Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha

by Krishna Kanta Handiqui | 1956 | 159,632 words

This page relates Damayanti’s address to the moon and Cupid which is canto 4 of the English translation of the Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha, dealing with the famous story of Nala (king of Nishadha) and Damayanti (daughter of Bhima, king of Vidarbha), which also occurs in the Mahabharata. The Naishadhacharita is considered as one of the five major epic poems (mahakavya) in Sanskrit literature.

Canto 4 - Damayantī’s address to the moon and Cupid

1. Then did Cupid quickly conquer Damayantī; making the fragrant flower of Nala’s fame his bow and his excellence the string of that bow, while he made Nala himself, owing to the latter’s keen intellect, an arrow—Nala whose tidings had come to her ears.[1]

2. As she suffering from Cupid’s fever, plunged into the waters of that pool, namely, the story of her beloved, its effect instantly grew harmful, long consuming her heart.

3. The slender-waisted[2] maiden seemed to have learnt her impatience, contrary as it was to sobriety, from the flying speed of the messenger of her beloved;[3] for that which appears immediately after something origṃates from it.

4. Her face was too benumbed even to think of an iota of smile; the Khanjana bird in the shape of each of her eyes limped even in making a slight stir in its own courtyard—the corner of the eye.[4]

5. Were Nala and Cupid the two physicians of heaven, the Aśvins,[5] who entered her heart to probe it, being engaged by her lover Indra, the king of the gods, to cure her quickly?

6. Her face, tender like the lotus and troubled by Cupid’s heat, was seen each day bearing an ever increasing resemblance to the moon withered by the rays of the sun.

7. It was but natural that her breasts, like two pitchers, hardened by the rays of the sun of youth, should then be subjected to the heat of fire—heat due to the frolics of the flower-bowed potter.[6]

8. The banana plant, if it were tainted by the burning barren soil of the desert, would experience the suffering of her thighs, as they then lay buried by Cupiḍ in the heat of the grief of desolation.

10. The obstructing pressure of the plump and stout breasts was guilty of preventing Damayantī’s heart from flying away, bursting under the excessive heat of Cupid.

11. What a pain is caused by the tip of a beard of corn, if it enters the foot! Then why should not a mountain—a king that upholds the earth,[7] staying in her heart, having entered it, cause pain to the tender-limbed girl?

12. Her eyes, as if gone within in their eagerness to see her beloved residing in her mind, could not grasp even objects resting in front of them.

13. The face of Damayantī, whose countenance drooped owing to her forlorn state, being reflected on her bosom flooded with tears, shone forth, as if by drawing near it had come to kiss Nala who was in her heart.

14. The breeze of the gazelle-eyed damsel’s sighs assumed a magic power of secret entry, inferred only at the time of exit, in order to stir up its friend, fire, namely, Cupid living in her mind.[8]

15. Her vision acting as an artist painted the ten directions with figures of Nala by means of the pallid yellow produced by her grief of separation, the crimson hue (of passion), the black of inky stupor, and its own white lustre serving as colours.

16. Her sighs shook the scarf resting on her bosom, as if byway of speaking repeatedly and abundantly of her heart’s plight caused by Cupid. Who is not afraid when his place of refuge[9] is in distress?

17. During the fair maid’s fever caused by the grief of desolation, the lotus blossoms known as her hands, feet, face and eyes emitted for a long while, in the guise of their incessant heat, the glow of the sun which they had erstwhile absorbed in profusion.

18. It was a wonderful thing that her friends, after consideration, inferred Nala to be the cause of her fever, by merely looking at the tears of the princess—an inference that did not prove false.

19. Cupid, smiting Damayantī’s heart with his arrows for the sake of Nala, and deeply piercing his own self present.in her heart, lost all consciousness, his mistaken action thus bearing fruit.[10]

20. Lo, if she fancied the moon to be the sun, then why did the sun, too, with its rays thus set her heart on fire—the heart that was clearly shown to be stone as it was not rent even under the weight of the grief of desolation?[11]

21. Where was there a maiden to resemble her as she lay buried in grief from her beloved’s absence, with a lotus placed on her bosom? Was she then Rati, lying in the flames of the funeral pyre to follow her dead husband,[12] clasping on her bosom the (flowery) bow of her beloved?

