"Vrihadaswa said, 'After Varshneya had gone away, Pushkara won from the righteous Nala that latter's kingdom and what else of wealth he had. And unto Nala, O king, who had lost his kingdom, Pushkara laughingly said, 'Let the play go on. But what stake hast thou now? Damayanti only remaineth; all else of thine hath been won by me. Well, if thou likest, that Damayanti be our stake now.' Hearing these words of Pushkara the virtuous king felt as if his heart would burst in rage, but he spake not a word.
And gazing at Pushkara in anguish, king Nala of great fame took all the ornaments off every part of his body. And attired in a single piece of cloth, his body uncovered, renouncing all his wealth, and enhancing the grief of friends, the king set out. And Damayanti, clad in one piece of cloth, followed him behind as he was leaving the city. And coming to the outskirts of the city, Nala stayed there for three nights with his wife. But Pushkara, O king, proclaimed through the city that he that should show any attention to Nala, would be doomed to death. And on account of these words of Pushkara and knowing his malice towards Nala, the citizens, O Yudhishthira, no longer showed him hospitable regards.
And unregarded though deserving of hospitable regards, Nala passed three nights in the outskirts of the city, living on water alone. And afflicted with hunger, the king went away in search of fruit and roots, Damayanti following him behind. And in agony of famine, after many days, Nala saw some birds with plumage of golden hue. And thereupon the mighty lord of the Nishadhas thought within himself, 'These will be
my banquet today and also my wealth.' And then he covered them with the cloth he had on--when bearing up that garment of his, the birds rose up to the sky. And beholding Nala nude and melancholy, and standing with face turned towards the ground, those rangers of the sky addressed him, saying, 'O thou of small sense, we are even those dice.
my banquet today and also my wealth.' And then he covered them with the cloth he had on--when bearing up that garment of his, the birds rose up to the sky. And beholding Nala nude and melancholy, and standing with face turned towards the ground, those rangers of the sky addressed him, saying, 'O thou of small sense, we are even those dice.
We had come hither wishing to take away thy cloth, for it pleased us not that thou shouldst depart even with thy cloth on.' And finding himself deprived of his attire, and knowing also that the dice were departing (with it), the virtuous Nala, O king, thus spake unto Damayanti, 'O faultless one, they through whose anger I have been despoiled of my kingdom, they through whose influence distressed and afflicted with hunger, I am unable to procure sustenance, they for whom the Nishadhas offered me not any hospitality, they, O timid one, are carrying off my cloth, assuming the form of birds. Fallen into this dire disaster, I am afflicted with grief and deprived of my senses, I am thy lord, do thou, therefore, listen to the words I speak for thy good.
These many roads lead to the southern country, passing by (the city of) Avanti and the Rikshavat mountains. This is that mighty mountain called Vindhya; yon, the river Payasvini running sea-wards, and yonder are the asylums of the ascetics, furnished with various fruit and roots. This road leadeth to the country of the Vidarbhas--and that, to the country of the Kosalas. Beyond these roads to the south is the southern country.' Addressing Bhima's daughter, O Bharata, he distressed king Nala spake those words unto Damayanti over and over again. Thereupon afflicted with grief, in a voice choked with tears, Damayanti spake unto Naishadha these piteous words, 'O king, thinking of thy purpose, my heart trembleth, and all my limbs become faint. How can I go, leaving thee in the lone woods despoiled of thy kingdom and deprived of thy wealth, thyself without a garment on, and worn with hunger and toil?
When in the deep woods, fatigued and afflicted with hunger, thou thinkest of thy former bliss, I will, O great monarch, soothe thy weariness. In every sorrow there is no physic equal unto the wife, say the physicians. It is the truth, O Nala, that I speak unto thee.' Hearing those words of his queen, Nala replied, 'O slender-waisted Damayanti, it is even as thou hast said. To a man in distress, there is no friend or medicine that is equal unto a wife. But I do not seek to renounce thee, wherefore, O timid one, dost thou dread this? O faultless one, I can forsake myself but thee I cannot forsake.' Damayanti then said, 'If thou dost not, O mighty king, intend to forsake me, why then dost thou point out to me the way to the country of the Vidarbhas?
I know, O king, that thou wouldst not desert me. But, O lord of the earth, considering that thy mind is distracted, thou mayst desert me. O best of men, thou repeatedly pointest out to me the way and it is by this, O god-like one, that thou enhancest my grief. If it is thy intention that I should go to my relatives, then if it pleaseth thee, both of us will wend to the country of the Vidarbhas. O giver of honours, there the king of the Vidarbhas will receive thee with respect. And honoured by him, O king, thou shall live happily in our home.'"
"Nala said, 'Surely, thy father's kingdom is as my own. But thither I will not, by any means, repair in this extremity. Once I appeared there in glory, increasing thy joy. How can I go there now in misery, augmenting thy grief?' "Vrihadaswa continued, 'Saying this again and again unto Damayanti, king Nala, wrapped in half a garment, comforted his blessed wife. And both attired in one cloth and wearied with hunger and thirst, in course of their wanderings, at last they came to a sheltered shed for travellers.
[paragraph continues] And arrived at this place, the king of the Nishadhas sat down on the bare earth with the princes of Vidarbha. and wearing the same piece of cloth (with Damayanti), and dirty, and haggard, and stained with dust, he fell asleep with Damayanti on the ground in weariness. And suddenly plunged in distress, the innocent and delicate Damayanti with every mark of good fortune, fell into a profound slumber. And, O monarch, while she slept, Nala, with heart and mind distraught, could not slumber calmly as before. And reflecting on the loss of his kingdom, the desertion of his friends, and his distress in the woods, he thought with himself, 'What availeth my acting thus? And what if I act not thus? Is death the better for me now?
Or should I desert my wife? She is truly devoted to me and suffereth this distress for my sake. Separated from me, she may perchance wander to her relatives. Devoted as she is to me, if she stayeth with me, distress will surely be hers; while it is doubtful, if I desert her. On the other hand, it is not unlikely that she may even have happiness some time.' Reflecting upon this repeatedly, and thinking of it again and again, he concluded, O monarch, that the desertion of Damayanti was the best course for him. And he also thought, 'Of high fame and auspicious fortune, and devoted to me, her husband, she is incapable of being injured by any one on the way on account of her energy.' Thus his mind that was influenced by the wicked Kali, dwelling upon Damayanti, was made up for deserting her. And then thinking of his own want of clothing, and of her being clad in a single garment, he intended to cut off for himself one half of Damayanti's attire.
And he thought, 'How shall I divide this garment, so that my beloved one may not perceive?' And thinking of this, the royal Nala began to walk up and down that shed. And, O Bharata, pacing thus to and fro, he found a handsome sword lying near the shed, unsheathed. And that repressor of foes, having, with that sword cut off one half of the cloth, and throwing the instrument away, left the daughter of Vidharbha insensible in her sleep and went away. But his heart failing him, the king of the Nishadhas returned to the shed, and seeing Damayanti (again), burst into tears. And he said, 'Alas! that beloved one of mine whom neither the god of wind nor the sun had seen before, even she sleepeth to-day on the bare earth, like one forlorn. Clad in this severed piece of cloth, and lying like one distracted, how will the beauteous one of luminous smiles behave when she awaketh?
