Vaisampayana said, "And the city of Indra which Arjuna saw was delightful and was the resort of Siddhas and Charanas. And it was adorned with the flowers of every season, and with sacred trees of all kinds. And he beheld also celestial gardens called Nandana—the favourite resort of Apsaras. And fanned by the fragrant breezes charged with the farina of sweet-scented flowers, the trees with their lord of celestial blossoms seemed to welcome him amongst them. And the region was such that none could behold it who had not gone through ascetic austerities, or who had not poured libations on fire. It was a region for the virtuous alone, and not for those who had turned their back on the field of battle. And none were competent to see it who had not performed sacrifices or observed rigid vows, or who were without a knowledge of the Vedas, or who had not bathed in sacred waters, or who were not distinguished for sacrifices and gifts. And none were competent to see it who were disturbers of sacrifices, or who were low, or who drank intoxicating liquors, or who were violators of their preceptors' bed, or who were eaters of (unsanctified) meat, or who were wicked. And having beheld those celestial gardens resounding with celestial music, the strong-armed son of Pandu entered the favourite city of Indra. And he beheld there celestial cars by thousands, capable of going everywhere at will, stationed in proper places. And he saw tens of thousands of such cars moving in every direction. And fanned by pleasant breezes charged with the perfumes of flowers, the son of Pandu was praised by Apsaras and Gandharvas. And the celestials then, accompanied by the Gandharvas and Siddhas and great Rishis, cheerfully reverenced Pritha's son of white deeds. Benedictions were poured upon him, accompanied by the sounds of celestial music. The strong-armed son of Pritha then heard around him the music of conchs and drums. And praised all around, the son of Pritha then went, at the command of Indra, to that large and extensive starry way called by the name of Suravithi. There he met with the Sadhyas, the Viswas, the Marutas, the twin Aswins, the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Brahmarshis of the great splendour, and numerous royal sages with Dilipa at their head, and Tumvura and Narada, and that couple of Gandharvas known by the names of Haha and Huhu. And the Kuru prince—that chastiser of foes—having met and duly saluted them, last of all beheld the chief of the celestials—the god of a hundred sacrifices. Then the strong-armed son of Pritha, alighting from the car approached the lord himself of the gods—his father—that chastiser of Paka. And a beautiful white umbrella furnished with a golden staff was held over the chief of the celestials. And he was fanned with a Chamara perfumed with celestial scents. And he was eulogised by many Gandharvas headed by Viswavasu and others, by bards and singers, and by foremost Brahmanas chanting Rik and Yajus hymns. And the mighty son of Kunti, approaching Indra, saluted him by bending his head to the ground. And Indra thereupon embraced him with his round and plump arms. And taking his hand, Sakra made him sit by him on a portion of his own seat, that sacred seat which was worshipped by gods and Rishis. And the lord of the celestials—that slayer of hostile heroes—smelt the head of Arjuna bending in humility, and even took him upon his lap. Seated on Sakra's seat at the command of that god of a thousand eyes, Pritha's son of immeasurable energy began to blaze in splendour like a second Indra. And moved by affection, the slayer of Vritra, consoling Arjuna, touched his beautiful face with his own perfumed hands. And the wielder of the thunderbolt, patting and rubbing gently again and again with his own hands which bore the marks of the thunderbolt the handsome and huge arms of Arjuna which resembled a couple of golden columns and which were hard in consequence of drawing the bowstring, the god of a thousand eyes eying his son of curly locks smilingly and with eyes expanded with delight, seemed scarcely to be gratified. The more he gazed, the more he liked to gaze on. And seated on one seat, the father and son enhanced the beauty of the assembly, like the sun and moon beautifying the firmament together on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight. And a band of Gandharvas headed by Tumvuru skilled in music sacred and profane, sang many verses in melodious notes. And Ghritachi and Menaka and Rambha and Purvachitti and Swayamprabha and Urvasi and Misrakesi and Dandagami and Varuthini and Gopali and Sahajanya and Kumbhayoni and Prajagara and Chitrasena and Chitralekha and Saha and Madhuraswana, these and others by thousands, possessed of eyes like lotus leaves, who were employed in enticing the hearts of persons practising rigid austerities, danced there. And possessing slim waists and fair large hips, they began to perform various evolutions, shaking their deep bosoms, and casting their glances around, and exhibiting other attractive attitude capable of stealing the hearts and resolutions and minds of the spectators."
Vaisampayana said, "The gods and the Gandharvas then, understanding the wishes of Indra, procured an excellent Arghya and reverenced the son of Pritha in a hurry. And giving water to wash both his feet and face, they caused the prince to enter the palace of Indra. And thus worshipped, Jishnu continued to live in the abode of his father. And the son of Pandu continued all the while to acquire celestial weapons, together with the means of withdrawing them. And he received from the hands of Sakra his favourite weapon of irresistible force, viz., the thunder-bolt and those other weapons also, of tremendous roar, viz., the lightnings of heaven, whose flashes are inferable from the appearance of clouds and (the dancing of) peacocks. And the son of Pandu, after he had obtained those weapons, recollected his brothers. And at the command of Indra, however, he lived for full five years in heaven, surrounded by every comfort and luxury.
"After some time, when Arjuna had obtained all the weapons, Indra addressed him in due time, saying, 'O son of Kunti, learn thou music and dancing from Chitrasena. Learn the instrumental music that is current among the celestials and which existeth not in the world of men, for, O son of Kunti, it will be to thy benefit.' And Parandana gave Chitrasena as a friend unto Arjuna. And the son of Pritha lived happily in peace with Chitrasena. And Chitrasena instructed Arjuna all the while in music; vocal and instrumental and in dancing. But the active Arjuna obtained no peace of mind, remembering the unfair play at dice of Sakuni, the son of Suvala, and thinking with rage of Dussasana and his death. When however, his friendship with Chitrasena had ripened fully, he at times learned the unrivalled dance and music practised among the Gandharvas. And at last having learnt various kinds of dance and diverse species of music, both vocal and instrumental, that slayer of hostile heroes obtained no peace of mind remembering his brothers and mother Kunti."
Vaisampayana said, "One day, knowing that Arjuna's glances were cast upon Urvasi, Vasava, calling Chitrasena to himself, addressed him in private saying, 'O king of Gandharvas, I am pleased; go thou as my messenger to that foremost of Apsaras, Urvasi, and let her wait upon that tiger among men, Phalguna. Tell her, saying these words of mine, 'As through my instrumentality Arjuna hath learnt all the weapons and other arts, worshipped by all, so shouldst thou make him conversant with the arts of acquitting one's self in female company.' Thus addressed by Indra, the chief of the Gandharvas in obedience to that command of Vasava, soon went to Urvasi that foremost of Apsaras. And as he saw her, she recognised him and delighted him by the welcome she offered and the salutation she gave. And seated at ease he then smilingly addressed Urvasi, who also was seated at ease, saying, 'Let it be known, O thou of fair hips, that I come hither despatched by the one sole lord of heaven who asketh of thee a favour. He who is known amongst gods and men for his many inborn virtues, for his grace, behaviour, beauty of person, vows and self-control; who is noted for might and prowess, and respected by the virtuous, and ready-witted; who is endued with genius and splendid energy, is of a forgiving temper and without malice of any kind; who hath studied the four Vedas with their branches, and the Upanishads, and the Puranas also; who is endued with devotion to his preceptors and with intellect possessed of the eight attributes, who by his abstinence, ability, origin and age, is alone capable of protecting the celestial regions like Mahavat himself; who is never boastful; who showeth proper respect to all; who beholdeth the minutest things as clearly as if those were gross and large; who is sweet-speeched; who showereth diverse kinds of food and drink on his friends and dependents; who is truthful, worshipped of all, eloquent, handsome, and without pride; who is kind to those devoted to him, and universally pleasing and dear to all; who is firm in promise; who is equal to even Mahendra and Varuna in respect of every desirable attribute, viz., Arjuna, is known to thee. O Urvasi, know thou that hero is to be made to taste the joys of heaven. Commanded by Indra, let him today obtain thy feet. Do this, O amiable one, for Dhananjaya is inclined to thee.'
"Thus addressed, Urvasi of faultless features assumed a smiling face, and receiving the words of the Gandharva with high respect, answered with a glad heart, saying, 'Hearing of the virtues that should adorn men, as unfolded by thee, I would bestow my favours upon any one who happened to possess them. Why should I not then, choose Arjuna for a lover? At the command of Indra, and for my friendship for thee, and moved also by the numerous virtues of Phalguna, I am already under the influence of the god of love. Go thou, therefore, to the place thou desirest. I shall gladly go to Arjuna.'"
Vaisampayana said, "Having thus sent away the Gandharva successful in his mission, Urvasi of luminous smiles, moved by the desire of possessing Phalguna, took a bath. And having performed her ablutions, she decked herself in charming ornaments and splendid garlands of celestial odour. And inflamed by the god of love, and her heart pierced through and through by the shafts shot by Manmatha keeping in view the beauty of Arjuna, and her imagination wholly taken up by the thoughts of Arjuna, she mentally sported with him on a wide and excellent bed laid over with celestial sheets. And when the twilight had deepened and the moon was up, that Apsara of high hips set out for the mansions of Arjuna. And in that mood and with her crisp, soft and long braids decked with bunches of flowers, she looked extremely beautiful. With her beauty and grace, and the charm of the motions of her eye-brows and of her soft accents, and her own moon like face, she seemed to tread, challenging the moon himself. And as she proceeded, her deep, finely tapering bosoms, decked with a chain of gold and adorned with celestial unguents and smeared with fragrant sandal paste, began to tremble. And in consequence of the weight of her bosoms, she was forced to slightly stoop forward at every step, bending her waist exceedingly beautiful with three folds. And her loins of faultless shape, the elegant abode of the god of love, furnished with fair and high and round hips and wide at their lower part as a hill, and decked with chains of gold, and capable of shaking the saintship of anchorites, being decked with thin attire, appeared highly graceful. And her feet with fair suppressed ankles, and possessing flat soles and straight toes of the colour of burnished copper and high and curved like tortoise back and marked by the wearing of ornaments furnished with rows of little bells, looked exceedingly handsome. And exhilarated with a little liquor which she had taken, and excited by desire, and moving in diverse attitudes and expressing a sensation of delight, she looked more handsome than usual. And though heaven abounded with many wonderful objects, yet when Urvasi proceeded in this manner, the Siddhas and Charanas and Gandharvas regarded her to be the handsomest object they had cast their eyes upon. And the upper half of her body clad in an attire of fine texture and cloudy hues, she looked resplendent like a digit of the moon in the firmament shrouded by fleecy clouds. And endued with the speed of the winds or the mind, she of luminous smiles soon reached the mansion of Phalguna, the son of Pandu. And, O best of men, Urvasi of beautiful eyes, having arrived at the gate of Arjuna's abode, sent word through the keeper in attendance. And (on receiving permission), she soon entered that brilliant and charming palace. But, O monarch, upon beholding her at night in his mansion, Arjuna, with a fearstricken heart, stepped up to receive her with respect and as soon as he saw her, the son of Pritha, from modesty, closed his eyes. And saluting her, he offered the Apsara such worship as is offered unto a superior. And Arjuna said, 'O thou foremost of the Apsaras, I reverence thee by bending my head down. O lady, let me know thy commands. I wait upon thee as thy servant.'"
Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of Phalguna, Urvasi became deprived of her senses. And she soon represented unto Arjuna all that had passed between her and the Gandharva, Chitrasena. And she said, 'O best of men, I shall tell thee all that hath passed between me and Chitrasena, and why I have come hither. On account of thy coming here, O Arjuna, Mahendra had convened a large and charming assembly, in which celestial festivities were held. Unto that assembly came, O best of men, the Rudras and the Adityas and the Aswins and the Vasus. And there came also numbers of great Rishis and royal sages and Siddhas and Charanas and Yakshas and great Nagas. And, O thou of expansive eyes, the members of the assembly resplendent as fire or the sun or the moon, having taken their seats according to rank, honour, and prowess, O son of Sakra, the Gandharvas began to strike the Vinas and sing charming songs of celestial melody. And, O perpetuator of the Kuru race, the principal Apsaras also commenced to dance. Then, O son of Pritha, thou hadst looked on me only with a steadfast gaze. When that assembly of the celestials broke, commanded by thy father, the gods went away to their respective places. And the principal Apsaras also went away to their abodes, and others also, O slayer of foes, commanded by thy father and obtaining his leave. It was then that Chitrasena sent to me by Sakra, and arriving at my abode, O thou of eyes like lotus leaves, he addressed me, saying, "O thou of the fairest complexion, I have been sent unto thee by the chief of the celestials. Do thou something that would be agreeable to Mahendra and myself and to thyself also. O thou of fair hips, seek thou to please Arjuna, who is brave in battle even like Sakra himself, and who is always possessed of magnanimity." Even these, O son of Pritha, were his words. Thus, O sinless one, commanded by him and thy father also, I come to thee in order to wait upon thee, O slayer of foes. My heart hath been attracted by thy virtues, and am already under the influence of the god of love. And, O hero, even this is my wish, and I have cherished it for ever!'"
Vaisampayana continued, "While in heaven, hearing her speak in this strain, Arjuna was overcome with bashfulness. And shutting his ears with his hands, he said, 'O blessed lady, fie on my sense of hearing, when thou speakest thus to me. For, O thou of beautiful face, thou art certainly equal in my estimation unto the wife of a superior. Even as Kunti of high fortune or Sachi the queen of Indra, art thou to me, O auspicious one, of this there is no doubt! That I had gazed particularly at thee, O blessed one, is true. There was a reason for it. I shall truly tell it to thee, O thou of luminous smiles! In the assembly I gazed at thee with eyes expanded in delight, thinking, Even this blooming lady is the mother of the Kaurava race. O blessed Apsara, it behoveth thee not to entertain other feelings towards me, for thou art superior to my superiors, being the parent of my race.'
"Hearing these words of Arjuna, Urvasi answered, saying, 'O son of the chief of the celestials, we Apsaras are free and unconfined in our choice. It behoveth thee not, therefore, to esteem me as thy superior. The sons and grandsons of Puru's race, that have come hither in consequence of ascetic merit do all sport with us, without incurring any sin. Relent, therefore, O hero, it behoveth thee not to send me away. I am burning with desire. I am devoted to thee. Accept me, O thou giver of proper respect.'
"Arjuna replied, 'O beautiful lady of features perfectly faultless, listen. I truly tell thee. Let the four directions and the transverse directions, let also the gods listen. O sinless one, as Kunti, or Madri, or Sachi, is to me, so art thou, the parent of my race, an object of reverence to me. Return, O thou of the fairest complexion: I bend my head unto thee, and prostrate myself at thy feet. Thou deservest my worship as my own mother; and it behoveth thee to protect me as a son.'"
Vaisampayana continued, "Thus addressed by Partha, Urvasi was deprived of her senses by wrath. Trembling with rage, and contracting her brows, she cursed Arjuna, saying, 'Since thou disregardest a woman come to thy mansion at the command of thy father and of her own motion—a woman, besides, who is pierced by the shafts of Kama, therefore, O Partha, thou shalt have to pass thy time among females unregarded, and as a dancer, and destitute of manhood and scorned as a eunuch.'"
Vaisampayana continued, "Having cursed Arjuna thus, Urvasi's lips still quivered in anger, herself breathing heavily all the while. And she soon returned to her own abode. And that slayer of foes, Arjuna also sought Chitrasena without loss of time. And having found him, he told him all that had passed between him and Urvasi in the night. And he told Chitrasena everything as it had happened, repeatedly referring to the curse pronounced upon him. And Chitrasena also represented everything unto Sakra. And Harivahana, calling his son unto himself in private, and consoling him in sweet words, smilingly said, 'O thou best of beings, having obtained thee, O child, Pritha hath to-day become a truly blessed mother. O mighty-armed one, thou hast now vanquished even Rishis by the patience and self-control. But, O giver of proper respect, the curse that Urvasi hath denounced on thee will be to thy benefit, O child, and stand thee in good stead. O sinless one, ye will have on earth to pass the thirteenth year (of your exile), unknown to all. It is then that thou shalt suffer the curse of Urvasi. And having passed one year as a dancer without manhood, thou shalt regain thy power on the expiration of the term.'
"Thus addressed by Sakra, that slayer of hostile heroes, Phalguna, experienced great delight and ceased to think of the curse. And Dhananjaya, the son of Pandu, sported in regions of heaven with the Gandharva Chitrasena of great celebrity.
"The desires of the man that listeneth to this history of the son of Pandu never run after lustful ends. The foremost of men, by listening to this account of the awfully pure conduct of Phalguna, the son of the lord of the celestials, become void of pride and arrogance and wrath and other faults, and ascending to heaven, sport there in bliss."
Vaisampayana said, "One day, the great Rishi Lomasa in course of his wanderings, went to the abode of Indra, desirous of beholding the lord of the celestials. And the great Muni, having approached the chief of the gods, bowed to him respectfully. And he beheld the son of Pandu occupying half of the seat of Vasava. And worshipped by the great Rishis, that foremost of Brahmanas sat on an excellent seat at the desire of Sakra. And beholding Arjuna seated on Indra's seat, the Rishi began to think as to how Arjuna who was a Kshatriya had attained to the seat of Sakra himself. What acts of merit had been performed by him and what regions had been conquered by him (by ascetic merit), that he had obtained a seat that was worshipped by the gods themselves? And as the Rishi was employed with these thoughts, Sakra, the slayer of Vritra, came to know of them. And having known them, the lord of Sachi addressed Lomasa with a smile and said, 'Listen, O Brahmarshi, about what is now passing in thy mind. This one is no mortal though he hath taken his birth among men. O great Rishi, the mighty-armed hero is even my son born of Kunti. He hath come hither, in order to acquire weapons for some purpose. Alas! dost thou not recognise him as an ancient Rishi of the highest merit? Listen to me, O Brahmana, as I tell thee who is and why he hath come to me. Those ancient and excellent Rishis who were known by the names of Nara and Narayana are, know, O Brahmana, none else than Hrishikesa and Dhananjaya. And those Rishis, celebrated throughout the three worlds, and known by the names of Nara and Narayana have, for the accomplishment of a certain purpose, been born on earth—for the acquisition of virtue. That sacred asylum which even gods and illustrious Rishis are not competent to behold, and which is known throughout the world by the name of Vadari, and situate by the source of the Ganga, which is worshipped by the Siddhas and the Charanas, was the abode, O Brahmana, of Vishnu and Jishnu. Those Rishis of blazing splendour have, O Brahmarshi, at my desire, been born on earth, and endued with mighty energy, will lighten the burden thereof. Besides this, there are certain Asuras known as Nivatakavachas, who, proud of the boon they have acquired, are employed in doing us injuries. Boastful of their strength, they are even now planning the destruction of the gods, for, having received a boon, they no longer regard the gods. Those fierce and mighty Danavas live in the nether regions. Even all the celestials together are incapable of fighting with them. The blessed Vishnu—the slayer of Madhu—he, indeed who is known on earth as Kapila, and whose glance alone, O exalted one, destroyed the illustrious sons of Sagara, when they approached him with loud sounds in the bowels of the earth,—that illustrious and invincible Hari is capable, O Brahmana of doing us a great service. Either he or Partha or both may do us that great service, without doubt. Verily as the illustrious Hari had slain the Nagas in the great lake, he, by sight alone, is capable of slaying those Asuras called the Nivatakavachas, along with their followers. But the slayer of Madhu should not be urged when the task is insignificant. A mighty mass of energy that he is, it swelleth to increasing proportions, it may consume the whole universe. This Arjuna also is competent to encounter them all, and the hero having slain them in battle, will go back to the world of men. Go thou at my request to earth. Thou wilt behold the brave Yudhishthira living in the woods of Kamyaka. And for me tell thou the virtuous Yudhishthira of unbaffled prowess in battle, that he should not be anxious on account of Phalguna, for that hero will return to earth a thorough master of weapons, for without sanctified prowess of arms, and without skill in weapons, he would not be able to encounter Bhishma and Drona and others in battle. Thou wilt also represent unto Yudhishthira that the illustrious and mighty-armed Gudakesa, having obtained weapons, hath also mastered the science of celestial dancing and music both instrumental and vocal. And thou wilt also tell him, O king of men, O slayer of foes, thyself also, accompanied by all thy brothers, should see the various sacred shrines. For having bathed in different sacred waters, thou wilt be cleansed from thy sins, and the fever of thy heart will abate. And then thou wilt be able to enjoy thy kingdom, happy in the thought that thy sins have been washed off. And, O foremost of Brahmanas, endued with ascetic power, it behoveth thee also to protect Yudhishthira during his wandering over the earth. Fierce Rakshasas ever live in mountain fastnesses and rugged steppes. Protect thou the king from those cannibals.'
"After Mahendra had spoken thus unto Lomasa, Vibhatsu also reverently addressed that Rishi, saying, 'Protect thou ever the son of Pandu. O best of men, let the king, O great Rishi, protected by thee, visit the various places of pilgrimage and give away unto Brahmanas in charity.'"
Vaisampayana continued, "The mighty ascetic Lomasa, having answered both saying, 'So be it,' set out for the earth, desirous of arriving at Kamvaka. And having arrived at those woods, he beheld the slayer of foes and son of Kunti, king Yudhishthira the just, surrounded by ascetics and his younger brothers."
Janamejaya said, "These feats of Pritha's son endued with immeasurable energy, were certainly marvellous. O Brahmana, what did Dhritarashtra of great wisdom say, when he heard of them?"