22. She did not know the secret that the grief of her forlorn state lurking in her mind was a fire; for in order to calm it she wished to cast into the blazing fire her life, making it a handful of straw.[13]

23. Why should not a soft heart, the natural characteristic of women, be present in her? The wise Cupid manifested it clearly by hurting her heart even with flowers serving as arrows.

24. Assuming the form of lotus stalks, the over-hostile rays of the moon perhaps entered through the windows, afraid of expulsion if they entered in any other way, in order to cause a feverish heat to her who never went out of her mansion.[14]

25. Damayantī’s face, eyes and lips, mirrored on her bosom full of tears, owing to her face drooping low, were evidently all arrows planted by Cupid, consisting as they did of flowers comparable with those very limbs.[15]

26. The moon mirrored on the surface of Damayantī’s cheek, pale with the grief of her forlorn state, easily made her face resemble it, by attaching to it its emblem—the deer, while its white radiance remained imperceptible.[16]

27. Decorated with paleness by the sandal dust on her body, hot from the grief of separation, and adorned with lotus stalks looking like snakes; so appearing like Śiva, she was an object of terror to Cupid.[17]

28. The sandal paste applied by her to her heated bosom looked beautiful, with bubbles appearing on it, as if it were the moon with a retinue of stars accompanying it, coming on a visit to its friend Cupid residing in her heart.

29. Inflamed by Cupid’s fire, she repeatedly cast away a fresh lotus blossom, approached toward herself for use (as a sedative), but made to rustle, midway, by her sighs.[18]

30. The two lotus blossoms placed on her bosom seemed to say, shrinking with heat, to the full-breasted maiden, “So will thy breasts obtain the grasp of the hands of thy beloved; why do they now shrink?”

31. By means of the paleness caused by the absence of her beloved, she was making known to Nala, the lord of her heart, her purity in the fire of Cupid, as if by saying, “None other than thee have I ever thought of as my lord.”

32. Did the lotus plant placed on her body, heated by the grief of her forlorn state, try to remove her intense heat, or seek to overcome it with fists in the shape of its closing leaves?

33. Overpowered as she was by the poison of her desolate grief spreading on account of the bites of those snakes, Cupid’s arrows, whom did she not plunge in an ocean of pathos, looking like a digit of the moon oppressed by the rays of the sun?

34. The moist, creepery lotus stalk applied by her to her bosom, burning with the suffering caused by Cupid, faded completely, as if out of shame before the adjoining hands of Damayantī, which surpassed it in beauty.

35. A spray of moss placed by her on her bosom, which throbbed when the voice of the cuckoo was heard, looked beautiful as it moved, as if struck by the fish, the emblem of Cupid ever present in her heart, while rubbing its body close against it.[19]

36. It was not through any mistake that Nala’s mind regarded her face as a moonstone; otherwise how was it that at moon-rise water flowed from it in tears?[20]

37. Damayantī was thriving just like Cupid’s victorious weapon—his arrows; so he wished to connect her definitely with the number five, like his own arrows.[21]

38. The forlorn maiden, thinking a fiery weapon of Cupid was emerging in the shape of the moon, at once took up a watery counter-weapon suitable for it in the guise of tears.

39. The beautiful damsel, seeing a new rain-cloud, a cloudy weapon hurled by Cupid, discharged at him a suitable windy weapon in the guise of her long-drawn sighs.[22]

40. The fair damsel, believing the south wind to be a windy weapon sent by Cupid, seemed to adopt for a snaky weapon the lotus stalks which she had taken for fear of Cupid’s intense heat.[23]

41. Cupid placed two darts, as it were, in her heart—the absence of her beloved and life in spite of it: did he after that drive them home, by hitting them with a couple of Bilva fruits, her own breasts?

42. Cupid, hitting her with his arrows in extreme profusion, and then hurling even fruits, owing to all his flowery arrows being exhausted, clearly dowered her bosom with a pair of palm fruits, her own breasts.[24]

43. Then Damayantī, who repeatedly and severely reproached the moon, and repeatedly praised Rāhu,[25] suffering as she did from Cupid’s fever, addressed a friend whose visage was covered with tears.

