While taking a decision, we should neither be influenced by anyone nor should we be worried about what others might think. Else, there starts every problem.
The same occurred here, Pushkara has been defeated by Nala many a times. Knowing that he can’t win against Nala, Pushkara invited Nala to a deceiving game of dice. Though Nala rejected this offer, when asked again in front of his wife Damayanti, he couldn’t however reject. Nala had nothing to gain from this game, even if he had won he would have left everything behind. But he would lose a lot by losing the game; he had never lost in life and this would be a big impact on him.
The game began. Nala lost the matches continuously. Gems, materials, villages, towns and all others which Nala had kept as sureties, were lost to Pushkara. Nala could have discontinued after his initial losses; why didn’t he do so? It has two reasons: first one was he was not accustomed to losing, so he couldn’t accept defeat and he was a man of valour, his habit was to fight until he wins; second one was Kali had entered into him, wherever Kali is, there illness is for sure. Kaliyuga witness growth of Adharma that is, it results in more of sorrow. Here, Nala is being cheated, the game is being influenced by Kali.
The minister came there to tell Nala to stop the game, but Nala didn’t even look at him. Even when Damayanti came, he didn’t even see her; he didn’t look at Damayanti because he didn’t have the courage to look at her eyes. He had the guilt that he was doing the wrong deed. It was like the verse “जानामि धर्मं न च मे प्रवृत्ति:, जानाम्यधर्मं न च मे निवृत्ति:” (I know Dharma, but cannot practice it. I know Adharma, but cannot come out of it)
The citizens too were afraid what would happen if their king loses everything. Pushkara is sitting there forgetting his kingdom’s welfare. Why would he think about it when he is so easily getting wealth?
Man, usually finds happiness in uncertainties. When there is a cricket match between India and Pakistan, common man gets excited about it even though it helps him in no way for his career or life. It is because the game has uncertainty. What man desires is like gambling game itself where one should cry ten times to laugh five times. Interesting point is that if the game is won continuously, then the interest is lost. It is interesting only if there are ups and downs in the game. We should find happiness in stability and reality. All uncertainties are deceptions which destroy homes as in gambling game, horse race. There is no example where one has earned by gambling. The organizers of the game might go on becoming wealthy. But they are for sure to get affected for destroying hundreds of houses of the players.
In the story, the game went on for months as Nala had so much of wealth. Nala lost everything one by one. He was appearing like a mad man to Damayanti. He, who was a Punyashloki (utterance of whose name brings virtues), had become insane. Damayanti was in intense fear and sorrow. Wealth spent in a right way is good; but what if it is spoilt like this? Damayanti summoned her friend Brihatsena and asked her to inform the minister to give an account of the remaining wealth of Nala. They got alarmed that at least if some part should remain; they went to Nala to give the account. But Nala didn’t even look at them. Damayanti was disappointed.
It is wrong to say that it is wrong to hear wife’s words. If she is intelligent and wise, definitely her thoughts should be heard.
But Nala didn’t receive her thoughts. Damayanti moved away disappointingly. She planned to save her children at least and asked Nala’s charioteer Vaashrneya to leave them in her mother’s place; she asked him to go wherever he wished. Accordingly, he left the children at Vidarbha and he went to king Rituparna of Ayodhya.
What should not have been happened, occurred because Nala did what should not have been done. He lost everything- his army, crown, throne, treasury, power. Pushkara has become fortunate untiringly. He says to Nala that everything which was Nala’s has now become his; but he has got no mind to end the game there. He expected Nala to keep Damayanti or himself as sureties so that Nala would remain as a slave for lifetime if he loses. Nala didn’t speak. Now Pushkara directly asks Nala to keep Damayanti as surety. Nala’s heart was broken after hearing this. On one side, he was angry; on the other, he was sorrowful. As a great serpent which is tied down by a mantra or medicine suffers, so did Nala. He didn’t speak a word, he neither kept himself nor Damayanti as sureties. Handing the wife to someone else is not Dharma; so Nala didn’t cross the line of Dharma. He cast off all his ornaments and left the palace with only the dress he had worn. Nala’s people couldn’t watch this happening and they were very sorrowful. Until then Nala was ‘aanandavardhana’ (amplifier of happiness) for them, but now he had become ‘shokavardhana’ (amplifier of sorrow). Only Damayanti followed him; only with the dress she worn. Though the subjects were willing to go with him, Pushkara had strictly ordered that if anyone helps Nala, then he/she would be subjected to death. Moreover, Nala himself didn’t allow anyone to come with him; his view was that it was a punishment only for him and not for any others. He lives outside the town consuming wind but not rice or water.
We see this even in case of Raama; when he departs for forest, the citizens follow him. When they were asleep during night, he left them and travelled to the other place. The reason he gives is same: this is my duty, so I should follow it. No one else should carry its weight. A king should willingly try and share happiness among his subjects. He shouldn’t take away their happiness and livelihood. It is a king’s Dharma.
Without being able to withstand hunger, Nala searched for fruits; but he couldn’t find any. But then, surprisingly, a group of golden birds came flying near him. He thought of catching and selling them to fill his stomach. As he didn’t have any equipment to catch them, he cast out his cloth which he had worn to catch them. The birds carried away the cloth and they said “Whom do you think we are? We are the dices in the game you played. We were not satisfied because you were left with a cloth on your body; now that you are completely defeated, we are satisfied.” Naked and unsheltered, with a hanging face, Nala sat and cried.
See the adversity of Nala. When Raama went in exile to forest, at least he had clothes. Even the Pandavas too had no problem. See Nala’s plight! Even a beggar or a mad will have at least a torn cloth. But Nala had not even a single cloth on his body. It is an apt example for how a bad habit can bring down a person. Nala, who was an emperor, had come to a situation where he has nothing.
Kali was successful in fulfilling his vow. But it is only up to a certain extent. Now Nala is in a state where he has nothing to lose. It seems to be a battle between Kali and Nala on a surface view. But it is a battle between Dharma and Adharma. We should not come to a conclusion in the middle; this battle hasn’t ended. We have to wait till the end to know the truth. So, this defeat of Dharma is not a defeat; Dharma is never defeated. But the lesson here for us to learn is that any bad habit will destroy our life. Vyasana (bad habit) means sorrow, that is why the word is coined. Nala is the best example for it. Let us be strong minded that we shall stay far from gambling, where Kali resides.
कर्कोटकस्य नागस्य दमयंत्याः नलस्य च |
ऋतुपर्णस्य राजर्षे: कीर्तनं कलिनाशनं ||
Just by the remembrance of this story, we can win over Kali. So, tomorrow we shall look into further part of the story which is much more interesting.
Picture courtesy: Internet
TattvaBhaagavatam a special discourse by Sri Sri RaghaveshwaraBharathi Mahaswamiji: full Video :