Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha

by Krishna Kanta Handiqui | 1956 | 159,632 words

This page relates Worship of Vishnu which is canto 21 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 21 - Worship of Viṣṇu

1. The kings, who paid their homage to Nala as he went out of Damayantīs bejewelled palace, demonstrated once more their feudatory status[1] by offering their hands to him.

2. On either side the kings, as they bowed to him, covered the passage with the wreaths of their heads; as if they thought it was too hard for his feet, though overlaid with China silk tapestries.

3. Rewarded with the high honour of being looked upon by him, the kings quickly offered marvellous jewels from their own countries, made all the more marvellous by the excellence due to the skill expended on them.[2]

4. There were kings who received from him as a sign of his favour the jewels presented to him by other kings; he indicating his offer of them by pointing his finger, or with a gleam in his eye or a movement of his eyebrows.

5. Like a father, he sent them away, after they had been gratified by his unceasing queries about their welfare conveyed in words pleasant and true.[3] Then he whose valour was beyond measure, trained those brought to him by a sense of disciple-ship, in the practice of weapons for hurling and weapons for striking.

6. He taught his able students an art of wielding weapons, not prevalent among mortals. Breathing restlessly, he longed for a bath, his forehead spotted with drops of sweat.

7. His body was first gently rubbed with the fragrant ‘Yakṣa paste’,[4] while his head was smeared with musk. High-bosomed women poured on him perfumed water, which attracted bees.

8. There helped him to bathe a friendly holy priest. The king was full of a mighty religious virtue. The priest poured over him ripples of sacred water streaming down from jars.

9. While Nala bathed, his lotus hands looked beautiful with blades of ceremonial Kuśa grass held in each; as if they carried streaks of smoke issuing from the fire of his absence from his beloved’s bosom.

10. The water of the Gaṅgā, which he took in the hollow of his palm to rinse his face with, seemed to put heaven in his hand, reflected in the purity of the water.

11. The loving Earth, finding him, her husband,[5] separated from Damayantī, seemed to embrace her lover, limb touching limb, when he took up clods of earth softened by water.[6]

12. Blades of Kuśa grass sprinkled on his head sacred water, which seemed to be emitted by the waves of Gaṅgā, present in the bowl of Brahmā who lives at the root of Kuśa blades; waves present also at the feet of Viṣṇu who abides in the centre of them; and on the head of Śiva who lives at their tips.[7]

13. While he was engaged in the religious observance of holding the breath in the midst of the waters, his face looked beautiful as the moon, when it lived in times of yore in the waters of the ocean.

14. He, Cupid of the earth, put on a fringed cloth which was pure-shining and bright as the sky;[8] as if he wished to rival Śiva, whose attire consists of the ten regions of the sky.

15. An Indra among pious kings, did he not enwrap his bosom with the ambient of his scarf, as if he wished to restrain his heart which went forth to Damayantī ever and anon?

16. The lucky goddess of beauty presiding over his bath waited upon him. The bathing jars were her shining breasts; the ornamental dot of white clay on his brow was her moonlike face; and the drops of water which remained in his hair were her pearly teeth.

17. His nose tried[9] to smell the water, seeking its fragrance in vain; when it saw that his eye enjoyed the purity of the water; his body its coolness; his ears the mystic formulas invoking the waters; and his tongue the sweetness of it.

18. While the king was sprinking round the water which he had taken up with his hand, in order to worship the sun, the swirl of the spray in the flashing light of the sun suggested that the sun was once more moving on the lathe of the carpenter of heaven.

19. While he was telling his beads with care, the Vedic incantations seemed to resort to his lotus hand, assuming the guise of the crystal rosary; the pure, clear colour of the formulas appearing in the polished beads.[10]

20. The auspicious marks of barley sheaves on the joints of his fingers seemed to add to the grains of barley put by him in the water offered as a libation to the gods; while the mark of black sesamum on his hand was redoubled by the grains of black sesamum lying in the water offered by him as a libation to the Manes.

21. Going by a passage, perfectly clean, and untrodden by any one else, the sage king, with pure hands and feet, then entered the household temple,[11] where religious students acted as attendants.

22. There, at one place, over a large number of vases containing wreaths of flowers for the gods, there was in the air the smoke of incense provided by dark aloe wood, like a swarm of bees.

23. Lights were placed there, ornamental dots of gold to be put on the brows of the gods. On account of them, the night, become yellow like turmeric, its darkness destroyed by the lustre of the lights, looked as if it were putting forth young shoots.

24. There conch vases looked beautiful, filled with saffron powder, which seemed to be the symbol of the fire of their grief willingly borne out of love; grief caused by their separation from the pearls which had been inside them.

25. Vessels made of blue Garuḍa stones containing thick sandal paste resembled there Rāhu’s mouth, with the moon falling an easy prey to its jaws.

26. Vessels of silver full of black musk paste[12] looked like the moon with its bosom darkened by the deer serving as its emblem.

27. Rows of richly sugared curd-rice offerings, resembling Buddhist Stūpas, seemed like sprouts of piety emerging from that woodland of religious virtue.

28. At one place there an exuberance of Campaka blossoms surpassed in hue the golden Meru mountain, the abode of the gods; while a mass of Mallikā flowers excelled the crystal-peaked Kai-lāsa in whiteness.

29. The Earth there, hiding herself even in the presence of her beloved, the king, surpassed a matron in bashfulness, being without any space uncovered, owing to delightful offerings to the gods being spread out on it.

30. On the bejewelled pavements which had rays of sapphire inset in them like beautifully gleaming locks of hair, there appeared graceful movements on account of the trembling heads of singers being reflected therein.[13]

31. Nala, the moon of the earth, occupied an immaculate raised seat of gems in that chamber of worship, full of ornaments made of many-hued gems. It contained pure offerings to the gods, and was beautiful with heaps of multicoloured cloths.

32. While Nala worshipped the Sun perfectly and patiently, the deity thought that Kama’s devotion to him was slight. The Sun concluded that even Sāmba (compared with Nala) had a heart believing only.[14]

33. During his repetition of the various mystic formulas dedicated to the sun, the wreath-shaped collection of rosary beads made of red sandal wood occupied his hand, as if to learn its deep rosy hue.

34. Śiva’s idol then looked beautiful, worshipped by Nala with a Dhattūra flower, as if it were a flowery trumpet[15] acquired by Nala, defeating Cupid in a battle.[16]

35. Worshipping Śiva’s hand with a smiling Nāgakesara flower, he seemed to decorate it with the white skull of Brahmā,[17] the ruler of the region which exists neither sideways nor below.[18]

36. Decorating Śiva’s neck with a wreath of blue lotus blossoms, he made even the crystal frame of the idol accord with the name Blue-necked Śiva.

