The search for Nala
Salutations to Lord Sri Krishna, the real king who never became a king in the external world. Narrating the control of Kali, let us move on to today’s discourse of Nala Charitra.
The creeper which had been separated from its root, united with the root again. Damayanti came to Vidarbha; Sudeva brought her back to Vidarbha who was lost somewhere in Chedi. Bhimaraja was extremely happy. In Kannada, we use ‘bhayankara’ as an adjective for happiness; the word ‘Bhima’ means the same. But Bhima was not ‘bhayankara’ (causing fear); he had a very compassionate heart. He was ready to do anything to bring back his daughter and son-in-law; he was even ready to sacrifice his life. Can a price be fixed on the bondage between the parent and the child? Not at all. He had announced rewards of 1000 cows for those who bring their news; village, town in addition to 1000 cows, for those who bring them in person. So Sudeva was awarded the rewards. But Sudeva valued the king’s happiness more.
Damayanti has come home now. Our opinion must be, “She will be happy”. Isn’t it? She was happy for seeing her parents; but will it continue without Nala? She thought the whole night about whom to approach for searching Nala. How could she be complete without Nala? A husband without a wife or the vice versa are not complete; therefore, a wife is called as ‘Ardhaangini’ (better half). Prakriti without Purusha or Purusha without Prakriti- both are incomplete. While Prakriti without Purusha is a corpse, Purusha without Prakriti is a ghost (except for liberation). Similarly, Damayanti, without Nala, was incomplete.
That night passed somehow. But how would the ‘night’ of her life pass without the arrival of Nala? It required human effort; we see a woman’s strong effort here. Damayanti was such a wise, efficient empress that she was even capable of becoming an emperor. It is evident from the way she searched for Nala. Generally, humans become weak if they are in sorrow or trouble. But that is actually the time to get stronger. It is not that one should not grieve; but it should bring courage and show the way for further plans. We observe that in Damayanti. Damayanti would have left her life, but how would she leave Nala? A lost person can be found; but not a hidden one.
Each of our body part has a task. But what does the navel have? Navel is to remind us about our mother. It is to remind us that when we were in her womb, it is through the umbilical cord that we received digested food from her. A mother understands well her child’s pain. It is a practice to demand anything from father through mother! She cooks a delicious food for him and gets the required job done!! She has that control! She is very close to the children; and that’s how a mother should be.
Next morning, Damayanti went to her mother. She asked her “Do you want me to live? I am asking seriously. If yes, then fulfill my wish. Search for Nala somehow. If he doesn’t come, I would not live.” The mother melted. She cried and put the matter before her husband. A daughter has the right to fight for what she wants with her mother, so does a wife has with her husband.
What else does Bhimaraja want? Even he wants his son-in-law to come home. Not only that Nala was his son-in-law, but he was also a man of great valour, an emperor; so Bhimaraja needed him. Nala was more than a son to him. Bhimaraja was already worried about it; now that his wife and daughter pressurized him, he amplified his efforts. He summoned the Brahmana spies, because those days Brahmanas had access to everywhere, even to the innermost places in palaces. Also, Brahmanas have the capability to traverse within himself. He called thousand such ones and asked them to travel the whole earth and find Nala. Everyone agreed and then they came to Damayanti. She gave them some verses and asked them to memorize the verses properly. She asked them to recite the versus repeatedly wherever they find the crowd. It was a message for Nala and only he would understand it. The one who replies to the verses was Nala. She instructs them to precisely find the whereabouts of the one who answers and inform immediately to her. His answer and his details had to be completely informed to her including his form, facial features etc.
“Where did you go, oh gambler? Where did you go, leaving me alone while sleeping in the dense forest with an empty stomach, dry throat, tired body with the confidence that you are there? Where did you go taking away half of my saree? How should I live without you? What wrong had I done? Where have you gone deserting one who has kept love only for you? Oh, my beloved, where did you go leaving your beloved? Do you know what has she become now? She is still there in that half saree. She is there as you left her – half stomach, half dress, half-life. The only difference is that until you had left her, nothing had burnt her, nothing had made her to grieve. Once you left her, she is getting burnt by everything. Won’t your heart melt even now? Are you a stone-hearted? Won’t you feel anything about the woman who is weeping from that day to this day? Oh, the brave one! Show compassion on me. You show mercy even on your enemies; can’t you be compassionate on your wife? Can’t you even reply a word, minimally?”, were the versus. When Nala would hear this, he would definitely run towards Damayanti. Such is the way she had written the versus. She was a fine scholar. How can Nala not answer this? If these versus fall on his ear, it is for sure that they penetrate to his heart and he answers them.
There is only one difference between चिता (pyre) and चिंता (worry). It is only a zero (dot). चिता burns only after the death while चिंता burns until death. The zero difference has another meaning that there is no difference at all between them.
The Brahmanas went to the villages, states, towns, tribes and recited the versus. See their difficulty. They had to recite them in the unconcerned meetings and gatherings and also observe the crowd’s faces for reactions. Brahmanas were highly respected by the society, hence they were chosen for the task. The verses Damayanti gave were not Mantras, they were the conversation between the two lovers. How difficult the Brahmanas must have felt to recite? The symbolic information between the couple had now spread across the streets.
In this way, even if the thousands of Brahmanas searched for years, Nala couldn’t be found. Because, they were searching for him in all places except the place where he was. Anjaneya comes to our remembrance here. When he searched for Seetha in Lanka, there was not even a foot of place left unsearched. Still he couldn’t find Seetha because he had searched everywhere except Ashokavana where she was kept. At least one Brahmana should find Nala. But where is Nala? He is at Raama’s place, the place where Raama was going to be born. If hidden anywhere else, he could be searched. But what if hidden in Raama’s feet? Who could find him? Only a true Brahmana, who can reach the feet of Raama, can find.
His name was Parnaada. Not just for the name, but he was a devoted brahmin who would live by eating just leaves and not a grand meal, not even the regular meal. Reaching Ayodhya, the first among salvation yielding cities, is not easy. We should go there in such a way that makes us eligible to reach lord Raama. To search Seetha, 1/3rd part of Sugreeva’s army started to the south. But only Anjaneya reached her. Like this, only one Brahmana reached Ayodhya, saw the river Sarayu, temples of Ayodhya and then he went directly to the palace court. In the crowded court, in the presence of Rituparna, he praised Damayanti. After that, Brahmana observed everybody’s expression. Rituparna was quiet and saw him with the expression of what was wrong with him. He repeated the shloka praising Damayanti, but still the court kept quiet.
That doesn’t mean there was no reaction. One among them was confused, his eyes were blurred which showed the sorrow within. He was Nala. But he held his lips tight enough as that was not the right time and place to speak. But the feelings had to come out. There was great sorrow enough to fill the yuga or the world. He went to a lonely place as though he was not allowed to speak in the gathering. Let us see tomorrow if he was able to bring out all his burning miseries in front of someone.
Picture courtesy: Internet
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