How will the beautiful daughter of Bhima, devoted to her lord, all alone and separated from me, wander through these deep woods inhabited by beasts and serpents? O blessed one, may the Adityas and the Vasus, and the twin Aswins together with the Marutas protect thee, thy virtue being thy best guard.' And addressing thus his dear wife peerless on earth in beauty, Nala strove to go, reft of reason by Kali. Departing and still departing, king Nala returned again and again to that shed, dragged away by Kali but drawn back by love. And it seemed as
p. 129 though the heart of the wretched king was rent in twain, and like a swing, he kept going out from cabin and coming back into it. At length after lamenting long and piteously, Nala stupefied and bereft of sense by Kali went away, forsaking that sleeping wife of his. Reft of reason through Kali's touch, and thinking of his conduct, the king departed in sorrow, leaving his, wife alone in that solitary forest.'"
Vrihadaswa said, "O king, after Nala had gone away, the beauteous Damayanti, now refreshed, timorously awoke in that lonely forest. And O mighty monarch, not finding her lord Naishadha, afflicted with grief and pain, she shrieked aloud in fright, saying, 'O lord? O mighty monarch! O husband, dost thou desert me? Oh, I am lost and undone, frightened in this desolate place. O illustrious prince, thou art truthful in speech, and conversant with morality. How hast thou then, having pledged thy word, deserted me asleep in the woods? Oh, why hast thou deserted thy accomplished wife, even devoted to thee, particularly one that hath not wronged thee, though wronged thou hast been by others?
O king of men, it behoveth thee to act faithfull, according to those words thou hadst spoken unto me before in the presence of the guardians of the worlds. O bull among men, that thy wife liveth even a moment after thy desertion of her, is only because mortals are decreed to die at the appointed time. O bull among men, enough of this joke! O irrepressible one, I am terribly frightened. O lord, show thyself. I see thee! I see thee, o king! Thou art seen, O Naishadha, Hiding thyself behind those shrubs, why dost thou not reply unto me? It is cruel of thee, O great king, that seeing me in this plight and so lamenting, thou dost not, O king, approach and comfort me.
I grieve not for myself, nor for anything else. I only grieve to think how thou wilt pass thy days alone, O king. In the evening oppressed with hunger and thirst and fatigue, underneath the trees, how wilt it take with thee when thou seest me not?' And then Damayanti, afflicted with anguish and burning with grief, began to rush hither and thither, weeping in woe. And now the helpless princess sprang up, and now she sank down in stupor; and now she shrank in terror, and now she wept and wailed aloud. And Bhima's daughter devoted to her husband, burning in anguish and sighing ever more, and faint and weeping exclaimed, 'That being through whose imprecation the afflicted Naishadha suffereth this woe, shall bear grief that is greater than ours. May that wicked being who hath brought Nala of sinless heart this, lead a more miserable life bearing greater ills.'
"Thus lamenting, the crowned consort of the illustrious (king) began to seek her lord in those woods, inhabited by beasts of prey. And the daughter of Bhima, wailing bitterly, wandered hither and thither like a maniac, exclaiming, 'Alas! Alas! Oh king!' And as she was wailing loudly like a female osprey, and grieving and indulging in piteous lamentations unceasingly, she came near a gigantic serpent. And that huge and hungry serpent thereupon suddenly seized Bhima's daughter, who had come near and was moving about within its range. And folded within serpent's coils and filled with grief, she still wept, not for herself but for Naishadha. And she said 'O lord, why dost thou not rush towards me, now that I am seized, without anybody to protect me, by this serpent in these desert wilds? And, O Naishadha, how will it fare with thee when thou rememberest me? O lord, why hast thou gone away, deserting me today in the forest? Free from thy course, when thou wilt have regained thy mind and senses and wealth, how will it be with thee when thou thinkest of me? O Naishadha, O sinless one, who will soothe thee when for thou art weary, and hungry, and fainting, O tiger among kings?' And while she was wailing thus, a certain huntsman ranging the deep woods, hearing her lamentations, swiftly came to the spot. And beholding the large-eyed one in the coils of the serpent, he rushed towards it and cut off its head with his sharp weapon. And having struck the reptile dead, the huntsman set Damayanti free. And having sprinkled her body with water and fed and comforted her. O Bharata, he addressed her saying, 'O thou with eyes like those of a young gazelle, who art thou? And why also hast thou come into the woods? And, O beauteous one, how hast thou fallen into this extreme misery' And thus accosted, O monarch, by that man, Damayanti, O Bharata, related unto him all that had happened. And beholding that beautiful woman clad in half a garment, with deep bosom and round hips, and limbs delicate and faultless, and face resembling the full moon, and eyes graced with curved eye-lashes, and speech sweet as honey, the hunter became inflamed with desire. And afflicted by the god of love, the huntsman began to soothe her in winning voice and soft words. And as soon as the chaste and beauteous Damayanti, beholding him understood his intentions, she was filled with fierce wrath and seemed to blaze up in anger. But the wicked-minded wretch, burning with desire became wroth, attempted to employ force upon her, who was unconquerable as a flame of blazing fire. And Damayanti already distressed upon being deprived of husband and kingdom, in that hour of grief beyond utterance, cursed him in anger, saying, 'I have never even thought of any other person than Naishadha, therefore let this mean-minded wrath subsisting on chase, fall down lifeless.' And as soon as she said this, the hunter fell down lifeless upon the ground, like a tree consumed by fire."
"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Having destroyed that hunter Damayanti of eyes like lotus leaves, went onwards through that fearful and solitary forest ringing with the chirp of crickets. And it abounded with lions, and leopards, and Rurus and tigers, and buffaloes, and bears and deer. And it swarmed with birds of various species, and was infested by thieves and mlechchha tribes. And it contained Salas, and bamboos and Dhavas, and Aswatthas, and Tindukas and Ingudas, and Kinsukas, and Arjunas, and Nimvas, and Tinisas and Salmalas, and Jamvus, and mango trees, and Lodhras, and the catechu, and the cane, and Padmakas, and Amalahas, and Plakshas, and Kadamvas, and Udumvaras and Vadaris, and Vilwas, and banians, and Piyalas, and palms, and date-trees, and Haritakas and Vibhitakas. And the princess of Vidarbha saw many mountains containing ores of various kinds, and groves resounding with the notes of winged choirs, and many glens of wondrous sight, and many rivers and lakes and tanks and various kinds of birds and beasts.
And she saw numberless snakes and goblins and Rakshasas of grim visage, and pools and tanks and hillocks, and brooks and fountains of wonderful appearance. And the princess of Vidarbha saw there herds of buffaloes. And boars, and bears as well as serpents of the wilderness. And safe in virtue and glory and good fortune and patience, Damayanti wandered through those woods alone, in search of Nala. And the royal daughter of Bhima, distressed only at her separation from her lord, was not terrified at aught in that fearful forest.
And, O king, seating herself down upon a stone and filled with grief, and every limb of hers trembling with sorrow on account of her husband, she began to lament thus: 'O king of the Nishadhas, O thou of broad chest and mighty arms, whither hast thou gone, O king, leaving me in this lone forest? O hero, having performed the Aswamedha and other sacrifices, with gifts in profusion (unto the Brahmanas), why hast thou, O tiger among men, played false with me alone? O best of men, O thou of great splendour, it behoveth thee. O auspicious one, to remember what thou didst declare before me, O bull among kings! And, O monarch, it behoveth thee also to call to mind what the sky-ranging swans spake in thy presence and in mine. O tiger among men, the four Vedas in all their extent, with the Angas and the Upangas, well-studied, on one side, and one single truth on the other, (are equal).