37. He burnt the incense ‘Pura’ and ‘Cupid’s arrow’ before Śiva’s idol, thinking that Śiva, the enemy of ‘Pura’[19] and the enemy of Cupid, would be pleased if he did so.

38. He closed his eyes in the depth of his meditation, as if for fear of the moon[20] on Śiva’s head; for even at that moment Damayantī’s absence was unbearable to him.

39. He bowed to Śiva, lying prostrate on the ground, as if he were Cupid surrendering himself, leaving the flowers serving as his sword, bow and arrows at Śiva’s feet.

40. [21]

41. Like a wreath of bees, the string of rosary beads occupied his hand graceful like a new leaf, while he, devoted to Śiva, was engaged in meditating on the Śatarudriya hymn.

42. The king then worshipped Viṣṇu with the rites connected with the Puruṣa-sūkta hymn. He bowed also to the twelve images of Viṣṇu uttering the ‘twelve-lettered formula.’[22]

43. He looked at Viṣṇu’s idol seated[23] on a winding wreath of Mallikā flowers, looking like a Duṇḍubha snake; as if he saw Viṣṇu himself resting on the coil of the serpent Ananta’s body.

44. Nala’s votive garland made of blue lotus blossoms flashed on Viṣṇu’s bosom; as if it were an endless succession of the wide flashes of Lakṣmī’s glances, whose bejewelled home consists of the Kaustubha gem on his bosom.

45. With a wreath of gold, he made superfluous the hundreds of Ketaka flowers of golden hue, which were on the idol’s head; with a wreath of silver the offering of white lotus blossoms; and with a wreath of rubies the Karavīra flowers.

46. By virtue of the offerings of boiled rice made by Nala, Viṣṇu became “one to whom the demon Bali was wholly devoted”;[24] by means of the musk offered by Nala he became “Kṛṣṇa”;[25] while in consequence of Nala’s worshipping him with water contained in a multitude of conch vessels, the idol “became provided with[26] Viṣṇu’s emblems—the conch, the wheel and the lotus.”[27]

47. While the king worshipped Viṣṇu, the smoke wreaths from the incense of black aloe wood went out through the windows; as if they were Śiva’s snakes[28] darkened by the disgrace of their fear (of Viṣṇu’s emblem, Garuḍa).

48. Covering the image[29] with thousands of smiling garlands of Mālatī flowers, interspersed with priceless wreaths of gems, Nala seemed to immerse it in the ocean of milk[30] abounding in gems.

49. The lotus seed beads in the rosary, coming into contact with his hand, while he was meditating on the Viṣṇu hymn, seemed to reoccupy for ever their lotus home.[31]

50. The long wreath of Mallikā flowers placed by the king in humility at Viṣṇu’s feet with a bent head looked like the Gaṅgā starting for the earth,[32] followed by the suppliant Brahmā,

51-2. “The holy Viṣṇu, though he gave evidence of his love for the goddess of wealth Lakṣmī by placing her on his bosom, honoured Sarasvatī, the goddess of speech, placing her in his throat, above Lakṣmī’s abode.” Thus thinking, Nala, not content with worshipping Viṣṇu with plentiful rich offerings, adored him with gifts of pearl-strings of pleasant words.

53. “Thy praise is far beyond the range of words. The attribution by us of a visible form to thee is a reproach to thee. So do thou forgive my incoherent utterance.” Having thus said, he spake these words.

54. “O thou who art self-manifest, is it not true that my desire to describe thee, foolish as I am, is like a desire of darkness to reveal the radiance of the sun?

55. “Thou art not comprehended by mind and speech; yet ought not these to direct themselves to thee? Clouds gratify the anxious Cātaka pair, though it reaches not the clouds.

The Fish Incarnation—

56. “While thou wast disguised as a fish, the waters of the ocean thrown up by thy tail dashing against them, perhaps became white in contact with the surface of the sky, and emerged as the Gaṅgā of heaven.

The Turtle Incarnation—

57. May thy Turtle Form, who art able to protect the earth, protect the world; a form marked with circles on the border of its back, as if they were scars left by the earth upheld through many a creation.

Boar Incarnation—

58. “May thy jaw, the abode of the world, gratify me; the jaw of thy Boar Form, whose four hoof marks in the regions are the four oceans, I know.

59. “Playful Boar, because thou didst embrace the Earth, slipping from thy grasp while she was being elevated by thee from the nether world; the orb of the universe, since thou didst transcend its limits, looked like a Kadamba flower wherewith to worship thee, on account of thy densely bristling hairs projecting forth from it.[33]

33.It is imagined that the boar was so gigantic that, while clasping the Earth, his erect hairs pierced through the orb of the universe, which in consequence looked like a Kadamba flower with its erect filaments blossoming in Viṣṇu’s honour.

The Man-lion Incarnation—

60. “Protect me, O Lion, with thy roars, deep and fierce. Thou didst emerge from the woodland of the chief of the demons;[34] thou whose human half was created by the piety of the gods,[35] which acts as an armoury destroying their foes.

61. “May the five claws of thy hand protect us; (claws) with the demon’s entrails resembling tom ropes attached to them, while thou didst seem to draw out Inḍra’s riches fallen into the demon king’s cavernlike belly.[36]

The Dwarf Incarnation—

62. “O Dwarf, give us the joy of our hearts, thou, a stripling, clever in cunning speech; for thou didst say, ‘O Bali, thou dost fulfil the desire of all; why dost thou not fulfil mine?’

63. “I bow to thee, disguised as a dwarf. Bali said to thee with a thrill passing through him, ‘Here I am. Ardently I long to bestow my wealth on thee, who art eager for a gift.[37]

64. “Dwarf, protect the world with such veiled words as these, ‘Living for ever, thou wilt have home and family ties with happy beings in heaven and on the earth. Here is my hand; pour on it the ceremonial water.’[38]

65. “O Dwarf, sanctifier of the humble! Mayst thou protect us. Bali spake to thee thus, ‘Ah, why dost thou hold out thy hand? I will give all to thy revered self.’

Paraśurāma Incarnation—

66. “Victory to thy arms, to thine, who wast incarnate as Paraśurāma! They were fitted to destroy that Kṣatriya race which had emerged from thine own arms, while thou wast creating the world in primordial times.

