body and mind, putting them through the most difficult tasks, to repent something, or just to aggrandise, to become the most powerful being on earth, or simply, in the manner of young children with their parents, to cock a snook at the gods?

Shiva was woken in Kailas by the power of this penance, and appeared, irritable at the umpteenth mortal who was making demands. He had to appear, the power of the meditation was such, it brought Shiva to his feet and onto a vista before Bhasmasur. Bhasmasur asked, to Shiva's sleepy surprise, only for the power to reduce anything he chose, to ashes : that his right hand, placed on anyone or anything should work with the ruthless speed we associate today with the electric crematoriums.

Shiva complied and the Asura laughed with the absolute villainy that only a child can understand, and threatened Shiva with an upraised hand. Round and round they went in circles, an enraged but helpless Shiva, beginning to get fearful of this laughing man with his hand upraised in a malign blessing. Shiva remembered Vishnu.

Mohini appeared, a stunning beauty whose lazy gaze led Bhasmasur away from the bedraggled, harassed Shiva. Her hips had the sway of a fine dancer, her gaze had the langour of her gait.

How did she initiate Bhasmasur into that silly game of imitation, where he repeated every move she made? Does the image suggest a mating ritual, like of two large birds walking the ground, or does it merely confirm that he was a child, stunned by the radiance of her beauty, not knowing what to do with the emotion, completely at her mercy.

She led him into a merry dance before she finally put her right hand on her head and waited for the adoring Bhasmasur to imitate her.

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