Swar (or Svarga), the City of Delights, is the city of the dead of India; much as Stygia serves as the capital of the Dark Kingdom of Iron, Swar serves as the head city of Bhuvar, the Indian Shadowlands.
Bhuvar, Swar, and Bhur, the Skinlands, are known as the loka (upper worlds), for those of Indian decent. Much like their Western counterpart, Bhuvar is a place of perpetual decay; many wraiths are disappointed that the promised reward of Swar is not given to them immediately. Instead, they must deal with harsh life outside the walls of the city, scrounging for Pathos and other means to stay in existence.
Swar itself is a walled city, and it is obvious why the wraiths of India wish to gain entrance. Within the walls is a seeming impossibility; beautiful plants and flowers grow fruitfully from the earth, a clean, clear stream wends its way through the city, and food and drink (especially the intoxicating soma beverage) are abundant. Beautiful palaces and temples blend in with intricate gardens and courtyards. Music and singing sounds everywhere. It is heaven itself.
There are also talas (lower worlds) accessible to wraiths. These serve as home for those wraiths who have been rejected by Swar, and as hiding places for those who work against the city.
Surrounding the whole thing is the Sea of Shiva, better known to Western wraiths as the Tempest. It is as chaotic and tumultous as it is anywhere else in the Shadowlands.
Wraiths are generally divided into those who have been granted entry into Swar and those who have not. Those who have entered into Swar fall under the sway of the Holy Regent, He Who Serves Indra, who supposedly serves and speaks for his god. He rules over Swar, keeping it out of the hands of those he deems unworthy. Within Swar, there are any number of jobs a wraith can have. Apsaras are beautiful dancers whose music perpetually fills the city; Gandaharvas are the singers that accompany them. Courtiers make pleasant conversation. Souls are Moliated into people of extreme grace and beauty.
However, all these jobs are minor compared to the wraiths known as Tvashtriyas. These wraiths gifted in Displace are responsible for the city's appearance and sensations. They are the dirty secret of the Holy Regent, and he will do anything to keep them hidden away.
Outside the city, most wraiths attempt to gain entry to Swar by being judged worthy. There is an initial judgment; those who pass go on to Swar's "suburbs", where life is essentially no better than it was outside. In addition, the second judgment takes a much longer time to pass than the first. Many wraiths have been known to succumb to their Shadows at this point, their piety and patience finally reaching its limits. Those who fight their Shadows are determined to reach Swar; after all, they are so close to it.
However, two factions decry the Holy Regent and his so-called paradise. The first of these, Nagas, want entry into the city on their own terms; they frequently attack and attempt to break down the walls to enter Swar. The second group, the Asuras, contend that Swar is not the paradise it is believed to be and want to expose the corruption and save their fellow wraiths from the horrors within. Neither group has been successful in bringing down Swar and the Holy Regent.
The Mortal WorldEdit
Much like the Bush of Ghosts, the people of India keep a close connection to their dead. Indians believe the dead to be as present as they were in life and thus many of their traditions deal with placating and winning the favor of dead ancestors. Food and drink are sacrificed (turning them into Relics to be consumed in Bhuvar). Some Brahmin priests and village sorcerers know a great deal about dealing with the dead; the ones who are truly talented in dealing with death even know how to use a wraith's Fetter to summon and control a wraith.
Swar is mostly a manifestation of Hindu beliefs; many of these wraiths have lived in poverty and piety for years, and so are willing to wait a few more for their entrance to the Holy City.
Unusually, Transcendence is not a large focus of Hindu wraiths. The living and dead of India believe there are many paths to reincarnation and no path is incorrect. The only time there is action against a group is when there is a direct, physical attack on Swar. Even Oblivion itself is not seen as a bad thing; it is seen more as a step down on the ladder of reincarnation than a failure to maintain the soul. However, a wraith close to gaining entrance into Swar will usually fight their Shadows; after all, if they have come this far, why give up?
Alas, fate is not as kind to wraiths of other religions. Islamic wraiths are forbidden in Swar and immediately condemned to one of the talas. Sikh wraiths, on the other hand, have no desire to enter Swar; they have their own place, a tala called Gurdwara, where they gather. The community there is strongly bonded, keeps their own ideals safe, and has accumulated a large army, the Khalsa, that protects Gurdwara from outsiders. The wraiths of Gurdwara usually manage to resolve their Fetters rather quickly, and so the population of the area changed rapidly.
The Secrets of SwarEdit
In order to enter Swar, a wraith is taken to the House of Judgement, where they are examined by the lord Yama with Fatalism. Rarely, if ever, does a wraith make it in on their first try; many are forced to return to Bhuvar to further purify themselves before another attempt. The House of Judgement is full of red tape and the wheels of justice turn extremely slowly. Surprisingly, many wraiths are willing to wait for their turn to come around again.
Many would not be so willing if they knew the truth. The Asuras are absolutely correct of course; Swar's riches, food, and plant-life are all intricately forged by the Tvashtriya from souls. The music, dancing, and constant conversation is all to cover the residual effect of the Tvashtriya; the objects made by their art constantly moan and keen.
While a few unworthy souls are selected during their judging, the majority of materials come from captured Nagas and Asuras, along with captured Spectres. Soliders of Swar are encouraged to capture rebels rather than outright destroy them; those who take things too far may take their victim's stead in the forges.
Worse still, over the many years of Swar's existence, it has developed a consciousness of its own, becoming something akin to a Malfean. It is the true power here; the Holy Regent, long fallen to his Shadow, is merely a puppet. When the Shadow of a wraith living in Swar grows tired of playing along with its Psyche, and seeks to end the game, it need only communicate with the city; the Satva will be destroyed, while the Tamas will be added to Swar.
The dead of Bhuvar see three aspects, or Gunas to their soul:
- The Satva, or refined aspects, which include a wraith's Psyche and Eidolon.
- The Tamas, or coarse parts, which include the Shadow and Angst.
- The Rajas, or active attributes, which include Passions and Pathos.