67. “Glory to thy assiduity in doing what is right! thou didst give the earth to the birds for food; the ever impure earth with many a husband. She had been cut into nine pieces by the Creator in his wrath.[39]

68. “O son of Reṇukā, being the destroyer of Kārtavīrya, thou couldst easily have slain Rāvaṇa. So I bow to the fact of thy reappearance as Rāma, inexplicable as it is owing to the simultaneity (of the two incarnations).[40]

Rāma Incarnation—

69. “O Rāma, verily the Creator who surpasses all other artists created the first Rāma born of Reṇukā, merely by way of sketching practice with the object of creating thee.[41]

70. “Thou ornament of the world, o thou who art free from birth, thou mayst be born as the son of Daśaratha as thou wilt. No harm in it. Thine own might, o lord, is able to remove all harm.

71. “Hero among the Raghus, if thou dost not vouchsafe to me the knowledge of the supreme truth, give me even that delusion, as a result of which the army of Rāvaṇa, deluded in the course of the fight, saw the whole world pervaded by thee.

72. “Twice didst thou renounce ‘the earth-born splendour.’[42] First at the command of thy father, then for fear of the ignorant. Didst thou not twice traverse the ‘ocean’[43] that hath Laṃkā in the midst of its waters?

73. “‘Let me not die from the arrows of the god of love by surrendering Sītā.’ Thus thinking the monster Rāvaṇa chose a blessed death at thy hands,[44] making true the boon that he should not die at the hands of a god.[45]

74. “Is it not true that Śambuka’s ocean-traversing fame is brighter even than a cluster of conchs, because he died by thy hand, which had destroyed Rāvaṇa with his army?[46]

75. “Having earned thy fame by striking terror into the heart of Rāvaṇa, terrible to Death himself, wast thou not ashamed to have renounced thy consort for fear of insignificant villains?

76. “O saviour of the helpless, be thou my refuge. Thou wast an ocean with a submarine fire, to wit, thy separation from thy beloved consort. But thou didst sacrifice thy life, like an offering of straw, in the fire of thy momentary separation from thy brother Lakṣmaṇa.[47]

77. “Moved to pity by thee, rightly did the first-born poet[48] compose a poem, an ocean of verses; the poet who had composed a verse in his grief even at the sight of a Krauñca bird’s misery,

78. “Assuming the form of Lakṣmaṇa, didst thou not, knowing what was right, cut off Śūrpaṇakhā’s ears? For thou didst think, ‘Earless’ is her father’s name, and it is not proper that she should have ears.[49]

Kṛṣṇa Incarnation—

79. “May thy arms, thine, who art disguised as Yādava, destroy the creeper of my sins. Thy arms uprooted an all-giving Kalpa tree, as if because it vied with them in the pride of its charity.[50]

80. “At that epoch, during the sports of thy childhood, thou didst cut asunder the waves (of the Yamunā), striking them with pot-sherds; as if it were a prelude to thy subsequent sport of cutting off Bāṇa’s arms. May that protect us.

81. “Salutation to thee! In order to baffle Karṇa’s power (Śakti), thou didst provide Arjuna’s chariot with a banner, namely, the monkey Hanūmat, who had extracted the spear from Lakṣmaṇa’s body as he lay with the Śakti spear stuck in his bosom.

82. “Though Bhīṣma was devoted heart and soul to thee, thou didst not favour him by transporting him to heaven in his corporeal form, in order that he might abstain from union with the nymphs even in heaven for fear of breaking his vow.[51]

83. “Thou wast moved to pity by Karṇa, the son of the sun, whom[52] Arjuna killed with thy help; and didst gain thy object when Arjuna, born of the dynasty of the moon, defeated[53] Karṇa with thy help. Carrying the weeping sun and the laughing moon in the form of thy eyes, thou didst then exhibit both[54] sorrow and joy.

84. “O thou to whom Rādhā is dear as thy life! thy friendship with Arjuna, the enemy of Rādhā’s[55] son Karṇa, was in no way fitting. But it is certainly proper that thou, the beloved of Śrī, the goddess of wealth, shouldst hold ‘the child of Śrī’[56] incessantly on thy bosom.

85. “Verily thou art Balarāma, who is a white hair from that other form of thine (viz., the all-first Nārāyaṇa).[57] Balarāma again is identical with the serpent Ananta. It is proper that this incarnation of thine should be graceful like the grey hair of thy primeval form.[58]

86. “Thou[59] art the lord of sweet-smelling voluptuous women. Thou art infinite, though assuming a finite form.[60] Thou dost possess a charm made graceful by wine, the source of pleasure. Thou hast a beaming moonlike radiance.

87. “O lord of Revatī, thou fulfiller of wishes, it is proper that the beauty of thy azure clothing should be charming in contact with the (white) lustre of thy body. Thou art delighted when the earth is happy.[61]

Buddha Incarnation—

88. “Thou exponent of monistic being, the stream of consciousness is the only reality for thee. Thou art wise, even without being learned in the three Vedas. Thou didst reject the four categories of existence. Thou art conqueror of the five-arrowed Cupid and possessor of the six forms of knowledge. Do thou protect me![62]

89. “While thou, the conqueror of Cupid, wast realising the momentary character of things and the non-existence of the soul, Cupid’s flowery arrows dropped (from his hand), like a shower of flowers from divine hands.[63]

90. “The tips of Cupid’s flowery arrows became round in shape[64] because they turned completely blunt, when he discharged them at thy heart whose armour was its steadfast moral strength.

91. “Brahmā is called four-mouthed,[65] because he is eloquent in celebrating thy praise; while Śiva’s throat is black, because he calls himself omniscient while thou dost exist, knowing all.

Kalkin Incarnation—

92. “Do thou uproot my tenfold sin,[66] through the agency of thy tenth incarnation Kalkin, who wieldeth in battle a sword dark as smoke, and destroyeth infidels, like the fire of the epoch of universal ruin.

93. “On account of thee, roaming over the earth, and white all over with the dust of battle, like fame incarnate and pervasive, the name of thy father Viṣṇuyaśas became true to its meaning.[67]

Dattātreya Incarnation—

94. “I bow to thee incarnate as Dattātreya, who followed the path of absolute monism. He gave Arjuna his fame.[68] His appellation ‘Sinless’ was occasioned by his Yoga meditations. He acted like the sun on the darkness of worldly delusion to which king Alarka was subject.

Diverse forms of Viṣṇu—

95. “Victory to thee! Incarnate as Rāma, thou didst kill Indra’s son Vāli, having favoured the Sun’s son Sugrīva. I bow to thee, Kṛṣṇa; thou wast the ally of Indra’s son Arjuna, and didst slay the Sun’s son Karṇa.[69]

96. “Victory to thee. Thou didst pervade the regions with thy form with the three steps, after thou hadst assumed the form of the tiniest dwarf. Salutation to thee, o thou who massacred one and all, assuming the form of Kalkin, after thou hadst become incarnate as Buddha, remote from all talk of slaughter.