Vaisampayana said, "Amvika's son, king Dhritarashtra, having heard of Arjuna's arrival and stay at Indra's abode, from Dwaiparana, that foremost of Rishis, spake unto Sanjaya, saying, 'O charioteer, dost thou know in detail the acts of the intelligent Arjuna, of which I have heard from beginning to end? O charioteer, my wretched and sinful son is even now engaged in a policy of the most vulgar kind. Of wicked soul, he will certainly depopulate the earth. The illustrious person whose words even in jest are true, and who hath Dhananjaya to fight for him, is sure to win the three worlds. Who that is even beyond the influence of Death and Decay will be able to stay before Arjuna, when he will scatter his barbed and sharp-pointed arrows whetted on stone? My wretched sons, who have to fight with the invincible Pandavas are indeed, all doomed. Reflecting day and night, I see not the warrior amongst us that is able to stay in battle before the wielder of the Gandiva. If Drona, or Karna, or even Bhishma advance against him in battle, a great calamity is likely to befall the earth. But even in that case, I see not the way to our success. Karna is kind and forgetful. The preceptor Drona is old, and the teacher (of Arjuna) Arjuna, however, is wrathful, and strong, and proud, and of firm and steady prowess. As all these warriors are invincible, a terrible fight will take place between them. All of them are heroes skilled in weapons and of great reputation. They would not wish for the sovereignty of the world, if it was to be purchased by defeat. Indeed, peace will be restored only on the death of these or of Phalguna. The slayer of Arjuna, however, existeth not, nor doth one that can vanquish him. Oh, how shall that wrath of his which hath myself for its object be pacified. Equal unto the chief of the celestials, that hero gratified Agni at Khandava and vanquished all the monarchs of the earth on the occasion of the great Rajasuya. O Sanjaya, the thunder-bolt falling on the mountain top, leaveth a portion unconsumed; but the shafts, O child, that are shot by Kiriti leave not a rack behind. As the rays of the sun heat this mobile and immobile universe, so will the shafts shot by Arjuna's hands scorch my sons. It seemeth to me that the Chamus of the Bharatas, terrified at the clatter of Arjuna's chariot-wheels, are already broken through in all directions. Vidhatri hath created Arjuna as an all-consuming Destroyer. He stayeth in battle as a foe, vomitting and scattering swarms of arrows. Who is there that will defeat him?'"
"Sanjaya said, 'That which hath been uttered by thee, O king, with respect to Duryodhana is all true. Nothing that thou hast said, O lord of the earth, is untrue. The Pandavas of immeasurable energy have been filled with rage at the sight of Krishna their wedded wife of pure fame—brought in the midst of the assembly. Hearing also those cruel words of Dussasana and Karna, they have been so incensed, O king, that they will not, I ween, forgive (the Kurus) on my account. I have heard, O king, how Arjuna hath gratified in battle by means of his bow the god of gods—Sthanu of eleven forms. The illustrious lord of all the gods—Kapardin himself—desirous of testing Phalguna, fought with him, having assumed the guise of a Kirata. And there it was that the Lokapala, in order to give away their weapons unto that bull of the Kuru race, showed themselves unto him of undeteriorating prowess. What other man on earth, except Phalguna, would strive to have a sight of these gods in their own forms? And, O king, who is there that will weaken in battle Arjuna, who could not be weakened by Maheswara himself possessed of eight forms? Thy sons, having dragged Draupadi, and thereby incensed the sons of Pandu, have brought this frightful and horrifying calamity upon themselves. Beholding Duryodhana showing both his thighs unto Draupadi, Bhima said with quivering lips, wretch! those thighs of thine will I smash with my fierce descending mace, on the expiration of thirteen years. All the sons of Pandu are the foremost of smiters; all of them are of immeasurable energy; all of them are well-versed in every kind of weapons. For these, they are incapable of being vanquished even by the gods. Incensed at the insult offered to their wedded wife, Pritha's sons, urged by wrath, will, I ween, slay all thy sons in battle.'
"Dhritarashtra said, 'O charioteer, what mischief hath been done by Karna uttering those cruel words, to the sons of Pandu! Was not the enmity sufficient that was provoked by bringing Krishna into the assembly? How can my wicked sons live, whose eldest brother and preceptor walketh not in the path of righteousness? Seeing me void of eye-sight, and incapable of exerting myself actively, my wretched son, O charioteer, believeth me to be a fool, and listeneth not to my words. Those wretches also that are his counsellors, viz., Karna and Suvala, and others, always pander to his vices, as he is incapable of understanding things rightly. The shafts that Arjuna of immeasurable prowess may lightly shoot, are capable of consuming all my sons, leave alone those shafts that he will shoot, impelled by anger. The arrows urged by the might of Arjuna's arms and shot from his large bow, and inspired with mantras capable of converting them into celestial weapons can chastise the celestials themselves. He who hath for his counsellor and protector and friend that smiter of sinful men—the lord of the three worlds—Hari himself—encountereth nothing that he cannot conquer. This, O Sanjaya, is most marvellous in Arjuna that, as we have heard, he hath been clasped by Mahadeva in his arms. That also which Phalguna, assisted by Damodara did of old towards helping Agni in the conflagration of Khandava, hath been witnessed by all the world. When, therefore, Bhima and Partha and Vasudeva of the Satwata race become enraged, surely my sons along with their friends and the Suvalas are all unequal to fight with them.'"
Janamejaya said, "Having sent the heroic sons of Pandu into exile, these lamentations, O Muni, of Dhritarashtra were perfectly futile. Why did the king permit his foolish son Duryodhana to thus incense those mighty warriors, the sons of Pandu? Tell us now, O Brahmana, what was the food of the sons of Pandu, while they lived in the woods? Was it of the wilderness, or was it the produce of cultivation?"
Vaisampayana said, "Those bulls among men, collecting the produce of the wilderness and killing the deer with pure arrows, first dedicated a portion of the food to the Brahmanas, and themselves are the rest. For, O king, while those heroes wielding large bows lived in the woods, they were followed by Brahmanas of both classes, viz., those worshipping with fire and those worshipping without it. And there were ten thousand illustrious Snataka Brahmanas, all conversant with the means of salvation, whom Yudhishthira supported in the woods. And killing with arrows Rurus and the black deer and other kinds of clean animals of the wilderness, he gave them unto those Brahmanas. And no one that lived with Yudhishthira looked pale or ill, or was lean or weak, or was melancholy or terrified. And the chief of the Kurus—the virtuous king Yudhishthira—maintained his brothers as if they were his sons, and his relatives as if they were his uterine brothers. And Draupadi of pure fame fed her husbands and the Brahmanas, as if she was their mother; and last of all took her food herself. And the king himself wending towards the east, and Bhima, towards the south, and the twins, towards the west and the north, daily killed with bow in hand the deer of the forest, for the sake of meat. And it was that the Pandavas lived for five years in the woods of Kamyaka, in anxiety at the absence of Arjuna, and engaged all the while in study and prayers and sacrifices."
Vaisampayana said, "That bull among men—Dhritarashtra—the son of Amvika, having heard of this wonderful way of life—so above that of men—of the sons of Pandu, was filled with anxiety and grief. And overwhelmed with melancholy and sighing heavily and hot, that monarch, addressing his charioteer Sanjaya, said, 'O charioteer, a moment's peace I have not, either during the day or the night, thinking of the terrible misbehaviour of my sons arising out of their past gambling, and thinking also of the heroism, the patience, the high intelligence, the unbearable prowess, and the extraordinary love unto one another of the sons of Pandu. Amongst the Pandavas, the illustrious Nakula and Sahadeva, of celestial origin and equal unto the chief himself of the celestials in splendour, are invincible in battle. They are firm in the wielding of weapons, capable of shooting at a long distance, resolute in battle, of remarkable lightness of hand, of wrath that is not easily quelled, possessed of great steadiness, and endued with activity. Possessed of the prowess of lions and unbearable as the Aswins themselves, when they will come to the field of battle with Bhima and Arjuna in front, I see, O Sanjaya, that my soldiers will all be slain without a remnant. Those mighty warriors of celestial origin, unrivalled in battle by anybody, filled with rage at the remembrance of that insult to Draupadi, will show no forgiveness. The mighty warriors of the Vrishnis also, and the Panchalas of great energy, and the sons of Pritha themselves, led by Vasudeva of unbaffled prowess, will blast my legions. O charioteer, all the warriors on my side assembled together, are not competent to bear the impetus of the Vrishnis alone when commanded by Rama and Krishna. And amongst them will move that great warrior Bhima of terrible prowess, armed with his iron mace held on high and capable of slaying every hero. And high above the din will be heard the twang of the Gandiva loud as the thunder of heaven. The impetus of Bhima's mace and the loud twang of the Gandiva are incapable of being stood against by any of the kings on my side. It is then, O Sanjaya, that obedient as I have been to the voice of Duryodhana, I shall have to call back the rejected counsels of my friends—counsels that I should have attended to in time.'
"Sanjaya said, 'This hath been thy great fault, O king, viz., that though capable, thou didst not, from affection prevent thy son from doing what he hath done. The slayer of Madhu, that hero of unfading glory, hearing that the Pandavas had been defeated at dice, soon went to the woods of Kamyaka and consoled them there. And Draupadi's sons also headed by Dhrishtadyumna, and Virata, and Dhrishtaketu, and those mighty warriors, the Kekayas, all went there. All that was said by these warriors at the sight of Pandu's son defeated at dice, was learnt by me through our spies. I have also told thee all, O king. When the slayer of Madhu met the Pandavas, they requested him to become the charioteer of Phalguna in battle. Hari himself, thus requested, answered them, saying, so be it. And even Krishna himself beholding the sons of Pritha dressed in deer skins, became filled with rage, and addressing Yudhishthira, said, "That prosperity which the sons of Pritha had acquired at Indraprastha, and which, unobtainable by other kings, was beheld by me at the Rajasuya sacrifice, at which, besides, I saw all kings, even those of the Vangas and Angas and Paundras and Odras and Cholas and Dravidas and Andhakas, and the chiefs of many islands and countries on the sea-board as also of frontier states, including the rulers of the Sinhalas, the barbarous mlecchas, the natives of Lanka, and all the kings of the West by hundreds, and all the chiefs of the sea-coast, and the kings of the Pahlavas and the Daradas and the various tribes of the Kiratas and Yavanas and Sakras and the Harahunas and Chinas and Tukharas and the Sindhavas and the Jagudas and the Ramathas and the Mundas and the inhabitants of the kingdom of women and the Tanganas and the Kekayas and the Malavas and the inhabitants of Kasmira, afraid of the prowess of your weapons, present in obedience to your invitation, performing various offices,—that prosperity, O king, so unstable and waiting at present on the foe, I shall restore to thee, depriving thy foe of his very life. I shall, O chief of the Kurus, assisted by Rama and Bhima and Arjuna and the twins and Akrura and Gada and Shamva and Pradyumna and Ahuka and the heroic Dhrishtadyumna and the son of Sisupala, slay in battle in course of a day Duryodhana and Karna and Dussasana and Suvala's son and all others who may fight against us. And thou shalt, O Bharata, living at Hastinapura along with thy brothers, and snatching from Dhritarashtra's party the prosperity they are enjoying, rule this earth." Even these, O king, were Krishna's words unto Yudhishthira, who, on the conclusion of Krishna's speech, addressed him in that meeting of heroes and in the hearing of all those brave warriors headed by Dhrishtadyumna, saying, "O Janardana, I accept these words of thine as truth. O thou of mighty arms, do thou, however, slay my enemies along with all their followers on the expiry of thirteen years. O Kesava, promise this truly unto me. I promised in the presence of the king to live in the forest as I am now living." Consenting to these words of king Yudhishthira the just, his counsellors headed by Dhrishtadyumna soon pacified the incensed Kesava with sweet words and expressions suitable to the occasion. And they also said unto Draupadi of pure deeds in the hearing of Vasudeva himself, these words, "O lady, in consequence of thy anger, Duryodhana shall lay down his life. We promise it, O thou of the fairest complexion. Therefore, grieve no more. O Krishna, those that mocked thee, beholding thee won at dice, shall reap the fruit of their act. Beasts of prey and birds shall eat their flesh, and mock them thus. Jackals and vultures will drink their blood. And, O Krishna, thou shalt behold the bodies of those wretches that dragged thee by the hair prostrate on the earth, dragged and eaten by carnivorous animals. They also that gave thee pain and disregarded thee shall lie on the earth destitute of their heads, and the earth herself shall drink their blood." These and other speeches of various kinds were uttered there, O king, by those bulls of the Bharata race. All of them are endued with energy and bravery, and marked with the marks of battle. On the expiration of the thirteenth year, those mighty warriors, chosen by Yudhishthira and headed by Vasudeva, will come (to the field of battle). Rama and Krishna and Dhananjaya and Pradyumna and Shamva and Yuyudhana and Bhima and the sons of Madri and the Kekaya princes and the Panchala princes, accompanied by the king of Matsya, these all, illustrious and celebrated and invincible heroes, with their followers and troops, will come. Who is there that, desiring to live, will encounter these in battle, resembling angry lions of erect manes?'
