Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha

by Krishna Kanta Handiqui | 1956 | 159,632 words

This page relates Nala delivers the message of the Gods which is canto 8 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 8 - Nala delivers the message of the Gods

1. Then all the fair-eyed damsels as well as the daughter of king Bhīma drank in, with their eyes, that youth, whose hairs stood up and eyes ceased to wink in amazement.

2. How long, indeed, could the words of the god[1] hide him? A sugarcane sapling, covered with straw, does of itself come into view.

3. Before the ray of Nala’s eyes[2] reached even their comer with Damayantī as its aim, Cupid’s arrows sank up to the very end of the shaft in every limb of the fair-browed girl.

4. As Cupid hit both Nala and Damayantī at the same time owing to his possession of an equal measure of strength and skill, why did not his (five) arrows, which do not admit of division into equal halves, produce any inequality (in their effect)?

5. She felt affection for him, thinking he was Nala, but became indifferent, thinking every moment, “How can he be here?” Nala’s heart, too, went out to her, but was turned back by him, because of his duty as a messenger.

6. (Among the girls present) one blushed at the sight of Nala; the heart of another was immersed in his lustre; a certain damsel thought him to be Cupid; another resigned herself to Cupid’s power.

7. Owing to the encumbrance of their embarrassment, the slender-limbed damsels could not even ask him, ‘Who or whence art thou?’ With diverse emotions they rose from their seats, as if with a desire to welcome him.

8. Like as a river, at the advent of the sporting season of the clouds,[3] acquires a great speed in its waters, so did Damayantī, on seeing him, experience a certain vehemence in her raptures of joy.

9. Her eyes, fixed on any limb of his, which they saw before them, would not have moved to any other limb, had not the winking of the eyes given her at long intervals a stream of consciousness, cutting short her view from time to time.

10. She could not discern a limb, though her eyes were fixed on it, owing to the joy caused by some previously seen limb; and then, when she saw some other limb, she could not, turning back, remember the one erstwhile seen.

11. Her eyes, unsteady by nature, leaving one limb of his, and stepping on the threshold of the enjoyment of another, long came and went, in their eagerness to enjoy both.[4]

12. The fair-browed maid of Vidarbha,[5] eagerly drinking in his limbs with her eyes, both those well-seen and those imperfectly seen, and experiencing an equal measure of joy, was not aware of the difference between the two.

13. The Khanjana birds in the shape of her eyes, totally motionless by falling into the snare of Nala’s hair, fine and thick, could not get away by unloosening the tie.

14. The lotus-bed that was Damayantī’s eyes, obtaining the embrace of the lotus blossoms in the shape of the king’s face, hands and feet did not forsake for a long while the contact of their kin.[6]

15. At that time, becoming joy itself, and labouring under an inexplicable and ever-increasing delusion, she experienced a sweet delight that had two different tastes owing to the presence in it of the joys of both emancipation and mundane life.[7]

16. Surely the Creator did not make Indra act as his own messenger to her, disguised as Nala, in order that she might not be tainted by the sin of being attached to a messenger assuming the beautiful form of Nala.[8]

17. Is there even a sage whose mind is sure in the matter of virtue, prone as it is to sin as well? But God, being merciful, checks a devotee’s mind when it thinks of sin.

18. Just as she, maddened by Cupid, could not keep silence, though extremely modest, when she had the illusion of seeing Nala before her, so even in the presence of the real Nala, she could not refrain from speech: in those who are under a delusion is there any power to distinguish the true from the false?

19. Then with her effort to conceal her emotion proving futile, she herself addressed him in a weak and faltering voice, bending her moon-like face, while her friends maintained silence in fear.

20. “He who knows social usage should offer to guests water for washing the feet even by bowing with the lustre of the gems on his head; the prescribed satisfaction of a guest with the Madhu-parka offering should be brought about even by a mellifluous current of courteous words.[9]

21. “One’s own self should be made as grass by courteous manners; one’s own seat should be given up for the guest; water for washing should be furnished by means of one’s tears of joy, and questions asked with honeyed words.