97. “Thou with the three (all-pervading) steps, do thou purify me. Did Rāhu, coming into contact with thy foot, serve as thy shoe?[70] Did the bear Jāmbavat, circling round thee in worship, give thee an encircling noose while thou wast binding Bali?[71]

98. “Is it to be wondered at that one who had, with a semicircular axe, lopped off the thousand arms of Kārtavīryārjuna,[72] cut off with an entire circular blade[73] the multitude of Bāṇa’s arms?[74]

99. “Taking the Pāñcajanya conch and a lotus in thy hands, thou dost tell the demons, ‘Ye are surely sentient. Look, even inanimate things have renounced their hostility to me.’

100. “On thy bosom with a shining sylvan wreath on it, the high-bosomed goddess of wealth abides, thrilled by her unbroken contact with thee; as if she were a Bilva twig with a pair of fruits attached to it.[75]

101. “The lotus forsakes not thy hand, as if with the object of learning its perfect beauty. The moon whose rays make the night lotus bloom waits upon thy face, its orb serving as thy (left) eye.

102. “Ah, glorious are the combinations formed by thee, those of Nara and Hari, which served to destroy thy arch-enemy Hiraṇyakaśipu and Rāvaṇa and the throng of the Kaurava heroes.[76]

103. “Of what nature is the half-Śiva form[77] which thou hast assumed, magician as thou art? Surely thou art Śiva entire! The man who understands by means of the Vedas doth, however, know thee to be infinite, even though thou dost assume a finite form.

104. “The argument for salvation being meaningless on account of the concatenation of ever succeeding births due to deeds performed in previous births, no solution ever occurs to any one save intensive contemplation of thee.

105. “In order to assume the Hari-Hara form, didst thou divide thy body in two halves, vertically splitting it? But. during the Man-Lion incarnation, why didst thou split it from side to side? Indeed, what questioning is there of one who is free?

106. “Thou who hast realised all desires, why dost thou create the universe? Why dost thou destroy it, if it is made by thee? Why dost thou maintain it, descending to the earth again and again, if it must be destroyed by thyself?

107. “Rising from the waters of the ocean, the fickle goddess of wealth, Lakṣmī, settled on thee, thinking of her former companions—the Gaṅgā abiding at thy feet, the lotus in thy hand, the Kaustubha gem upon thy bosom, and the moon in thine eye.[78]

108. “Owing to the opposition of manifold objections based on reasoning, the phenomena of the world cannot properly be the basis of the diversities that exist. So it is at thy will that the universe has this and that (apparent) diversity coming into view. That is the meaning of the truth.

109. “Thou dost know which self of the sage Mārkaṇḍeya (after he had entered into thy stomach) went out of it, unable to distinguish between his two selves mingled together, having seen inside thy stomach the things of the universe just as they were oustide.[79]

110. “Let the universe first rest on the foundation[80] of thy innate power, thou being the Absolute; then might it rest on the head of Ananta, the lord of serpents, or in thy own stomach[81] while thou art disguised as a child. Thou art in 3very way the support of the worlds.

111. “At thy feet is the river whose waters are the source of religious merit. On thy bosom the goddess Lakṣmī doth beam, the source of wealth. The god of desire is thy child. Thyself thou art the Absolute, giving ultimate freedom.

112. “It is hell that should fear those who utter thy name, even at random, destroyer of hell as thou art. Why should they fear hell?

113. “A man who is devoted to thee need not fear among the causes of death even the thunder. For, at such a moment, from a Vaiṣṇava’s throat, thy name quickly goes up, even without any effort.

114. “A train of thought devoted to thee washes out the refuse that accumulates in the heart of man, even as refuse accumulates in the interior of a house which is being in every way cleansed.

115. “‘Rāma’, thy name, is an abode of virtues, incomprehensible though its particulars are to people such as we; otherwise, how is it that, in three generations, thyself didst adopt this name?

116. “Taking pity on me, devoted to thee, do thou deliver me from darkness, with thy right eye, the sun. With thy left eye, the moon, turned towards me, wilt thou not allay my heat, o lord?

117. “Shameless I am, desiring with mere words to receive thy favour, difficult to obtain even by austerities; I who alas, daily transgress thy commands in the form of injunctions and prohibitions.

118. “Thou whose form is the universe, o thou Creator of the universe, in my tiny heart how much of the prodigy of thy might can I comprehend? How much gold does a poor man tie in his rags, when he acquires the Mount of Gold?”

119. After he had invoked Hari in these words, Nala became completely absorbed in meditation, while he did acts in keeping with his love and devotion to Viṣṇu. seen by him in a vision by virtue of contemplation.

120. Liberally he showered riches on the hands of Brāhmaṇas, and gave away to worthy recipients the offerings made in the sacrifice in honour of the Manes. He then entered his residence, full of humility, after he had, with beatitude, worshipped Viṣṇu in the Hari-Hara form.

121. After the midday rites, Nala, the moon of the earth, regaled with the nectarlike rice taken by him, adorned with his lustre his marvellous mountain-high chamber, which faced the east and approached Indra’s palace in beauty.

122. Damayantī, after she too had finished her devotional worship of the gods, took her meal after her husband had eaten. With her limbs extremely languid on account of the weight of her ornaments, she occupied his lap which was eager to hold her in its bosom.

123. A maiden friend of hers followed her, carrying in her lotus hand a parrot’s cage like a mass of beauty. The parrot’s beak was clearly red as the ripe Bimba fruits eaten by it; while its feathers were deep green like unripe fruits.

124. Another girl followed her with a frenzied cuckoo perching on a crystal rod sidewise held; a singing cuckoo, which was. as it were, the climax of the blackness of the dark half of the month.[82] In it the word Kuhū and its meaning were clearly joined in mutual relationship.[83]

125. Damyantī’s companions, daughters of the king of the Gandharvas, and disciples of herself in the practice of the arts, who were adept in playing soft music on the lyre, went over to the king, seated as he was, to sing to the lyre before him.

126. The lyre of the gazelle-eyed maidens shone forth, having just uttered an indistinct, soft and low air; as if it, at the outset, felt too nervous to produce any sound near Damayantī’s creeperlike throat, so full of melody.

127. The lyre had joined itself to tunes in order to acquire resemblance to Damayantī. who was the abode of the perfection of all the arts and qualities possessed by her. So even now the lyre is known among people as ‘Full of Disgrace’; for it had first occasioned a scandal, its own impudent act.[84]

128. Like a female elephant, the lyre, resting close to the mighty king,[85] sent up a high-pitched note melodious with the Niṣāda tune; while it vibrated at its top to the accompaniment of quarter tones, and underwent a wondrous play of the hand.