"Dhritarashtra said, 'What Vidura told me at the time of the game at dice, "If thou seekest, O king, to vanquish the Pandavas (at dice), then certainly a terrible blood-shed ending in the destruction of all the Kurus will be the result," I think it is about to be realised. As Vidura told me of old, without doubt a terrible battle will take place, as soon as the pledged period of the Pandavas expireth.'"
Janamejaya said, "When the high-souled Partha went to Indra's region for obtaining weapons, what did Yudhishthira and the other sons of Pandu do?"
Vaisampayana said, "When the high-souled Partha went to Indra's region for obtaining weapons, those bulls of the Bharata race continued to dwell with Krishna in (the woods of) Kamyaka. One day, those foremost of the Bharatas, afflicted with grief, were seated with Krishna on a clean and solitary sward. Grieving for Dhananjaya, overwhelmed with sorrow, their voices were choked with weeping. Tortured by Dhananjaya's absence, grief afflicted them equally. And filled with sorrow at their separation from Arjuna and at the loss of their kingdom, the mighty-armed Bhima among them addressed Yudhishthira, saying, 'That Bull of the Bharata race, Arjuna, O great king, on whom depend the lives of Pandu's sons, and on whose death the Panchalas as also ourselves with our sons and Satyaki and Vasudeva are sure to die, hath gone away at thy behest. What can be sadder than this that the virtuous Vibhatsu hath gone away at thy command, thinking of his many griefs? Depending upon the might of that illustrious hero's arms, regard our foes as already vanquished in battle, and the whole earth itself as already acquired by us. It was for the sake of that mighty warrior that I refrained from sending to the other world all the Dhartarashtras along with the Suvalas, in the midst of the assembly. Gifted with might of arms, and supported by Vasudeva, we have to suppress the wrath that hath been roused in us, because thou art the root of that wrath. Indeed, with Krishna's help, slaying our foes headed by Karna, we are able to rule the entire earth (thus) conquered by our own arms. Endued with manliness, we are yet overwhelmed with calamities, in consequence of thy gambling vice, while the foolish followers of Dhritarashtra are growing stronger with the tributes (gathered from dependent kings). O mighty monarch, it behoveth thee to keep in view the duties of the Kshatriya. O great king, it is not the duty of a Kshatriya to live in the woods. The wise are of the opinion that to rule is the foremost duty of a Kshatriya. O king, thou art conversant with Kshatriya morality. Do not, therefore, deviate from the path of duty. Turning away from the woods, let us, summoning Partha and Janardana, slay, O king, the sons of Dhritarashtra, even before the twelve years are complete. O illustrious monarch, O king of kings, even if these Dhartarashtras be surrounded by soldiers in array of battle, I shall send them to the other world by dint of might alone. I shall slay all the sons of Dhritarashtra along with the Sauvalas, indeed, Duryodhana, Karna, and any one else that will fight with me. And after I shall have slain all our foes, thou mayst come back unto the woods. By acting thus, O king, no fault will be thine. (Or if any sin be thine), O represser of foes, O mighty monarch, washing it off, O sire, by various sacrifices, we may ascend to a superior heaven. Such a consummation may come to pass, if our king proveth not unwise or procrastinating. Thou art, however, virtuous. Verily the deceitful should be destroyed by deceit. To slay the deceitful by deceit, is not regarded as sinful. O Bharata, it is also said by those versed in morality that one day and night is, O great prince, equal unto a full year. The Veda text also, exalted one, is often heard, signifying that a year is equivalent to a day when passed in the observance of certain difficult vows. O thou of unfading glory, if the Vedas are an authority with thee, regard thou the period of a day and something more as the equivalent of thirteen years. O represser of foes, this is the time to slay Duryodhana with his adherents. Else, O king, he will beforehand bring the whole earth obedient to his will. O foremost of monarchs, all this is the result of thy addiction to gambling. We are on the verge of destruction already, in consequence of thy promise of living one year undiscovered. I do not find the country where, if we live, the wicked-minded Suyodhana may not be able to trace us by his spies. And finding us out, that wretch will again deceitfully send us into such exile in the woods. Or if that sinful one beholdeth us emerge, after the expiry of the pledged period of non-discovery, he will again invite thee, O great king, to dice, and the play will once more begin. Summoned once more, thou wilt again efface thyself at dice. Thou art not skilled at dice, and when summoned at play, thou wilt be deprived of thy senses. Therefore, O mighty monarch thou wilt have to lead a life in the woods again. If, O mighty king, it behoveth thee not to make us wretched for life, observe thou fully the ordinance of the Vedas, (which inculcateth that) verily the deceitful ought to be slain by deceit. If I but have thy command I would go (to Hastinapura) and, even as fire falling upon a heap of grass consumeth it, would slay Duryodhana, putting forth my utmost might. It behoveth thee, therefore, to grant me the permission.'"
Vaisampayana continued, "Thus addressed by Bhima, king Yudhishthira the just, smelt the crown of that son of Pandu, and pacifying him said, 'O mighty-armed one, without doubt, thou wilt, assisted by the wielder of the Gandiva, slay Suyodhana at the expiry of the thirteenth year. But, O son of Pritha, as for thy assertion, O Lord, the time is complete, I cannot dare tell an untruth, for untruth is not in me. O son of Kunti, without the help of fraud, wilt thou kill the wicked and irrepressible Duryodhana, with his allies.'
"While Yudhishthira the just, was speaking unto Bhima thus, there came the great and illustrious Rishi Vrihadaswa before them. And beholding that virtuous ascetic before him, the righteous king worshipped him according to the ordinance, with the offering of Madhuparka. And when the ascetic was seated and refreshed, the mighty-armed Yudhishthira sat by him, and looking up at the former, addressed him thus in exceedingly piteous accents:
"'O holy one, summoned by cunning gamblers skilled at dice, I have been deprived of wealth and kingdom through gambling. I am not an adept at dice, and am unacquainted with deceit. Sinful men, by unfair means, vanquished me at play. They even brought into the public assembly my wife dearer unto me than life itself. And defeating me a second time, they have sent me to distressful exile in this great forest, clad in deer skins. At present I am leading a distressful life in the woods in grief of heart. Those harsh and cruel speeches they addressed me on the occasion of that gambling match, and the words of my afflicted friends relating to the match at dice and other subjects, are all stored up in my remembrance. Recollecting them I pass the whole night in (sleepless) anxiety. Deprived also (of the company) of the illustrious wielder of the Gandiva, on whom depend the lives of us all, I am almost deprived of life. Oh, when shall I see the sweet-speeched and large-hearted Vibhatsu so full of kindness and activity, return to us, having obtained all weapons? Is there a king on this earth who is more unfortunate than myself? Hast thou ever seen or heard of any such before? To my thinking, there is no man more wretched than I am.'
"Vrihadaswa said, 'O great king, O son of Pandu, thou sayest, "There is no person more miserable than I am." O sinless monarch, if thou wilt listen, I will relate unto thee the history of a king more wretched than thyself.'"
Vaisampayana continued, "And thereupon the king said unto the ascetic, 'O illustrious one, tell me, I desire to hear the history of the king who had fallen into such a condition.'
"Vrihadaswa said, 'O king, O thou that never fallest off, listen attentively with thy brothers, I will narrate the history of a prince more miserable than thyself. There was a celebrated king among the Nishadhas, named Virasena. He had a son named Nala, versed in (the knowledge of) virtue and wealth. It hath been heard by us that, that king was deceitfully defeated by Pushkara, and afflicted with calamity, he dwelt in the woods with his spouse. And, O king, while he was living in the forest, he had neither slaves nor cars, neither brother nor friends with him. But thou art surrounded by thy heroic brothers like unto the celestials, and also by foremost regenerate ones like unto Brahma himself. Therefore, it behoveth thee not to grieve.'
