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18. Reunion of Nala-Damayanti
Vidarbha Raja entered Kondin Nagar in the autumn evening. Damayanti was greatly surprised to hear the thunderous sound of the reed-driven chariot. He thought, surely Mahipati Nal is coming here. If I don’t see his moon today, if I can’t enter his arms, I will surely die. Damayanti faints and climbs to the top of the palace to find Rituparna and Bahuka.
Rituparna did not see any arrangements for self-indulgence. Vidarbharaja Bhima knew nothing, he welcomed Rituparna and asked him the reason for his arrival. Rituparna saw that no king or prince had come for self-immolation; Necessarily he said to Vidarbharaj, I have come to greet you. King Bhima was also surprised and thought, what is the reason for him to come after crossing more than a hundred yojanas just to greet him?
The servants took Rituparna to the house appointed for him, Vasneya also accompanied him. Bahukurupi Nal took the chariot to the chariot and took care of the horses properly and sat in the chariot. Damayanti was saddened not to see Nala, he said to a messenger named Keshini, do you know who is that short-armed charioteer?
As advised by Damayanti, Keshini goes to Nal and asks Kushal, Damayanti wants to know why you have come here from Ayodhya. Who are you, the third person who came with you? Nala replied, King Rituparna has come here after hearing that Damayanti’s second self-birth will take place. I am an expert in horsemanship and therefore the king makes me a charioteer, I also prepare his food. The third man’s name is Vasneya, formerly Nal’s charioteer, and since Nal left the kingdom he has been under the protection of King Rituparna. Keshini said, does Vasneya know where Bahuk and Nala are? Nal said that neither he nor anyone else knew the news of Nal, that his form had been destroyed, that he was wandering about in hiding. Keshini said, Damayanti wants to hear from you again what you said in reply to the Brahmin who went to Ayodhya. Nal said in a tearful voice, Sati Kulastri saved herself with her own power even if she was in danger. The chaste woman does not get angry when the infatuated husband, whose clothes the bird stole, abandons the starving husband.
After hearing everything from Keshini, Damayanti guessed that it was the arm. He said to Keshini, you go to Bahuk again and observe his behavior and strategy of action. Don’t give him water even if he wants it. Keshini went again and came back and said, I have never seen such a chaste person. He does not bow down when he enters a low gate, the gate itself becomes high for him. Our King has sent a variety of meats for the Rituparna feast, and there are also pitchers for washing the meat. At the sight of Bahuk, the pitcher became full of water. After washing the meat, he climbed into the oven and held a handful of grass in the sunlight, immediately the grass ignited. He does not burn when he touches the fire, when he crushes the flower it does not deform, more fragrant and flourishes. Damayanti said, Keshini, you go again, bring some of his cooked meat without telling him. When Keshini brought the meat, Damayanti tasted it and understood that it was Nala who tied it. Then he sent his daughter with Keshini to Bahuk. Nal took Indrasen and Indrasena in his arms and started crying. After that he said to Keshini, I am crying because these boys and girls are like my sons and daughters. Gentleman, we are guests of another country, if you come again and again you will blame the people, so you go.
Damayanti said to his mother, I have understood by many tests that the arm is a tube, only I have doubts about its form. Now I want to see him myself, whether you let me know father or not. Damayanti brought Nal to his house with the consent of his parents. Kayabsna Jatadharin Malinangi Damayanti Sarodane said, Bahuk, do you know any pious man who left his sleeping wife in the forest? Punyasloka Nal who else can leave the childless Pativrata Vharya without fault? Nala said, Kalyani, I abandoned you because of the influence of Kali, for whom my kingdom was destroyed. Burned by your curse, Kali was living in my body, now I have conquered him, that sin is removed. But why are you prone to second husbands? Damayanti became kritanjali and said with a trembling body, Nishadharaj, you cannot blame me, I rejected the gods and accepted you. I sent people everywhere in search of you. By hearing your words in the mouth of the Brahmin Parnad, I have adopted the self-styled means to bring you. If I have sinned, may the sun, sun, and wind take away my life.
Vayu said from inside, Nala, he has no sin, we have been his witness and guardian for three years. No one other than you can travel a hundred yojanas in a day, so he decided a wonderful way to bring you. Then it rained flowers, Devdunduvi started playing. Nala regains her former form wearing the garb of Nagaraja Karkotaka, Damayanti embraces him and begins to weep. Damayanti was satisfied with Bharta just as Ardhasanjatasasya gets water.
Voice: Amitabh Roy Chowdhury
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