Friday, 1 November 2013

Nala Damayanti.......

* Photo credit..Raja Ravi Verma

*       Damayanti, a princess of Vidarbha Kingdom, fell in love with King Nala of Nishad Kingdom, hearing of his virtues and accomplishments from a golden swan.

*      When she had chosen her husband at a swayamvara, where the gods, princes and kings had come to seek her hand. The Gods, Indra, Agni, Varuna and Yama were on their way for attendance when they met Nala. They ordered him to be their messenger and inform Damayanti to choose one of them as her husband. Nala first refused, but finally accepted . Damayanti agreed to pay her respects to the gods, but insisted on choosing only Nala as her husband.

*      The Gods then disguised themselves as Nala in the swayamvara. Damayanti went past them each time, as she knew Nala was a human being and cannot be perfect.The demon Kali, also wanted to marry Damayanti. On his arrival, he learnt that he was late for the swayamvara. He ran into the gods who mocked him. Kali then angrily vowed to cause the fall of Nala’s kingdom through his propensity for gambling.

*      Damayanti and Nala were married and had two children. Kali entered the palace as a servant, and for 12 years kept watch on him. One day, Nala in a rush said his prayers without washing his feet, thereby allowing Kali to bewitch his soul. In games of dice with his brother Pushkara, he lost his kingdom, forcing Nala and Damayanti to live in poverty in the forest.

*     In the forest the birds flew away with the only garment Nala had. He started worrying for Damayanti and resolved to abandon her to protect her from his bad luck. Damayanti found herself alone in the forest. Nala, meanwhile, rescued the Snake King Nāga Karkotaka from a fire. The Nāga bit him. Nala survived the bite, but the venom turned him into an unrecognizable dwarf named Bahuka, who served as a charioteer to the Ayodhya King Rituparna.

*      Damayanti was finally discovered and taken back to her father's house where she was reunited with her children. They searched for Nala, but couldn't find him. Damayanti thought that Nala would only come back if he feared she wouldn't be his wife anymore. Thus she requested a fake second swayamvara. She was still an irresistible beauty and so many kings attended. Nala's master also went to the swayamvara, and Nala accompanied him. On their journey, the king taught the dwarf the techniques of gambling.

*     When King Rituparna revealed him the skill of controlling the dice, finally the poison took effect and Bahuka vomited Kali from his body and imprisoned him to a tree. Damayanti was persuaded that the dwarf was Nala . The pair was reunited and Nala was transformed into his familiar form. He used the knowledge of gambling to regain everything he had lost.

*      She forgave him for having abandoned her in the forest, and he forgave her for another swayamvara.
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