"Yudhishthira said, 'I am anxious to hear in detail, O thou foremost of eloquent men, the history of the illustrious Nala. It behoveth thee therefore to relate it unto me.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'There was a king named Nala, the son of Virasena. And he was strong, and handsome, and well-versed in (the knowledge of) horses, and possessed of every desirable accomplishment. And he was at the head of all the kings, even like the lord of the celestials. And exalted over all, he resembled the sun in glory. And he was the king of the Nishadhas, intent on the welfare of the Brahmanas, versed in the Vedas, and possessed of heroism. And he was truth-telling, fond of dice, and the master of a mighty army. And he was the beloved of men and women, and of great soul and subdued passions. And he was the protector (of all), and the foremost of bowmen, and like unto Manu himself. And like him, there was among the Vidarbhas (a king named) Bhima, of terrible prowess, heroic and well-disposed towards his subjects and possessed of every virtue. (But withal) he was childless. And with a fixed mind, he tried his utmost for obtaining issue. And, O Bharata there came unto him (once) a Brahmarshi named Damana. And, O king of kings, desirous of having offspring, Bhima, versed in morality, with his queen gratified that illustrious Rishi by a respectful reception. And Damana, well-pleased, granted unto the king and his consort a boon in the form of a jewel of a daughter, and three sons possessed of lofty souls and great fame. (And they were called respectively) Damayanti, and Dama and Dama, and illustrious Damana. And the three sons were possessed of every accomplishment and terrible mien and fierce prowess. And the slender-waisted Damayanti, in beauty and brightness, in good name and grace and luck, became celebrated all over the world. And on her attaining to age, hundreds of hand-maids, and female slaves, decked in ornaments, waited upon her like Sachi herself. And Bhima's daughter of faultless features, decked in every ornament, shone in the midst of her hand-maids, like the luminous lightning of the clouds. And the large-eyed damsel was possessed of great beauty like that of Sree herself. And neither among celestials, nor among Yakshas, nor among men was anybody possessed of such beauty, seen or heard of before. And the beautiful maiden filled with gladness the hearts of even the gods. And that tiger among men, Nala also had not his peer in the (three) worlds: for in beauty he was like Kandarpa himself in his embodied form. And moved by admiration, the heralds again and again celebrated the praises of Nala before Damayanti and those of Damayanti before the ruler of the Nishadhas. And repeatedly hearing of each other's virtues they conceived an attachment towards each other not begot of sight, and that attachment, O son of Kunti began to grow in strength. And then Nala was unable to control the love that was in his bosom. And he began to pass much of his time in solitude in the gardens adjoining the inner apartment (of his palace). And there he saw a number of swans furnished with golden wings, wandering in those woods. And from among them he caught one with his hands. And thereupon the sky-ranging one said unto Nala. "Deserve I not to be slain by thee. O king. I will do something that is agreeable to thee. O king of the Nishadhas. I will speak of thee before Damayanti in such a way that she will not ever desire to have any other person (for her lord)." Thus addressed, the king liberated that swan. And those swans then rose on their wings and went to the country of the Vidarbhas. And on arriving at the city of the Vidarbhas the birds alighted before Damayanti, who beheld them all. And Damayanti in the midst of her maids, beholding those birds of extraordinary appearance was filled with delight, and strove without loss of time to catch those coursers of the skies. And the swans at this, before that bevy of beauties, fled in all directions. And those maidens there pursued the birds, each (running) after one. And the swan after which Damayanti ran, having led her to a secluded spot, addressed her in human speech, saying, O Damayanti, there is a king amongst the Nishadhas named Nala. He is equal unto the Aswins in beauty, not having his peer among men. Indeed, in comeliness, he is like Kandarpa himself in his embodied form. O fair-complexioned one, O thou of slender waist, if thou becomest his wife, thy existence and this thy beauty may be of purpose. We have, indeed, beheld celestials and Gandharvas, and Nagas, and Rakshasas, and men, but never saw we before any one like Nala. Thou also art a jewel among thy sex, as Nala is the prime among men. The union of the best with the best is happy." Thus addressed by the swan, Damayanti, O monarch, replied unto him there, saying, "Do thou speak thus unto Nala also." Saying So be it, to the daughter of Vidarbha, the oviparous one, O king, returned to the country of the Nishadhas, and related everything unto Nala.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'O Bharata, hearing those words of the swan, Damayanti thenceforth lost all peace of mind on account of Nala. And heaving frequent sighs she was filled with anxiety, and became melancholy and pale-faced and lean. And with her heart possessed by the god of love, she soon lost colour, and with her upturned gaze and modes of abstraction, looked like one demented. And she lost all inclination for beds and seats and object of enjoyment. And she ceased to lie down by day or night, always weeping with exclamation of Oh! and Alas! And beholding her uneasy and fallen into that condition, her hand-maids represented, O king, the matter of her illness unto the ruler of Vidarbha by indirect hints. And king Bhima, hearing of this from the handmaids of Damayanti, regarded the affair of his daughter to be serious. And he asked himself, "Why is it that my daughter seemeth to be so ill now?" And the king, reflecting by himself that his daughter had attained to puberty, concluded that Damayanti's Swayamvara should take place. And the monarch, O exalted one, (invited) all the rulers of the earth, saying, Ye heroes, know that Damayanti's Swayamvara is at hand. And all the kings, hearing of Damayanti's Swayamvara, came unto Bhima, agreeable to his message, filling the earth with the clatter of their cars, the roar of their elephants, and the neighing of their horses, and accompanied with their fine-looking battalions decked in ornaments and graceful garlands. And the mighty-armed Bhima paid due reverence unto those illustrious monarchs. And duly honoured by him they took up their quarters there.
"'And at the juncture, those foremost of celestial Rishis possessed of great splendour, of great wisdom and great vows—namely, Narada and Parvata—having arrived in course of their wandering at the regions of Indra entered the mansion of the lord of the immortals, receiving proper worship. And Maghavat having worshipped them reverentially, inquired after their undisturbed peace and welfare as regards all respects. And Narada said, "O lord, O divine one, peace attendeth us in every respect. And, O Maghavat, peace attendeth also O exalted one, the kings of the whole world."'
"Vrihadaswa continued. 'Hearing the words of Narada the slaver of Vala and Vritra said, "Those righteous rulers of the earth who fight renouncing all desire of life, and who meet death when their time is come by means of weapons, without flying from the field,—theirs is this region, everlasting unto them and granting all desires, even as it is to me. Where be those Kshatriya heroes? I do not see those kings approach (now). Where are my favourite guests?" Thus addressed by Sakra, Narada replied, "Listen, O Mahaval, why seest not thou the kings (now)? The ruler of the Vidarbhas hath a daughter—the celebrated Damayanti. In beauty she transcendeth all the women of the earth. Her Swayamvara, O Sakra, will take place shortly. Thither are going all the kings and Princes from all directions. And all the lords of the earth desire to have that pearl of the earth,—desire to have her eagerly, O slaver of Vala and Vritra." And while they were talking thus, those foremost of the immortals, the Lokapalas with Agni among them, appeared before the lord of the celestials. And all of them heard the words of Narada fraught with grave import. And as soon as they heard them, they exclaimed in rapture, We also will go there. And, O mighty monarch, accompanied by their attendants and mounted on their (respective) vehicles, they set out for the country of Vidarbhas, whither (had gone) all the kings. And, O son of Kunti, the high-souled king Nala also hearing of that concourse of kings, set out with a cheerful heart, full of Damayanti's love. And (it came to pass) that the gods saw Nala on the way treading on the earth. And his form owing to its beauty was like that of the god of love himself. And beholding him resplendent as the sun, the Lokapalas were filled with astonishment at his wealth of beauty, and abandoned their intention. And, O king, leaving their cars in the sky the dwellers of heaven alighted from the welkin and spake unto the ruler of the Nishadhas, saying, "O foremost of monarchs ruling the Nishadhas, O Nala, thou art devoted to truth. Do thou help us. O best of men, be thou our messenger."'"
"Vrihadaswa continued, 'O Bharata, Nala pledged his word to the celestials saying, "I will do it." And then approaching these, he asked with folded hands, "Who are ye? And who also is he that desireth me to be his messenger? And what, further, shall I have to do for you? O tell me truly!"—When the king of the Nishadhas spoke thus, Maghavat replied, saying, "Know us as the immortals come hither for Damayanti's sake. I am Indra, this one is Agni, this the lord of waters, and this, O king, is even Yama the destroyer of the bodies of men. Do thou inform Damayanti of our arrival, saying, 'The guardians of the world, (consisting of) the great Indra and the others, are coming to the assembly, desirous of beholding (the Swayamvara). The gods, Sakra and Agni and Varuna and Yama, desire to obtain thee. Do thou, therefore, choose one of them for thy lord.'" Thus addressed by Sakra, Nala said with joined hands, "I have come here with the self same object. It behoveth thee not to send me (on this errand). How can a person who is himself under the influence of love bring 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 accordingly now? O ruler of the Nishadhas, tell us this without delay."'
"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Thus addressed by those celestials, the ruler of Nishadhas spake again, saying, "Those mansions are well-guarded. How can I 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. And having arrived there, he beheld the daughter of the king of Vidarbha surrounded by her hand-maids, blazing in beauty and excelling in symmetry of 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. And as he gazed on that lady of sweet smiles. Nala's love increased, but desirous of keeping his truth, he suppressed his passion. And at the sight of Naishadha, overpowered by his effulgence, those first of women sprang up from their seats in amazement. And filled with wonder (at his sight), they praised Nala in gladness of heart. And without saying anything, they mentally paid him homage, "Oh, what comeliness! Oh, what gentleness belongeth to this high-souled one! Who is he? Is he some god or Yaksha or Gandharva?" And those foremost of women, confounded by Nala's splendour and bashfulness would not accost him at all in speech. And Damayanti although herself struck with amazement, smilingly addressed the warlike Nala who also gently smiled at her, saying, "What art thou, O thou of faultless features, that hast come here awakening my love? O sinless one, O hero of celestial form, I am anxious to know who thou art that hast come hither. And why hast thou come hither? And how is it that thou hast not been discovered by any one, considering that my apartments are well-guarded and the king's mandates are stern." Thus addressed by the daughter of the king of the Vidarbhas, Nala replied, "O beauteous lady, know that my name is Nala. I come here as the messenger of the gods. 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 through their power that I have entered here unperceived, and it is for this reason that none saw me on my way or obstructed my entrance. O gentle one, I have been sent by the foremost of the celestials even for this object. Hearing this, O fortunate one, do what thou pleasest."'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'Damayanti, having bowed down unto the gods, thus addressed Nala with a smile, "O king, love me with proper regard, and command me what I shall do for thee. Myself and what else of wealth is mine are thine. Grant me, O exalted one, thy love in full trust. O king, the language of the swans in burning me. It is for thy sake, O hero, that I have caused the kings to meet. O giver of proper honour, if thou forsake me who adore thee, for thy sake will I resort to poison, or fire, or water or the rope." Thus addressed by the daughter of the king of the Vidarbhas, Nala answered her saying, "With the Lokapalas present, choosest thou a man? Do thou turn thy heart to those high-souled lords, the creators of the worlds, unto the dust of whose feet I am not equal. Displeasing the gods, a mortal cometh by death. Save me, O thou of faultless limbs! Choose thou the all-excelling celestials. By accepting the gods, do thou enjoy spotless robes, and celestial garlands of variegated hues, and excellent ornaments. What woman would not choose as her lord Hutasana—the chief of the celestials, who encompassing the earth swalloweth it? What woman would not choose him as her lord the dread of whose mace induceth all creatures to tread the path of virtue? And what woman would not choose as her lord the virtuous and high-souled Mahendra, the lord of the celestials, the chastiser of Daityas and Danavas? Or, if thou couldst choose in thy heart Varuna amongst the Lokapalas, do so unhesitatingly. O accept this friendly advice." Thus addressed by Naishadha, Damayanti, with eyes bathed in tears of grief spake thus unto Nala, "O lord of the earth, bowing to all the gods, I choose thee for my lord. Truly do I tell thee this." The king, who had come as the messenger of the gods, replied unto the trembling Damayanti standing with folded hands, "O amiable one, do as thou pleasest. Having given my pledge, O blessed one, unto the gods in especial, how can I, having come on other's mission, dare seek my own interest? If seeking my own interest consists with virtue, I will seek it, and do thou also, O beauteous one, act accordingly." Then Damayanti of luminous smiles slowly spake unto king Nala, in words choked with tears, "O lord of men I see a blameless way, by which no sin whatever will attach unto thee. O king, do thou, O foremost of men, come to the Swayamvara in company with all the gods headed by Indra. There, O Monarch, in the presence of the Lokapalas I will, O tiger among men, choose thee—at which no blame will be thine." Thus addressed, O monarch, by the daughter of Vidarbha, king Nala returned to where the gods were staying together. And beholding him approach those great gods, the Lokapalas, eagerly asked him about all that had happened saying, "Hast thou, O king, seen Damayanti of sweet smiles? What hath she said unto us all? O sinless monarch, tell us everything." Nala answered, "Commanded by you I entered Damayanti's palace furnished with lofty portals guarded by veteran warders bearing wands. And as I entered, no one perceived me, by virtue of your power, except the princess. And I saw her hand-maids, and they also saw me. And, O exalted celestials, seeing me, they were filled with wonder. And as I spake unto her of you, the fair-faced maiden, her will fixed on me, O ye best of the gods, chose me (for her spouse). And the maiden said, 'Let the gods, O tiger among men, come with thee to the Swayamvara, I will in their presence, choose thee. At this, O thou of mighty arms, no blame will attach to thee.' This is all, ye gods, that took place, as I have said. Finally, everything rests with you, ye foremost of celestials."'"
