Salutations to Sri Krishna who is never unavailable even when no one is available; to Bhagavata and Mahabharata which depicts His glory; to Vyasa and Shuka who gave this to the world.
The discourse of yesterday has ended at a point where both Nala and Damayanti were sleeping on a grass floor in a thick dark forest. Damayanti was fast asleep but it was Nala who was whining over this ill situation. He took a decision and left Damayanti being her comfort as the intention.
When Damayanti woke up in the morning, it was too late for her, as Nala had reached far a place. Had she woken up early, the story would have turned in a different direction altogether. She couldn’t find Nala around her; life feels like a disaster when we suddenly lose our dear ones and we start feeling empty, many get lost in this phase of difficulty. Let us try to imagine her situation – Damayanti and Nala have sacrificed a lot for each other, losing everything they have resided in a deadly forest without food from three days, they are not in a situation to think about their future and now, all of a sudden Damayanti is all alone without Nala who was the only ray of hope to her.
Raama feels the same when he returns to Ayodhya along with his children after Seetha’s departure from this world. He was as though emptiness covered him and the world has become a void. Even Damayanti felt so. She searched, called, screamed for him thinking that he was joking; but Nala wasn’t there anywhere. She couldn’t find him how much ever she searched. She spoke to herself as though she was speaking to Nala: “I won’t survive if you abandon me. Please don’t leave me”. Dense forest, demonic trees, cruel animals, dreadful sounds, hunters’ trouble- how can a lone woman be in such a scenario? As Raama said to Seetha, forests are adverse. Damayanti wandered searching for her husband. She searched everywhere- in rivers, streams, mountains, hills, grasslands. Didn’t she feel afraid? Poet Krishnananda has answered this: “She who had always stayed inside, who was not appearing even to Vayu and Surya, wasn’t she afraid while travelling in the forest? Was she so strong? Was she an expert in warfare? No, she didn’t know any warfare. Her heart was engrossed in the grief of separation from Nala without housing any other thought.” Damayanti was so much masked by her husband’s thought that she did not feel afraid. She wandered around the forest untiringly, she would pause only when her legs get wrapped by creepers. Even in Raamayana, when Seeta was kidnapped by Raavan, the deer’s reared by Seetha cried and the tigers and lions chased Raavan.
Out of tiredness Damayanti sits down on a rock. She speaks with the rock and asks it to tell Nala “You have performed the Ashwamedha yaga (sacrifice). You are proficient in Vedanta. You are dear to demigods. You are famous as ‘Satyavrata’, will you speak lie?”, she remembered the swayamvara. “You are so truthful that you had come to me as a messenger and asked me to marry a demigod. You don’t have anyone who loves you as much as me. You had told me that you shall never leave me. Then why did you do this now?”, she cried.
As Raama searched for Seetha, Damayanti enquires about Nala with the trees, creepers, rivers, animals. She asked the swans whether they saw him.
If a soul is deeply hurt by a sorrow, it will hurt the person who caused the sorrow. Damayanti’s sorrow had reached saturation. She was truly in sorrow after losing Nala. She lost self-control; she cried and cursed: “Whoever may be the reason for Nala’s distress, who is very innocent should suffer more distress than Nala. Let them be anyone- bhoota, yaksha, gandharva, human, animals or birds. Nala is a sinless, virtuous one. To the one who caused this, let him be affected by a stronger distress than Nala.” As soon as she said these words, Kali got affected by her curse. Kali was affected more brutally than the hell.
The one who is a reason behind a sufferer, suffers even more. Here, Nala, a pure soul is suffering and Nala’s wife, Damayanti’s intense grief is adding to it. The result is amplified.
Dhamayanti’s situation was so painful that even if she had cursed the god, it would have been fructified. Hence, as Kali was the reason for her misery, he had to face the severe consequences which we will see later.
