Epic poem, translating the legend of Nale and Damayanti from the “Mahabharata”
In the middle of India in the mountains of Vindhya is the country of Nishadha, and its ruler was the noble and magnanimous king of Nala. Not far from Nishadha was another country, Vidarbha, and there the daughter of Damayanti, a beauty, was born to King Bhima, a beauty that was neither among the gods nor among mortals. In the surroundings of Nala the court often praised the beauty of Damayanti, surrounded by Damayanti, as often praised Nala’s virtues, and young people, not yet met, fell in love. Once in the royal garden, Nale manages to catch the golden goose, who promises to fly to Vidarbha if Nala lets him go and tell Damayanti about his love. Nala lets goose, and he fulfills his promise, flies back to Nishadhu and, to the great joy of Nala, notifies him of the reciprocal love of Damayanti.
When Damayanti entered at the time of blossoming youth, king Bhima at her request,
appoints swayamvara for it – free choice of the bride groom. On swayamvara Damayanti, attracted by rumors of her beauty and charms, hastening not only the kings of all the ends of the earth, but many of the inhabitants of heaven. On the way to Vidarbha, the king of the gods Indra, the god of fire Agni, the lord of the waters of Varuna and the god of death of Yam meet Nala and ask him to be their messenger who would suggest Damayanti to choose one of the four for himself as husband. No matter how bitterly Nale take on such an assignment, out of a feeling of reverence for the gods, he conscientiously executes it. However, Damayanti, after hearing nishadhtsa, comforts him the recognition that he is dear to her more than any god, and she chooses to groom his alone. Divine eyesight penetrating the intentions of Damayanti, Indra, Agni, Varuna and Yama – everyone takes on svayamvara the face of Nala, and Damayanti, since King Nishadhi himself stands beside the gods, one has to choose between the five Nals. Her heart tells her the right decision: she distinguishes the gods by their unblinking gaze, by the non-moving
flower wreaths, by dusty feet that do not touch the ground, and decisively points to the true Nala – in a withered wreath covered with dust and sweat. All applicants of Damayanti’s hands, both gods and kings, accept her choice, praise the depth of her feelings, present rich gifts to the bride and groom; and only the evil spirit of Kali, who also appeared on svayamvara, becomes permeated with hatred for Nala and vows to take revenge on him. However, the story of Kali’s revenge: his instillation into Nala’s soul, the loss of the Nala and all that belongs to him, while playing dice, his insanity and wandering through the forest, separation from Damayanti and reuniting with her only after many calamities and sufferings – story, described in detail in the Mahabharata, remains outside the framework of the poem of Shriharshi. She unlike the “Mahabharata” ends with a description of the solemn wedding of Nala and Damayanti and their happy love.