Therefore, O slayer of foes, it behoveth thee, O lord of men, to make good what thou didst formerly declare before me. Alas, O hero! warrior! O Nala! O sinless one being thine, I am about to perish in this dreadful forest. Oh! wherefore dost thou not answer me? This terrible lord of the forest, of grim visage and gaping jaws, and
famishing with hunger, filleth me with fright. Doth it not behove thee to deliver me? Thou wert wont to say always, 'Save thee there existeth not one dear unto me.' O blessed one, O king, do thou now make good thy words so spoken before. And, O king, why dost thou not return an answer to thy beloved wife bewailing and bereft of sense, although thou lovest her, being loved in return? O king of the earth, O respected one, O represser of foes, O thou of large eyes, why dost thou not regard me, emaciated, and distressed and pale, and discoloured, and clad in a half piece of cloth, and alone, and weeping, and lamenting like one forlorn, and like unto a solitary doe separated from the herd?
O illustrious sovereign, it is, I, Damayanti, devoted to thee, who, alone in this great forest, address thee. Wherefore, then, dost thou not reply unto me? Oh, I do not behold thee today on this mountain, O chief of men, O thou of noble birth and character with every limb possesed of grace! In this terrible forest, haunted by lions and tigers, O king of the Nishadhas, O foremost of men, O enhancer of my sorrows, (Wishing to know) whether thou art lying down, or sitting, or standing, or gone, whom shall I ask, distressed and woestricken on thy account, saying, 'Hast thou seen in this woods the royal Nala?' Of whom shall I in this forest enquire alter the departed Nala, handsome and of high soul, and the destroyer of hostile arrays?
From whom shall I today hear the sweet words, viz., 'That royal Nala, of eyes like lotus-leaves, whom thou seekest, is even here?' Yonder cometh the forest-king, that tiger of graceful mien, furnished with four teeth and prominent cheeks. Even him will I accost fearlessly: Thou art the lord of all animals, and of this forest the king. Know me for Damayanti, the daughter of the king of the Vidarbhas, and the wife of Nala, destroyer of foes, and the king of the Nishadhas. Distressed and woe-stricken, I am seeking my husband alone in these woods. Do thou, O king of beasts, comfort me (with news of Nala) if thou hast seen him. Or, O lord of the forest, if thou cannot speak of Nala, do thou, then, O best of beasts, devour me, and free me from this misery.
Alas! hearing my plaintive appeal in the wilderness, this king of mountains, this high and sacred hill, crested with innumerable [...?-JBH] rolleth towards the sea. Let me, then, for tidings of the king, ask this king of mountains, this high and sacred hill, crested with innumerable heaven-kissing and many-hued and beauteous peaks, and abounding in various ores, and decked with gems of diverse kings, and rising like a banner over this broad forest, and ranged by lions and tigers and elephants and boars and bears and stags, and echoing all around with (the notes of) winged creatures of various species, and adorned with kinsukas and Asokas and Vakulas and Punnagas, with blossoming Karnikaras, and Dhavas and Plakshas, and with streams haunted by waterfowls of every kind, and abounding in crested summits, O sacred one! O best of mountains! O thou of wondrous sight! O celebrated hill! O refuge (of
the distressed)! O highly auspicious one! I bow to thee, O pillar of the earth! Approaching, I bow to thee. Know me for a king's daughter, and a king's daughter-in-law, and king's consort, Damayanti by name that lord of earth who ruleth the Vidarbhas, that mighty warrior-king Bhima by name, who protecteth the four orders, is my sire. That best of kings celebrated the Rajasuya and Aswamedha sacrifices, with profuse gifts to the Brahmanas. Possessed of beautiful and large eyes, distinguished for devotion to the Vedas, of unblemished character, truth-telling, devoid of guile, gentle, endued with prowess, lord of immense wealth, versed in morality, and pure, he having vanquished all his foes, effectually protecteth the inhabitants of Vidarbha. Know me, O holy one, for his daughter, thus come to thee. That best of men--the celebrated ruler of the Nishadha--known by the name of Virasena of high fame, was my father-in-law. The son of that king, heroic and handsome and possessed of energy incapable of being baffled, who ruleth well the kingdom which hath descended to him from his father, is named Nala.
Know, O mountain, that of that slayer of foes, called also Punyasloka, possessed of the complexion of gold, and devoted to the Brahmanas, and versed in the Vedas, and gifted with eloquence,-- of that righteous and Soma-quaffing and fire-adoring king, who celebrateth sacrifices and is liberal and arlike and who adequately chastiseth (criminals), I am the innocent spouse--the chief of his queens-- standing before thee. Despoiled of prosperity and deprived of (the company of my) husband without a protector, and afflicted with calamity, hither have I come, O best of mountains, seeking my husband. Hast thou, O foremost of mountains, with thy hundreds of peaks towering (into the sky) seen king Nala in this frightful forest? Hast thou seen my husband, that ruler of the Nishadhas, the illustrious Nala, with the tread of a mighty elephant, endued with intelligence, long-armed, and of fiery energy, possessed of prowess and patience and courage and high fame?
Seeing me bewailing alone, overwhelmed with sorrow, wherefore, O best of mountains, dost thou not today soothe me with thy voice, as thy own daughter in distress? O hero, O warrior of prowess, O thou versed in every duty, O thou adhering to truth--O lord of the earth, if thou art in this forest, then, O king, reveal thyself unto me. Oh, when shall I again hear the voice of Nala, gentle and deep as that of the clouds, that voice, sweet as Amrita, of the illustrious king, calling me Vidharva's daughter, with accents distinct, and holy, and musical as the chanting of the Vedas and rich, and soothing all my sorrows. O king, I am frightened. Do thou, O virtuous one, comfort me.' "Having addressed that foremost of mountain thus, Damayanti then went in a northerly direction. And having proceeded three days and nights, that best of women came to an incomparable penance grove of ascetics, resembling in beauty a celestial grove. And the charming asylum
she beheld was inhabited and adorned by ascetics like Vasishtha and Bhrigu and Atri, self-denying and strict in diet, with minds under control, endued with holiness, some living on water, some on air, and some on (fallen) leaves, with passions in check, eminently blessed, seeking the way to heaven, clad in barks of trees and deer-skins, and with senses subdued. And beholding that hermitage inhabited by ascetics, and abounding in herds of deer and monkeys, Damayanti was cheered. And that best of women, the innocent and blessed Damayanti, with graceful eye-brows, and long tresses, with lovely hips and deep bosom, and face graced with fine teeth and with fine black and large eyes, in her brightness and glory entered that asylum. And saluting those ascetics grown old in practising austerities, she stood in an attitude of humility.