22. “Offence is possible even on account of the delay in bringing water for offering at the feet; so one’s very sincerity should meanwhile be made one’s store (of hospitality), by folding one’s hands (before the guest).

23. “Leaving my seat, long ago did I offer it to thee; even if thou hast the desire to go elsewhere, shouldst thou not adorn it for a moment, though unworthy of thee?

24. “Lo, tell me to what distance thy cruel mind wishes to subject thy feet to toil, that have put an end to the pride of softness which the cup of the Śirīṣa flower had.

25. “What country hast thou to-day (by thy departure) reduced to the condition of a forest forsaken by the spring? May I not even hear the name that is blessed by being a symbol of thee?

26. “Hast thou not crossed the ocean itself by this thy entry into this closely guarded place? But I cannot even now discern the object of this daring act.

27. “I consider the merit of my eyes the cause of the fact that, at the moment of thy entry here, thou wast not noticed by the warrior sentinels, and that thou who hast surpassed by thy form the flower-bowed Cupid, art being gazed upon by those very eyes.

28. “As thy figure is something indescribable, as thou hast a power making the sentinels blind, as thou art pleasing by a lustre surpassing that of yellow orpiment, thou art akin to the gods.

9.The lustre of the gems on her crown is to take the place of water, and sweet words that of the Madhuparka offering consisting of curds, butter, sugar and honey, as water and the rest are not at hand in Damayantī’s antechamber. The idea is continued in the next verse.

29. “Thou art not Cupid, because he has no corporeal form, nor art thou one of the Aśvins,[10] because neither of them is without the other. Or, what is the use of any other distinctive marks? Thy very beauty is a distinctive feature marking thy superiority to them.

30. “Thou who hast gratified the world by the vision of thee, what dynasty is that which produced thy nectar-rayed self, and is now rightly going forward to rival the ocean?”[11]

31. Owing to the eyes of the sentinels being thus baffled, the girl, thinking him to be some god, beautiful like Nala, really praised once more the beauty of her beloved, present in him, under the pretext of courteous words of hospitality.

32. “If one is silent about a thing, marvellous by its merit, it means the futility of one’s faculty of speech—an unbearable thorn; on the other hand, if one speaks too little, there is the charge of wickedness: so let one rather be liable to be mistaken for a professional panegyrist.

33. “Cupiḍ, I ween, found in thee a second birth by dint of his religious merit; for he sacrificed his body in that fire-pit, Śiva’s terrible eye.[12]

34. “Thou hast (by thy beauty) made Purūravas bow his head in shame—Purūravas who surpassed the Kailāsa mountain by the fame of his lustre; thou hast made the Aśvins shed tears by taking away their splendour by force; thou hast made even Cupid renounce his pride of beauty.

35. “I know the white rows of swans are but the moving grains of the fame[13] of thy beauty, which flying and falling, as is proper, float in all directions on the waters of rivers and pools.

36. “Truly Cupid hath not acquired even the beauty present on the great toe of thy foot; indeed, the half moon, the emblem of Cupid’s conqueror Śiva, is there in the shape of a toe nail.[14]

37. “Every month different, does the moon, by emaciating its full-sized body by means of austerities, and becoming invisible on Amāvāsyā nights, merge itself in thy face?