129. Was not Damayantī’s sweet-toned throat made by extracting the entire quintessence of lyres? Perhaps on account of this, the lyre, realising its inner hollowness,[86] kept to the corner in houses,[87] being ashamed.

130. The lyres then chanted forth songs of eulogy acting like honey on the ears of that couple, with the sequence of their letters perfectly distinct, in such wise that the tame parrot of Damawantī [Damayantī?], the Rati of the earth, repeated all the songs thus, showering delight.

131. “Verily, from our own words will ye both know the shallow ford of our intellect, of high talents as ye are. Yet we sing your praise, lest even such knowledge as we possess should remain undiscovered by you, on account of our silence on an occasion demanding speech.

132. “The mountain-born Pārvatī occupies the lap of the moon-crested Śiva, who is beautiful with the forms of the serpents on his body. Thou, too, king’s daughter, dost occupy the lap of this Crown-gem of kings,[88] who is lucky in the joys of life. A parallel indeed is this; but there is a difference. Even in this life, thou art the Satī[89] of thy consort, famed for participating in Indra’s being.[90]

133. “Who ever fancies Damayantī is Rati (Cupid’s wife); she whose lustre begets Rati (love)? Who again surmises thee to be Cupid, whose tenure of life as a god was cut short by (the fire of) Śiva’s eye?[91]

134. “Thou art rejoiced at the sheen of her moonlike countenance. Her pearlstring has a gleam exceeding that of a stream. She resembles a sacrificial altar in the region of her waist,[92] and the middle of her body is delightful to men. Carrying her in thy lap, thou dost shine forth like the ocean, which carries the earth on its bosom. The earth has pearlstrings charming with their gleam, namely, the rivers; it is beautiful with the Antarvedi region (between the Gaṅgā and the Yamunā); it possesses the Middle Country (between the Himālaya and the Vindhya), delightful to men.

135. “This slender maid, with ornamental designs painted on her body, brings triumph to Cupid; her face being the moon provided with eyes. Is it on account of the extreme frailty of her waist that thou hast ousted Cupid, and dost thyself enjoy her?[93]

136. “Damayantī, thou art verily Cupid’s capital, with a dolphin acting as the capital’s banner, namely, the pictorial designs painted on thy bosom.[94] Young maid, who doth not call thy eyebrows a triumphal gate of the capital, which doth witness the festival of Cupid’s momentous rise?

137. “Why is Cupid not tired, ever going from thee to her, and from her to thee? Perhaps your shadows remove Cupid’s fatigue from journeying, as he thus keeps coming and going.

138. “Sire, the row of thy hairs, taking delight in its bath of perspiration, practises ths devotion of keeping awake in the hope of dalliance;[95] and thou dost look beautiful in consequence, as if thy limbs were bristling with the filaments of Cupid’s flowery arrows, stuck in thy body, and thickly coated with the honey of flowers.

139. “Sire, this lotus-eyed goddess of thy life is also beset with drops of sweat. Since the diverse arrows of Cupid consist of flowers, is perspiration likewise the blood of the wounds caused by his arrows?

140. “Have the west and the sun both turned red, perceiving the mutual love[96] of you both? And, at the sight of this, do the lotus blooms of your pleasure brook now assume a shape suitable for serving as Cupid’s arrows?[97]

141. “So let this crowd of girl companions depart. They are an obstacle to your voluptuous abandon, mutually loving as you are. How can, indeed, Cupid the Maddener be maddening, if he does not make people cast off their raiments, or make them fight with finger-nails and teeth?”

142. When the parrot thus finished reciting, the girls, recalling the manifold evening duties of the king, went away on false pretexts. Damayantī, their friend, glanced at them in anger, as they then slunk away, as if they were lilies fading.[98]

143. The red-eyed cuckoo, whose beak was adept in repeating wreaths of words heard by it, with affection in its eyes, as if towards the king, then cried ‘Stuhi’ ‘Stuhi,’[99] as if to the parrot which had recited Nala’s praise.

144. Then, from her high palatial abode, Damayantī saw her pleasure brook, which looked extremely small and glistened with that gem, the reflection of the solar orb. The meandering stream was brought to notice by the pairs of Cakravāka birds with their cry of distress, fearing it was a snake, and flying away along its bank, openly parting company.

145. At the sight of a Cakravāka pair, red as if with blood, smitten by the entirely unbearable nature of their (impending) separation; she, with her sighs, then made even that sleeping hour of lotus blossoms[100] full of a lotus scent.

146. Damayantī said to her consort, “Merciful one, look at the plight of the Cakravāka pair. Ah, who will not weep, seeing their plight, which severs them from each other, and rends my heart?[101]

147. “The sun hath cherised a desire not to tarry, unable to bear the mirth to come of the night lotus blossom; and, do the birds chirp on the trees, with the dart of the Cakravāka’s plaint thrust into their hearts?

148. “Alas, here is an instance in support of the inference that the actions of animate beings are determined by fate. These two birds bring ill to themselves, their own separation, guided though all their previous actions have been by a sense of their personal good.

149. “Wishing to tear asunder the Cakravāka pair, is the Creator whetting this visibly black sword, applying it to yonder grindstone, the sun, red with the filings from its brick frame, the scarlet of its rays? The grindstone is ceaselessly turned by Aruṇa, holding the strings; and shines with a ‘rod’.”[102]

150. Drinking the nectarlike wine of these charming words offered by the moonfaced lady’s mouth, Nala said to her, with his face inclining towards her, and tinged with a smile, “Clearly, so it is, so it is, as thou sayst.

151. “Thy eyebrows I know to be the two bent bows of Cupid and Rati, who have considered the propriety of conquering respectively all men and women. Two bamboo tubes of theirs I know to be disguised as thy nose, desirous as they are of letting go their arrows;[103] while two whiffs[104] of thy breath I know to be their airy weapon composed of vernal breezes.

152. “Yellow is the excellence of colour, and it is very sweet as it appears on thy body. Who does not, with esteem, celebrate as ‘fair-hued’ the gold that bears that colour? There is no need to describe other colours. In spite of its partaking of the nature of whiteness, a king among objects of vision, silver acquires the ill fame of possessing a tawdry colour.[105]

153. “If in a place where sugar forms the soil, and which is tilled after it has been gratified by rain-clouds whose water is honey, there should grow a sugarcane plant, with cream cakes as a fertiliser; and if it bear fruit by virtue of being watered with vine juice, then to distinguish thy voice even from this, the superlative suffix would have the word ‘sweet’ as its base!

