यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥
Wherever there is evil He manifests Himself there, also He manifests in humans. Which means He depicts his goodness in the great people. Even if they are not His manifestations, they are surely a part of Him.
Since such souls show up from time to time, there is still rain and bounty. Good means goodness. Whatever is good in this world is all God. If this is true, Nala-Damayanti can be said to be true Gods. These two had Godly qualities in them. By praying to the lord Shri Krishna who resided in them and brought prosperity to the world, let us involve ourselves in the Pravachana of the final chapter of NalaCharitra.
If we have the patience to wait, a time like that will definitely arrive. Sita who was kidnapped by Ravana says this. Now that time had again arrived for Nala. Pushkara was wonderstruck; Nala who had lost his Kingdom, relatives and friends and was thought by Pushkara that he would not return again, was right before his eyes. Nala had reached Nishadha with a small army.
What was stranger was that nobody stopped him there. He went directly to Pushkara and called him for a bet. The two faced each other. One was a Kingdom snatcher, the other was a Kingdom giver. While Pushkara had snatched Nala’s Kingdom through deceit, Nala had given back the Kingdom that he had won at war to Pushkara.
He was a life-saviour who spared his brother’s life. Pushkara was a life-taker. When Nala lost his Kingdom and was leaving to the forest, Pushkara had ordered the citizens to not provide him water or fire. Those who did not obey, would be punished with death. While Nala was a symbol of righteousness, Pushkara was the symbol for non-righteousness. Now they were again facing one another.
Nala tells Pushkara that he had collected some more money and wanted to renew the gamble. Are you thinking, where he got the money from? Do not forget that he had been the Ashwaadhyaksha in Rituparna’s Kingdom where he used to earn ten thousand gold coins every month. Moreover, pleased by his service, and by the king’s grace, he had won many rewards. Later, he had served as the kitchen head and used to prepare food for the king himself for which he earned as well.
So, now he had earned enough wealth. He had a lot of self-respect and had not accepted the army given to him by his father-in-law. Sthreedhana, i.e., the money taken from the wife’s paternal side, is unacceptable. It is okay to provide monetary help to the wife’s parents, but not to ask for it. Though he was in a tough and war-like situation, he followed this. Pushkara was surprised by his enthusiasm. Nala this time had pledged Damayanti in Gambling. The other day when Pushkara had forced him to do so, he had refused. But now he was sure he would win because he had learnt the secrets of Akshavidya and also, Pushkara would not have accepted to play, if he had not pledged her in Gambling.
The misfortune in the form of Kali that had gone into him back then was not there now. Therefore, nobody could cheat him or defeat him now. Nala says, “I am going to gamble all that I have, including Damayanti. In return, you must gamble the kingdoms you have acquired from me along with your Kingdom. Let the gamble take place, because I still have more wealth to bet and I shall not stop the game until I win. I shall bet my life too, you also do so”.
He further describes the DyoothaShastra- if a person who has lost in gambling wishes to get back his wealth by playing again, the other party must accept. In case you are not ready for it, there is no force, get ready for war. Let us fight between us (Dwairatha Yuddha).
Why he referred this is because to avoid unnecessary loss of men, the army. “So, let both of us fight so that peace is either mine or yours” said Nala. Raama also says in the war with Raavana that from the next day world should be without Raama or without Raavana. Nala continued “this kingdom is lineal. Protecting this is my duty. I will be responsible for answering my ancestors if I lose this. So, show your corrupt mind in gambling or make your bow bent in the fight. Crookedness is what your nature is”. Some are always crooked. It is difficult for them to be honest. By this time, Pushkara had come out of the shock and laughed at him and said that his victory is guaranteed. He had forgotten about reason, situation and plans behind his victory before. The power, money, indulgence makes man a fool like this. This fake king of Nishadha said “Salute to the God who made me gain more wealth. It is the time for Damayanti to leave you and become my queen. This is the opportunity given to me by God himself to make this profit. I like to gamble with enemies. Let me do this for Damayanti. She was in my mind from past several days”. Don’t know which God blessed him. Whoever he is, it is the path to hell itself. Pushkara agreed with Nala on the condition that kingdom will be Nala’s if he wins and Damayanti would be Pushkara’s if Pushkara wins. Nala was angry when he heard that Damayanti is in Pushkara’s mind. He raised his sword to cut Pushkara’s head. But controlled his anger as he had decided to win through the way he had lost. The game of gambling started. If Nala loses, then he had to give up everything including Damayanti and his life too.
Nala wanted to play only a single game and not more than that as he had no liking towards gambling. He won in that one game and Nishadha kingdom was returned to him. Along with it, Pushkara’s administration, kingdom, treasury and his life too became the property of Nala. Nala played the game with this confidence only. Pushkara lost the game without knowing that Nala had learnt Aksha Vidya. Nala had a smile on his face and he said that they all belong to him. This is why today’s discourse has the name ‘Punarvasu’ which means obtaining the lost. Punarvasu is Raama’s zodiac star too. Nala got back his fortune from where he had lost. Pushkara would not have been alive if war had been waged because such was the intensity of Nala’s anger. Nala, out of anger told Pushkara with an unusual voice and language: “Hey Raajaasapada! (the lowest among the kings), such a great fool you are. You wanted Damayanti right? You can’t even see her now”. As per the rules, Pushkara should be a slave to Nala. A slave cannot lift his head up in front of his master. Nala came back to his natural state after few minutes. He told “The one who first won wasn’t you. It was Kali. You won because Kali entered in me and also in the pawns. So, I wouldn’t blame you for Kali’s sins. He is already punished by Damayanti. Here, I give you the alms of life. Live as you wish. I am returning all the territories, treasury, wealth of yours according to the previous partition. Go, have a life!”. This was his natural state.