38. “Did the Creator, after making thy eyes, variegated with many a colour, give to the eyes of the black antelope a finger-thrust in the shape of the deep-cut line of the slit visible near its eyes?[15]

39. “Cupid is called mugdha (‘beautiful,’ also ‘foolish’), because of his foolishness, not because of his beautiful form; for, having given his bow (to the Creator) for the making of thy eyebrows, he became conquerable by thee at any moment, with this beauty of thine, by a mere wrinkling of them.[16]

40. “On this moon—thy face—are visible the two eyes of the antelope, the presence of which is inferred because thy face is the moon, while its tail with a flashing bunch of hair is visible in the guise of thy flowing locks.[17]

41. “Let the old tradition that Cupid is invisible, because destroyed by Śiva, be set aside; forsooth, a new tradition appears that he is so, because the beauty that is in thy body did not enter into possession of him.[18]

42. “The great god Śiva installed the Moon, though a child, on his head as well as in sovereignty over sacrificers,[19] because in a world, the quintessence of whose beauty was taken away by thee, the Moon sought its living by gleaning the grains left behind.[20]

43. “I know, God, having made the world destitute of all talk of beauty since the burning of Cupid, hath after an age taken pity on it again, by creating thy limbs.

44. “If thou art a human being, the earth has attained the end of its existence; if thou art some one of the gods, the heavens reign supreme; if some family of serpents is adorned by thee, the serpent world, though lying below, is above all the worlds.

45. “When my mind ponders on thee, it no longer entertains that great absurdity (that the ocean was drunk up as it is by the sage Agastya like a palmful of water); for the ocean easily proved equal in measure to the hollow of his palm, having its distinctive features, depth and magnitude, taken away by thee.

46. “I know, in this ocean of the world Nala exists as thy reflection; indeed, apart from an object and its reflection, the Creator hath never been seen to create two things completely alike.

47. “Lo, who in the mundane sphere has accomplished such glorious good deeds that even thy feet, moving towards him, are creating a wreath of lotus blossoms on the dust of the road?[21]

48. “I know not what my mind, resorting to the swing of doubt, is saying to me; thou art perhaps going to be a guest in the house of some blessed personage: or, what is the use of a false surmise?

49. “My eyes, drinking in the texture of thy beauty, have already attained the end of their existence; may not my ears, too, welcome nectar into them provided thou dost them a favour with thy speech?”

50. In this way did the five flowery arrows of Cupid, emitting a flow of honey, and discharged from that bow of Bandhūka flowers—the lips of Damayantī—enter his mind through his ears in the guise of her speech.

51. Drinking in the beloved words of his beloved, in nectar did he sink up to his neck. Is not the sweetness of praise, that sounds sweet even in the mouth of an enemy, immeasurable in the mouth of one that is dear?

52. Then, just as the sun, accepting the offerings of worship brought by the people, occupies the mountain of the east, so Nala, accepting the hospitality offered by his beloved, occupied a seat.

21.The presence of lotus marks on the soles of the feet is a sign of luck. It is here hyperbolically stated that the visitor, being endowed with these marks, has left impressions of them on his footprints.

53. His strength of mind and Cupid fought with each other, taking Damayantī herself as the arena where her eyebrows servṃg as Cupid’s bow, rent in the middle, proclaimed respectively their victory and defeat.[22]

54. Then Nala, though treated to the lyre-notes of her speech, spoke, ignoring Cupid’s command by his strength of mind. Never can Cupid defile the mind of the good, purified as it is by conscience in a hundred showers.

55. “Know me to be a guest of thine, come from the council of the lords of the quarters, bearing the message of the gods, like my life, with an esteem inwardly deep.

56. “Stop, honour is done. Be seated, why hast thou left thy seat? That mission of mine, which has to be crowned with success, would be abundant hospitality indeed.

57. “Blessed maiden, art thou well? Is thy mind at rest? Useless to delay. Thou with eyes stretched as far as the marge of the ears, hear thou my words.

58. “Since thy childhood the multitude of thy virtues hath charmed the lords of the various directions—Indra, Varuṇa, Agni and Yama.

59. “Their mind, of which the wealth of moral strength has been plundered by Cupid, who is also entirely stealing their lustre,[23] suffers by long brooding over thee, who art under the dual sovereignty of childhood and youth.

60. “Now, in their heart, it is solely the hope of getting thee that is flashing without cessation, while their wives—the various directions, the east and the others, flash not by assuming noble forms as before.

