Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mythological Games in Switzerland

The Chudamani

Switzerland, July 2004-

Being the only assistant in the small crew, i was overwhelmed with work of different departments on this outdoor shoot. On this day we had wrapped up early. When i entered the dining area of the hotel where everyone gathered to relax after the days shoot, i found a group in the right corner engaged in some board game and playing it with a great deal of enthusiasm. On one side was Shahrukh and on the other side was Farah Khan. There was Pam Aunty, Payal, Vaibhavi Merchant, Anil Mehta sir and some other top names of the industry playing that game. They were playing in a fun spirit and yet by their comments one could sense the competition between them. 

The questions being asked covered various fields of science, entertainment, sports, religion and mythology. At one point Farah asked a mythological question which seemed like a complete bouncer and no one was expected to know the answer. So to get things going she asked "Kisi ko aata hai jawab ya points le lein?" before she could discard the question, i blurted out - "Daksha". I immediately regretted it because everyone began looking at me. After a few seconds Farah said in her usual dry tone - "Achha guess kiya ,... sahi jawab hai!".  I moved on and sat on another table to make the call sheets.

After that round of game was over, they began making new teams. As i was working against time to finish my work.. i heard my name called out. Shahrukh had chosen me in his team. I wanted to opt out as i had work.. but then wondered, when again would i get a chance to play.  Srk saw my reluctance and said "Arre call sheet jaane de, ek din nahi diya to chalega.." Farah said dryly "Waise bhi tu kaunsa time pe aata hai.." To which Yashji sitting on another side began laughing.

Giving one answer was fine.. but i wasn't sure i knew all the answers to questions on mythology or religion despite my deep interest in it. The game began. I sensed the competition and will to win despite outer niceties. Srk is very intelligent in quiz games, i didn't get to do much, but the team went along well until Farah asked the question "Which avatar of Vishnu was there during both the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods?" Unlike other questions this one was met with a muted response. I quickly thought about it and said "Parashuram," to which Srk immediately repeated 'Parashuram' as if he knew it too. Farah's look, which was one of - 'this ones in the bag', changed, and she said - "Correct!"

The game progressed further with a lot of tiffs and arguments till things became a bit tense. At another critical point she asked another mythological question - "What did Sita give to Hanuman to show Lord Rama as proof of meeting her.?" Immediately Shahrukh said - "Her ring," which the rest of the team agreed to. Farah was about to give the verdict, when I said to Srk that this may be incorrect. Lord Rama gave the ring but Sitaji is said to have given an ornament she wore on her hair. I do not know what that ornament is called, but on it was studded the gem famously called - the Chudamani. 

Srk wasn't sure about this, he felt it was the ring. The team agreed with him. I was feeling pressured as Farah wanted us to answer quickly with a time limit decided in our last argument. Srk said - "Pakka maloom hai tujhe.." Some other person confidently emphasised that "it was her ring,.. just answer that!" But i looked at Srk and repeated what what i knew.  Srk changed his answer to Chudamani! To which Farah said - "Wrong answer!" I wanted to bury myself. Srk asked for the right answer to which she said - "Shikhamani!" 

Srk said that this is what he said that its the ornament of the hair! I  explained that Shikhamani maybe an assumed name, but it was called the Chudamani and began to describe it -"It is about this big in size, a bit oval and honey coloured, not exactly honey coloured but a bit like...."
They were all curiously looking at me and Farah put their look into words saying "Tu aise bol raha hai jaise tune khud dekha hai?" That shut me up and i withdrew as the game came to an end.

I do not recall who won but that night as i tried to finish my work my mind kept going to the summer just a few months back that I had spent in Brindavan.

Swami had come to Brindavan as He usually does and i had the opportunity of serving in His residence - Trayee. One evening after the bhajans at the Trayee sessions, I was alone sitting guarding the interview door which was open, while all other boys were sitting at the main door attending the Trayee session. I could hear the laughs, claps and occasional sounds of awe from within the house. At one point the energy changed.. I sensed a great deal of excitement almost flooding out from the house. When i looked up at the sevadal boys, they had all gone on their knees trying to see something in great excitement. 

I wanted to rush over, but i could not leave my place out of a sense of duty. Then i looked at my leader Harish, who in excitement motioned me to come over. In a nano second i was there. Swami was walking amongst the boys, the staff and VIPs showing something.. and such was my good fortune that I reached there just at the time Swami was closest to us. I saw with my own eyes a glittering Jewel, smooth, almost emanating a glow from within. To my eyes it seemed honey coloured, but it could also be because i saw Swami's palm through it. Having seen the created I switched my attention to the creator who was still moving around showing the jewel to the other boys looking at it curiously.

When Swami sat back on the jhoola, the gentleman who was speaking said in awe and with folded hands that "We all have been privileged to see the Chudamani which Ma Sita had given to Hanuman to show to Lord Ramachandra as proof of having met her!"

The Chudamani

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