44. “As with regard to men, gods and Brahmā, it has been calculated how much time constitutes an age in the case of each, why is it that in the science of numbers the same has not been done in the case of lovers in separation, measured by the moments of young lovers in union?[26]

45. “Satī accepted her birth from the Himālayas, ‘the abode of snow’, because she was heated by Cupid, not because of her esteem for its greatness; on the forehead of Śiva, too, it is not his eye, but his separation from Satī that burns engraved.[27]

46. “The pain of burning caused by fire is not great, it is the pain caused by separation from one’s beloved that is great; if it is not so, why do women hastily enter the fire, eager to attend on their departed lords?

47. “Friend, look at the impudence of the moon; those of its digits which are heavily stained with the sin of killing lovelorn maidens are playing in its heart, but those which make friends with the night lotus have been thrust outside.[28]

48. “Friend, ask the moon clearly this, ‘Inert moon, from what teacher didst thou learn the generosity of thy heat? Is it from the poison that hath withered Śiva’s throat, or from the submarine fire in the ocean?’

49. “Verily this moon, on account of the sin of killing women separated from their lovers, is, after being whirled round, flung from heaven on the rock of the dark night, while the sparks bursting forth and flying upwards make the sky richer in stars.[29]

50. “Friend, do thou speak to the moon on my behalf thus, ‘Why set about such a thing? Thou mayst have no regard for thy birth in the ocean, but thou hast forgotten even thy position on Śiva’s head.’

51. “Moon, it is a pity thou wast not pounded by the Mandara mountain falling into the ocean[30] nor consumed even in the fire of the stomach of the sage Agastya, who drank up the ocean.

52. “Foolish moon, dost thou think, ‘Damayantī’s mind will be merged in me when she dies?’ The learned Cupid declares that the relevant scriptural text refers in my case to the moon-like face of Nala.[31]

53. “Moon, sound forth the new drum of thy fame; now brighten the dynasty of the ocean; do thou also acquire the heroism of killing a woman; only give up torturing.

54. “Vicious moon, at ṃght masquerade as the sun and inflame me in the absence of the sun; but when day comes, I shall see thy pride eclipsed by the sun.

55. “Moon, Terrible to maidens like me, shining as thou dost at night, abiding in the sky,[32] this thy ghostly nature, dizzying the heads of others,[33] is astonishing in thee, who art composed of nectar.

56. “Friend, cast the sprout of that Tamāla leaf, thy ear-omament, into the mouth of the deer in the moon; the deer, so fattened, might cover the moon by a little, and quickly thereby I may breathe for a moment.

57. “Truly the idea flashes upon me at the wrong moment: the Amāvāsyā night which was in my hands is gone, but if it returns, it shall be held back and compelled to abide. Dear, never will I see the face of the moon more.

58. “Friend, will not this young Cakora bird of mine become a disciple of the ocean-drinking sage Agastya? How many drops will the rays of the moon be, to the bird drinking them, after it has been trained to gulp down the ocean?

59. “Dear, take in thy hand a heavy iron club, and take my mirror outside; as soon as the moon there enters, do thou kill that malefactor quickly with ease.

60. “Why did not the ocean keep in its womb the unbearable moon, as it does the submarine fire, and why did not mighty Śiva swallow it, when it was discarded like poison by the ocean?[34]

61. “The black poison of the ocean, swallowed by one god (Śiva), did not appear again; but the moon, the white poison of the ocean, though destroyed by the gods by drinking it,[35] rises spontaneously anew.

62. “Know thou the full moon to be a sinner, dominated by a passion for killing lovers in separation; and know the moon, whose nectar is drunk up by the gods[36], to be free from sin; why do then astrologers assert a contrary dogma?