61. “Slender maid, simultaneously with this thy youth, Indra’s abiding love for thee reached its climax; and, at the same time, the tough string of Cupid’s bow mounted the other end of the bow.[24]

62. “When the sun rises in the east, Indra, owing to thy absence from him, taking it for the moon, because of its heat and similar shape, fixes on the sun, through the fault of another, the multitude of his eyes, red with wrath.[25]

63. “The thousand-eyed Indra being angry to-day, I know not what will happen to Cupid, who hath not yet been able to conceal even the effect of what Śiva, who had but three eyes, did in his anger.[26]

64. “Owing to the displeasure caused by the mere voice of the cuckoo, the mighty Indra delights not even in the Nandana, the garden of pleasure; he does not practise even the worship of the trident-bearing Śiva on account of the offence of the child moon residing on Śiva’s head.[27]

65. “The flowery arrows of Cupid, making in the eyes of Indra all directions dark with their pollen, make the beak of the bird that sings ‘kuhū’ speak the truth even on a full moon night.[28]

66. “Lo, what would not Indra do with his thunderbolt to make him a relic of the past—the Cupid that torments him with arrows of flowers, were not his lack of corporeal form—Śiva’s favour to him[29]—an invulnerable armour for him?

67. “The trees of the gods, which remove the poverty of others, have themselves become destitute of leaves, cut off for preparing beds, one after another, for Indra pining on account of thy absence from him.

68. “Indra’s ears have turned deaf with the twangs caused by the stir of the string of Cupid’s bow; how will he hear his preceptor’s words, capable of awakening one from the sleep of infatuation produced by Cupid?

69. “Spring after spring, the lilies on the river of heaven, frequently tortured—stalks and all—for the solace of his heat, caused by Cupid, might well have a liking for the winter.[30]

70. “Damayantī, this thirst of Indra ranks among those things in the world which have to be counted first; for the ocean of his eyes is suffering from an eagerness to have only a glance from thee.

71. “Damayantī, Agni, one of the lords of the quarters, the refulgent incarnation of the eight-formed Śiva, daily worshipped by sacrificers, has also been commanded by Cupid to be thy slave.

72. “Verily the Cupid that is in thee, by heating the god of fire, makes him so pliable that having himself had a taste of what it is to be heated, he would not heat others again.

73. “Cupid, who was aforetime burnt by the god of fire with his abode in Śiva’s eye,[31] is not now a defaulter in paying the debt of hostility, burning as he does the god of fire, taking up his abode in thy eyes.[32]

74. “It seems as if the lovelorn Agni, angry with one Soma (the moon), gulps another Soma (the juice of the plant of that name), offered as an oblation in sacrifices: who among the powerful can, indeed, bear with a fellow, with whom is associated the name of an enemy, be it only the name?[33]

75. “Youthful maid, unceasingly tortured on account of thee by the flowery arrows of Cupid, he is, methinks, afraid even of the flowers offered by his worshippers.

76. “The fresh sprout of a leaf, variegated with a spray of moss, placed by him on his heart,[34] burnt by Cupid, shone like a line of flame of Cupid’s fire, dark with smoke.[35]

77. “The mighty Yama also, whose father is the sun, the friend of the lotus, and whose wife is the region redolent with sandal,[36] hath sacrificed for thy sake his patience in the fire of Cupid’s might.

78. “Him, burning in the fire of Cupid, the Malaya mountain worshipfully serves even with hands that are being burnt, the young leaves of its trees: whoso always fixes his hope on someone[37] doth not give up serving him even in times of woe.[38]

79. “Owing to thy absence from him, he has his limbs pale and shaken by a violent fever, as if they were whitened by Cupid’s fame and consumed by the might of Cupid’s arms.

80. “Slender maid, he who is the lord of the direction that is fond of painting its body with saffron at eve,[39] sent his heart to thee at a moment, starting at which a traveller doth never return.[40]

81. “The hungry submarine fire doth not heat the oceans so much as their own master, the lord of the waters, is doing now, staying in their midst, ill from Cupid’s heat.