And the ascetics living in that forest, said, 'Welcome!' And those men of ascetic wealth, paying her due homage, said, 'Sit ye down, and tell us what we may do for thee.' That best of women replied unto them, saying, 'Ye sinless and eminently blessed ascetics, is it well with your austerities, and sacrificial fire, and religious observances, and the duties of your own order? And is it well with the beasts and birds of this asylum? And they answered, 'O beauteous and illustrious lady, prosperity attendeth us in every respect. But, O thou of faultless limbs, tell us who thou art, and what thou seekest. Beholding thy beauteous form and thy bright splendour, we have been amazed. Cheer up and mourn not. Tell us, O blameless and blessed one, art thou the presiding deity of this forest, or of this mountain, or of this river?' Damayanti replied unto those ascetics, saying, 'O Brahmanas, I am not the goddess of this forest, or of this mountain, or of this stream. O Rishis of ascetic wealth, know that I am a human being. I will relate my history in detail. Do ye listen to me.
There is a king--the mighty ruler of the Vidarbhas--Bhima by name. O foremost of regenerate ones, know me to be his daughter. The wise ruler of the Nishadhas, Nala by name, of great celebrity, heroic, and ever victorious in battle, and learned, is my husband. Engaged in the worship of the gods, devoted to the twice-born ones, the guardian of the line of the Nishadhas, of mighty energy, possessed of great strength, truthful, conversant with all duties, wise, unwavering in promise, the crusher of foes, devout, serving the gods, graceful, the conqueror of hostile towns, that foremost of kings, Nala by name, equal in splendour unto the lord of celestials, the slayer of foes, possessed of large eyes, and a hue resembling the full moon, is my husband. The celebrator of great sacrifices, versed in the Vedas and their branches, the destroyer of enemies in battle, and like unto the sun and the moon in splendour, is he. That king devoted to truth and religion was summoned to dice by certain deceitful persons of mean mind and uncultured soul and of crooked ways, and skilful in gambling, and was deprived of wealth and kingdom. Know that I am the wife of that bull among kings,
known to all by the name of Damayanti, anxious to find out my (missing) lord. In sadness of heart am I wandering among woods, and mountains, and lakes, and rivers, and tanks and forests, in search of that husband of mine--Nala, skilled in battle, high-souled, and well-versed in the use of weapons, O hath king Nala, the lord of the Nishadhas, come to this delightful asylum of your holy selves? It is for him, O Brahmanas, that I have come to this dreary forest full of terrors and haunted by tigers and other beasts. If I do not see king Nala within a few days and nights, I shall seek my good by renouncing this body. Of what use is my life without that bull among men?
How shall I live afflicted with grief on account of my husband?' Unto Bhima's daughter, Damayanti, lamenting forlorn in that forest, the truth-telling ascetics replied, saying, 'O blessed and beauteous one, we see by ascetic power that the future will bring happiness to thee, and that thou wilt soon behold Naishadha. O daughter of Bhima, thou wilt behold Nala, the lord of the Nishadhas, the slayer of foes, and the foremost of the virtuous freed from distress. And O blessed lady, thou wilt behold the king--thy lord--freed from all sins and decked with all kinds of gems, and ruling the selfsame city, and chasting his enemies, and striking terror into the hearts of foes, and gladdening the hearts of friends, and crowned with every blessing.'
"'Having spoken unto that princess--the beloved queen of Nala--the ascetics with their sacred fires and asylum vanished from sight. And beholding that mighty wonder, the daughter-in-law of king Virasena, Damayanti of faultless limbs, was struck with amazement. And she asked herself, 'Was it a dream that I saw? What an occurrence hath taken place! Where are all those ascetics?, And where is that asylum? Where, further, is that delightful river of sacred waters--the resort of diverse kinds of fowls? And where, again, are those charming trees decked with fruits and flowers?' And after thinking so for some time, Bhima's daughter, Damayanti of sweet smiles melancholy and afflicted with grief on account of her lord, lost the colour of her face (again).
And going to another part of the wood, she saw an Asoka tree. And approaching that first of trees in the forest, so charming with blossoms and its load of foliage, and resounding with the notes of birds, Damayanti, with tears in her eyes and accents choked in grief, began to lament, saying, 'Oh, this graceful tree in the heart of the forest, decked in flowers, looketh beautiful, like a charming king of hills. O beauteous Asoka, do thou speedily free me from grief. Hast thou seen king Nala, the slayer of foes and the beloved husband of Damayanti,--freed from fear and grief and obstacles? Hast thou seen my beloved husband, the ruler of the Nishadhas, clad in half a piece of cloth, with delicate skin, that hero afflicted with woe and who hath come into this wilderness? O Asoka tree, do thou free me from grief! O Asoka, vindicate thy name, for Asoka
meaneth destroyer of grief. And going round that tree thrice, with an afflicted heart, that best of women, Bhima's daughter, entered a more terrible part of the forest. And wandering in quest of her lord, Bhima's daughter beheld many trees and streams and delightful mountains, and many beasts and birds, and caves, and precipices, and many rivers of wonderful appearance. And as she proceeded she came upon a broad way where she saw with wonder a body of merchants, with their horses and elephants, landing on the banks of a river, full of clear and cool water, and lovely and charming to behold, and broad, and covered with bushes of canes, and echoing with the cries of cranes and ospreys and Chakravakas, and abounding in tortoises and alligators and fishes, and studded with innumerable islets.
And as soon as as she saw that caravan, the beauteous and celebrated wife of Nala, wild like a maniac, oppressed with grief, clad in half a garment, lean and pale and smutted, and with hair covered with dust, drew near and entered into its midst. And beholding her, some fled in fear, and some became extremely anxious, and some cried aloud, and some laughed at her, and some hated her. And some, O Bharata, felt pity for, and even addressed, her, saying, 'O blessed one, who art thou, and whose? What seekest thou in woods? Seeing thee here we have been terrified. Art thou human? Tell us truly, O blessed one if thou art the goddess of this wood or of this mountain or of the points of the heaven. We seek thy protection. Art thou a female Yaksha, or a female Rakshasa, or a celestial damsel?
O thou of faultless features, do thou bless us wholly and protect us. And, O blessed one, do thou so act that his caravan may soon go hence in prosperity and that the welfare of all of us may be secured.' Thus addressed by that caravan, the princess Damayanti, devoted to her husband and oppressed by the calamity that had befallen her, answered, saying, 'O leader of the caravan, ye merchants, ye youths, old men, and children, and ye that compose this caravan, know me for a human being. I am the daughter of a king, and the daughter in-law of a king, and the consort also of a king, eager for the sight of my lord. The ruler of the Vidarbhas is my father, and my husband is the lord of the Nishadhas, named Nala. Even now I am seeking that unvanquished and blessed one. If ye have chanced to see my beloved one, king Nala, that tiger among men, that destroyer of hostile hosts, O tell me quick.'
Thereupon the leader of that great caravan, named Suchi, replied unto Damayanti of faultless limbs, saying, 'O blessed one, listen to my words. O thou of sweet smiles, I am a merchant and the leader of this caravan. O illustrious lady, I have not seen any man of the name of Nala. In this extensive forest uninhabited by men, there are only elephants and leopards and buffaloes, and tigers and bears and other animals. Except thee, I have not met with any man or woman here, so help us now Manibhadra, the king of Yakshas!' Thus addressed by them she asked those merchants as well as the leader of the host saying, 'It behoveth you to tell me whither this caravan is bound.' The leader of the band said, 'O daughter of a great king, for the purpose of profit this caravan is bound direct for the city of Suvahu, the truth-telling ruler of the Chedis.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'Having heard the words of the leader of that caravan, Damayanti of faultless limbs proceeded with that caravan itself anxious to behold her lord. And after having proceeded for many days the merchants saw a large lake fragrant with lotuses in the midst of that dense and terrible forest. And it was beautiful all over, and exceedingly delightful, (with banks) abounding in grass and fuel and fruits and flowers. And it was inhabited by various kinds of fowls and birds, and fall of water that was pure and sweet. And it was cool and capable of captivating the heart. And the caravan, worn out with toil, resolved to halt there.