154. “If by revolving the ‘Mountain of Sugar’ included in religious gifts, like a churning rod; while using as a rope the creeperlike threads produced during the boiling of seething molasses; the nectar-fed Cupid raise up single-handed a new kind of nectar from the ocean of sugarcane juice,[106] that might perhaps rival thy voice,[107] a source of the highest delight to my ears.

155. “Sarasvatī dwells in thy mouth. It has the redolence of the toy lotus in her hand. The soft music of her lyre is present in thy mouth as the sweet gaiety of thy voice. In thy mouth are charming[108] lips, which are worthy of Sarasvatī’s pleasure walk, and seem to be made of red chalk and lime. And, do the two rows of thy teeth shine forth, acting as her necklace of pearls and gems?

156. “Thy voice is a river of love’s emotion, Cupid’s sacred resort. The sand of this river’s shore is oftentimes described as candied sugar. Is it with the clay of its bank that pure and white ringlets of sugar are made? Its waters, are they nectar? Its confines, are they thy lips?

157. “Youthful lady, because young cuckoo maids cannot properly utter in song thy voice, a nectar river’s stream; how many times do they not learn it by rote, in the mango grove of thy pleasure garden, in order to retain it in their eager throats!

158. “Beloved, thy upper lip is Cupid’s bow made of a wreath of (red) Bandhūka flowers. The creeperlike outline of the lower border of thy nether lip is the string of that bow. Thy voice, too, is indeed Cupid’s science of archery. Rightly is this science practised by lyres, possessing as they do bows, the bows with which they are played.

159. “Fair lady, he who does not reply, ‘It is thy lips’ to the question ‘What is honey?’; he who does not reply, ‘Thy person’ to the question ‘What is gold like?’; he who does not reply, ‘Thy voice’ to the question ‘Of what nature is nectar?’ is a rustic; he is ever an outcaste in the company of wits; Cupid’s arrows disdain even to touch him.

160. “Thou art slender in thy waist. Thy hips are gravid and breasts high. Thou hast a watchful control over thy mind, and dost wield supremacy over me. Thy smiles are light. In elegant speech thou eanst be as charming as thou wilt. Thy fame makes unimpeded progress in every region and quarter. Hence Śiva, pleased with thee, gave thee, his own creation, the eight supernatural powers, all of them.[109]

161. “We are not able to praise sufficiently thy voice; so we praise nectar instead. Rightly did Garuḍa and Indra, I know, fight for nectar; for thy voice was pleased to drench[110] with nectar thy words: thy voice which destroys the pride of fermented vine juice, and treats milk with utter contempt.

162. “Fair one, if the grief of the Cakravāka pair is causing thee pain, say, I thy servant will go to the river and beseech the sun resting on its waters not to set.[111] If the sun proves obdurate and grants not my prayer, even when I fold my hands, then wilt thou see, I will come back here to thee, after offering to the Cakravāka pair the palmful of water meant for the sun.[112]

163. “So, for a moment, seek thy maiden companions who are in hiding somewhere here, amusing them with thy jests.” On this pretext, making his consort eager to find her comrades, he went out, desiring to perform the evening rites,

164. Epilogue.

Śrīhīra etc. In his work, an entirely novel poem consisting of the narration of Nala’s career, the twenty-first canto, brilliant by nature, is at an end.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The word “karadatā” means also “the offering of one’s hand.”

[2]:

Lit...... excellence produced with care.

[3]:

Lit. with pourings of pleasant and true words about welfare.

[4]:

See Vocab. under “yakṣakardama”.

[5]:

A king is called the husband or lover of the earth.

[6]:

It is the custom to apply sacred earth to the body while bathing, the colour of the earth depending on the caste of the individual. In the case of a Kṣatriya, the colour is red.

[7]:

The water sprinkled by Nala on his head with Kuśa blades is fancied as sprays of Gaṅgā water supposed to lie hidden in them.

[8]:

Designed to mean also: put on the sky itself, divided into ten regions, and possessing stars white-shining as mercury.

[9]:

Lit. seemed. It is a part of the bathing rites to hold under the nose a palmful of water while reciting the “aghamarṣaṇa” verses. The nose is fancied as trying, like the other limbs, to enjoy the properties of the water. As, however, water is odourless, its effort to smell it was in vain.

[10]:

Means also: Vedic incantations, ‘the letters of which were lucid and clear owing to the presence of sacred mystic syllables’ (e.g “hrīṃ”, “klīṃ”, etc).

[11]:

See Vocab. under “surārcāveśma”.

[12]:

Lit. holding an interior thick with musk paste.

[13]:

Lit. On...... pavements which had hair in the shape of the rays of sapphire, hair overlaid with lovely rays (also: hair pressed by a lover’s hand), there appeared graceful movements owing to the reflection (therein) of the trembling of the heads of singers. The bejewelled pavements are fancied as young women, the bluish rays of sapphire being their hair. The movements of the heads of the singers reflected in the pavements are fancied as the movements of these women trying to get rid of the importunities of their lovers. See Vocab. under “kuṭṭimita”.

[14]:

i.e., believing, but not profoundly devoted. For the earlier and better reading see Notes. Sāmba was Kṛṣṇa’s son, a devotee of the Sun.

[15]:

It will be noted that Dhattūra is a trumpet flower.

[16]:

i.e., in a contest of beauty.

[17]:

Śiva had cut off one of the five heads of Brahmā, and during the penance that followed he had to use the skull as a begging bowl.

[18]:

i.e., the upper regions.

[19]:

‘Pura’ here refers to the three cities (pura) of the demons destroyed by Śiva. See also Vocab. under “pura” and “kāmaśara”.

[20]:

It will be remembered that the moon is unbearable to [separated?] lovers.

[21]:

A variation of 39.

[22]:

“om namo bhgavate vāsudevāya”.

[23]:

Lit. placed on a seat made with a.....

[24]:

Means really: ‘one to whom a plenty of boiled rice was offered.’

[25]:

Means really: ‘black’.

[26]:

Means really: ‘one whose worship took place with water contained in a multitude of conch (vessels).’

[27]:

The verse is designed to mean at first sight by puns that Nala by his devotion endowed the idol with the characteristics of the real Viṣṇu. The puns have been explained above, but when the epithets are rightly construed the verse becomes a mass of meaningless repetitions.

[28]:

Śiva’s idol was obviously close to that of Viṣṇu. The bird-king Garuḍa feeds on serpents.

[29]:

Lit: him. The original makes no distinction between Viṣṇu [and?] his idol.

[30]:

The natural home of Viṣṇu.

[31]:

Nala’s hand is the lotus.

