In the previous episode, we had witnessed a heart-wrenching accord on how King Nala had no other option but to desert his beloved wife, Damayanti amidst the forest where both of them were wandering around. We’ve already seen that King Nala had been exiled from the kingdom because of losing all his wealth and “Raajya” to King Pushkara as a result of the gambling game. Post that, King Nala also lost his single piece of cloth to Kali-Purusha’s wrath and with this, Damayanti protected him with her saree, by wrapping it around him. However, as that night progressed, King Nala decides that he would only be more burdening to Damayanti if he stays any further with her. Kali-Purusha is going to trouble Damayanti more and more if King Nala is going to be with her. With this thought firm in his mind, and with a heavy heart, King Nala deserts Damayanti in the middle of the night as she is in deep sleep. Next morning, Damayanti understands that her husband has moved away from her, and she goes searching for him, crying loud for help! As she wanders all alone by herself, a python catches her and tries to squeeze her to death, only for a hunter to come forward and save her. However, the hunter’s intentions towards Damayanti are bad, which results in Damayanti burning him down to death!
Meanwhile, King Nala on the other side, spots a huge forest fire and within that fire, Snake Kaarkotaka has got stuck! Snake Karkotaka requests King Nala to protect him and for it, he promises King Nala that he would do something good for him in return. Accordingly, King Nala saves Snake Kaarkotaka from the raging forest fire, and as King Nala is bringing Snake Kaarkotaka out of the fire, the snake requests King Nala to count numbers from one to ten. King Nala obeys, and as the tenth number (“Dasha”) comes out of King Nala’s mouth – It should be understood here by readers that the word “Dasha” in Sanskrit has two meanings – One is “Ten” and the other is “To bite”. Thus, as King Nala utters the word “Dasha”, Snake Kaarkotaka bites him! As the snake’s bite is highly poisonous in nature, the poison is rushing its way fast into King Nala’s body. As the poison takes over thus, King Nala becomes extremely bad-looking and disgusting! Thus, the poison completely changes King Nala’s external appearance! Stunned by this, King Nala asks Snake Kaarkotaka thus, “Oh Kaarkotaka! You told me that you would do something good for me if I save you from the fire. But now, you’ve bitten me very badly and look at how I’ve been transformed into such a ghastly look! Is this the way you show your gratitude to someone who has saved your life?”
As King Nala asks thus, Snake Kaarkotaka replies back, “Oh King Nala! Please do not worry! I’ve bitten you on a purpose. This bite is going to give you all the change in your life. Kali-Purusha is making you dance to his tunes by sitting inside your body. Now this poison is going to sting him very badly and within a short period of time, he is going to run away from your body, unable to bear the wrath of my poison. Moreover, I’m giving you two pieces of clothes. If you feel that you should regain your original form at any point in time, you shall wear these clothes on your body, and you would regain your original form! Oh King Nala! Please take this in the positive sense. I understand that you’re in extreme pain, but this pain is for your good only!” As Snake Kaarkotaka explains in detail thus, King Nala understands the ploy clearly. He thanks Snake Kaarkotaka for his timely help and moves on from there. As King Nala makes the move, he asks Snake Kaarkotaka for guidance as to where he should go now. Snake Kaarkotaka replies thus, “Oh King Nala! You do one thing! Go straight to King Rituparna, and be his charioteer. The moment you go there, he will definitely give you the job! Meanwhile, you’re extremely good at “Ashwa-Rahasya” (The art of riding horses) aren’t you? Go and teach this to King Rituparna. In return, learn the art of gambling, numbers, mathematics, etc. from him, wherein his strength lies. Thus, let this meeting transform into an exchange of knowledge and skills between both of you!” Paying heed to Snake Kaarkotaka’s advice and guidance, King Nala makes his way towards King Rituparna’s kingdom and joins hands with King Rituparna thereafter. This is on one side.
Now, moving on to what happens to Damayanti – As she burns down the hunter, Damayanti continues walking further, all by herself! As she crosses over a distance, she spots a group of traders going from one place to the other as a caravan. Upon seeing this caravan, Damayanti decides to join their group and go to whichever place they are going to. However, as the caravan is proceeding further, a huge herd of elephants attack the caravan, of which, half of the traders lose their life to the elephants’ stampede! The other half of the group, including Damayanti, somehow escape the wrath of the elephants. As the elephant herd moves away, the remaining traders thought that all the deaths happened only because of this Damayanti joining them and hence, they chase Damayanti away from their group! Unable to bare the insult and humiliation, Damayanti again starts walking alone, all by herself, and this time, she meets a group of Brahmins who are going towards the “Chedi-Desha”. Damayanti decides to join this group and to somehow reach Chedi-Desha, so that she can try and earn her fortune there!
So for today, let us understand up to this point, and in the next episode, we shall continue this discussion further, to see how all the problems for the Nala-Damayanti couple come to an end! Stay tuned for an interesting accord! 🙂