63. “Verily the fortnight, which forlorn lovers held in great esteem, became on the earth the ‘great’[37] fortnight; and was the lunar day, on which all those lovers made that esteem immeasurable,[38] made Amā (or Amāvāsyā)?[39]

64. “Does Rāhu swallow the moon, mistaking it for the sharp Sudarśana wheel of his enemy Viṣṇu? Otherwise why does he give it up, fallen in his mouth and coming into his possession, looking like the curd-rice offered at his worship?[40]

65. “Friend, truly Rāhu does not willingly let go the moon coming within his mouth; as soon as it is swallowed by him, it slips through the passage of the hollow of his throat without any harm.[41]

66. “Experts in ancient lore, taking a plain view of things, say that Viṣṇu cut off the head of Rāhu, but do not say he is one who cuts off the heads of lovers in separation; the moon would be extinct, if Rāhu possessed the consuming power of the stomach.[42]

67. “Friend, the divine physicians, the two Aśvins, being the friends of Cupid by virtue of their beauty, at once joined to the body the head of the deer-shaped Sacrifice[43] severed by Śiva, who was Cupid’s foe; who would do the same to Rāhu?

68. “Or, will not the head of Rāhu be joined to the throat of the headless body of some enemy, decapitated by Nala in battle, and hastily flying up for fear of death, the link being cemented with his blood?

69. “Friend, ask thou the Ogress Jarā why she doth not sew up the head of Rāhu with the headless body of Ketu, as she did the two sections of Jarāsandha’s body.

70. “Friend, ask Rāhu on my behalf, ‘Dost thou spare thy enemy,[44] thinking him to be the king of the Brāhmaṇas? If he were one, would he return to heaven, once he had fallen, by coming into contact with Vārunī?’[45]

71. “Has Rāhu, like Garuḍa,[46] spared the moon, being under the impression that it was a Brāhmaṇa, because it burnt his throat? Rāhu, to burn is the nature of the moon; tell me, what Brāhmaṇa quality it has in the case of one innocent like me.

72. “For the use of the god of death, the moon was carefully made with all its digits serving as teeth, as a device for crushing maidens separated from their lovers: it is why the moon is known as Dvijarāja.[47]

73. “The moon is the burning face of Cupid, which the Creator pulled out of the fire issuing from Śiva’s eye;[48] after that it was marked with a black spot in the guise of a hare, owing to its manifold sins resulting from the killing of forlorn lovers.”

74. Then thinking it was useless to censure the distant moon with varied expressions in this way, Damayantī suffering grievously from the fever of desolation began to upbraid Cupid who was in her heart.

75. “Cupid, if in my heart thou art taking refuge, why art thou thus burning that very heart? Wretched one, like fire, where wilt thou be thyself, after having burnt up thy own fuel in a moment?

76. “Śiva made thee invisible,[49] fearing lest there should be an overabundance of ‘three-eyedness’; Cupid, is there any one, in whom, on seeing thee, ‘three eyes’ did not emerge?[50]

77. “People say that thou art the companion of Rati (Cupid’s wife), but why is it that in spite of thy presence (in my heart) I have no Rati (pleasure)? Or, perhaps now thou and she live not together; for she did not follow thee at thy death.

78. “Thou who art incapable of discriminating between thy own self and others, hast thou heated me as thou heated thy own self separated from thy Rati? Otherwise if thou thyself didst not bear heat, how is it that my heart is being burnt in contact with thee?

79. “Cupid, why did not Rati die with thee, though she was renowned as a devoted wife? Thou art such a sinner on account of thy killing helpless women that wast thou forsaken even by thy love?

80. “Buddha, the conqueror of his passions, had already, by vanquishing thee, destroyed the body of thy expansive fame; then Śiva destroyed in battle thy physical body—all that had remained.

81. “Alas, Cupid, because of the result that thou didst obtain by fighting Śiva with flowers, the science of polity, being frightened, disapproves of fighting even with flowers as weapons.

82. “How is it that Śiva reduced thee to that plight, in spite of thy drinking nectar like the other gods? Confess. Truly thou didst not drink nectar, disdaining it owing to thy addiction to the taste of Rati’s lip.

83. “Lifeless Cupid, didst thou, owing to the sin of deluding the world, become a ghost that thou now goest about oppressing one like me, pale with the sufferings caused by my forlorn state?