And with the permission of their leader, they spread themselves around those beautiful woods. And that mighty caravan finding it was evening halted at that place. And (it came to pass that) at the hour of midnight when everything was hushed and still and the tired caravan had fallen asleep, a herd of elephants in going towards a mountain stream to drink of its water befouled by their temporal juice, saw that caravan as also the numerous elephants belonging to it. And seeing their domesticated fellows the wild elephants infuriated and with the temporal juice trickling down rushed impetuously on the former, with the intention of killing them. And the force of the rush of those elephants was hard to bear, like the impetuosity of peaks lessened from mountain summits rolling towards the plain. The rushing elephants found the forest paths to be all blocked up, for the goodly caravan was sleeping obstructing the paths around that lake of lotuses.
And the elephants all of a sudden, began to crush the men lying insensible on the ground. And uttering cries of 'Oh!' and 'Alas!' the merchants, blinded by sleep, fled, in order to escape that danger, to copses and woods for refuge. And some were slain by the tusks, and some by the trunks, and some by the legs of those elephants. And innumerable camels and horses were killed, and crowds of men on foot, running in fright, killed one another. And uttering loud cries some fell down on the ground, and some in fear climbed on trees, and some dropped down on uneven ground. And, O king, thus accidentally attacked by that large herd of elephants, that goodly caravan suffered a great loss. And there arose a tremendous uproar calculated to frighten the three worlds, 'Lo! a great fire hath broken out. Rescue us.
Do ye speedily fly away. Why do ye fly? Take the heaps of jewels scattered around. All this wealth is a trifle. I do not speak falsely, 'I tell you again, (exclaimed some one) think on my words, O ye distracted one!' With such exclamation they ran about in fright. And Damayanti awoke in fear and anxiety, while that terrible slaughter was raging there. And beholding slaughter capable of awaking the fear of all the worlds, and which was so unforeseen, the damsel of eyes like lotus leaves rose up, wild with fright, and almost out of breath. And those of the caravan that had escaped unhurt, met together, and asked one another, 'Of what deed of ours is this the consequence? Surely, we have failed to worship the illustrious Manibhadras, and likewise the exalted and graceful Vaisravana, the king of the Yaksha.
Perhaps, we have not worshipped the deities that cause calamities, or perhaps, we have not paid them the first homage. Or, perhaps, this evil is the certain consequence of the birds (we saw). Our stars are not unpropitious. From what other cause, then hath this disaster come?' Others, distressed and bereft of wealth and relatives, said, 'That maniac-like woman who came amongst this mighty caravan in guise that was strange and scarcely human, alas, it is by her that this dreadful illusion had been pre-arranged. Of a certainty, she is a terrible Rakshasa or a Yaksha or a Pisacha woman. All this evil is her work, what need of doubts? If we again see that wicked destroyer of merchants, that giver of innumerable woes, we shall certainly slay that injurer of ours, with stones, and dust, and grass, and wood, and cuffs.' And hearing these dreadful words of the merchants, Damayanti, in terror and shame and anxiety, fled into the woods apprehensive of evil.
And reproaching herself she said, 'Alas! fierce and great is the wrath of God on me. Peace followeth not in my track. Of what misdeed is this the consequence? I do not remember that I did ever so little a wrong to any one in thought, word, or deed. Of what deed, then, is this the consequence? Certainly, it is on account of the great sins I had committed in a former life that such calamity hath befallen me, viz., the loss of my husband's kingdom, his defeat at the hands of his own kinsmen, this separation from my lord and my son and daughter, this my unprotected state, and my presence in this forest abounding in innumerable beasts of prey!'"
"The next day, O king, the remnant of that caravan left the place bewailing the destruction that had overtaken them and lamenting for their dead brothers and fathers and sons and friends. And the princess of Vidarbha began to lament, saying, 'Alas! What misdeed have I perpetrated! The crowd of men that I obtained in this lone forest, hath been destroyed by a herd of elephants, surely as a consequence of my ill luck. Without doubt, I shall have to suffer misery for a long time. I have heard from old men that no person dieth ere his time; it is for this that my miserable self hath not been trodden to death by that herd of elephants. Nothing that befalleth men is due to anything else than Destiny,
for even in my childhood I did not commit any such sin in thought, word, or deed, whence might come this calamity. Methinks, I suffer this severance from my husband through the potency of those celestial Lokapalas, who had come to the Swayamvara but whom I disregarded for the sake of Nala.' Bewailing thus, O tiger among kings, that excellent lady, Damayanti, devoted to her husband, went, oppressed with grief and (pale) as the autumnal moon, with those Brahmanas versed in the Vedas that had survived the slaughter of the caravan. And departing speedily, towards evening, the damsel came to the mighty city of the truth-telling Suvahu, the king of the Chedis.
And she entered that excellent city clad in half a garment. And the citizens saw her as she went, overcome with fear, and lean, melancholy, her hair dishevelled and soiled with dust, and maniac-like. And beholding her enter the city of the king of the Chedis, the boys of the city, from curiosity, began to follow her. And surrounded by them, she came before the palace of the king. And from the terrace the queen-mother saw her surrounded by the crowd. And she said to her nurse, 'Go and bring that woman before me. She is forlorn and is being vexed by the crowd. She hath fallen into distress and standeth in need of succour. I find her beauty to be such that it illumineth my house.
The fair one, though looking like a maniac, seemeth a very Sree with her large eyes.' Thus commanded, the nurse went out and dispersing the crowd brought Damayanti to that graceful terrace. And struck with wonder, O king, she asked Damayanti, saying, 'Afflicted though thou art with such distress, thou ownest a beautiful form. Thou shinest like lightning in the midst of the clouds. Tell me who thou art, and whose. O thou possessed of celestial splendour, surely, thy beauty is not human, bereft though thou art of ornaments. And although thou art helpless, yet thou art unmoved under the outrage of these men.' Hearing these words of the nurse, the daughter of Bhima said, Know that I am a female belonging to the human species and devoted to my husband.
I am a serving woman of good lineage. I live wherever I like, subsisting on fruit and roots, and whom a companion, and stay where evening overtaketh me. My husband is the owner of countless virtues and was ever devoted to me. And I also, on my part, was deeply attached to him, following him like his shadow. It chanced that once he became desperately engaged at dice. Defeated at dice, he came along into the forest. I accompanied my husband into the woods, comforting the hero clad in a single piece of cloth and maniac-like and overwhelmed with calamity. Once on a time for some cause, that hero, afflicted with hunger and thirst and grief, was forced to abandon that sole piece of covering in the forest. Destitute of garment and maniac-like and deprived of his senses as he was, I followed him, myself in a single garment. Following him, I did not sleep for nights together. Thus passed many days, until at last while I was sleeping, he cut off half of my cloth, and forsook me who had done him no wrong.
