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Nala

by Prasad Krishna
Nala was one of the Shatchakravarthins (six great emperors) in Hindu mythology. Also known as Nalachakravarti (Nala the emperor). He was king of Nishadha Kingdom. He was chosen by Damayanti as husband in the 'Swayamvara' (function in which the bride selects her husband from among the invitees) in preference to even the gods who came to marry her.

All the gods left the place praising the qualities of Nala and blessing the couple. But Kali (the personification of evilness) vowed to divert Nala from the path of Dharma (righteousness or virtue) and separate Nala and Damayanti. Such was the purity of Nala that it took seven years for Kali to find a small fault in him and bring him under the influence of evil. Due to this, Nala played dice or gambling with another king called Pushkara and lost all his wealth and the kingdom to Pushkara. Nala and Damayanti had to live in forests where they were separated. After undergoing many sufferings (in spite of which Nala did not deviate from the path of righteousness), Nala overcame the influence of Kali and regained his kingdom by defeating Pushkar. Nala and Damayanti were reunited and lived happily thereafter.

The very utterance of the name of Nala is said to cleanse us of the evil effects of Kali.


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