84. “Alas, Cupid, thou givest not death, nor does thy bow slip from thy hand out of pity; but then thou art dead, and one who is dead[51] opens not a fist that is clenched.

85. “Cupid, devotion to other gods removes blindness, untimely death and deformities; but utter blindness, emaciation of the body and paleness are his who worships thee.

86. “Cupid, thou art the cruellest of all; that is why the Creator made flowers thy weapon; if he were to create for thee a strong bow and arrows of iron, the three worlds would be in ruins.

87. “Did the anxious Creator drench the flowers serving as thy arrows with honey, in order that the fire of thy arrows might not bum down the three worlds, as did the fire of Śiva’s arrows the three cities of the demons?

88. “Verily the Creator made the mind of man thy target, observing it to be indivisible and impenetrable; had he given even thunder (as thy target), it would have been cleft by thy arrows.

89. “Cupid, the Creator was not content even with making flowers thy arrows; he gave thee five by specifying them; lo, even so they have shattered the world.

90 “What a number of flowers do the five celestial trees offer to a god, whoever he may be! But owing to thy inferior rank they give thee only one flower each.[52] Fie on thee! Even at this, thou hast no shame.

91. “Did the Creator, after giving thee thy bow, take it back, as it proved passing mischievous, although composed of flowers? But what could he do to thee? In the place of that one bow, there arose now two in the shape of the eyebrows of Nala.

92. “The six seasons which simultaneously delight the garden of Nandana give thee each a flower of its own out of pity; with these thou shapest one like a bow and five like arrows.

93. “It is good for the world thou hast no body; where is a sage who would be able to bear thy shots, if thou couldst discharge thy arrows, drawing them with firm hands as far as the ears?

94. “Cupid, thou wast suddenly reduced to ashes along with the arrow which thou didst aim at Śiva; of thee, now formless, verily the voice of the cuckoo hath become that fifth arrow of thine.[53]

95. “Cupid, even the labour of the mighty Śiva, in burning thee, was rendered futile by my sins; for thou wast immediately reborn in heaven, having sacrificed thy body for the good of the gods.

96. “To a lover in separation, turning his back at the rising moon, the Dakṣiṇa (South) wind is not ‘dakṣiṇa’; if it is ‘dakṣiṇa’, it is thy own arm bending at the end the flowery bow.[54]

97. “Is not the mighty Śiva celebrated as the conqueror of Cupid, the demon Andhaka (Blind) and Death, simply because he conquered thee alone, blind as thou art with the joy of pride, and death to lovers in separation?

98. “Cupid, no one expert like thee in doing ill to others hath ever been seen or heard of; for thou didst light thyself from the fire (of Śiva’s eye) in order to set fire to all the worlds, by embracing them with thy burning self.

99. “Śiva rightly made thee a sacrificial oblation for the pacification of the world in the fire issuing from his eye, but what purpose, alas, did Viṣṇu serve by killing the demon Madhu, while leaving thy friend Madhu the spring?”[55]

100. Even with these few words her mouth, greatly athirst for the lip of her beloved, quickly became dry as dust, as if from being struck by the Withering arrow of Cupid, enraged at her unpleasant words.

101. Severely wounded by Cupid’s arrows in the core of her heart, and unable to speak much, she then talked with her dear friends in verses, she herself speaking one half and her friends the other half.

102. (A friend): In danger, save thy life with thy inborn patience from the cruel flower-arrowed god.

(Damayantī): Life itself is opposed to me to-day. How dost thou, friend, tell me to save my foe?

103. (Friend): Submissive one, why dost thou not listen to good counsel? Save thy life even by force.

(Damayantī): Friend, if thou art so good to me, why dost thou wish to preserve my enemy—my life?

104. (Friend): Damayantī, it is the nectar-rayed moon; why feelest thou heated by its rays?

(Damayantī): Friend, if the rays of the moon were dead, there would be no heat.

105. (Friend): Have patience, give up unreasoned fear, it is the cool-rayed moon that rises.

(Damayantī): It is clearly burning me with the heat of a smouldering fire; friend, thou dost eclipse feeling with words.