[paragraph continues] I am seeking my husband but unable to find him who is of hue like the filaments of the lotus, without being able to cast my eyes on that delight of my heart, that dear lord who owneth my heart and resembleth the celestials in mien, day and night do I burn in grief." "Unto Bhima's daughter thus lamenting with tearful eyes, and afflicted and speaking in accents choked in grief, the queen-mother herself said, 'O blessed damsel, do thou stay with me. I am well pleased with thee. O fair lady, my men shall search for thy husband. Or, perhaps he may come here of his own accord in course of his wanderings. And, O beautiful lady, residing here thou wilt regain thy (lost) lord.' Hearing these words of the queen mother, Damayanti replied, 'O mother of heroes, I may stay with thee on certain conditions. I shall not eat the leavings on any dish, nor shall I wash anybody's feet, nor shall I have to speak with other men.
And if anybody shall seek me (as a wife or mistress) he should be liable to punishment at thy hands. And, further, should he solicit me over and over again, that wicked one should be punished with death. This is the vow I have made. I intend to have an interview with those Brahmanas that will set out to search for my husband. If thou canst do all this, I shall certainly live with thee. If it is otherwise, I cannot find it in my heart to reside with thee.' The queen-mother answered her with a glad heart, saying, 'I will do all this. Thou hast done well in adopting such a vow!'" "Vrihadaswa continued, 'O king, having spoken so unto the daughter of Bhima, the queen-mother, O Bharata, said to her daughter named Sunanda, 'O Sunanda, accept this lady like a goddess as thy Sairindhri! Let her be thy companion, as she is of the same age with thee. Do thou, with heart free from care, always sport with her in joy.' And Sunanda cheerfully accepted Damayanti and led her to her own apartment accompanied by her associates. And treated with respect, Damayanti was satisfied, and she continued to reside there without anxiety of any kind, for all her wishes were duly gratified.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'O monarch, having deserted Damayanti, king Nala saw a mighty conflagration that was raging in that dense forest. And in the midst of that conflagration, he heard the voice of some creature, repeatedly crying aloud, 'O righteous Nala, come hither.' And answering, 'Fear not,' he entered into the midst of the fire and beheld a mighty Naga lying in coils. And the Naga with joined hands, and trembling, spake unto Nala, saying, 'O king, that I am a snake, Karkotaka by name. I had
deceived the great Rishi Narada of high ascetic merit, and by him have I been cursed in wrath, O king of men, even in words such as these: 'Stay thou here like an immobile thing, until one Nala taketh thee hence. And, indeed, on the spot to which he will carry thee, there shalt thou he freed from my curse. It is for that curse of his that I am unable to stir one step. I will instruct thee in respect of thy welfare. It behoveth thee to deliver me. I will be thy friend. There is no snake equal to me. I will be light in thy hands. Taking me up, do thou speedily go hence.' Having said this, that prince of snakes became as small as the thumb. And taking him up, Nala went to a spot free from fire. Having reached an open spot where there was no fire, Nala intended to drop the serpent, upon which Karkotaka again addressed him, saying, 'O king of the Nishadhas, proceed thou yet, counting a few steps of thine; meanwhile, O mightyarmed one, I will do thee great good.'
And as Nala began to count his steps, the snake bit him at the tenth step. And, lo! As he was bit, his form speedily underwent a change. And beholding his change of form, Nala was amazed. And the king saw the snake also assume his own form. And the snake Karkotaka, comforting Nala, spake unto him, 'I have deprived thee of thy beauty, so that people may not recognise thee. And, O Nala, he by whom thou hast been deceived and cast into distress, shall dwell in thee tortured by my venom. And, O monarch, as long as he doth not leave thee, he will have to dwell in pain in thy body with thee every limb filled with my venom. And, O ruler of men I have saved from the hands of him who from anger and hate deceived thee, perfectly innocent though thou art and undeserving of wrong.
And, O tiger among men, through my grace, thou shalt have (no longer) any fear from animals with fangs from enemies, and from Brahmanas also versed in the Vedas, O king! Nor shalt thou, O monarch, feel pain on account of my poison. And, O foremost of kings, thou shalt be ever victorious in battle. This very day, O prince, O lord of Nishadhas, go to the delightful city of Ayodhya, and present thyself before Rituparna skilled in gambling, saying, 'I am a charioteer, Vahuka by name.' And that king will give thee his skill in dice for thy knowledge of horses. Sprung from the line of Ikswaku, and possessed of prosperity, he will be thy friend. When thou wilt be an adept at dice, thou shalt then have prosperity. Thou wilt also meet with thy wife and thy children, and regain thy kingdom. I tell thee this truly. Therefore, let not thy mind be occupied by sorrow.
And, O lord of men, when thou shouldst desire to behold thy proper form, thou shouldst remember me, and wear this garment. Upon wearing this, thou shalt get back thy own form.' And saying this, that Naga then gave unto Nala two pieces of celestial cloth. And, O son of the Kuru race, having thus instructed Nala, and presented him with the attire, the king of snakes, O monarch, made himself invisible there and then!'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'After the snake had vanquished, Nala, the ruler of the Nishadhas, proceeded, and on the tenth day entered the city of Rituparna. And he approached the king, saying, 'My name is Vahuka. There is no one in this world equal to me in managing steeds. My counsel also should be sought in matters of difficulty and in all affairs of skill. I also surpass others in the art of cooking. In all those arts that exists in this world, and also in every thing difficult of accomplishment, I will strive to attain success, O Rituparna, do thou maintain me.' And Rituparna replied, 'O Vahuka, stay with me! May good happen to thee. Thou wilt even perform all this. I have always particularly desired to be driven fast. Do thou concert such measures that my steeds may become fleet. I appoint thee the superintendent of my stables. Thy pay shall be ten thousand (coins).
Both Varshneya and Jivala shall always be under thy direction. Thou wilt live pleasantly in their company. Therefore, O Vahuka, stay thou with me.'" "Vrihadaswa continued, 'Thus addressed by the king, Nala began to dwell in the city of Rituparna, treated with respect and with Varshneya and Jivala as his companions. And residing there, the king (Nala), remembering the princess of Vidarbha, recited every evening the following sloka: 'Where lieth that helpless one afflicted with hunger and thirst and worn with toil, thinking of that wretch? And upon whom also doth she now wait?' And once as the king was reciting this in the night, Jivala asked him saying, 'O Vahuka, whom dost thou lament thus daily? I am curious to hear it.
O thou blest with length of days, whose spouse is she whom thus lamentest?' Thus questioned, king Nala answered him, saying, 'A certain person devoid of sense had a wife well-known to many. That wretch was false in his promises. For some reason that wicked person was separated from her. Separated from her, that wretch wandered about oppressed with woe, and burning with grief he resteth not by day or night. And at night, remembering her, he singeth this sloka. Having wandered over the entire world, he hath at last found a refuge, and undeserving of the distress that hath befallen him, passeth his days, thus remembering his wife.