82. “The cool lotus stalk, applied by him to his body, rather augments his heat; for it knits together, mischievous, the wreath of the memory of thy tender creeperlike arms.[41]

83. “Then a piece of lotus-stalk, placed by him on his heated bosom, gleamed, as if in a moment bored into a hundred holes by Cupid’s arrows buried in his heart.[42]

84. “In this way, with regard to those gods, the ornaments of the three worlds, continues the wanton tyranny of Cupid, whose frivolity is running riot with the blindness of pride, having found in thee an unfailing weapon.

85. “‘Tomorrow comes thy Svayaṃvara’—this report reached the ears of these gods, gladdening their hearts, like a stream issuing from the quintessence of nectar.

86. “Then the gods of the quarters, suffering from the heat of the fire of Cupid’s might, started for the earth, simultaneously with the sighs of their wives, sighs heavy with sorrow at the prospect of having a co-wife.

87. “Omitting to take any supply of nectar as provision for the way, happily did they make their journey with their desire alone fixed on thee—the sweet desire allaying their hunger and thirst.

88. “For thy sake, plunging their celestial wives in the conflagration of Cupid’s arrows, those great gods are now making this earth the object of their grace, by setting their feet upon it.

89. “Having adorned (with their presence) a place near by, the gods have made me acquire the beauty of a moving script to thee, by putting on it letters in the shape of a message.

90. “Each of them, greeting thee with an embrace, pressing himself against thy full breasts, sends this message to thee—‘Be for our joy the creeper Viśalyā, for us who are fainting under the darts of Cupid the savage.’

(The message of the gods continued)—

91. “Tell us, how long shall we, with the mere solace of desire, deceive our eyes,[43] wishing to drink in thy beauty?[44]

92. “Give thy arms the shape of a halo around us who are gods; be pleased to quench our heat with thy limbs, cool with the ripples of Cupid’s play.

93. “Have pity, art thou about to have us destroyed by the invisible arrows of that Caṇḍāla—Cupid? Rather would we die, pierced by the pointed arrows of thy glances, sanctified by the emotion of love.

94. “There may be suitors beyond a thousand for thy hand, but our life depends upon the favour of thy feet; if thou thinkest we are feigning, Cupid living in our heart is witness.

95. “Within, these our hearts have ever been occupied by thee; without, let our bosom now be adorned by thee, even as Viṣṇu’s bosom is by Lakṣmī.

96. “If thou take pity on us, do thou adorn heaven; useless is delay; but, if thou like thy own land—the earth, we will give the designation of heaven to earth.

97. “Slender maid, the worship thou daily offerest to us with the lotus ‘that grows on water’ pleases us not, but let our worship be with thy lotus feet placed on our head bowing in the hope of obtaining thy favour.

98. “Fair-eyed one, what shall we do with the objects of gold offered by thee in thy worship? Ah, verily our hands ask for thy limbs that have destroyed the pride of the colour of gold.

99. “Thou with eyebrows akin to the (flowery) bow of the flower-arrowed Cupid! Lake goldsmiths shall we bum that impudent, tawny gold which vies with the fair complexion of thy body.

100. “This our heat of Cupid caused by thee is not allayed even by pools of ambrosia, still less by nymphs ‘that inhabit waters’; but it will be quenched by one word uttered by thee—‘mine’—acting as a spray of the honey of flowers.

101. “Is sugar-candy only a fragment of thy voice, and sugar but the gravel on its path? Slender-limbed damsel, is not the sugar-cane a marshy grass, famous in the regions, growing on the sweet flow of the modulations of thy voice?

102. “What can we give thee? Nectar in the shape of thy lips is already on thy mouth of its own accord, while thy face, by conquering the Moon, will itself come to enjoy the sacrificial portion allotted to him.[45]

103. “As we ourselves wish to remain alive by taking shelter under thy lotus-feet, will it not be shameful for us to say ‘Beloved, choose thou immortality from us’?

