Token of memory – a half cloth
Dwaapara is the continuation of Treta, Krishna is the next incarnation of Raama, Bhaagavata is the continuation of Raamayana, Vyasa~Shuka are reincarnation of Valmiki. Prostrations to this Advaita (oneness).
Advaita of a single cloth, memory of a half cloth- these are the concepts of today’s discourse. One Shivadhanas became two: this filled meaning to Raamayana. Likewise, this story has one meaning when it denotes oneness and one meaning when it denotes duality. Time is full of change; as time flies, changes happen. It was that time: Nala caught the swan, he met Damayanti. It is this time: Nala tried to catch the golden birds to satisfy hunger, he lost even the cloth he wore. What will Damayanti become now? What happens when time reverses, we don’t know; but it certainly brings about changes. Nothing remains as it is. Only the real entity, God, has only one form, so He is called “सदेकरूपरूपाय”.
Nala is literally without any resort now- no food, no cloth, no home. But previously, the other kings believed that even standing in front of Nala’s house door is a virtuous deed.
No one else was present there other than Damayanti. There was no secret between them. They walked in the right direction. Nala pointed her the way to Vidarbha, but he didn’t say verbally to go there. He felt that he was an unfortunate one, his difficulties should be only to him and she should go to her father’s home. While traversing the path, he pointed at the Vindhya mountain and river Poorna (also called as Payoshni). He told that there were hermitages of many sages on the way the river makes to meet the ocean. He repeatedly told that in that path was the Vidarbha state. The meaning he meant was ‘The other ways (rough forest paths) are not meant for you. There is no sinner greater than me. No one else have sinned as much as me like abandoning wealth, children, and being incapable of not protecting the wife.’
Damayanti was sharp in grasping what he meant. She cried and asked him “My heart is trembling; my body has become warm. Tell me what is there in your mind. I fear to decode your words. How can I leave you, who even doesn’t have food and cloth, in this situation and go away? Do you think I am insane and heartless? Think, during difficulties, there is no other medicine as wife. So, stop your further talks.”
Though Nala told her that he could leave his soul, but not her, his mind thought something else. Damayanti tells him again “I am afraid what wrong decisions you would take as you are already intoxicated with bad habits.” The fortunate thing that had happened was that he didn’t keep his wife as surety item for the game. When we see Ramayana, Raama tried to convince Seeta not to come to forest. He says “You don’t come to forest. You are raised comfortably in your home. Forest’s hardships are not meant for you”. But Seeta doesn’t listen. Finally, Raama agrees at that peak of the conversation when Seeta taunted “My father got me married to you thinking you as a man. He would not have done it if he knew you are a woman, who has disguised as man”.
Noble people are like that. They don’t share their sorrow with anyone. Instead, they share happiness. Damayanti said that she would go to Vidarbha only if Nala accompanied her. Nala disagrees that he would go there only as an emperor, not in such situation. To console her, he wraps himself with a part of her saree. Oneness of single cloth is this. This type of incident, maybe not experienced by any couple. To be in a single cloth means, to share and experience a single life.
Meanwhile it became dark. They had no food from past three days, and no place for sleeping. Now they slept on a stone bed. It was a palace for them at that instant. Damayanti fell asleep quickly. But Nala could not. Damayanti was ready to sacrifice anything for Nala, but not Nala himself. Nala had feeling of guilt haunting him. It was probably the peak of his distress. In this way, on a single stone, the emperor and empress tried to rest in a single cloth. Half of the whole was asleep, half was awake.
Nala prayed the demigods for a solution.
All the events which occurred came in front of Nala when he closed his eyes which were devoid of sleep. Gambling game, losing everything, coming out in the worn cloth, the order issued by Pushkara, all were visible. When he opened his eyes, he found his queen sleeping on a stone, who was supposed to be sleeping on a well cushioned mattress instead. He remembered swayamvara; “What comfort did I give to her who ignored all other kings and demigods and married me? She could have been happy if she would have married anyone else. She is suffering today because of me. What more is to happen?! Why should she suffer? Sorrow should be only to me. She will suffer until she is with me. Instead, she could stay happily if she goes to her father’s place. Though she may have the sadness of my separation, she would be comfortable in her father’s shelter. So, I have to leave; and it is best to leave when she is asleep.” Thinking so, he walked a small distance. The next moment, he thought of the miseries she would undergo in the forest because of wild animals or some evil people. He came back fearing that. This dilemma continued for a long time. Finally, he concluded that she would lead a happier life only if he leaves. Also, he thought that her radiance, penance, loyalty to husband shall protect her; so, he decided to leave. Actually, his decision was more detrimental to him than Damayanti as he would suffer more sadness without her presence.
This was the case with Raama too; every time when the question arises that who suffered more after Seetaparityaaga, there will be a dilemma. While Seetha was grieving that her husband abandoned her, Raama grieved much more as Seetha would not be there anymore and he was the reason for it.
Nala decided to leave, but how can he go without clothes? He found a blade when he was searching there. Who kept the blade in the forest at that time? It is the influence of Kali, it is his thought of separating the couple at any cost. Nala cut the cloth as much he needed and went. Again, he returned without being able to withstand the decision. This to and fro went on several times. Then he prayed the demigods, Ashwini gods, Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Marudganas to protect her. Then he said to Damayanti, who was asleep that she would be protected by the shield of Dharma and he left. What was left as a token of memory was that half cloth; what remained during separation was just a piece of cloth from the one she had worn.
Noble people will not allow any bad to happen to others because of them. They take harsh and weird decisions at that time. Just think! What would be the situation of Nala? After Nala goes away, how would Damayanti face the situation? The critical situation Nala faced further was such that he had nothing more to lose, but still loses more. The story goes beyond our thinking. But in later part of the story, he gains immensely. We shall look into that in detail in the next few days.
Picture courtesy: Internet
TattvaBhaagavatam a special discourse by Sri Sri RaghaveshwaraBharathi Mahaswamiji: full Video :