When calamity had overtaken this man, his wife followed him into the woods. Deserted by that man of little virtue, her life itself is in danger. Alone, without knowledge of ways, ill able to bear distress, and fainting with hunger and thirst, the girl can hardly protect her life. And, O friend, she hath been deserted by that man of small fortune and having little sense, with the wide and terrible forest, ever abounding in beasts of prey'* "Thus remembering Damayanti, the king of the Nishadhas continued to live unknown in the abode of that monarch!"
"Vaisampayana said, 'After Nala, despoiled of his kingdom, had, with his wife, become a bondsman, Bhima with the desire of seeing Nala sent out Brahmanas to search for him. And giving them profuse wealth, Bhima enjoined on them, saying, 'Do ye search for Nala, and also for my daughter Damayanti. He who achieveth this task, viz., ascertaining where the ruler of the Nishadhas is, bringeth him and my daughter hither, will obtain from me a thousand kine, and fields, and a village resembling a town. Even if failing to bring Damayanti and Nala here, he that succeeds learning their whereabouts, will get from me the wealth represented by a thousand kine.'
Thus addressed, the Brahmanas cheerfully went out in all directions seeking Nala and his wife in cities and provinces. But Nala or his spouse they found not anywhere. Until at length searching in the beautiful city of the Chedis, a Brahmana named Sudeva, during the time of the king's prayers, saw the princess of Vidarbha in the palace of the king, seated with Sunanda. And her incomparable beauty was slightly perceptible, like the brightness of a fire enveloped in curls of smoke. And beholding that lady of large eyes, soiled and emaciated he decided her to be Damayanti, coming to that conclusion from various reasons. And Sudeva said, 'As I saw her before, this damsel is even so at present. O, I am blest, by casting my eyes on this fair one, like Sree herself delighting the worlds!
Resembling the full moon, of unchanging youth, of well-rounded breasts, illumining all sides by her splendour, possessed of large eyes like beautiful lotuses, like unto Kama's Rati herself the delight of all the worlds like the rays of the full moon, O, she looketh like a lotus-stalk transplanted by adverse fortune from the Vidarbha lake and covered with mire in the process. And oppressed with grief on account of her husband, and melancholy, she looketh like the night of the full moon when Rahu hath swallowed that luminary, or like a stream whose current hath dried up.
Her plight is very much like that of a ravaged lake with the leaves of its lotuses crushed by the trunks of elephants, and with its birds and fowls affrighted by the invasion. Indeed, this girl, of a delicate frame and of lovely limbs, and deserving to dwell in a mansion decked with gems, is (now) like an uprooted lotus-stalk scorched by the sun. Endued with beauty and generosity of nature, and destitute of ornaments, though deserving of them, she looketh like the moon 'new bent in haven' but covered with black clouds. Destitute of comforts and luxuries, separated from loved ones and friends, she liveth in distress, supported by the hope of beholding her lord. Verily, the husband is the best ornament of a woman, however destitute of ornaments. Without her husband beside her, this lady, though beautiful, shineth not. It is a hard feat achieved by
[paragraph continues] Nala in that he liveth without succumbing to grief, though separated from such a wife. Beholding this damsel possessed of black hair and of eyes like lotus-leaves, in woe though deserving of bliss, even my heart is pained. Alas! when shall this girl graced with auspicious marks and devoted to her husband, crossing this ocean of woe, regain the company of her lord, like Rohini regaining the Moon's? Surely, the king of the Nishadhas will experience in regaining her the delight that a king deprived of his kingdom experienceth in regaining his kingdom. Equal to her in nature and age and extraction, Nala deserveth the daughter of Vidarbha, and this damsel of black eyes also deserveth him. It behoveth me to comfort the queen of that hero of immeasurable prowess and endued with energy and might, (since) she is so eager to meet her husband.
I will console this afflicted girl of face like the full moon, and suffering distress that she had never before endured, and ever meditating on her lord.' "Vrihadaswa continued, 'Having thus reflected on these various circumstances and signs, the Brahmana, Sudeva, approached Damayanti, and addressed her, saying, 'O princess of Vidarbha, I am Sudeva, the dear friend of thy brother. I have come here, seeking thee, at the desire of king Bhima. Thy father is well, and also thy mother, and thy brothers. And thy son and daughter, blessed with length of days, are living in peace. Thy relatives, though alive, are almost dead on thy account, and hundreds of Brahmanas are ranging the world in search of thee." "Vrihadaswa continued, 'O Yudhishthira, Damayanti recognising Sudeva, asked him respecting all her relatives and kinsmen one after another.
And, O monarch, oppressed with grief, the princess of Vidarbha began to weep bitterly, at the unexpected sight of Sudeva, that foremost of Brahmanas and the friend of her brother. And, O Bharata, beholding Damayanti weeping, and conversing in private with Sudeva, Sunanda was distressed, and going to her mother informed her, saying, 'Sairindhri is weeping bitterly in the presence of a Brahmana. If thou likest, satisfy thyself.' And thereupon the mother of the king of the Chedis, issuing from the inner apartments of the palace, came to the place where the girl (Damayanti) was with that Brahmana.
Then calling Sudeva, O king, the queen-mother asked him, 'Whose wife is this fair one, and whose daughter? How hath this lady of beautiful eyes been deprived of the company of her relatives and of her husband as well? And how also hast thou come to know this lady fallen into such a plight? I wish to hear all this in detail from thee. Do truly relate unto me who am asking thee about this damsel of celestial beauty.' Then, O king, thus addressed by the queen-mother, Sudeva, that best of Brahmanas, sat at his ease, and began to relate the true history of Damayanti.'"
"Sudeva said, 'There is a virtuous and illustrious ruler of the Vidarbhas, Bhima by name. This blessed lady is his daughter, and widely known by the name of Damayanti. And there is a king ruling the Nishadhas, named Nala, the son of Virasena. This blessed lady is the wife of that wise and righteous monarch. Defeated at dice by his brother, and despoiled of his kingdom, that king, accompanied by Damayanti, went away without the knowledge of any one. We have been wandering over the whole earth in search of Damayanti. And that girl is at last found in the house of thy son. No woman existeth that is her rival in beauty.
Between the eye-brows of this ever-youthful damsel, there is an excellent mole from birth, resembling a lotus. Noticed by us (before) it seems to have disappeared, covered, (as her forehead is) with (a coat of) dust even like the moon hid in clouds. Placed there by the Creator himself as an indication of prosperity and wealth, that mole is visible faintly, like the cloud-covered lunar crescent of the first day of the lighted fortnight. And covered as her body is with dust, her beauty hath not disappeared. Though careless of her person, it is still manifest, and shineth like gold. And this girl--goddess-like--capable of being identified by this form of hers and that mole, hath been discovered by me as one discovereth a fire that is covered, by its heat!'
"O king, hearing these words of Sudeva, Sunanda washed the dust that covered the mole between Damayanti's eye-brows. And thereupon it became visible like the moon in the sky, just emerged from the clouds. And seeing that mole, O Bharata, Sunanda and the queen-mother began to weep, and embracing Damayanti stood silent for a while. And the queen-mother, shedding tears as she spoke, said in gentle accents, 'By this thy mole, I find that thou art the daughter of my sister. O beauteous girl, thy mother and I are both daughters of the high-souled Sudaman, the ruler of the Dasarnas. She was bestowed upon king Bhima, and I on Viravahu.
