Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Damayanti - Wife of Nala


Damayanti was the daughter of King Bhima of Vidarbha. Her father had been childless for a long time and finally obtained her by the means of a boon from a Rishi named Damana. Three brothers named Dama, Danta and Damana were also born to King Bhima.

The princess heard about the virtues and beauty of Nala, the King of the Nishadas from travelers and fell in love without ever having seen him. Similarly, Nala also fell in love with her without ever having seen her.

In her Swayamvara (self-choice ceremony), the Gods Indra, Agni, Varuna, and Yama took the form of Nala to confuse her, for they desired her for themselves. Bewildered, she prayed to them, and they allowed her to choose the real Nala, for they were pleased with her devotion to her true love. Nala and Damayanti were married and had twin children, a boy named Indrasena and a girl, also named Indrasena.

Unfortunate, Kali, the deity of the fourth (malevolent) era, had also desired her, and now wanted revenge on Nala. When Nala did not purify himself one day before ritual, Kali gained control of his body. Under the influence of this evil deity, Nala lost his kingdom at dice to his cousin Pushkara. Damayanti went into exile with her husband, but she sent her children to her father's kingdom accompanied by Nala's charioteer.

In the forest, still under the influence of Kali, Nala abandoned Damayanti. She underwent many trials, desperately seeking her husband everywhere. Finally she took up the post of the waiting woman of the princess of Chedi, keeping an eye out for her husband as she performed her duties.

Meanwhile, Nala rescued a snaked named Karkotaka, who bit him, causing the venom to afflict Kali who dwelt in his body. Nala was not in pain, but his form changed to that of a hideous dwarf. He took service with Rituparna, the King of Ayodhya as a charioteer, changing his name to Vahuka.

Finally, a messenger from her father Bhima located her in Chedi, and brought her back home. She later came to know that her husband might be in Ayodhya, so she sent a false message to the King of Ayodhya (Rituparna), saying that a second Swayamvara for her was being held. The King naturally rushed to participate, and his chariot was driven by Nala, who thought that his wife had finally given up on him. On the way, Rituparna taught Nala the art of skillful dice-play, in return for knowledge about horses. When this exchange was completed, Kali was expelled from the body of Nala, but he still retained his ugly appearance.

Once in Vidarbha, it was obvious to Rituparna that no Swayamvara was taking place, but he held his peace. Damayanti waited for her husband to come to her, but he would not, for he thought she did not want him. Finally with the help of her trusted servant (and friend) Keshini, she discovered the hideous dwarf Vahuka was really her husband Nala. Once they were reunited, the curse on Nala was finally lifted and he regained his handsome form.

With his newfound skill in dice, he challenged his cousin to a rematch and won back his kingdom, all his wealth and much more. Damayanti and Nala lived happily for a long time, till they were gathered to the world of their blessed forefathers.

Last Modified At: Fri Nov 19 01:17:12 2004