#2 THE UNDERWORLD KING
Drumila flew to the top of the red mountain capped with spotless red rubies. Due to reflecting the dazzling white light pervading the skies of his world, the mountain was glowing red against the firmament, much like himself, for he, too, was of a reddish complexion.
Drumila lived in the world known as Atal – the first world below the Earth.
He looked up at its sky, in the direction of the zenith, expecting the illustrious form of his master, Shukracharya, to appear within its vast space, riding upon that gigantic crocodile he seemed to favor, but in vain. Only the Northern white light was visible in the sky.
A while ago, a servant had come thundering into Drumila’s private chambers and relayed the information that the master had contacted the mystic, Darshini, and was on his way to Vasant-puri, the city of daityas. Darshini, who preceded the late Daitya King – Drumila’s father – by birth, resided in private quarters in the city at the King’s expense, by virtue of her occult powers.
“Guru Shukra is on his way right now, the yogini says!” the servant had cried. “He shall reach within a short time and has said to look up to the skies!”
Following the advice, Drumila had set out of his residence at once, flying over palaces and houses, whose sparkling multi-colored walls were covered with gems and greenery. The city of Vasant-Puri, along with the valley it was built in, eternally experienced the season of spring. Nestled between the three peaks of ruby, sapphire and emerald, it was a delight to behold, from the sky as well as the ground.
Drumila sat down at the roots of the lone Fig tree, who adorned the peak of the red Ruby mountain like a lush, green crown and towered 200 yojan above him into the subterranean sky. He wondered if he should shake the tree with his arms, for after all, he had time to spend and his arms were itching from lack of exercise, but he thought better of it. The figs would fall on the great mountain, and would certainly roll down its great slopes towards the city, which lay at its foot. The fruits were round at the bottom and spotted with red dots in its green fleshy skin, and were at least 1/5th the size of the smallest house in Vasant-Puri. It would be a disaster, he thought, if those went rolling down the peak right now. All the more reason for them to boycott me as King.
And so he simply sat looking at the great fruits which were protected by the great green leaves from the Northern light. Just when he thought he was tired of looking at the broad, green leaves floating like great fans on the sky, he spotted movement beyond them in the sky.
He got up to take a closer look, and found that a fluid swishing figure, resembling very much that of a crocodile, was darting through air by dint of its mystic power. Sitting on its back was a man clad in white robes, directing his mount with a golden stick. He appeared like the white glowing moon atop the blackish reptile due his milky white complexion and effulgence.
Drumila ran out into the open from under the tree and cried into the air, “Maharaj!” As he watched, the crocodile flew closer, and landed at a run on the sparkling red plains of the Mountain that stretched in front of Drumila. The beast’s paws struck the mountain like claps of thunder as he hurtled towards him at an astonishing speed. Finally, it came to a halt not very far away from him and snorted heavily through its great nostrils.
The crocodile viewed him with particularly steady yellow eyes but Drumila ignored the beast. He turned his attention to the Guru of his race, instead, who alighted at once and beamed at him, his smile stretching all the way up to his ears.
Why is he smiling thus?
Drumila forgot the proper way of greeting his preceptor, which was falling at his feet like a rod. Why is he so jubilant? Surely, some great good has occurred!
“It is done!” Shukracharya thundered, thrusting his glowing golden stick into the air. “I found a place for you to settle!”
Drumila stood on the spot, lost for words.
“Maharaj! Why?” he exclaimed finally in the sanskrit that had evolved in the Netherworld.
“Why?” the guru repeated in an incredulous voice. “My dear young King, I don’t need the Yogini to tell me what is going on in your Kingdom. Your subjects, the daityas who reside within those walls, are growing confused and restless by the moment. Tell me, Drumila, have you not begun to spot insolence in them, the ones who live under your protection?”
“But they were always insolent,” Drumila said quietly.
“Never,” Shukracharya said at once, shaking his head. “They were cruel to each other and rough with their own relatives but never insolent to you, who gave them salvation. It’s not the same. That they disrupt yagyas, kill humans and speak harshly is natural to them. But till now they used to either look up to you or fear you. But it seems now they’re growing out of that, too.
“Ten years of the devatas have passed in the worlds above since the battle of Krouncha-dveep, where you defeated the King of gods and sent him fleeing upon his celestial elephant from those golden slopes. But the common daitya has forgotten about it all. They make trips to the Earth’s surface and cavort in gardens under the warmth of the sun or the cool rays of the moon, not having a care about their enemies, but they forget that all of this is made possible you alone; who drove the gods to the heavens like a pack of geese flying from a wolf. And now they see that light in the North,” he pointed over his crocodile to the white light in the horizon, “and they wonder if the naagas have grown any more powerful. Yes…even the best of your supporters have I caught wondering about the opulence of the naagas, which, I must admit, exceeds yours by far. They entertain fantasies of hauling off towards the North, drawn by that dazzling light which is a sign of the prowess of the great white serpent, Shankh.