Damayanti kept walking further. In no time another incident happened. As it was a dense forest, big trees, cruel animals were in abundance. She approaches a big snake(python) in the shape of a tree which she could not recognise as her eyes were completely filled with Nala. Usually the pythons move slowly. Only when the hunt is very close, they move with a lightning speed to catch them up. This was what happened to Damayanti; within seconds, the python completely tied her up. But still Damayanti was not awake. The pain from depart of Nala had already swallowed her but now this python was also trying to swallow her. Even when the python was almost about to swallow her, she was still thinking of Nala. This is called ekanishte (committed to only one). Adhyatma(spirituality) tells that if this kind of ekanishte comes to anyone in anything, that person instantly becomes mukta (one who is free from the cycle of birth and death).
When she felt short of breath, she realises that she is tied up by a python. But even in that situation, she was worried about Nala. She was severely pained thinking what may happen to Nala if she is dead. She shouts to Nala “If you come now, I will be alive or else you will lose me forever.” She utters in grief “The snake is swallowing your love, please come at least now.” But Nala didn’t come; instead the God in the form of a hunter comes and immediately pulls out his sword and kills the python. Damayanti was a dharamavrite (one who follows Dharma). There is a saying that if your maana (purity of mind and body) is complete, that is enough to save your praana(life). That’s what happened in her case.
Damayanti thanked the hunter for saving her from the snake. The hunter, who was surprised, asked her whereabouts. Damayanti tells her complete history. Even though milk is nectarous, its quality changes depending on the vessel in which it is filled. Similarly, though the hunter was supposed to be compassionate on her, now had lust on her. His mind was filled with lust. His thoughts, language, vision changed. Damayanti came to know these changes. She was terribly angry and she reprimanded him. We remember Raamayana again here. Seetha reprimanded Raavan in the same way when tried to exploit her. “My head, which was resting on my husband’s shoulder, should it rest on yours’s? I would rather cut my head. Where is the comparison between Raama and you? It is like a lion and a fox. You are a cunning fox. Can there be a comparison between ocean and drainage? Gold and mercury? Sandalwood and mud? Eagle and crow? Similarly, you are not even comparable to Raama.” When Raavan forces her, she says “Can a fly swallow and digest a diamond? The diamond remains as it is, but the fly will die. ” The same is the tone of Damayanti. She too resists the hunter, but the hunter thinks “What is the need for her approval?” and tries to hold her. He had only seen her external features, but not her inner power. She steps back; her only defense was her chastity. She curses him angrily. “If it is true that I have not thought of any other man other than Nala for just a second too, then let this hunter die immediately.” Even before she completed her words, the hunter fell dead.
His life was an animal life. Where there had to be compassion, he behaved like an animal. So, he died. They say woman is weak. But see her strength. If she lives within her defined boundaries, she will be the strongest. See the example of Anasuya. She was a great pativrata. Just by her thoughts that the guests (who were Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva in disguise) are like her children, they literally became babies. What a great power she had! That too they were not ordinary guests; they were responsible for the creation, sustainment, destruction of the entire cosmos. They too turned into infants just because of her thought.
The hunter was a component of Kali, no doubt about it. Kali however had desire to marry Damayanti which manifested in the hunter’s form. Usually Kali troubles everyone. But Damayanti troubled Kali himself. It is probably only Damayanti who did so.
Seetha too curses Ravana, this takes place during the time of Seethapaharana but no scholar has ever dealt it. She curses Ravana to die from the hands of Rama and that is the reason Ravan was alive for a year till Rama arrived. Similar instance repeats even in Sundarakanda where Seetha was not able to withstand the harassment of Ravan and wanted to curse him. She says “I would burn you into ashes but I’ve no message from Rama and I’m observing a vrata. Hence, I cannot curse you.” We can observe the same sense of feeling here. Not becoming angry while observing a vrata is the rule. Anger pollutes us. This is the reason Vishwamitra asked for the help of Rama to protect their yagna.
Just by her chastity, Damayanti had been overcoming the troubles which would not be possible for others to even face.
Finally, when did this come to an end? When did she find Nala? What was Nala’s condition then? Even stone melts at her condition, won’t Nala, the tender hearted one melt? Definitely yes. Let us see this further in the coming days.
Picture courtesy: Internet
TattvaBhaagavatam a special discourse by Sri Sri RaghaveshwaraBharathi Mahaswamiji: full Video :