104. “The nectarean elixirs of life are powerless to save us from untimely death at the hands of Cupid; so be pleased to allow us to drink thy more availing lips.

105. “By thy grace, let Cupid rise in our mind, acting as the mind-born giver of joy! He was, indeed, burnt (by Śiva) along with his bow and arrows and his emblem—the fish; but now, slender damsel, with thy eyebrows let him be an archer; with thy pure white smiles a warrior with victory-giving arrow-tips; and, let the fish the emblem of his banner, be subordinate to those two ever-fickle Śaphara fish, thy eyes.[46]

106. “When every night dreams bring thee to us, our glance sinks in thy charms, the ears in the ocean of the nectar of thy song, the skin in the tenderness of thy body—a floral spray, the nose in the fragrance of thy breath, the tongue in the honey of thy lips, and the mind in thy acts: slender-limbed damsel, none of the antelopes that are our organs of sense have skipped over the net represented by thee.”

(Nala speaks)—

107. “Choose thou one of these lords of the quarters, using thy own judgment, and crown my mission with success—I am the bearer of a letter that is my own tongue holding the garland of the message of the gods.

108. “Slender-waisted damsel, cheer up Indra; then, with ever-new dalliance, rescue Agni, immersed in love; or take pity on Yama, or if such be not thy will, choose thou Varuṇa.”

109. Epilogue. [Śrīharṣa describes his poem as “a traveller on a path unseen by the race of poets.”]

Footnotes and references:


The words of Indra conferring on Nala the power of invisibility.


See Notes.


i.e., the rainy season.


i.e., she moved her eyes to and fro to look at both the limbs.




Damayantī’s eyes and Nala’s limbs are fancied as relatives embracing each other.


The state of pure joy is the state of final emancipation, while the delusion produced by the pleasures of sense is the characteristic of worldly life.


In that case, Damayantī would unwittingly be faithless to Nala; so the Creator made Nala himself the messenger.


The lustre of the gems on her crown is to take the place of water, and sweet words that of the Madhuparka offering consisting of curds, butter, sugar and honey, as water and the rest are not at hand in Damayantī’s antechamber. The idea is continued in the next verse.


The Indian Dioscuri. Cf. 4. 5.


The ocean produced the nectar-rayed moon, when it was churned by the gods.


The burning of Cupid by the fire of Śiva’s third eye is represented as an act of self-immolation.


Fame in Sanskrit poetry is always white.


The half moon being the emblem of his destroyer śiva, Cupid was afraid of it and anything that resembled it; so he kept away from the nail which resembled the half moon in shape and could not take any part of its beauty.


The idea is, the Creator, while making Nala’s eyes, saw near him the antelope which wanted its own eyes to be like those of Nala; but the god punished the animal for its audacity with a finger-thrust, which caused below its eyes a rent resembling the half moon. Literally: the Creator gave a “half moon stroke” in the shape of the channel-like line etc. Cf. 7. 22.


Beautiful eyebrows are usually compared to Cupid’s flowery bow. Here, Cupid lent his how to the Creator for the making of Nala’s eyebrows, but Nala with his beauty so heightened is now in a position to vanquish Cupid by a mere “wrinkling” of those very eyebrows, i.e. by a mere frown.


As Nala’s face is nothing but the moon, the presence on it of the deer believed to be in the moon is to be inferred. The animal itself is not visible, but its eyes and bushy tail are visible in the form of Nala’s eyes and hair. Cf. 2. 83.


i.e., he hides himself for shame.


The moon is called Dvijarāja “the king of the Brāhmaṇas.”


To earn one’s livelihood by gleaning the grains of com left behind by reapers was considered a religious merit. Here, the Moon gleaned the grains of beauty left behind by Nala, and on account of the virtue resulting therefrom Śiva gave it a place on his own head and made it the king of the Brāhmaṇas.