[32]:

From Viṣṇu’s feet.

[33]:

It is imagined that the boar was so gigantic that, while clasping the Earth, his erect hairs pierced through the orb of the universe, which in consequence looked like a Kadamba flower with its erect filaments blossoming in Viṣṇu’s honour.

[34]:

Might mean also: Thou didst originate in that primeval forest, namely, the demon (i.e., Hiraṇyakaśipu whose vicious oppression made this incarnation necessary).

[35]:

i.e., this man-lion form was produced by the religious austerities of the gods for the destruction of the demon.

[36]:

The imagery is that of a person pulling out a valuable object fallen into a well with a prong. The entrails of the demon are likened to the ropes tom in the process of extrication.

[37]:

Lit. gift-water, i.e., the ceremonial water offered as a prelude to a gift.

[38]:

The dwarf’s words really meant: ‘In the heaven of the nether regions thou wilt have thy abode and captivity, held fast by serpents for ever. Here is my hand, give the world to me!’ The expression ‘heaven of the nether regions’ (“kṣititale divi pātālalakṣaṇe [varsge?]”) is either sarcastic or used as in 2.84.

[39]:

The earth is fancied as a lewd woman who has many lovers in the kings who are styled ‘husbands of the earth.’ The earth divided into nine spheres (See Notes) is the body of the woman cut to pieces by the angry Creator and given to birds for food. The word “dvija”: ‘bird’ means also a Brāhmaṇa, and refers to the story of Paraśurāma annihilating the Kṣatriyas and presenting the earth to the Brāhmaṇas as a gift.

[40]:

Kārtavīrya who was killed by Paraśurāma was even more powerful than Rāvaṇa, having once imprisoned the latter. So Rāvaṇa could easily have been slain by Paraśurāma, and there was in fact no necessity for the Rāma incarnation in order to kill Rāvaṇa.

[41]:

i.e., Paraśurāma was created as a preliminary exercise in order to create his more perfect younger contemporary Rāma.

[42]:

(1) The royal sovereignty which Rāma had to give up when banished by his father; (2) Sītā, born of the earth, whom Rāma renounced, believing popular gossip.

[43]:

“vārirāśiḥ”: refers to the ocean which was crossed by Rāma on his way to Laṃkā. When construed as “vā+arirāśiḥ” it refers to the enemies subjugated by Rāma, i.e., the Rākṣasas who lived in Laṃkā in the midst of the waters.

[44]:

Lit. purified himself with thy weapons.

[45]:

Rāvaṇa had received a boon from Brahmā that he should not die at the hands of a god. It is here fancied that he allowed himself to be killed by the holy man Rāma rather than succumb to the arrows of the god of love, by returning the stolen Sītā to Rāma.

[46]:

Śambuka, a Śūdra, was killed by Rāma to put a stop to the evils caused by his performing religious austerities from which Śūdras were debarred.

[47]:

i.e., Rāma patiently bore the grief caused by his separation from Sītā, but he could not live without Lakṣmaṇa even for a moment. It is well-known how Rāma fell into a swoon at the news of Lakṣmaṇa being wounded by Meghanāda, and later drowned himself after Lakṣmaṇa had done so in the waters of the Sarayū.

[48]:

i.e., Vālmīki who described Rāma’s sufferings in the Rāmāyaṇa.

[49]:

The reference is to the temptation of Lakṣmaṇa by Śūrpaṇakhā. Her father’s name was Viśravas which means literally ‘earless.’ She was disfigured by Lakṣmaṇa with whom Rāma is here identified.

[50]:

Kṛṣṇa transplanted the Pārijāta tree from heaven to the courtyard of his mistress Satyabhāmā, by defeating Indra in battle.

[51]:

i.e., in order that Bhīṣma might continue to be a chaste bachelor even in heaven.

[52]:

Lit. whom thou caused to be killed (by Arjuna).

[53]:

Lit. on account of Arjuna whom thou caused to be victorious.

[54]:

Lit. half. The sun and the moon form the eyes of Viṣṇu. Now, as the Sun wept at the death of his son Kama and the Moon rejoiced at the victory of his kinsman Arjuna, Viṣṇu appeared to shed tears of joy and sorrow simultaneously.

[55]:

The name Rādhā is played upon. Karṇa’s foster-mother Rādhā was not the same as Kṛṣṇa’s mistress of that name.

[56]:

This is the literal meaning of Śrīvatsa which is really the footprint of a Brāhmaṇa on Viṣṇu’s bosom.

[57]:

The fair-complexioned Balarāma, here identified with Kṛṣṇa, is believed to represent a grey lock of hair which the all-first Nārāyaṇa i.e. Viṣṇu plucked from his head.

[58]:

Balarāma is usually regarded as an incarnation of the white-bodied Ananta who upholds the earth on his head. But he is here identified with Kṛṣṇa and described as white like the grey hair of the all-first Nārāyaṇa referred to above.

[59]:

Balarāma is the subject of Verses 86 and 87.

[60]:

Means also: the form of the serpent Ananta (see above). “śeṣa”: ‘finite’ is also a name of Ananta.

[61]:

Lit. with the lustre of thy body, thine, whose delight is caused by the appearance of the joy of the earth (or by the blossoming of the night lotus).

“kuḥ pṛthivī tasyā mudo harṣasyāvirbhāvena bhāvitā utpāditā ruciḥ prītirthasya tasya | kumudasya kairavasyāvirbhāvena vā |”

[62]:

See Appendix I (Buddhist Doctrines) and Vocabulary under “ṣaḍabhisa” [ṣaḍabhijña?].

[63]:

The idea is, the arrows of the baffled Cupid dropped from his hand and looked like a shower of flowers released by the gods in honour of Buddha.

[64]:

Lit. umbrella-shaped. The reference is to the full-blown flowers serving as Cupid’s arrows.

[65]:

caturāsya”: ‘four-mouthed’ means also ‘able-mouthed’ (catura+āsya).

[66]:

See Notes.

[67]:

Viṣṇuyaśas is the father of Kalkin. The word means “one who has a pervasive fame” (viṣṇu vyāpakaṃ yaśo yasya).

[68]:

Lit. the cause of the earning of fame by Arjuna (Kārtavīryārjuna).

[69]:

i.e., through the agency of Arjuna. Viṣṇu is here described as doing during one incarnation things diametrically opposite to what he had done during another.

[70]:

When Viṣṇu disguised as a dwarf assumed the proportions of a giant, one of his footsteps was located in the sky which is, therefore, called Viṣṇu’s footstep (viṣṇupada). The black Rāhu consisting of a severed head is here likened to a shoe.

[71]:

The ceremonial circumambulation of the bear is likened to a noose.

