Knowledge is the reason for Advaita, doubt is a hindrance to knowledge. Knowledge means to have no doubts. When proper knowledge is acquired there is no room for doubt. Doubt is an illusion (Maya). In whose hands lies this Maya? In whose hands lies understanding? Let’s pray to the compassionate Lord Sri Krishna to teach us this, to grace this, to clear the doubts and give us clear knowledge.
There’s no traditional literature comparable to NalaCharitra. Nala is Punyashloki (one whose remembrance brings virtues). Ours sins will be washed away after listening to his story. Let us look at the Advaita Sandhi part of NalaCharitra now. Advaita means “not two”. What is “not two”, becomes “one”. To become one, there should be two, what is that? One or two, let us see in this part.
Damayanti sends Keshini to her mother. She was still not spared from this work. Till now she had gone to Bahuka’s place many times and now to the Queen’s. There was no solution to Nala’s suspicious appearance and it was necessary to solve this by herself.
Suspecting him to be Nala, Bahuka was tested in so many ways and now only his appearance was left to be solved, which she would do on her own. For this a stage needs to be set up, we have to face each other, she thought. Either he has to come here or she has to go there, give permission to any of us, she asked the Queen.
During those days it was not easy for people to speak or meet with the outside people. And that too Damayanti was very ritualistic. Till that day she had done everything only after getting her mother’s approval, so she was asking for her permission even this time.
Damayanti suggested that she could inform her father and take his permission. She says, “Decide whether to inform him or not. While inviting the king of Ayodhya here, I had forced you not to tell father. Now I shall not force you, do as you feel”.
“Mother, my conclusion is that he is Nala. Definitely he is not Sootha, he has only come in disguise. Instead of ruling as the king of kings, he is roaming in this form”. This reminds us of a scene in Yakshagana, where the wives have full of praises for their husbands- my husband is like this, her husband is not like this, etc.
This is right. If everything between the couple is right, the wife will understandably have pride. She won’t give him up in front of others.
The Queen reports all that her daughter said to her husband Bhimaraja and asks to make arrangements. She tells him about the present situation only, without revealing the play of calling Rituparna for Swayamvara. She says, “The matter is this, and our daughter is of this opinion, so please give them an opportunity to meet each other”. A happy Bhimaraja says, let it be, is there any news that can be better than this? Yes, he was proud to have Nala as a great son-in-law.
Having got Bhimaraja’s approval, an overjoyed Damayanti again calls Keshini and tells her to go to his place for one last time. This time Keshini is thoughtful of how she would go there. Last time Bahuka had told her not to come there repeatedly as she was giving a lot of trouble to him by digging his true self.
As she was wondering what to do, Damayanti comes up with an idea- before he is able to ask anything, go straight to him and say that you are carrying royal orders. When he asks for it, tell him to come to the palace. He can’t refuse at that time and will definitely come. She asked her to hurry up and sent her.
Keshini went to Bahuka. He looked at her wondering why she has come again. Poor him! He was exhausted from her tests. Before he could open his mouth to utter a word, she said that she has come there on royal orders, he is supposed to come to the palace, and left. Bahuka just stood there without moving not talking a word for a while. He did not even say that he will not come. It means that he knew who was there in the palace. It meant to ask should he come in this appearance in front of his wife? He thought, what would happen there? For what would it be? He had 2 problems. One is that she will ask him on why he left her in the forest and the second one is that he is not sure whether she is the same or has changed because she was ready for the second swayamvara. He was not sure of what to talk to her. So, he stood silently. After forcing, he went into her room crossing harem of seven enclosures. Nala had prepared himself on how to behave in front of her. But got distracted when he saw her. That might be the sadness or the great sorrow. This happened to Raama also. When there was arrangements being made for his coronation, Kaikeyi told him to go to 14 years of vanavaas and coronation will be done to his brother Bharatha. Raama did not get distracted nor talked a word, took a pradakshina around the obscene for coronation and came to mother Kausalya. When told her the matter, she fell unconscious. She weeped saying “Why he was born. The sorrow of him going to the forest was hundred folds more than that of not having children”. He still like a brave hearted, consoled her. But when he entered Seetha’s room, his eyes became watery. He was not willing to take her to the forest. May be he was unconsciously knowing about the later harm. He had confusion in his mind. It was saddening even if he takes her or leaves her there. He could not control his tears. Wife is a second mother. That is absolute oneness and is not possible to hide. Like this Nala could not control his sadness how much ever he tried and cried in front of her. What might be the situation of Damayanti? She could not even recognize him. She forgot everything else but not his image. Now when she saw him closely, even if he was Nala, how would she tolerate that uglyness of him. He could not look at himself. Such was the deformity. When Karkotaka bit him, he gained that ugly deformity which he could not believe. Now Damayanti is looking at him closely for the first time. He had no such appearance in which he lived with her for 12 years. Even Damayanti was not the same. She had worn red ochre sacrificing all her fortune. Last day in the palace before going to forest was when she decorated her hair. But now it was hard without any nourishment. Her body was dirty without any nursing. She had no attention towards all that. She was like the pond covered with algae.