The presence of lotus marks on the soles of the feet is a sign of luck. It is here hyperbolically stated that the visitor, being endowed with these marks, has left impressions of them on his footprints.


The eyebrows are as usual fancied as the bow of Cupid. But here the clear-cut eyebrows detached from each other are compared to the two pieces of a bow broken in the middle. Cupid was fighting with Nala, using Damayantī’s eyebrows as his bow, and the fact of its being broken in twain indicated his defeat by Nala whose weapon was his strength of mind, i.e., Nala resisted Damayantī’s charms for the sake of his duty as a messenger.


i.e., by making them pine with love.


i.e., during Damayantī’s childhood Cupid’s bow was lying idle with its string attached only to one end, but at the advent of her youth he joined the string to the other end also, ready to use the bow.


Indra being a Virahin finds the exciting light of the moon as hot as the rays of the sun. Hence, distracted with love, he takes the sun for the moon, and with his thousand eyes casts angry looks at the sun, though it is the moon that oppresses him.


The effect of being burnt by Śiva was that Cupid lost his body and was reduced to an ethereal form.


The moon decorates the head of Śiva, and its offence has already been referred to in verse 62.


The idea is, Indra, distracted with love, sees only darkness in every direction even on a full moon night, so that to him a full moon night is as dark as an Amāvāsyā night. So, when the cuckoo sings ‘Kuhū,’ ‘Kuhū’ on the moonlit night, it speaks the truth; for Kuhū means also the night of Amāvāsyā, and what is a full moon night to others is Amāvāsyā to Indra. As in 1.100, there is a pun on the word Kuhū.


See under Verse 63. The idea is, Indra can do no harm to Cupid, because the latter has no physical body.


In the winter only the flowers wither, the stalks remain; but in the spring, when the plants are in bloom, they are uprooted, flowers and stalks, to be applied to Indra’s feverish body.


Cupid, as is well-known, was burnt by a flame issuing from the third eye of Śiva.


i.e., with Damayantī’s charming eyes as his weapon.


Agni being a Virahin, the real offender is the moon; but he is fancied as drinking up the juice of the Soma plant in sacrifices as a punishment for its bearing the same name as Agni’s enemy, the moon.


i.e., as a sedative.


The ruddy, new leaf is compared to a flame; the green spray of moss to smoke.


The South.


Also, “he who always adopts (as his abode) the region belonging to someone.” The Malaya mountain lives in the region owned by Yama, i.e. the south.


The idea is, oppressed with Cupid’s heat, Yama lies on beds made of young leaves provided by the trees on the Malaya mountain. The leaves withered by Yama’s feverish body are the hands of the mountain which is represented as a faithful servant serving his master, though in so doing his own hands are being burnt.


i.e., the west presided over by Varuṇa, of whom Nala is now speaking.


There are certain inauspicious dates and occasions which are to be avoided by travellers, if they want to return to their homes. Varuṇa’s mind obviously travelled to Damayantī on such an occasion, so it never returned.


i.e., reminds him of thy arms.


As the lotus-stalk as a whole proved oppressive, as described in the preceding verse, Varuṇa tried the expedient of putting on his bosom only a small piece of it as a sedative. Here, the holes visible at the ends, when a lotus-stalk is broken to pieces, are fancied as being made by Cupid’s arrows.


Lit. glance.


i.e., their eyes want actual seeing, not a mere desire to see.


The two gifts in the possession of the gods are nectar and the share of sacrificial offerings to which each of them is entitled. But Damayantī has nectar in the shape of her lips, while she can easily acquire a share in the sacrificial offerings, by conquering the moon with her beautiful face and taking possession of the share allotted to the lunar deity.


Cupid is to be reborn, more powerful than before. He is to have two bows in the shape of Damayantī’s eyebrows, an unlimited number of tips for his arrows in the shape of her smiles, and two emblems for his banner in the shape of her eyes.

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