Akhu and his four
colleagues abruptly scampered off, this time not in single file, but
in all directions.
remember always,' the sadhu continued, 'if
ever you are molested, hiss your best hiss, spread your hood to its
widest, stand tall, be a Terror! Play the part of a mighty cobra;
but always without anger, fear, or greed in short, without feeling
separate; know that whatever you do is a movement in Shiva's Dance.
Offer it all to Him and continue to say your mantra: "Om.
Sivasya'ham. Sivasya'ham"-"I am Shiva's, I am
Shiva's." ' Again he placed his hand on Sri Nag's
head. 'Bless you, my son,' he said, and
then he turned and walked away.
It was not
difficult, to be sure, for Sri Nag, Uma, and the children (who were
of an age now to hunt) to catch mice. Indeed, it sometimes seemed
that the mice ran to them of their own accord, as though wanting to
give themselves to the cobras in accordance with some ancient and
sacred rite. Still, the Nag family took no more than they
immediately needed, and these they at once offered to Shiva and took
as His prasad. As the days went by, Sri Nag glided more and more
easily and swiftly through the tall grass. He soon shed his old
skin, revealing a glistening new one underneath, and he began once
again to provide for Uma, leaving her free to attend to their
newborn clutch of little ones. But even with many mouths to feed Sri
Nag hunted without haste or anxiety; indeed, he felt not like a
hunter at all. For the first time, the meaning of his mantra awoke
in him: what had seemed to be only words became living fact: he was
a child of Lord Shiva's, an integral part of Him, his every movement
a fluid gesture of His Dance. He knew now with a conscious awareness
that he and the mice, and the frogs, too, were all joyful
participants in a great worship, and he felt a peace such as he had
never known before.