"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Then at the sacred hour of the holy lunar day of the auspicious season, king Bhima summoned the kings to the Swayamvara. And hearing of it, all the lords of earth smit with love speedily came thither, desirous of (possessing) Damayanti. And the monarchs entered the amphitheatre decorated with golden pillars and a lofty portal arch, like mighty lions entering the mountain wilds. And those lords of earth decked with fragrant garlands and polished ear-rings hung with jewels seated themselves on their several seats. And that sacred assembly of Kings, graced by those tigers among men, resembled the Bhogavati swarming with the Nagas, or a mountain cavern with tigers. And their arms were robust, and resembling iron maces, and well-shaped, and graceful, and looking like five-headed snakes. And graced with beautiful locks and fine noses and eyes and brows, the countenance of the kings shone like stars in the firmament. And (when the time came), Damayanti of beauteous face, stealing the eyes and hearts of the princes by her dazzling light, entered the hall. And the glances of those illustrious kings were rivetted to those parts of her person where they had chanced to fall first, without moving at all. And when, O Bharata, the names of the monarchs were proclaimed, the daughter of Bhima saw five persons all alike in appearance. And beholding them seated there, without difference of any kind in form, doubt filled her mind, and she could not ascertain which of them was king Nala. And at whomsoever (among them) she looked, she regarded him to be the king of the Nishadhas. And filled with anxiety, the beautious one thought within herself, "Oh, how shall I distinguish the celestials, and how discern the royal Nala?" And thinking thus, the daughter of Vidarbha became filled with grief. And, O Bharata, recollecting the marks belonging to the celestials, of which she had heard, she thought, "Those attributes of the celestials, of which I have heard from the aged, do not pertain to any of these deities present here upon the earth." And revolving the matter long in her mind, and reflecting upon it repeatedly, she decided upon seeking the protection of the gods themselves. And bowing down unto them with mind and speech, with folded hands, she addressed them trembling, "Since I heard the speech of the swans, I chose the king of the Nishadhas as my lord. For the sake of truth, O, let the gods reveal him to me. And as in thought or word I have never swerved from him, O, let the gods, for the sake of that truth, reveal him to me. And as the gods themselves have destined the ruler of the Nishadhas to be my lord, O, let them, for the sake of that truth, reveal him to me. And as it is for paying homage unto Nala that I have adopted this vow, for the sake of that truth, O, let the gods reveal him unto me, O, let the exalted guardians of the worlds assume their own proper forms, so that I may know the righteous king." Hearing these piteous words of Damayanti, and ascertaining her fixed resolve, and fervent love for the king of Nishadhas, the purity of her heart and her inclination and regard and affection for Nala, the gods did as they had been adjured, and assumed their respective attributes as best they could. And thereupon she beheld the celestials unmoistened with perspiration, with winkless eyes, and unfading garlands, unstained with dust, and staying without touching the ground. And Naishadha stood revealed to his shadow, his fading garlands, himself stained with dust and sweat, resting on the ground with winking eyes. And, O Bharata, discerning the gods and the virtuous Nala the daughter of Bhima chose Naishadha according to her truth. And the large-eyed damsel then bashfully caught the hem of his garment and placed round his neck a floral wreath of exceeding grace. And when that fair-complexioned maiden had thus chosen Nala for her husband, the kings suddenly broke out into exclamations of Oh! and Alas! And, O Bharata, the gods and the great Rishis in wonder cried Excellent! Excellent!, applauding the king the while. And, O Kauravya, the royal son of Virasena, with heart filled with gladness, comforted the beauteous Damayanti, saying, "Since thou, O blessed one, hast chosen a mortal in the presence of the celestials, know me for a husband even obedient to thy command. And, O thou of sweet smiles, truly do I tell thee this that as long as life continueth in this body of mine, I will remain thine and thine alone." Damayanti also, with folded hands paid homage unto Nala in words of like import. And the happy pair beholding Agni and the other gods mentally sought their protection. And after the daughter of Bhima had chosen Naishadha as her husband, the Lokapalas of exceeding effulgence with pleased hearts, bestowed on Nala eight boons. And Sakra, the lord of Sachi, bestowed on Nala the boon that he should be able to behold his godship in sacrifices and that he should attain to blessed regions thereafter, and Hutasana bestowed on him the boon of his own presence whenever Naishadha wished, and regions also bright as himself. And Yama granted him subtle taste in food as well as pre-eminence in virtue. And the lord of waters granted Nala his own presence whenever he desired, and also garlands of celestial fragrance. And thus each of them bestowed upon him a couple of boons. And having bestowed these the gods went to heaven. And the kings also, having witnessed with wonder Damayanti's selection of Nala, returned delighted whence they had come. And on the departure of those mighty monarchs, the high-souled Bhima, well pleased, celebrated the wedding of Nala and Damayanti. And having stayed there for a time according to his desire, Naishadha, the best of men, returned to his own city with the permission of Bhima. And having attained that pearl of a woman, the virtuous king, O monarch, began to pass his days in joy, like the slayer of Vala and Vritra in the company of Sachi. And resembling the sun in glory, the king, full of gladness, began to rule his subjects righteously, and give them great satisfaction. And like unto Yayati, the son of Nahusha, that intelligent monarch celebrated the horse sacrifice and many other sacrifices with abundant gifts to Brahmanas. And like unto a very god, Nala sported with Damayanti in romantic woods and groves. And the high-minded king begat upon Damayanti a son named Indrasena, and a daughter named Indrasena. And celebrating sacrifice, and sporting (with Damayanti) thus, the king ruled the earth abounding in wealth.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'When the blazing guardians of the worlds were returning after the daughter of Bhima had chosen Naishadha, on their way they met Dwapara with Kali approaching towards them. And seeing Kali, Sakra the slayer of Vala and Vritra, said, "O Kali, say whither thou art going with Dwapara." And thereupon Kali replied unto Sakra, "Going to Damayanti's Swayamvara, will I obtain her (for my wife), as my heart is fixed upon that damsel." Hearing this, Indra said with a smile, "That Swayamvara is already ended. In our sight she hath chosen Nala for her husband." Thus answered by Sakra, Kali, that vilest of the celestials, filled with wrath, addressing all those gods spake, "Since in the presence of the celestials she hath chosen a mortal for her lord, it is meet that she should undergo a heavy doom." Upon hearing these words of Kali, the celestials answered, "It is with our sanction that Damayanti hath chosen Nala. What damsel is there that would not choose king Nala endued with every virtue? Well-versed in all duties, always conducting himself with rectitude, he hath studied the four Vedas together with the Puranas that are regarded as the fifth. Leading a life of harmlessness unto all creatures, he is truth-telling and firm in his vows, and in his house the gods are ever gratified by sacrifices held according to the ordinance. In that tiger among men—that king resembling a Lokapala, is truth, and forbearance, and knowledge, and asceticism, and purity and self-control, and perfect tranquillity of soul. O Kali, the fool that wisheth to curse Nala bearing such a character, curseth himself, and destroyeth himself by his own act. And, O Kali, he that seeketh to curse Nala crowned with such virtues, sinketh into the wide bottomless pit of hell rife with torments." Having said this to Kali and Dwapara, the gods went to heaven. And when the gods had gone away, Kali said unto Dwapara, "I am ill able, O Dwapara, to suppress my anger. I shall possess Nala, deprive him of his kingdom, and he shall no more sport with Bhima's daughter. Entering the dice, it behoveth thee to help me."'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'Having made this compact with Dwapara, Kali came to the place where the king of the Nishadhas was. And always watching for a hole, he continued to dwell in the country of the Nishadhas for a long time. And it was in the twelfth year that Kali saw a hole. For one day after answering the call of nature, Naishadha touching water said his twilight prayers, without having previously washed his feet. And it was through this (omission) that Kali entered his person. And having possessed Nala, he appeared before Pushkara, and addressed him, saying, "Come and play at dice with Nala. Through my assistance thou wilt surely win at the play. And defeating king Nala and acquiring his kingdom, do thou rule the Nishadhas." Thus exhorted by Kali, Pushkara went to Nala. And Dwapara also approached Pushkara, becoming the principal die called Vrisha. And appearing before the warlike Nala, that slayer of hostile heroes, Pushkara, repeatedly said, "Let us play together with dice." Thus challenged in the presence of Damayanti, the lofty-minded king could not long decline it. And he accordingly fixed the time for the play. And possessed by Kali, Nala began to lose, in the game, his stakes in gold, and silver, and cars with the teams thereof, and robes. And maddened at dice, no one amongst his friends could succeed in dissuading that represser of foes from the play that went on. And thereupon, O Bharata, the citizens in a body, with the chief councillors, came thither to behold the distressed monarch and make him desist. And the charioteer coming to Damayanti spake to her of this, saying, "O lady, the citizens and officers of the state wait at the gate. Do thou inform the king of the Nishadhas that the citizens have come here, unable to bear the calamity that hath befallen their king conversant with virtue and wealth." Thereupon Bhima's daughter, overwhelmed with grief and almost deprived of reason by it, spake unto Nala in choked accents, "O king, the citizens with the councillors of state, urged by loyalty, stay at the gate desirous of beholding thee. It behoveth thee to grant them an interview." But the king, possessed by Kali, uttered not a word in reply unto his queen of graceful glances, uttering thus her lamentations. And at this, those councillors of state as also the citizens, afflicted with grief and shame, returned to their homes, saying, "He liveth not." And, O Yudhishthira, it was thus that Nala and Pushkara gambled together for many months, the virtuous Nala being always worsted.