106. (Friend): Dear, I swear by thy heart it is the light of the moon that thou feelest.

(Damayantī): Friend, the effect of its light is clear; it is burning my skin and disrupting my life.

107. (Friend): Why dost thou, then, avoid the cuckoo, which calls the lunar day hostile to the moon?[56]

(Damayantī): Friend, it is useless to hunt up meanings. The cuckoo pours on me a voice that is full of harm.

108. (Friend): Damayantī, that loved one is in thy heart, why art thou sorrowing still?

(Damayantī): Friend, I am sad, because he is only in my heart, and not without.

109. (Friend): The gem in thy necklace having burst with Cupid’s heat, thy bosom is without any ornament to-day.

(Damayantī): Friend, woe is me if my beloved is banished even from my heart.[57]

110. Thus saying, immediately she fell into a swoon with Cupid’s fire growing intense in her mind; prostrate with grief, how could she endure the loss, though but imagined, of the fragment of her hope?[58]

111. One of her friends put water in her mouth; one covered her breasts with lotus petals; one fanned her bosom; some one put ice on the fair maid’s body.

112. The multitude of her dear friends attended her long with soft and cool lotus stalks and fibres, water and the like in such a way that by degrees she slightly came to her senses.

113-14. “Kalā, look, she distinctly breathes; Calā, observe, the eyelashes move; Menakā, guess the quivering of her lower lip; Kalpalatā, hear, she speaks something; Cārumati, cover her breasts; Keśinī, bind her unloosened hair; Taraṅgiṇī, wipe off her streaming tears”—then were words like these heard.

115. In quick accents from the mouth of her friends rose that loud noise, hearing which the king of Vidarbha came in fear to the mansion of his daughter.

116. Then the great minister of the king and the physician, owing to whose being in office there were no evils to disturb his daughter’s inner apartments or the inner constitution of her body, both of them spoke to the king words that were alike. The former, “Sire, listen, I know everything from reliable reports and the statements of spies; none could overcome her grief, except some one who would give her Nala.” The latter, “Sire, listen, I know everything from Suśruta and the statements of Caraka; no expedient can suppress her heat, except the herb known as Nalada.”

117. What was being simultaneously said by them was, though alike, mutually opposed; but the ears of the king, who was worried by the apprehension of a hundred evils with regard to Damayantī, did not take in anything.

118. The king knew his daughter, prostrate at his feet, to be overwhelmed by sufferings caused by Cupid, though she had quickly shaken off all signs of her grief due to the absence of her beloved; the wise, indeed, know at once the thoughts of others,

119. Then the father gave his blessings to his daughter whose head was bent by quickly raising her head: “Mayst thou in a few days obtain in a Svayaṃvara the virtuous husband of thy choice.”

120. After that he said to the friends of his daughter: “As soon as the winter of such maidens is past, even flowers act as arrows on their bodies; so nurse her properly.

121. “In a few days your friend will herself choose a noble husband in accordance with her desire; so with her leanness at an end, she ought to regain all her beauty through the care of maidens like you.”

122. Damayantī’s friends made their minds an ocean of joy and shame, thinking that the king, speaking thus, did not ask his daughter about what was a matter of shame;[59] that he concluded her swoon to be caused by Cupid from the paleness, heat and the like of her body: thinking also of what he had said under the pretext of giving his blessings, and what he had said about the kind of consolation that would be suitable for her.

123. Epilogue. [The poet refers to his work Sthairya-vicāraprakaraṇa, A Treatise on the consideration of Stability (or Permanence) of Things.]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Applied to arrow, “śrutipathopagata [śrutipathoparata?]” means ‘drawn as far as the ears.’

[2]:

Lit. she who has a belly composed of two atoms.

[3]:

i.e. the swan.

[4]:

i.e. she was too morose to cast any side-glance.

[5]:

These were famous for their beauty, so were Nala and Cupid. Cf. 5.46.

[6]:

i.e. Cupid.

[7]:

i.e. Nala.

[8]:

The sighs are fancied as air secretly entering her body in order to fan the flame of Cupid burning in her mind. Its secret entry is not noticed, and can only be inferred at the time of its going out in the form of sighs which alone are noticed.

