Chapter 55

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Vrihadaswa continued, ‘O Bharata, Nala pledged his word to thecelestials saying, ‘I will do it.’ And then approaching these, he askedwith folded hands. ‘Who are ye? And who also is he that desireth me to behis messenger? And what, further, shall I have to do for you? O tell metruly!’–When the king of the Nishadhas spoke thus, Maghavat replied,saying, ‘Know us as the immortals come hither for Damayanti’s sake. I amIndra, this one is Agni, this the lord of waters, and this, O king, iseven Yama the destroyer of the bodies of men. Do thou inform Damayanti ofour arrival, saying, ‘The guardians of the world, (consisting of) thegreat Indra and the others, are coming to the assembly, desirous ofbeholding (the Swayamvara). The gods, Sakra and Agni and Varuna and Yama,desire to obtain thee. Do thou, therefore, choose one of them for thylord.’ Thus addressed by Sakra, Nala said with joined hands, ‘I have comehere with the self same object. It behoveth thee not to send me (on thiserrand). How can a person who is himself under the influence of lovebring himself to speak thus unto a lady on behalf of others? Therefore,spare me, ye gods’ The gods, however, said, ‘O ruler of the Nishadhas,having promised first, saying, ‘I will! why wilt thou not act accordinglynow? O ruler of the Nishadhas, tell us this without delay.’

“Vrihadaswa continued, ‘Thus addressed by those celestials, the ruler ofNishadhas spake again, saying, ‘Those mansions are well-guarded. How canI hope to enter them?’ Indra replied, ‘Thou shalt be able to enter.’ And,saying, So be it.’ Nala thereupon went to the palace of Damayanti. Andhaving arrived there, he beheld the daughter of the king of Vidarbhasurrounded by her hand-maids, blazing in beauty and excelling in symmetryof form, of limbs exceedingly delicate, of slender waist and fair eyes.And she seemed to rebuke the light of the moon by her own splendour. Andas he gazed on that lady of sweet smiles. Nala’s love increased, butdesirous of keeping his truth, he suppressed his passion. And at thesight of Naishadha, overpowered by his effulgence, those first of womensprang up from their seats in amazement. And filled with wonder (at hissight), they praised Nala in gladness of heart. And without sayinganything, they mentally paid him homage, ‘Oh, what comeliness! Oh, whatgentleness belongeth to this high-souled one! Who is he? Is he some godor Yaksha or Gandharva?’ And those foremost of women, confounded byNala’s splendour and bashfulness would not accost him at all in speech.And Damayanti although herself struck with amazement, smilingly addressedthe warlike Nala who also gently smiled at her, saying, ‘What art thou, Othou of faultless features, that hast come here awakening my love? Osinless one, O hero of celestial form, I am anxious to know who thou artthat hast come hither. And why hast thou come hither? And how is it thatthou hast not been discovered by any one, considering that my apartmentsare well-guarded and the king’s mandates are stern.’ Thus addressed bythe daughter of the king of the Vidarbhas, Nala replied, ‘O beauteouslady, know that my name is Nala. I come here as the messenger of thegods. The celestials, Sakra, Agni, Varuna and Yama, desire to have thee.O beautiful lady, do thou choose one of them for thy lord. It is throughtheir power that I have entered here unperceived, and it is for thisreason that none saw me on my way or obstructed my entrance. O gentleone, I have been sent by the foremost of the celestials even for thisobject. Hearing this, O fortunate one, do what thou pleasest.'”

Chapter 24
Chapter 25