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'Bhima's daughter, the cool-headed Damayanti, seeing the righteous king maddened and deprived of his senses at dice, was filled, O king, with alarm and grief. And she thought the affair to be a serious one with the king. And apprehensive of the calamity that threatened Nala, yet seeking his welfare and at last understanding that her lord had lost everything, she said unto her nurse and maid-servant Vrihatsena of high fame, intent upon her good, dexterous in all duties, faithful and sweet-speeched, these words, "O Vrihatsena, go thou and summon the councillors in the name of Nala, and tell them also what of wealth and other things hath been lost and what remaineth." The councillors then, hearing of Nala's summons, said, "This is fortunate for us" and approached the king. And when the subjects in a body had (thus) come a second time, the daughter of Bhima informed Nala of it. But the king regarded her not. Finding her husband disregarding her words, Damayanti, filled with shame, returned to her apartments. And hearing that the dice were uniformly unfavourable to the virtuous Nala, and that he had lost everything, she again spake unto her nurse, saying, "O Vrihatsena, go thou again in Nala's name to bring hither, O blessed one, the charioteer, Varshneya. The matter at hand is very serious." And Vrihatsena, hearing those words of Damayanti caused Varshneya to be summoned by trusty servants. And the blameless daughter of Bhima, acquainted with conduct suitable to time and place, addressing soft words said according to the occasion, "Thou knowest how the king hath always behaved towards thee. He is now in difficulty, and it behoveth thee to assist him. The more the king loseth to Pushkara, the greater becometh his ardour for the play. And as the dice fall obedient to Pushkara, it is seen that they are adverse to Nala in the matter of the play. And absorbed in the play, he heedeth not the words of his friends and relatives, nor even those of mine. I do not think, however, that in this the high-souled Naishadha is to blame, in as much as the king regarded not my words, being absorbed in play. O Charioteer, I seek thy protection. Do my behest. My mind misgiveth me. The king may come to grief. Yoking Nala's favourite horses endued with the fleetness of the mind, do thou take these twins (my son and daughter) on the car and hie thou to Kundina. Leaving the children there with my kindred as also the car and the horses, either stay thou there, or go to any other place as it listeth thee." Varshneya, the charioteer of Nala, then reported in detail these words of Damayanti unto the chief officers of the king. And having settled (the matter) in consultation with them, and obtaining their assent, O mighty monarch, the charioteer started for Vidarbha, taking the children on that car. And leaving there the boy Indrasena and the girl Indrasena, as also that best of cars and those steeds, the charioteer, with a sad heart grieving for Nala, bade farewell unto Bhima. And wandering for some time, he arrived at the city of Ayodhya. And there he appeared with a sorrowful heart before king Rituparna, and entered the service of that monarch as charioteer.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'After Varshneya had gone away, Pushkara won from the righteous Nala that latter's kingdom and what else of wealth he had. And unto Nala, O king, who had lost his kingdom, Pushkara laughingly said, "Let the play go on. But what stake hast thou now? Damayanti only remaineth; all else of thine hath been won by me. Well, if thou likest, that Damayanti be our stake now." Hearing these words of Pushkara the virtuous king felt as if his heart would burst in rage, but he spake not a word. And gazing at Pushkara in anguish, king Nala of great fame took all the ornaments off every part of his body. And attired in a single piece of cloth, his body uncovered, renouncing all his wealth, and enhancing the grief of friends, the king set out. And Damayanti, clad in one piece of cloth, followed him behind as he was leaving the city. And coming to the outskirts of the city, Nala stayed there for three nights with his wife. But Pushkara, O king, proclaimed through the city that he that should show any attention to Nala, would be doomed to death. And on account of these words of Pushkara and knowing his malice towards Nala, the citizens, O Yudhishthira, no longer showed him hospitable regards. And unregarded though deserving of hospitable regards, Nala passed three nights in the outskirts of the city, living on water alone. And afflicted with hunger, the king went away in search of fruit and roots, Damayanti following him behind. And in agony of famine, after many days, Nala saw some birds with plumage of golden hue. And thereupon the mighty lord of the Nishadhas thought within himself, "These will be my banquet today and also my wealth." And then he covered them with the cloth he had on—when bearing up that garment of his, the birds rose up to the sky. And beholding Nala nude and melancholy, and standing with face turned towards the ground, those rangers of the sky addressed him, saying, "O thou of small sense, we are even those dice. We had come hither wishing to take away thy cloth, for it pleased us not that thou shouldst depart even with thy cloth on." And finding himself deprived of his attire, and knowing also that the dice were departing (with it), the virtuous Nala, O king, thus spake unto Damayanti, "O faultless one, they through whose anger I have been despoiled of my kingdom, they through whose influence distressed and afflicted with hunger, I am unable to procure sustenance, they for whom the Nishadhas offered me not any hospitality, they, O timid one, are carrying off my cloth, assuming the form of birds. Fallen into this dire disaster, I am afflicted with grief and deprived of my senses, I am thy lord, do thou, therefore, listen to the words I speak for thy good. These many roads lead to the southern country, passing by (the city of) Avanti and the Rikshavat mountains. This is that mighty mountain called Vindhya; yon, the river Payasvini running sea-wards, and yonder are the asylums of the ascetics, furnished with various fruit and roots. This road leadeth to the country of the Vidarbhas—and that, to the country of the Kosalas. Beyond these roads to the south is the southern country." Addressing Bhima's daughter, O Bharata, the distressed king Nala spake those words unto Damayanti over and over again. Thereupon afflicted with grief, in a voice choked with tears, Damayanti spake unto Naishadha these piteous words, "O king, thinking of thy purpose, my heart trembleth, and all my limbs become faint. How can I go, leaving thee in the lone woods despoiled of thy kingdom and deprived of thy wealth, thyself without a garment on, and worn with hunger and toil? When in the deep woods, fatigued and afflicted with hunger, thou thinkest of thy former bliss, I will, O great monarch, soothe thy weariness. In every sorrow there is no physic equal unto the wife, say the physicians. It is the truth, O Nala, that I speak unto thee." Hearing those words of his queen, Nala replied, "O slender-waisted Damayanti, it is even as thou hast said. To a man in distress, there is no friend or medicine that is equal unto a wife. But I do not seek to renounce thee, wherefore, O timid one, dost thou dread this? O faultless one, I can forsake myself but thee I cannot forsake." Damayanti then said, "If thou dost not, O mighty king, intend to forsake me, why then dost thou point out to me the way to the country of the Vidarbhas? I know, O king, that thou wouldst not desert me. But, O lord of the earth, considering that thy mind is distracted, thou mayst desert me. O best of men, thou repeatedly pointest out to me the way and it is by this, O god-like one, that thou enhancest my grief. If it is thy intention that I should go to my relatives, then if it pleaseth thee, both of us will wend to the country of the Vidarbhas. O giver of honours, there the king of the Vidarbhas will receive thee with respect. And honoured by him, O king, thou shall live happily in our home."'"
"'Nala said, "Surely, thy father's kingdom is as my own. But thither I will not, by any means, repair in this extremity. Once I appeared there in glory, increasing thy joy. How can I go there now in misery, augmenting thy grief?"'
"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Saying this again and again unto Damayanti, king Nala, wrapped in half a garment, comforted his blessed wife. And both attired in one cloth and wearied with hunger and thirst, in course of their wanderings, at last they came to a sheltered shed for travellers. And arrived at this place, the king of the Nishadhas sat down on the bare earth with the princes of Vidarbha. And wearing the same piece of cloth (with Damayanti), and dirty, and haggard, and stained with dust, he fell asleep with Damayanti on the ground in weariness. And suddenly plunged in distress, the innocent and delicate Damayanti with every mark of good fortune, fell into a profound slumber. And, O monarch, while she slept, Nala, with heart and mind distraught, could not slumber calmly as before. And reflecting on the loss of his kingdom, the desertion of his friends, and his distress in the woods, he thought with himself, "What availeth my acting thus? And what if I act not thus? Is death the better for me now? Or should I desert my wife? She is truly devoted to me and suffereth this distress for my sake. Separated from me, she may perchance wander to her relatives. Devoted as she is to me, if she stayeth with me, distress will surely be hers; while it is doubtful, if I desert her. On the other hand, it is not unlikely that she may even have happiness some time." Reflecting upon this repeatedly, and thinking of it again and again, he concluded, O monarch, that the desertion of Damayanti was the best course for him. And he also thought, "Of high fame and auspicious fortune, and devoted to me, her husband, she is incapable of being injured by any one on the way on account of her energy." Thus his mind that was influenced by the wicked Kali, dwelling upon Damayanti, was made up for deserting her. And then thinking of his own want of clothing, and of her being clad in a single garment, he intended to cut off for himself one half of Damayanti's attire. And he thought, "How shall I divide this garment, so that my beloved one may not perceive?" And thinking of this, the royal Nala began to walk up and down that shed. And, O Bharata, pacing thus to and fro, he found a handsome sword lying near the shed, unsheathed. And that repressor of foes, having with that sword cut off one half of the cloth, and throwing the instrument away, left the daughter of Vidharbha insensible in her sleep and went away. But his heart failing him, the king of the Nishadhas returned to the shed, and seeing Damayanti (again), burst into tears. And he said, "Alas! that beloved one of mine whom neither the god of wind nor the sun had seen before, even she sleepeth to-day on the bare earth, like one forlorn. Clad in this severed piece of cloth, and lying like one distracted, how will the beauteous one of luminous smiles behave when she awaketh? How will the beautiful daughter of Bhima, devoted to her lord, all alone and separated from me, wander through these deep woods inhabited by beasts and serpents? O blessed one, may the Adityas and the Vasus, and the twin Aswins together with the Marutas protect thee, thy virtue being thy best guard." And addressing thus his dear wife peerless on earth in beauty, Nala strove to go, reft of reason by Kali. Departing and still departing, king Nala returned again and again to that shed, dragged away by Kali but drawn back by love. And it seemed as though the heart of the wretched king was rent in twain, and like a swing, he kept going out from cabin and coming back into it. At length after lamenting long and piteously, Nala stupefied and bereft of sense by Kali went away, forsaking that sleeping wife of his. Reft of reason through Kali's touch, and thinking of his conduct, the king departed in sorrow, leaving his wife alone in that solitary forest.'"