“As your army’s unrest grows, so does the Queen’s hatred. Although being the one who installed you upon the throne, the Queen bears nothing but poison towards you, the child of her husband from a mere maid-servant. It is only a matter of time before her relatives arrive from the deep, dark underworlds, and collude with her to throw you out of the capital.”
Drumila looked up fiercely into his master’s eyes.
“Let her try!” he bellowed. “Me and my faithful servants are more than a match for anything she can bring – even if they be horrors from the darkest depths of creation!”
The master surveyed him patiently with half-closed eyes. “You may hold them off, dear Drumila, but for how long? The naagas breed like insects, producing a thousand offspring at once. And they grow with every revolution of the sun, until there is no space left inside their holes in the ground and they have to move to the mountaintops, with their bodies wrapped around its slopes. Even though you may survive their attack, your army will not. Do you want to lay waste to them?”
Drumila had no reply for this. It couldn’t be disputed; the naagas were almost indestructible.
“It is decided,” his master said abruptly. “I shall not see you dwindle away so miserably when a golden opportunity shines directly above your head! This is not the time to give in to pride or egoism. Let go of this land. There is nothing for you here! When I attain the powers to breach the celestial wall, we shall secure you a place in the heavens, in the very capital of the gods, Amaravati! But for now…you must live on the surface of the Earth. Fix your mind on this.”
Drumila looked at the shining red rock under their feet, reflecting their distorted figures on its rough surface.
“This place you talk of…is it safe?”
“Is it safe? My dear boy, it is the site of Shankara!” roared the master. “Hidden from the devatas, danavas and naagas alike, it is a wonderful island on the surface of the Earth, a secret divine place called Eshanya. You must go there at once and establish a city fit for the standard of your race. Take everyone who resides in this valley, or at least how many ever will follow.”
Drumila looked up at his master, whose matted locks of black hair were covered with dust and appeared like a beehive decorated with flowers.
“I…I don’t know, Maharaj. All my life I’ve lived here, where the air is fragrant and the sun doesn’t burn. I’m attached to the palace and its houses, where my mother used to live. And what of my subjects? How can they adjust upon the face of the Earth, which is inferior to this world in every way?”
Shukracharya scowled at him.
“You talk of your mother. She was killed by the Creator purposely when the battle raged above, on the island of Krouncha. How will you avenge her death? The Creator resides far beyond the world of the gods. You shall never, even in your dream, be able to reach him unless we breach that wall which surrounds Svarga-lok. Don’t you know? There is no other way.
“Your subjects will do well to adjust wherever you take them, for what other choice do they have? One must, at all costs, follow his King, if he wants to achieve happiness and a life free from disturbances. As for the Palace and these houses…they will pale in comparison to the new city we will build upon Earth. All these years we’ve been working towards our goal and I see among the stars that the time is close at hand. Listen to me,” his master implored in a deep voice and with such conviction that Drumila was forced to look upon his master’s middle-aged face. “Go to the surface and bide your time until I complete my tapasya. It may take me a hundred divine years or even a thousand, but I shall come to you with the powers and we shall breach that wall.”
Drumila looked at the determination in those deep, black eyes, and nodded.
“Very well,” Drumila said slowly. “Very well. Who will you consign the task of building the city?” He glanced at his capital below, at the city of wonders and unmatched beauty. Even though he’d asked the question, Drumila feared he already knew the answer.
“Muya,” the sage said, echoing his thought. “The surviving son of Diti will build you a city. I will request him to do so.”
Muya, one of the great Forefathers of the race of daityas, was the most expert architect in the lower seven worlds. Presently, he lived in the far East, in the city ruled by his son, Bala.
Drumila nodded and bowed his head, gladdened greatly by his master’s arrangements.
“Come, now,” the master said. “Let us fly to Vasant-puri.”
 Daityas didn’t follow any units of time – at least not ones of their own. Since neither the sun, moon nor the stars could be seen in the worlds below the Earth, they couldn’t possibly track time.
 1 yojan = 8 miles. 200 yojan = 1600 miles.
 The fire-rite in which offerings are made to the devatas (gods) through the agency of fire.
 Literally, the city of immortals.