Damayanti spoke first. She didn’t address him directly as ‘Nala’. Instead, she took an indirect route and asked him “Did you see my Nala, the righteous one, anywhere? What happened to his Dharma when he left me alone in the forest when I was asleep? Sanskrit has the word ‘भर्ता’ for husband and ‘भार्या’ for wife which mean ‘the one who bears’ and ‘the one who is beared’ respectively. So how can he leave his beloved wife and go? According to me, no husband will do this. What crime had I committed? Why did he push me to such a situation? I married him rejecting even the demigods, doesn’t he remember this? I was there with him in his every step, I had kept utmost love in him. How could he leave the mother of his two kids? Didn’t he marry me in front of the holy fire? Didn’t we marry according to the words of the swan?”.
Damayanti and Bahuka both broke down. Thier blackish red eyes flooded with tears. Damayanti was still in the paativratya frame. She addressed him as some other man. But Bahuka spoke directly “I am the Nala, without whom you cannot live. I am the one who abandoned you in the forest”. He started explaining the reason. He had answered the same question twice before. He started to give the real answer now. “It was not me who played gambling and lost. It was not me who deserted you. It was the play of Kali who had entered inside me. Even now it is because of you that I got the fortune of seeing you”, he said. Kali wanted Damayanti somehow. So he had entered Nala’s body to play the game and made him do unwanted activities. “You were not the cause then; but now that Kali has left me is all because of your curse to Kali. Your curse directly affected him; he was burnt terribly and went out of my body. Oh the greatest among the righteous ones! On one side your curse and my penance on the other side, both burnt him. Might be there would be a full stop to our sorrows now. You are safe because the Kali influenced Nala left you that day. You came to your parents’ house and stayed here comfortably. But my story is different. Karkotaka snake bit me and my body became deformed but it’s venom was not hurting me, instead was troubling the Kali who resided inside me. Now I got rid of it. I myself rode the chariot for 100 yojanas for the first time. I did it not for the king, but for you. Today there are Vidarbha’s messengers in all the palaces of the world, carrying the invitation for your second swayamvara; is this right on your part? “, he said.
Imagine what would be the king’s state of mind when he hears about his queen’s second swayamvara when he had remained as per the words promised by him to Damayanti during swayamvara. Still he didn’t lose his patience, he didn’t express his frustration. He continued “It is acceptable if unscrupulous women do it, but not you. Rituparna came here on your invitation. It was my bad luck that I had to get him here for your swayamvara. Isn’t it wrong for scrupulous woman to leave her husband and think about marrying another man bodily, wordly or in mind? Isn’t it a black mark on me as the news of your Swayamvara have reached all the kings?”. Nala didn’t knew that the news was given only to Rituparna and not to any other king. Rituparna had told only that the news had come from Vidarbha and it had reached all the kings and there was only one day’s time. Believing only it, Nala thought that way. It would be hard for a great king like Nala to digest such news.
Damayanti had not thought of this effect. A doubt once arisen in a relationship is like cancer, it is incurable. When there is true love itself, unwanted doubts arise; then what to say when such incidents happen? It was not easy to overcome such incidents during those days. Such scar can be bandaged, but not wiped off. When Damayanti realised this, she feared in a way she had never feared before. She was afraid of losing her life’s love inspite of doing all those plans. Nala didn’t show anger or intolerance. But this behaviour of Nala impacted her greatly. To drown her in grief, this behaviour was sufficient rather than showing his anger. She addressed him as “Oh Kalyana!” (oh the one full of auspiciousness!). She told “Nala, never doubt me. I never have a bad thought. It is already proven when I married you rejecting the demigods. It is me only who prepared the swayamvara plot, but for the purpose of searching tout. When I sent the Brahmanas for it, I got a reply only from Parnaada who had been to Ayodhya. It is for this reason that the swayamvara news was sent only to Ayodhya. Also, to ensure that you will come and you only have come, I created a scenario where you should come in one day, because only you can come so. You say for who else in the world is it possible to come like this?”. She was not satisfied by her explanation. So she began the vows. Even Seetha too entered fire and earth by doing so. She first said “I vow in the presence of your feet that I have not committed any mistake, even in my mind”. There were 3 powers who were always with Damayanti protecting her and as witnesses for all the incidents. They were Surya, Chandra and Vaayu. She said “Let Vaayu, who is present everywhere in this world, take away my life if I have committed sin. Let Surya, whose eyes never closes, and Chandra, who is the god of mind, destroy me if I have done anything wrong. (It is said that there is no sin which the mind has not noticed. If the mind has not seen, then it is not a sin). I no more want this life. Either these three powers should discard and destroy me or should declare the truth”. She closed her eyes after taking the vow. There is no problem in the world which has no solution; but there will be side effects for that solution. Medicine may cure fever, but it may cause some other ailment for which the separate medication has to be given. The solution for Damayanti was bringing Nala to her place, but his emotions were the side effects. She has to treat those side effects, otherwise it would not serve the purpose. She pledged her life for solving it. The hidden great qualities of great people come out during the times of adversities. Who knew that Damayanti was protected by three powers? Damayanti challenged that she would live if she lived a righteous and truthful life, or else she would die. She asked the gods to speak out the truth.
Let us wait for the God’s answer.
TattvaBhaagavatam a special discourse by Sri Sri RaghaveshwaraBharathi Mahaswamiji: full Video :