The Transformation of Nala – Part I

We saw how Nala (in the guise of Bahuka), Rituparna, and Varshneya set out for Vidharbha after hearing that Damayanti was to remarry. On the way Bahuka stopped to rest the horses. Rituparna was in a hurry to reach Vidharbha as he was excited at the prospect of marrying Damayanti, and so asked Bahuka not to stop. Bahuka did not listen to him as the horses needed rest. They stopped near a Balearic tree.

The Balearic has many uses in Ayurveda. In addition to its unmatched medicinal value, it also has symbolic religious and spiritual values. On the seventh day of the new moon, Hindus worship the Balearic tree and keep parts of the roots of this tree in their safe. It is believed that this helps increase their wealth, thus we see it is connected with Kali or counting.

Pointing to the tree, Rituparna told Bahuka that he could tell the exact number of leaves on each branch of the tree, and also the number of leaves on the ground. Bahuka doubted him saying this was impossible unless the tree was talking to Rituparna. So then Rituparna told him the amount on one of the branches. Bahuka started counting the leaves. The king told him that we do not have time to waste, but Bahuka went on counting and found the number was the same that Rituparna had said. Bahuka told him that he would like to have this secret knowledge and in return would give him the knowledge of speed and horses. Rituparna agreed and gave Nala the secrets of counting and the dice.

The minute Nala acquired this knowledge Kali could no longer stay in his body. He immediately came out quivering in pain. Only Bahuka could see him. Nala was very angry with Kali as it was because of him that he had fallen into this deep suffering. He was about to curse him when Kali begged him not to. He told him that he had already been burning inside of him for long because of Karkotaka’s poison. Kali told Nala that if he did not curse him, then he would increase his fame and also pledged that in the ages to come whosoever read the story of Nala and Damayanti, or told this story to others, would be free of pain and that happiness and prosperity would follow them. Saying these words, Kali entered the Balearic tree to rest there for a while.

Man has two higher faculties, higher emotions and higher thinking. We have seen that in Nala the higher emotional faculty had already opened and because of this, he was able to marry the power called Damayanti but to hold on to this power the seeker should know that both the higher thinking and higher emotional parts of the psychic nature should be developed. Rituparna had this higher thinking faculty which is symbolised by his mastery over counting and knowledge of dice. To open the higher thinking centre, Nala had to go through a period of preparation which is depicted in the suffering he endures. Now Nala’s psychic nature is fully developed and his higher faculties are active.