[9]:

The scarf was moving as the bosom heaved up and down with her sighs. The sighs are calling attention by that means to the imminent danger to their place of refuge—the heart—from Cupid’s oppression.

[10]:

i.e. in the midst of her ardent longing for Nala her feelings were deadened, and she was reduced to a state of stupor.

[11]:

Moonlight being highly oppressive to lovers in separation, Damayantī was being burnt by the rays of the moon, which she therefore regarded as the sun. But even as the sun, it set her heart on fire, as if it were a sunstone which is supposed to catch fire in contact with the rays of the sun.

[12]:

i.e. Cupid, alter he had been burnt by Śiva.

[13]:

i.e. her grief will not be calmed by death; even in the after life the fire of grief caused by Nala’s absence will continue to burn.

[14]:

The lotus stalks, placed on her body to allay her sufferings, and glistening with moonlight, are the rays of the moon stealthily coming in to oppress Damayantī who kept indoors to avoid the light of the moon.

[15]:

The reflections of Damayantī’s face, eyes and lips are fancied as the five flowery arrows of Cupid fixed in her heart.

[16]:

i.e. the moon reflected on her cheek could not be distinguished from it, as the white portion of the moon was not noticed on the pale cheek, its dark spot alone coming into view, with the result that her face with the lunar spot visible on it looked like another moon.

[17]:

The sandal paste applied to her feverish body, when it dried up, looked like ashes, while the lotus stalks looked like snakes, both together giving her the appearance of Śiva. It seemed as if Damayantī was using these to scare away Cupid who dreaded Śiva, being once burnt to ashes by him.

[18]:

i.e. the lotus blossom, withered by her sighs, rustled like dry leaves, and had to be thrown away as useless.

[19]:

As Cupid occupied Damayantī’s heart, his emblem—the fish—is also supposed to be there. It is fancied that the cool spray of moss, which was applied to her bosom, and moved as her heart throbbed, was shaken by this fish from inside her heart.

[20]:

Śaśikānta (‘beautiful like the moon’) means also moonstone which is believed to exude water in contact with moonlight. Damayantī’s face was a moonstone in the sense that at the sight of the moon it used to be wet with tears for Nala.

[21]:

The idea is that she was as charming as Cupid’s flowery arrows. The latter however, are five in number; so Cupid wanted to connect her also with that number, i.e. he wanted to kill her; “to be reduced to the five elements” means “to die.”

[22]:

A new rain-cloud is one of the phenomena regarded as unbearable to love-sick people. Damayantī’s sighs are blasts of wind which would blow away the mischievous rain-cloud.

[23]:

As snakes are believed to feed on air, the lotus stalks which were placed on her body as a sedative are snakes used by her to drive away the south wind.

[24]:

i.e. two palm fruits flung at her by Cupid stuck to her body and became her breasts.

[25]:

The moon being an oppressor of Virahins, she rebuked the moon and praised Rāhu who swallows the moon during an eclipse.

[26]:

i.e. what is a moment to lovers in union is an age to lovers in separation; to the unhappy even a moment appears as long as an age.

[27]:

Satī committed suicide, as her father Dakṣa insulted her husband Śiva during a sacrifice performed by the former, and in the next life she was born as the daughter of the Himalaya mountain under the name of Pārvatī. It is here fancied that she chose the snowy Himalaya as her father in order to calm the fire of her grief for Śiva; while the third eye of Śiva, glowing on his forehead, is the fire of Śiva’s grief for the absent Satī.

[28]:

i.e. the moon keeps its dark spot representing vice carefully in its heart, while its white portion, which by its lustre makes the night lotus bloom, is kept by it at a distance.

[29]:

The moon is fancied as a criminal who is dashed against a rock by way of punishment. Here the rock is the dark, moonless night, while the stars, more in view on such a night, are increased in number by the fragments of the moon when it is smashed.

[30]:

.i.e. during the churning of the ocean, the birthplace of the moon.

