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The thief followed my instructions. "Do I have to play a flute? I can play a flute, but I don't have one with me right now," he said.
I gathered all the things necessary for offering worship from aunt's private shrine: lamps, incense sticks, rice grains. The thief was thrilled when I washed his feet with water from a small pot. "Will you drink that water?" he asked me.
"Certainly! But, before that I have to complete the circumambulation. Out method of worship requires that we go around the deity 108 times while wrapping the deity with ceremonial thread. But where can I find so much thread?"
"Thread? Can't you complete the worship without thread?" This new thread in events depressed him. "You have put me in a difficult situation. Where will you find thread at this hour?"
"Let me see," I said and my search led me to the ball of zari thread. "This will do. In fact, this is better. This golden thread will look better on my guardian angel.
"Hold this end of the thread - hold it tight while I go around you 108 times chanting mantras. You keep a count; count till 108."
"Can't you count yourself?" he was reluctant to exhibit his counting skills.
"How can I count while chanting the mantras? I said.
"Okay, then I will count. Start your worship."
He held the open end of the thread and I went around him with the ball of zari, binding him to the column in the process. I chanted my mantra as I went around him: Masmekong narang jati, dou massau mrigshukrau ... pashya singha madonmat shashken nipatita ... namastasya namastasya namastasya namo namah ...!
The thief began counting as if in a trance, "One, two ... twenty-seven, twenty-eight ... fifty-two, fifty-three ... seventy-five, seventy-six ... one hundred seven, one hundred eight."
At the count of 108, I dropped myself at his feet and said, "Lord, my worship is over. Please come with me now and tell me what you want. Select the best things, everything is yours."
The thief came out of his trance. When he tried to come with me, he received a shock. The pillar forced him to stand like a pillar; he could not move. He found himself bound to the pillar by the golden thread.
As it is, the zari thread is quite fragile, just like glass. But the thread had gone around him 108 times, and attached itself to him like pure gold jewellery. It is easy to break a single straw, but try breaking a bundle!
The thief stood bound to the pillar and looked bewildered. The zari thread held him in such a tight embrace that he could not move. The poor fellow presented a sorry picture, and he appeared very foolish.
He yelled at me, "What is the meaning of this? Release me now that your worship is over. Can't you see it is almost dawn? Haven't I told you I have to visit my other devotees also?"
"Please Lord, wait a little longer. Let me look at you to my heart's content; this golden thread looks so marvelous on you."
But the thief did not agree. He kept yelling. He did not wish to remain in the zari's embrace for a minute longer. The embrace had become a nightmare for him.
"You have put me in a very difficult situation. Is it the time for you to gape at me? It is already dawn; the crows have started cawing, can't you hear them?"
I could hear the crows cawing; I could see the first light of dawn peeking through the gap of the door; I could also hear uncle calling; then, aunt called; then I heard my cousins hollering and screaming at each other. They had all returned after watching the play!
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu