DEIVATHIN KURAL # 62 (Vol # 7) Dated 08 Nov 2013
(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of
Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the
pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by
Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as
Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from the page No 491 of Volume 7 of
the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes
‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com
Greatness of NaLa and Damayanti. The King of Vidharbha Desa, the father
of Damayanti had arranged for the conduct of 'Swayamvaram' for his
daughter. 'Swayamvaram' is an ancient
custom for selecting a suitable match for their nubile young princesses. Eligible bachelors from other kingdoms would
be invited to attend the Swayamvaram.
The visitors would be seated decked up in all their fineries. The would-be-bride is ushered in by her
father and as they walk along the line of suitors. She would be having a garland of flowers in
her hand. So as to enable her to make
her choice, a minister or some such official having interviewed the suitors
before, would introduce them one by one, pointing out their qualifications and
exploits. The bride to-be had the
complete freedom to select any one of them as her would be husband and the
person so selected was known as the 'Vara:' – 'वर:' which meant
literally the 'Selected'! The way it is
done is that, the girl to be wedded would place the garland in the neck of the
person whom she has selected, completing the act of Swayamvaram!
the case of NaLa and Damayanti, though they had never met, they were already
lovers. She had come to know about NaLa
as the King of Naishada by his fame and reputation and had already come to a
decision that when it comes to her marriage, she would wed only NaLa. Similarly NaLa had also come to know about
her beauty and womanly attributes and character qualities and fallen in love
with her. So it was a meeting of minds
to this extent that they were exchanging notes, if not by texting, post, e-mail
and twitter as it happens now-a-days, but by sending a messenger swan as the
knowing about it Beema the King of Vidharbha, had arranged to conduct this
Swayamvaram for his daughter Damayanti.
All the eligible kings from near and far had reached for the
Swayamvaram. Not only the Rajas of
earth, even celestial beings such as Indra, Agni, Yama and VaruNa, having heard
of her exceptionally incomparable Soundarya had also come to participate in the
selection process as contenders. Unlike
the earthlings, the aspiring celestials were very much aware of fact that NaLa
and Damayanti were almost as good as betrothed!
They knew that Damayanti being of such high fidelity that, having
selected NaLa in her mind as her would-be husband would not even glance at
anybody else, even if he happens to be the King of Heavens!
by chance if she were to select one of them, there may be only one method which
was yet to be contrived. They thought
that if NaLa himself were to recommend that she should select one of the celestials,
she may be agreeable. So they approached
him and asked him if he would help them.
In all his innocence of their ulterior motive, he promised to help
them. Their request was that NaLa
himself should go as a messenger to Damayanti, to tell her that she should
select one of the celestials, instead of NaLa as the husband! Is there any parallel for this sort of a
situation in history or fiction? NaLa
and Damayanti were already lovers intending to get married. NaLa knew that she is going to select him
from all the assembled suitors looking forward to which, he had come from his Naishada
to Vidharbha. Such being the case, these
people are asking for him to recommend to Damayanti that she should select one
of the celestials!
did the Devas put NaLa in such a quandary?
They were aware of the excellent character qualities of both NaLa and
Damayanti and that is why they tested them like this. They knew that once having selected one
person, Damayanti would not even think of any other even if he happened to be
the King of Heavens. So they knew that
even if they were to stand in the line-up for Swayamvaram in all their
effulgent get up as heavenly celestials, Damayanti would only select NaLa the
Man. So if at all they were to have some
off-beat chance NaLa himself had to recommend their case they thought. Similarly they knew also that NaLa was such a
man of his words that he would never go against his own promise. That is why they first wangled a promise from
him and then spelt out what he was to do.
Without any hesitation or qualms they requested him to go on their
behalf as a messenger to Damayanti. NaLa
was a great chap, very truthful. For
their sake he was ready to sacrifice his love, so as not to break his promise
that he will do their bidding, whatever their request and came forward to go as
are some great Mahatmas who are known for their integrity and truthfulness that
they are worthy of being remembered every day in the morning as we wake up from
sleep as advised by our elders. By such
action we will also imbibe their qualities of truthfulness, morality and sense
of sacrifice. By thinking of them like
this every day, we will also be motivated to face the world with confidence and
be successful, while our own deficiencies and diffidence will be lessened. There are at least four such people. One is NaLa, next is Dharma Putra, third is
Sita Devi and the fourth is Sri Krishna Paramãtma. The sloka is as follows: -
पुण्य श्लोको नलो राजा, पुण्य श्लोको युधिष्टिर: |
puNya sloko naLo raja, puNya sloko
पुण्य श्लोको च वैदेहि, पुण्य श्लोको जनार्धन: ||
punya sloko cha vaidehi, puNya sloko
fact there is no end to the crisis situations and quandaries faced by these
four. But despite that they remained
unshakeable from the straight path of Dharma, never going astray and thus were
successful in their lives. By
remembering their names every day morning, we will also be motivated to be like
them and walk on the path of Dharma.
NaLa sacrificing his most desired love for Damayanti accepted the task
of going as a messenger on behalf of the Devas.
There was much security at the approaches to the royal palace where
Damayanti was residing. How could NaLa
go there without being challenged and recognised? It is here that Indra true to his reputation
as a great magician did his trick. He
made NaLa unseen temporarily for all others except Damayanti by making him
'aroopa' – 'अरूप'.
NaLa reached her place unseen by others, visible only to her eyes and she
was thrilled to see him coming to her!
he NaLa true to his promise given to the Devas spoke about the great qualities
of the divine celestials and told her that any one of them, Indra, VaruNa, Yama
or Agni, were more preferable than himself as her husband. Damayanti however would have none of it as
she was clear in her decision and told him that despite the recommendations of
NaLa, she cannot be unfaithful to him, whom she had already opted for in her
heart as her would-be husband. Having so
decided once, to opt for yet another person as her husband would be an
unpardonable crime and sin in her opinion.
NaLa came back unsuccessful in his endeavour and told the Devas about
it. They were already aware of all
this. They were happy with his sincerity
and truthfulness. So, they gave him a
it was time for Swayamvaram. The hall
was full of the kings from various kingdoms.
NaLa was also there. But instead
of one NaLa there were five look-alikes.
Everybody was flabbergasted to see this.
How did this happen? The four
celestial beings were not only wearing similar dress and accoutrements but were
exact look-alikes physically and in complexion.
How will Damayanti identify as to who is the real NaLa? If she places the garland on one of them and
he happens to be not the real NaLa but one of the Devas, they will consider him
as the winner of the lucky draw. So,
that was the magical delusion caused by the Devas. First they had shamelessly gone to NaLa for
help and now have become fake NaLa look-alikes!
The attraction and desire for woman is so alluring and deceptively
came to the Swayamvara Mandapa. She kept
walking across the whole line of suitors, thinking of only NaLa. Finally found five of them instead of one! She just stopped perplexed. "There does not seem to be any difference
between them at all! If I now place the
garland on the wrong persons shoulders, there will be a great blunder and
failing in 'pãtivratyam' – 'पातिव्रत्यं' (meaning
fidelity and faithfulness)! How am I to
get out of this faux pas?" She was
standing there undecided and wondering as to what is to be done!
story has been beautifully narrated in poetical form in Tamil by the poet
Pugazhendi. The root source for that is
the 'NaLa Upãkhyãnam' in Maha Bhãratham.
This has been rendered in to verse in Sanskrit by a poet known as Sri
Harsha. That is known as 'Naishadam' as
it is the story of a king of the Naishada kingdom. As this was a strong medicine for all
scholars studying classic literature, it used to be said, 'Naishadam vidwat
oushadam' – 'नैषदं विद्वत् औषदम्'. When we say so,
it also means that average readers cannot easily understand it, as being a hard
nut to crack literally and literarily!
Let Damayanti keep standing in the Hall of Swayamvaram wondering as to
whom she should put the garland on and in the meantime let us look at the story
as narrated by Sri Harsha and how he became so smart and intelligent.
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