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Story No 17-Nal and Damayantee-1

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17-Nal and Damayantee-1
[From Mahaabhaarat, Van Parv]

There lived a king named Nal in Nishadh Desh. He was very handsome and intelligent. He knew many things about horses. He had only one vice - gambling.

One day a Braahman came to his court. He suggested him the name of Damayantee, the daughter of the King of Vidarbh Desh for marrying. He painted such an impressive picture of the princess that Nal immediately fell in love with her without seeing her. In those times it was uncustomary for a man to propose to a girl. He had to wait for the woman, or her father, to make the first move. Nal had decided that if he would marry then he would marry only to Damayantee and lost in her thoughts so much that he began to neglect his state duties. He spent long hours in the garden of his palace dreaming about her.

It so happened that a group of swans lived in the lakes in the garden. They daily observed the despondent King wasting his time. One day the leader of the swans approached the king and asked him what the matter was. The King informed the swan that he was in love with Damayantee but was unable to convey his thoughts to her. He did not even know if Damayantee was in love with someone else. Custom prevented him from going to Vidarbh himself and this was too delicate a mission to entrust to someone else.

"If you think proper I can deliver your message." said the swan. Nal got very happy to hear this. That night the swan left for Vidarbh Desh. Every morning and evening Nal would go to his garden to see if the swan had returned but was disappointed not to find them there. After a week he found the swan waiting for him. He told him that Damayantee too had heard of him and had fallen in love with him. Now her Swayamvar will be arranged.

Now Damayantee was so beautiful that even Devtaa also wanted to marry her, but she was deeply in love with Nal. When the time came for Damayantee's Swayamvar, Yam, Varun, Agni and Indra also came to attend it.  Devtaa met Nal on their way and asked him for a favor. Nal asked them what was that favor before he would commit for anything. They said - "Mortals should feel fortunate if any Devtaa asks them for a favor and you are behaving like this? Do you know our power? We can make you disappear in a fraction of second so that you don't reach the Swayamvar at all." Then Indra asked him to plead Damayantee to choose one of the four Devtaa as her husband. Nal said - "But I will not have time to meet her as we are allowed to go in only on the day of Swayamvar."

Indra said - "No problem in that." and transported him to Damayantee's palace one day before the Swayamvar. Both recognized each other immediately. Nal told her the purpose of his visit. Damayantee said - "You have kept your promise, but I will put my garland in your neck only." Next day Nal sat in a corner in the Swayamvar to avoid Devtaa.

Devtaa knew that Damayantee loved Nal, so they conspired and disguised themselves in Nal's form. Now as Damyantee entered the hall she saw five Nal sitting together. She was in a flux, who was her real Nal. Then she prayed Bhagavaan and asked His guidance. When she opened her eyes after the prayer, she found that the four Nal's eyes were always open, they were not blinking. Besides they were not touching their seat also. She understood, that those four were Devtaa and the fifth one was her real Nal. She put her garland in his neck and they got married. Devtaa blessed them and went to Heaven.

Kali, the personification of Kali Yug, also wanted to marry Damayantee, so he also came to attend her Swayamvar, but he was late. So when he was going for Damayantee's Swayamvar, Devtaa were returning from there, they told him that the Swayamvar had already taken place and Damyantee had chosen Nal as her husband. Hearing this Kali got very angry. He then angrily vowed to cause the fall of Nalís kingdom through his propensity for gambling. He waited for twelve long years for the right time to strike.

Nal and Damayantee were happily married and they had two children - one son and one daughter. Nal had one brother also Pushkar. Kali sat in the mind of Pushkar and one day Pushkar invited Nal to play the Chausar game (a kind of dice game). Although he was not good at this game still he played with him and lost his kingdom. At this Pushkar asked him to put his wife on stake on the condition that if Nal won, he would return everything he had won so far. Once Nal thought that he should accept the condition, but later he changed his mind and left the kingdom with Damayantee. Damayantee sent her children to her father's house and she herself went to forest with her husband Nal. Pushkar made them leave the country on foot. Nal wore only a loincloth and Damayantee only a Saaree.

Once Nal wanted to catch some birds to eat by throwing his loin cloth but with the effect of Kali they flew away carrying his cloth. Now they had to hide in the day time and move in the night time. Nal asked Damayantee several times to go to her father's house but she did not comply. So he himself decided to leave Damayantee thinking that if he left her she herself would go to her father's house.

He tore half Saaree piece from Damayantee's Saaree while she was sleeping, and went away leaving her sleeping. After a while Nal rescued a snake from fire. As soon as the snake was freed the snake bit him and turned into a celestial being. He said to Nal - "Do not worry. The poison will disfigure and discolor you but you need to remain incognito for some time. Whenever you feel that you have to return to your original self just wrap this garment around you. Travel in the south direction for five days. You will reach the kingdom of Rituparn. Win his confidence and take the opportunities as they come." He handed Nal a magic cloth and went his way.

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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 10/20/13