[72]:

During the Paraśurāma incarnation.

[73]:

i.e., the Sudarśanacakra.

[74]:

During the Kṛṣṇa incarnation.

[75]:

‘thrilled’ refers also to the Bilva twig which, too, is “kaṇṭakita”: ‘thorny’.

[76]:

In the case of Hiraṇyakaśipu, Nara and Hari mean Man and Lion, referring to the Narasiṃha incarnation; in the case of Rāvaṇa, Man (i.e. Rāma) and Monkey (i.e. Sugrīva); and in the case of the Kauravas, Man (i.e. Arjuna) and Kṛṣṇa. The word Hari has here three different meanings.

[77]:

The form known as Hari-Hara, half Viṣṇu and half Śiva.

[78]:

These were in the ocean along with Lakṣmī before the churning episode.

[79]:

It is said that during the universal deluge the sage Mārkaṇḍeya entered into Viṣṇu’s stomach and saw there the whole universe just as it used to be outside. Here, the supposed confusion is between Mārkaṇḍeya’s own selves: the one that was in Viṣṇu’s stomach, like the rest of the universe, and the other that had just gone in.

[80]:

Lit. creeper.

[81]:

See Footnote on Verse 109.

[82]:

According to Nārāyaṇa: “which represented the climax of the deep black of its wings”. See also Vocab. under “bahula”.

[83]:

Kuhū is an onomatopoetic word signifying the sound of a cuckoo, out it means also the dark Amāvāsyā night which the bird resembled in colour. Cf. 1.100; 8.65.

[84]:

i.e., its audacity in vying with Damayantī’s voice. “parivādinī”: ‘a seven stringed lyre’ means also ‘scandalous’ (fem.) “parivāda” means both ‘scandal’ and ‘the bow with which a lyre is played.’ The epithet “dhṛtākhilakalāguṇa......” refers also to the lyre in which case the Guṇas are the strings and the Kalās the pegs of the lyre. See Notes.

[85]:

Lit. the ‘elephant’ of the race of kings. “kuñjara”: ‘elephant’ means in such cases ‘great’, but here the lyre sounding before Nala is likened to a female elephant trumpeting near her mate. The awkward comparison is due to the belief that the Niṣāda tune produced by the lyre had its origin in the roar of elephants. Applied to the female elephant, the epithets mean: ‘resting close to a mountain-born elephant and shaking the head with the ears and moving the trunk in diverse ways.’

[86]:

Apparently, worthlessness. Lit. tenuity. The reference is to the holes in the frame of a lyre.

[87]:

Also: did not forsake its bow in the course of the cadences. ‘corner’ means also ‘the bow with which a lyre is played’. “vā+ālayeṣu” (in houses) is to be construed also as “vā layeṣu” (during cadences).

[88]:

i.e., Nala.

[89]:

The word “satī” is played upon. Pārvatī was called Satī in her previous life when she was born as the daughter of Dakṣa. Damayantī was a Satī (a devoted woman) not only in her previous but present life.

[90]:

A king has in him portions of Indra and the other divine lords of the regions. Cf. 6. 94, 95. It is also implied that Pārvatī was Śiva’s consort Satī in her previous life, in which case the epithet “nākapālakalanākalita” refers also to Śiva and means “known for carrying (Brahmā’s) skull (in his hand).” See verse 35.

[91]:

i.e., Nala exceeds Cupid in beauty, who was burnt by Śiva; just as Damayantī excels Rati.

[92]:

i.e., she is slender in her waist.

[93]:

The idea is, though Cupid triumphs over Nala with Damayantī as his weapon, it is Nala and not Cupid who enjoys her, probably owing to the frailty of her slim waist, which is fancied as a weak barrier unable to safeguard Cupid’s possession.

By means of puns the verse is designed to mean also:

‘This slender damsel gives the victory to Cupid, assigning to him the document establishing his victory and making the moon-faced girls (her companions) her witness. Is it the result of the extreme weakness of the judge that (the right of) enjoyment here belongs to thee who hast ousted (or humiliated) Cupid?’

In this case, Nala and Cupid contend for the possession of Damayantī’s person, and the latter acting as the judge gives the decision in favour of Cupid. But it is Nala who takes possession of the disputed object, obviously owing to the weakness of the tender judge.

[94]:

i.e., the pictorial designs represent the dolphin supposed to act as Cupid’s banner.

[95]:

The hairs of Nala’s body standing upright and wet with perspiration are fancied as keeping awake in the hope of amorous dalliance. They are besides compared to the filaments of the flowers serving as Cupid’s arrows.

[96]:

Designed to mean at first sight ‘redness’. “rāga” means both ‘love’ and ‘redness’.

[97]:

The lotus blossoms closing in the evening are described as making themselves arrow-shaped for Cupid’s use.

[98]:

Lit. half looked at by the eyes of their angry friend, and shrinking as if on account of being lotuses. For a better reading see Notes.

[99]:

Means: ‘Praise’ (Imperative): but the words are onomatopoetic.

[100]:

i.e., the evening.

[101]:

Cakravāka couples are believed to separate at nightfall.

[102]:

The evening twilight is the black sword, and the sun the grindstone. The glow of the setting sun is described as the filings from the brick frame. Aruṇa holding the reins of the sun’s chariot is fancied as turning the grindstone by means of cords. ‘Rod’ (daṇḍa), one of the attendants of the sun, is the rod to which the cords are attached. Cf. 1.92.

[103]:

See Vocab. under “nālīka”.

[104]:

Lit. creepers.

[105]:

Gold is called “suvarṇa”: ‘fair-coloured’, while silver is called “durvarṇa” ‘ugly-coloured’.

[106]:

The gods combined had churned the briny ocean, using the Mandara mountain as the necessary chum-staff.

[107]:

Lit. the product of thy tongue.

[108]:

The reading “ramyādhara” has been followed.

[109]:

The eight powers of Śiva in the order in which they are referred to in the verse are:—

  1. aṇimā”, the power of being small;
  2. garimā”, the power of acquiring weight;
  3. mahimā”, the power of acquiring height;
  4. vaśitva”, the power of acquiring self-control;
  5. īśitva”, the power of acquiring supremacy;
  6. laghimā”, the power of being light;
  7. prākāmya” irresistible will,
  8. and “kāmāvasāyitā”, going anywhere at will.

See also Vocab. under “bhūti”.

[110]:

Designed to mean also: thy Voice was pleased to wash its feet with nectar.

[111]:

Sunset is the time for separation of the Cakravāka pair.

[112]:

Nala’s words are an excuse for leaving Damayantī and going down to the river for the evening ablutions.

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