"Vrihadaswa said, 'O king, after Nala had gone away, the beauteous Damayanti, now refreshed, timorously awoke in that lonely forest. And O mighty monarch, not finding her lord Naishadha, afflicted with grief and pain, she shrieked aloud in fright, saying, "O lord? O mighty monarch! O husband, dost thou desert me? Oh, I am lost and undone, frightened in this desolate place. O illustrious prince, thou art truthful in speech, and conversant with morality. How hast thou then, having pledged thy word, deserted me asleep in the woods? Oh, why hast thou deserted thy accomplished wife, ever devoted to thee, particularly one that hath not wronged thee, though wronged thou hast been by others? O king of men, it behoveth thee to act faithfull, according to those words thou hadst spoken unto me before in the presence of the guardians of the worlds. O bull among men, that thy wife liveth even a moment after thy desertion of her, is only because mortals are decreed to die at the appointed time. O bull among men, enough of this joke! O irrepressible one, I am terribly frightened. O lord, show thyself. I see thee! I see thee, o king! Thou art seen, O Naishadha. Hiding thyself behind those shrubs, why dost thou not reply unto me? It is cruel of thee, O great king, that seeing me in this plight and so lamenting, thou dost not, O king, approach and comfort me. I grieve not for myself, nor for anything else. I only grieve to think how thou wilt pass thy days alone, O king. In the evening oppressed with hunger and thirst and fatigue, underneath the trees, how wilt it take with thee when thou seest me not?" And then Damayanti, afflicted with anguish and burning with grief, began to rush hither and thither, weeping in woe. And now the helpless princess sprang up, and now she sank down in stupor; and now she shrank in terror, and now she wept and wailed aloud. And Bhima's daughter devoted to her husband, burning in anguish and sighing ever more, and faint and weeping exclaimed, "That being through whose imprecation the afflicted Naishadha suffereth this woe, shall bear grief that is greater than ours. May that wicked being who hath brought Nala of sinless heart this, lead a more miserable life bearing greater ills." Thus lamenting, the crowned consort of the illustrious (king) began to seek her lord in those woods, inhabited by beasts of prey. And the daughter of Bhima, wailing bitterly, wandered hither and thither like a maniac, exclaiming, "Alas! Alas! Oh king!" And as she was wailing loudly like a female osprey, and grieving and indulging in piteous lamentations unceasingly, she came near a gigantic serpent. And that huge and hungry serpent thereupon suddenly seized Bhima's daughter, who had come near and was moving about within its range. And folded within serpent's coils and filled with grief, she still wept, not for herself but for Naishadha. And she said "O lord, why dost thou not rush towards me, now that I am seized, without anybody to protect me, by this serpent in these desert wilds? And, O Naishadha, how will it fare with thee when thou rememberest me? O lord, why hast thou gone away, deserting me today in the forest? Free from thy course, when thou wilt have regained thy mind and senses and wealth, how will it be with thee when thou thinkest of me? O Naishadha, O sinless one, who will soothe thee when thou art weary, and hungry, and fainting, O tiger among kings?" And while she was wailing thus, a certain huntsman ranging the deep woods, hearing her lamentations, swiftly came to the spot. And beholding the large-eyed one in the coils of the serpent, he pushed towards it and cut off its head with his sharp weapon. And having struck the reptile dead, the huntsman set Damayanti free. And having sprinkled her body with water and fed and comforted her, O Bharata, he addressed her saying, "O thou with eyes like those of a young gazelle, who art thou? And why also hast thou come into the woods? And, O beauteous one, how hast thou fallen into this extreme misery?" And thus accosted, O monarch, by that man, Damayanti, O Bharata, related unto him all that had happened. And beholding that beautiful woman clad in half a garment, with deep bosom and round hips, and limbs delicate and faultless, and face resembling the full moon, and eyes graced with curved eye-lashes, and speech sweet as honey, the hunter became inflamed with desire. And afflicted by the god of love, the huntsman began to soothe her in winning voice and soft words. And as soon as the chaste and beauteous Damayanti, beholding him understood his intentions, she was filled with fierce wrath and seemed to blaze up in anger. But the wicked-minded wretch, burning with desire became wroth, attempted to employ force upon her, who was unconquerable as a flame of blazing fire. And Damayanti already distressed upon being deprived of husband and kingdom, in that hour of grief beyond utterance, cursed him in anger, saying, "I have never even thought of any other person than Naishadha, therefore let this mean-minded wretch subsisting on chase, fall down lifeless." And as soon as she said this, the hunter fell down lifeless upon the ground, like a tree consumed by fire.'"
"Vrihadaswa continued, 'Having destroyed that hunter Damayanti of eyes like lotus leaves, went onwards through that fearful and solitary forest ringing with the chirp of crickets. And it abounded with lions, and leopards, and Rurus and tigers, and buffaloes, and bears and deer. And it swarmed with birds of various species, and was infested by thieves and mlechchha tribes. And it contained Salas, and bamboos and Dhavas, and Aswatthas, and Tindukas and Ingudas, and Kinsukas, and Arjunas, and Nimvas, and Tinisas and Salmalas, and Jamvus, and mango trees, and Lodhras, and the catechu, and the cane, and Padmakas, and Amalahas, and Plakshas, and Kadamvas, and Udumvaras and Vadaras, and Vilwas, and banians, and Piyalas, and palms, and date-trees, and Haritakas and Vibhitakas. And the princess of Vidarbha saw many mountains containing ores of various kinds, and groves resounding with the notes of winged choirs, and many glens of wondrous sight, and many rivers and lakes and tanks and various kinds of birds and beasts. And she saw numberless snakes and goblins and Rakshasas of grim visage, and pools and tanks and hillocks, and brooks and fountains of wonderful appearance. And the princess of Vidarbha saw there herds of buffaloes, and boars, and bears as well as serpents of the wilderness. And safe in virtue and glory and good fortune and patience, Damayanti wandered through those woods alone, in search of Nala. And the royal daughter of Bhima, distressed only at her separation from her lord, was not terrified at aught in that fearful forest. And, O king, seating herself down upon a stone and filled with grief, and every limb of hers trembling with sorrow on account of her husband, she began to lament thus: "O king of the Nishadhas, O thou of broad chest and mighty arms, whither hast thou gone, O king, leaving me in this lone forest? O hero, having performed the Aswamedha and other sacrifices, with gifts in profusion (unto the Brahmanas), why hast thou, O tiger among men, played false with me alone? O best of men, O thou of great splendour, it behoveth thee, O auspicious one, to remember what thou didst declare before me, O bull among kings! And, O monarch, it behoveth thee also to call to mind what the sky-ranging swans spake in thy presence and in mine. O tiger among men, the four Vedas in all their extent, with the Angas and the Upangas, well-studied, on one side, and one single truth on the other, (are equal). Therefore, O slayer of foes, it behoveth thee, O lord of men, to make good what thou didst formerly declare before me. Alas, O hero! warrior! O Nala! O sinless one being thine, I am about to perish in this dreadful forest. Oh! wherefore dost thou not answer me? This terrible lord of the forest, of grim visage and gaping jaws, and famishing with hunger, filleth me with fright. Doth it not behove thee to deliver me? Thou wert wont to say always, Save thee there existeth not one dear unto me. O blessed one, O king, do thou now make good thy words so spoken before. And, O king, why dost thou not return an answer to thy beloved wife bewailing and bereft of sense, although thou lovest her, being loved in return? O king of the earth, O respected one, O represser of foes, O thou of large eyes, why dost thou not regard me, emaciated, and distressed and pale, and discoloured, and clad in a half piece of cloth, and alone, and weeping, and lamenting like one forlorn, and like unto a solitary doe separated from the herd? O illustrious sovereign, it is, I, Damayanti, devoted to thee, who, alone in this great forest, address thee. Wherefore, then, dost thou not reply unto me? Oh, I do not behold thee today on this mountain, O chief of men, O thou of noble birth and character with every limb possessed of grace! In this terrible forest, haunted by lions and tigers, O king of the Nishadhas, O foremost of men, O enhancer of my sorrows, (Wishing to know) whether thou art lying down, or sitting, or standing, or gone, whom shall I ask, distressed and woe-stricken on thy account, saying, Hast thou seen in this woods the royal Nala? Of whom shall I in this forest enquire after the departed Nala, handsome and of high soul, and the destroyer of hostile arrays? From whom shall I today hear the sweet words, viz., That royal Nala, of eyes like lotus-leaves, whom thou seekest, is even here? Yonder cometh the forest-king, that tiger of graceful mien, furnished with four teeth and prominent cheeks. Even him will I accost fearlessly: Thou art the lord of all animals, and of this forest the king. Know me for Damayanti, the daughter of the king of the Vidarbhas, and the wife of Nala, destroyer of foes, and the king of the Nishadhas. Distressed and woe-stricken, I am seeking my husband alone in these woods. Do thou, O king of beasts, comfort me (with news of Nala) if thou hast seen him. Or, O lord of the forest, if thou cannot speak of Nala, do thou, then, O best of beasts, devour me, and free me from this misery. Alas! hearing my plaintive appeal in the wilderness, this king of mountains, this high and sacred hill, crested with innumerable heaven-kissing and many-hued and beauteous peaks, and abounding in various ores, and decked with gems of diverse kings, and rising like a banner over this broad forest, and ranged by lions and tigers and elephants and boars and bears and stags, and echoing all around with (the notes of) winged creatures of various species, and adorned with kinsukas and Asokas and Vakulas and Punnagas, with blossoming Karnikaras, and Dhavas and Plakshas, and with streams haunted by waterfowls of every kind, and abounding in crested summits, O sacred one! O best of mountains! O thou of wondrous sight! O celebrated hill! O refuge (of the distressed)! O highly auspicious one! I bow to thee, O pillar of the earth! Approaching, I bow to thee. Know me for a king's daughter, and a king's daughter-in-law, and king's consort, Damayanti by name that lord of earth who ruleth the Vidarbhas, that mighty warrior-king Bhima by name, who protecteth the four orders, is my sire. That best of kings celebrated the Rajasuya and Aswamedha sacrifices, with profuse gifts to the Brahmanas. Possessed of beautiful and large eyes, distinguished for devotion to the Vedas, of unblemished character, truth-telling, devoid of guile, gentle, endued with prowess, lord of immense wealth, versed in morality, and pure, he having vanquished all his foes, effectually protecteth the inhabitants of Vidarbha. Know me, O holy one, for his daughter, thus come to thee. That best of men—the celebrated ruler of the Nishadha—known by the name of Virasena of high fame, was my father-in-law. The son of that king, heroic and handsome and possessed of energy incapable of being baffled, who ruleth well the kingdom which hath descended to him from his father, is named Nala. Know, O mountain, that of that slayer of foes, called also Punyastoka, possessed of the complexion of gold, and devoted to the Brahmanas, and versed in the Vedas, and gifted with eloquence,—of that righteous and Soma-quaffing and fire-adoring king, who celebrateth sacrifices and is liberal and warlike and who adequately chastiseth (criminals), I am the innocent spouse—the chief of his queens—standing before thee. Despoiled of prosperity and deprived of (the company of my) husband without a protector, and afflicted with calamity, hither have I come, O best of mountains, seeking my husband. Hast thou, O foremost of mountains, with thy hundreds of peaks towering (into the sky) seen king Nala in this frightful forest? Hast thou seen my husband, that ruler of the Nishadhas, the illustrious Nala, with the tread of a mighty elephant, endued with intelligence, long-armed, and of fiery energy, possessed of prowess and patience and courage and high fame? Seeing me bewailing alone, overwhelmed with sorrow, wherefore, O best of mountains, dost thou not today soothe me with thy voice, as thy own daughter in distress? O hero, O warrior of prowess, O thou versed in every duty, O thou adhering to truth—O lord of the earth, if thou art in this forest, then, O king, reveal thyself unto me. Oh, when shall I again hear the voice of Nala, gentle and deep as that of the clouds, that voice, sweet as Amrita, of the illustrious king, calling me Vidharva's daughter, with accents distinct, and holy, and musical as the chanting of the Vedas and rich, and soothing all my sorrows. O king, I am frightened. Do thou, O virtuous one, comfort me."