I gushed about Christopher Pike's Thirst series a few days ago. I've just finished reading the third tale in the Thirst No. 1 volume, and my head is spinning with how Pike has carried Sita's story beyond the first book.
There are so many things I love about these books. Sita is a very powerful character, a woman (albeit a 5,000-year-old vampire) making her way all by herself in the world.
There's truly something to be said about strong female characters. It's inspiring, empowering, emboldening even to read tales of strong women displaying endless courage and carrying out heroic deeds.
But more than anything else, I am absolutely in love with Pike's portrayal of Krishna through the eyes of Sita.
She is devoted to the God, and every interaction between Krishna and Sita is portrayed with a sensitivity and a deep and rich understanding of Hindu philosophy that may very likely be beyond the grasp of many present-day Hindus.
It amazes me that an author based in the US in the 90s achieved this feat, and Pike has my endless loyalty to his writings as a result of this.
In Red Dice, the third story in Thirst No. 1, Sita dreams of a conversation with Krishna when she feels lost about how to proceed with the real-world mess she has gotten entangled in. (This story has a top-secret government organization conducting experiments on vampires, and that's all I'll say about the plot itself. It's too rich and enjoyable to be revealed.)
The lines below are from the dream.
He stands beside me on the wide plain, his gold flute in his right hand, a red lotus flower in his left. We both have on long blue gowns. He wears an exquisite jewel around his neck—the Kaustubha gem, in which the destiny of every soul can be seen. He stares up at the sky, waiting for me to speak. But I can not remember what we were discussing.
"My Lord," I whisper. "I feel lost."
His eyes remain fixed on the stars. "You feel separate from me."
"Yes. I don't want to leave you. I don't want to go to earth."
"No. You misunderstand. You are not lost. The entire creation belongs to me—it is a part of me. How can you be lost? Your feeling of separation gives rise to your confusion."
These lines made me very emotional. The concepts of separation, duality, oneness with the Universe, are as old as the stars yet I came across them only a few years ago after becoming a mother. So it seemed miraculous to me that Pike understood the very essence of Hindu philosophy and portrayed it so beautifully, so authentically in these lines.
I was raving to KrA about these lines in the book and my amazement that despite growing up in a very Hindu, a very God-fearing household, I never learnt the concepts of separation and duality all those years.
KrA, benevolent as always, suggested that maybe we learn these lessons only as grow older and mature in life.
And perhaps he is right. But I'm not entirely wrong either, because one of the biggest and longest internal turmoil I went through took place when D was around two years old. I had turned atheist by then, and I refused to put up the many idols and pictures of various deities that were packed in boxes and lying in the basement. We had packed them and kept them in storage before we left for Australia in fall 2015, and although we returned to Canada in early 2017, I brought the idols out of their boxes only in 2019 or 2020. I don't remember exactly when, but I do remember feeling a little scared that leaving my childhood Gods uncared for might spell disaster for me.
During my period of confusion about faith, I wondered about faith and what it really meant to have faith. Why do we keep praying to God for good health and wealth, for success and prosperity, even though we know and we see over and over again that life moves in its own mysterious fashion?
In those times, the Serenity prayer was one I could relate to. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
This made more sense, because it allowed for the fact that we don't necessarily get what we ask for. And because those early years of parenting were so especially hard, it took me a long time to accept that life will not bow to my will just because I want it to be that way, and that it has to be me to stop resisting and accept what is, to let go of all my fancy notions of how things ought to be and surrender to what is.
It wasn't until October of this year, in preparation for Diwali, that something shifted and I cleaned the idols and decorated them with flowers and lit lamps with much love and enjoyment. I found a print of Krishna playing his flute all rolled up, and I taped it to the wall.
Below the picture of the blue God are two lines excerpted from a book titled Whispers from Eternity by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda.
O Divine Krishna, Thou reignest forever in each heart that hears Thy heavenly flute.
I love these words. There's such a mesmerizing beauty in them that sometimes I just read them out aloud to remind myself that I can believe in Krishna simply because doing so makes my heart sing.
And a 5,000-year-old fictional vampire named Sita came into my life and showed me how beautiful it actually is to feel such devotion, to have such faith in the force and spirit of life that is Krishna.
"What did I do on earth, my Lord?"
"You wanted to be different—you were different. It doesn't matter. This creation is a stage, and we all play roles as heroes and villains alike. It is all maya—illusion."
"But did I—sin?"
My question amuses him. "It is not possible."
I glance towards the waiting vessel. It is almost full. "Then I don't have to leave you?"
He laughs. "Sita. You have not heard me. You cannot leave me. I am always with you, even when you think you are on earth."
~ An excerpt from Red Dice, Thirst No. 1, by Christopher Pike