I witnessed thy birth at our father's palace in the country of the Dasarnas. O beautiful one, my house is to thee even as thy father's. And this wealth, O Damayanti, is thine as much as mine.' As this, O king, Damayanti bowing down to her mother's sister with a glad heart, spake unto her these words, 'Unrecognised, I have still lived happily with thee, every want of mine satisfied and myself cared for by thee. And happy as my stay hath been, it would, without doubt, be happier still. But, mother, I have long been an exile. It behoveth thee, therefore, to grant me permission (to depart). My son and daughter, sent to my father's palace, are living there. Deprived of their father, and of their
mother also, how are they passing their days stricken with sorrow. If thou wishest to do what is agreeable to me, do thou without loss of time, order a vehicle, for I wish to go to the Vidarbhas.' At this, O king, the sister to (Damayanti's) mother, with a glad heart, said, 'So be it'. And the queen-mother with her son's permission, O chief of the Bharatas, sent Damayanti in handsome litter carried by men, protected by a large escort and provided with food and drink and garments of the first quality. And soon enough she reached the country of the Vidarbhas. And all her relatives, rejoicing (in her arrival) received her with respect. And seeing her relatives, her children, both her parents, and all her maids, to be well, the illustrious Damayanti, O king, worshipped the gods and Brahmanas according to the superior method. And the king rejoiced at beholding his daughter gave unto Sudeva a thousand kine and much wealth and a village.
And, O king, having spent that night at her father's mansion and recovered from fatigue, Damayanti addressed her mother, saying, 'O mother, if thou wishest me to live, I tell thee truly, do thou endeavour to bring Nala, that hero among men.' Thus addressed by Damayanti, the venerable queen became filled with sorrow. And bathed in tears, she was unable to give any answer. And beholding her in that plight, all the inmates of the inner apartments broke out into exclamation of 'Oh!' And 'Alas'! and began to cry bitterly. And then the queen addressed the mighty monarch Bhima, saying, 'Thy daughter Damayanti mourneth on account of her husband. Nay, banishing away all bashfulness, she hath herself, O king, declared her mind to me. Let thy men strive to find out (Nala) the righteous.'
Thus informed by her the king sent the Brahmanas under him in all directions, saying, 'Exert ye to discover Nala.' And those Brahmanas, commanded by the ruler of the Vidarbhas (to seek Nala) appeared before Damayanti and told her of the journey they were about to undertake. And Bhima's daughter spake unto them saying, 'Do ye cry in every realm and in every assembly, 'O beloved gambler, where hast thou gone cutting off half of my garment, and deserting the dear and devoted wife asleep in the forest? And that girl, as commanded by thee stayeth expecting thee, clad in half a piece of cloth and burning with grief!
O king, O hero, relent towards, and answer, her who incessantly weepeth for that grief. This and more ye will say, so that he may be inclined to pity me. Assisted by the wind, fire consumeth the forest. (Further, ye will say that) the wife is always to be protected and maintained by the husband. Why then, good as thou art and acquainted with every duty, hast thou neglected both the duties? Possessed of fame and wisdom, and lineage, and kindness, why hast thou be unkind? I fear, this is owing to the loss of my good luck! Therefore, O tiger among men, have pity on me. O bull among men! I have heard it
from thee that kindness is the highest virtue. Speaking so, if anybody answereth you, that person should by all means, be known, and ye should learn who he is, and where he dwelleth. And ye foremost of regenerate ones, do ye bring me the words of him who hearing this your speech will chance to answer. Ye should also act with such care that no one may know the words ye utter to be at my command, nor that ye will come back to me. And ye should also learn whether that answers is wealthy, or poor, or destitute of power, in fact all about him.' "Thus instructed by Damayanti, O king, the Brahmanas set out in all directions in search of Nala overtaken with such disaster. And the Brahmanas, O king, searched for him in cities and kingdoms and villages, and retreats of ascetics, and places inhabited by cow-herds. And, O monarch, wherever they went they recited the speeches that Damayanti had directed them to do."
"Vrihadaswa said, 'After a long time had passed away, a Brahmana named Parnada returned to the city (of the Vidarbhas), and said unto the daughter of Bhima, 'O Damayanti, seeking Nala, the king of Nishadhas, I came to the city of Ayodhya, and appeared before the son of Bhangasura. And, O best of women, I repeated those words of thine in the presence of the blessed Rituparna. But hearing them neither that ruler of men, nor his courtiers, answered anything, although I uttered them repeatedly. Then, after I had been dismissed by the monarch, I was accosted by a person in the service of Rituparna, named Vahuka. And Vahuka is the charioteer of that king, of unsightly appearance and possessed of short arms.
And he is skillful in driving with speed, and well acquainted with the culinary art. And sighing frequently, and weeping again and again, he inquired about my welfare and afterwards said these words, 'Chaste women, although fallen into distress, yet protect themselves and thus certainly secure heaven. Although they may be deserted by their lords, they do not yet become angry on that account, for women that are chaste lead their lives, encased in the armour of virtuous behaviour. It behoveth her not to be angry, since he that deserted her was overwhelmed with calamity, and deprived of every bliss. A beauteous and virtuous woman should not be angry with one that was deprived by birds of his garment while striving to procure sustenance and who is being consumed with grief. Whether treated well or ill, such a wife should never indulge in ire, beholding her husband in that plight, despoiled of kingdom and destitute of prosperity, oppressed with hunger
and overwhelmed with calamity.' Hearing these words of his, I have speedily come here. Thou hast now heard all. Do what thou thinkest proper, and inform the king of it.' "O king, having heard these words of Parnada, Damayanti with tearful eyes came to her mother, and spake unto her in private, 'O mother, king Bhima should not, by any means, be made acquainted with my purpose. In thy presence will I employ that best of Brahmanas, Sudeva! If thou desirest my welfare, act in such a way that king Bhima may not know my purpose. Let Sudeva without delay go hence to the city of Ayodhya, for the purpose of bringing Nala, O mother, having performed the same auspicious rites by virtue of which he had speedily brought me into the midst of friends.' With these words, after Parnada had recovered from fatigue, the princess of Vidarbha worshipped him with profuse wealth and also said, 'When Nala will come here, O Brahmana, I will bestow on thee wealth in abundance again.
Thou hast done me the immense service which none else, indeed, can do me, for, (owing to that service of thine), O thou best of the regenerate ones, I shall speedily regain my (lost) lord.' And thus addressed by Damayanti, that high-minded Brahmana comforted her, uttering benedictory words of auspicious import, and then went home, regarding his mission to have been successful. And after he had gone away, Damayanti oppressed with grief and distress, calling Sudeva, addressed him, O Yudhishthira, in the presence of her mother, saying, 'O Sudeva, go thou to the city of Ayodhya, straight as a bird, and tell king Rituparna living there, these words: 'Bhima's daughter, Damayanti will hold another Swayamvara. All the kings and princes are going thither.
Calculating the time, I find that the ceremony will take place tomorrow. O represser of foes, if it is possible for thee, go thither without delay. Tomorrow, after the sun hath risen, she will choose a second husband, as she doth not know whether the heroic Nala liveth or not. And addressed by her, O monarch thus, Sudeva set out. And he said unto Rituparna, all that he had been directed to say.'"
~Next; The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa; Book1; Sections LXXI ~ LXXX