[31]:

The ruling idea of the verse is fidelity even after death. The text in question says that the mind, after the death of the body, is merged in the moon. The moon, oppressing and wishing to kill the love-sick Damayantī, is planning to have her mind after her death, but she says Cupid has so ordained that her mind, after her death, would go not to the moon in the heavens, but to that other moon—the face of Nala.

[32]:

Also “resting on Śiva”, i.e. on his head. See Vocab. under “bhūtapati”.

[33]:

i.e. forlorn lovers suffering from the exciting light of the moon.

[34]:

While the ocean was being churned, the moon came out of it, as did poison, which was, however, swallowed by Śiva in order to save the world.

[35]:

The waning of the moon is believed to be due to the gods drinking the nectar constituting the body of the moon.

[36]:

i.e. the invisible moon of the Amāvāsyā night, regarded as inauspicious by astrologers.

[37]:

The literal meaning of “bahula”, which, means, however, the dark fortnight.

[38]:

Immeasurable, because on the Amāvāsyā night the moon is totally invisible.

[39]:

The word “Amā” standing for “Amāvāsyā” means “immeasurable,” See also Notes.

[40]:

i.e. Rāhu gives up the moon, because he finds it extremely sharp and biting.

[41]:

It will be remembered that Rāhu has no body, possessing only a head.

[42]:

i.e. if Viṣṇu had not severed Rāhu’s head from the body, he would have swallowed and digested the moon. So Viṣṇu being responsible for the survival of the moon, is also responsible for the killing of separated lovers by the moon.

[43]:

The reference is to Dakṣa’s sacrifice destroyed by Śiva. For the allusion see Vocab. under “tārāmṛga”.

[44]:

i.e. the moon which is regarded as the king of the Brāhmaṇas.

[45]:

Vāruṇī means both “the west” and “wine”. The moon goes down in the west; a Brāhmaṇa who drinks wine goes down from his caste and position. Such a Brāhmaṇa cannot come to heaven, but as the moon does so, in spite of his connection with Vāruṇī, he cannot be a Brāhmaṇa.

[46]:

Garuḍa was once devouring a low-caste man, but when he felt a burning sensation in his throat, he gave him up, knowing by that means that his victim was a Brāhmaṇa. See Mahābhārata (Ādiparva, chap. 27 ft), Cal. ed.

[47]:

The word “dvijarāja”, an epithet of the moon, meaning “the king of the Brāhmaṇas” may be construed also as meaning “the king of teeth”.

[48]:

i.e. while Cupid was being burnt to ashes by Śiva. The love-inducing moon is imagined as Cupid’s face saved from the fire.

[49]:

i.e. by burning and reducing him to an ethereal form.

[50]:

Śiva, the terrible destroyer of the world, is credited with three eyes, hence the appearance of three eyes means an outburst of anger. It is here fancied that owing to the mischievous nature of Cupid everybody became “three-eyed” or enraged whenever he was present. But this roused the fear of Śiva whose reputation as the only being possessing three eyes in the universe was thus jeopardised. He, therefore, made Cupid “invisible” in order to remove the necessity of people becoming “three-eyed” on seeing him.

[51]:

Cupid assumed an ethereal form after he had been burnt. Damayantī speaks of him as if he were dead.

[52]:

i.e. just enough for his five arrows.

[53]:

The song of the cuckoo is here regarded as the fifth arrow of Cupid, as the voice of the cuckoo is supposed to reproduce the fifth note of the scale.

[54]:

There is a pun on the word “dakṣiṇa” meaning both “south” and “right.” Applied to the arm, it means “right”. See Notes.

[55]:

i.e. Viṣṇu ought to have killed the spring (Madhu) as the chief accomplice of Cupid rather than the demon Madhu.

[56]:

The cuckoo cries “kuhū” which means also the moonless Amāvāsyā night.

[57]:

The girl said “analaṃkṛtam”: “without any ornament,” but Damayantī takes it to mean “analaṃ kṛtam”: “deprived of Nala”.

[58]:

To be connected with the preceding verse. Damayantī imagined that she was really going to lose Nala, at the very thought of which she became unconscious.

[59]:

i.e. her secret love for Nala.

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