Before, when Damayanti has asked why did he leave her, he told that it was Kali and not him. Now, he applied the same in case of Pushkara too that it was Kali’s fault and not Pushkara’s. This shows Nala’s honesty. He said to Pushkara “You are my brother. Live long for hundreds of years”. This is how great souls behave. Nala could have annihilated Pushkara for the evil deeds he did. He could have at least made him a slave. But he told that he had been a slave in someone’s kingdom and this type of suffering shouldn’t happen for Pushkara. He told him to live happily.
We remember Raama here. Kalidasa says that Raama spoke to Kaikeyi after returning to Ayodhya when she was hesitant to talk to him out of guilt. He asked for her blessings and also told that she saved Dasharatha from going to hell through her wishes. He told that he would ever be grateful to her for making Dasharatha follow the path of truth.
It became evident for Pushkara how great his brother was. He felt guilty for being the reason for Nala’s distress. To err is human, but to be guilty of it is important. If a person does mistake, do not be indifferent towards him. But if he is not guilty, then be sad about it. Here, Pushkara joined his hands and fell at Nala’s feet. He told to Nala “Oh king, may you live for ten thousand years. You saved me even though you could have stamped me (Even if Nala smashes, the flowers bloom much more than before. It is seen in previous incidents). You live happily. I will be ever thankful to you”. Nala made Pushkara stay for one month in his house and sent him only after giving him a good hospitality. Then he took the administration in his hands. All the citizens were very happy. They had never imagined that Nala would be their king again. They all folded their hands and said “Today we are satisfied. We can live like the gods as you came back”. The kingdom celebrated the festival for many days. Bhimaraja was informed of all the incidents. Nala sent a word through his messengers that he had become the emperor of Nishadha and asked to send Damayanti. Bhimaraja was not happy when Nala hadn’t taken his army even during difficulties. Hence, he sent Damayanti along with his army. It was only after she came with her kids that Nala was completely happy. He became the emperor for the whole Jambu island (ancient Bhaaratavarsha).
This story was said by Brihadashva to Yudhisthira when Yudhisthira was sad that his condition was not experienced by anyone else. Brihadashva consoled him by asking him to compare his story with Nala’s life. The plight of the more distressed person will be consoling to the person of lesser distress. If you are sad, look at the people who are sadder than you. You will feel better then. Nala obtained all because of Dharma. So, where there is Dharma, there is happiness.
पुण्यश्लोको नलो राज: पुण्यश्लोको युधिष्ठिर: |
पुण्यश्लोका च वैदेही पुण्यश्लोको जनार्दन: ||
These are all Punyashlokas. Their remembrance is virtuous, remover of sorrows. Vaidhehi (Seetha) and Vaidarbhi (Damayanti) stand above their husbands because of their life of Dharma. Among these, it is for Nala that ‘Punyashloki’ is used as another name.
This way, poverty (of wealth, of mind) doesn’t strike for those who contemplate this story. This is both a ‘Itihaasa’ (history) and ‘ Purana’ (epic). This is not an imaginary story. This story became a legend, such was the life of Nala. It is relevant to all times, regions, mindsets and people. This story brings fortune and satisfaction in one’s life. It makes one great among the contemporaries, like Nala.
As the verse says,
कर्कोटकस्य नागस्य दमयंत्या नलस्य च |
ऋतुपर्णस्य राजर्षे: कीर्तनं कलिनाशनं ||
Just by hearing the story, Kali can be destroyed.
Too much knowledge is also dangerous. As our knowledge increase, our devotion and innocence will decrease which may take us away from the God. No need to understand everything in this world and moreover, it’s not possible as well. A child sitting on the lap of his mother and travelling, need not be awake throughout the journey; child doesn’t need to be alert but still it will reach the destination. Because, it’s the responsibility of his mother to take him to the destination. Similarly, in the path of sadhana/spirituality, we don’t need to know what moksha or salvation is; if you leave it to the God and trust him completely, it’s his responsibility to take you to the salvation. Many a times, having little knowledge is only helpful else it may become like a story of a caterpillar. The story goes like this “One day a rabbit sees a caterpillar walking. Out of curiosity, it asks the caterpillar how it knows which leg to keep first as it has thousand legs while the Rabbit has only four legs but still it gets confused. This question had never aroused before for caterpillar but now it started thinking about this. The end of the story is that after this incident, caterpillar could not walk in its lifetime. Similarly, somethings should happen by itself, no need to understand the technique or process behind it.
Listen, read, sing, feel and enjoy the story of Nala charitra again and again which is a real treasure for life.
Picture courtesy: Internet
TattvaBhaagavatam a special discourse by Sri Sri RaghaveshwaraBharathi Mahaswamiji: full Video :