May 30th

NN33. THE STORY OF KING NALAN

By Raja

The Story of KING Nalan

 

This is a popular love story that was originally written in Sanskrit By Poet Harsha of North India under the title 'Naishadam.' It was later written in Tamil by Poet Pugazhendi of South India in the name of 'Nala Venba' somewhere between 9th and 13th century AD. Apart from the story value, the poetic style in which it was written in Tamil was very much unique and unparallel in its presentation. Though the English rendering of the contents in the poetry form has not been that much easy, I have tried my best to present here the story in its original form to the extent possible. This series containing 32 episodes will reveal to the present generation the life style and culture of the people of those times. 

The story in brief:

 

King Nalan married Dhamayanthi much against the will of the evil minded Kali, who had an intention to marry her, Due to the evil influence of Kali, Nalan played gambling and had lost his kingdom.  He was driven to the forest life, where he got himself separated from his wife.  She then came back and stayed with her parents. He went in disguise to Kasi kingdom and worked as a cook and charioteer under the king of Kasi.  On an occasion when the King of Kasi came to participate in the second swayam varam function of Dhamayanthi, Nalan also came there along with the king.  Finally, they found Nalan, who joined his wife and children happily.

 

Comments by Poetess Sandra Fowler, Litt.D

West Virginia, USA

 

'The Story Of Nalan' is one of Rajaram Ramachandran's most eloquent creative efforts to date. His rendering of this epic work into the English language should earn him an honored place in the pages of India's poetic history.

At seventy-seven, (Now 86 years old) this indefatigable wordsmith has lost none of his creative energy. His legendary skill for bringing past centuries to vivid life excites the imagination of the reader and makes ancient events seem as current as if they had only happened yesterday.
The thirty-two episodes that contain the romantic adventures of Nalan are presented with clarity, with simplicity and with grace. They are accessible to readers  of all ages and walks in life.

 

This narrative is as timeless as love itself, and it has a happy ending. This is rather unique among the stories of star crossed lovers. Memorable lines abound. I like Rajaram's description of the beauty of Dhamayanthi as being like, 'The light of a lamp that burns nonstop'. And these metaphorical lines about Nalan who lost his heart and came in search of it in his fast chariot.

My favorite episode is the one entitled, 'Indra's Message'.
In this episode, Nalan and Dhamayanthi meet for the first time and become, almost instantly, one soul in two bodies. To my western one of thinking, this is the meaning of the fascinating phrase, 'There were no twos'.

Rajaram Ramachandran has excelled himself in the writing of, 'The Story Of Nalan'. It is a beautiful, luminous piece rich in both simile and metaphor.

Poetry is essentially a performance. This one is worthy of bouquets of best wishes and many encores.

Sandra Fowler, Litt.D

26-03-2008

 

 

 

 

May 30th

NN32. RESTORED TO STATUS

By Raja

NALAN

 

Got into the chariot

 

In front his army marched.

Behind him Kings followed.

With his wife and children,

To his own land, started Nalan.

 

What was the distance?

 

To Dhamayanthi’s question,

On the distance to destination,

Nalan said, “After seven hills,

Our Mavindam City lies.”

 

The Sun rise

 

Nidadha Nadu became bright,

When the sun rose with his light.

The City had a majestic look,

With the return of Nalan back.

 

Reached the city

 

King Nalan reached closer

To The Mavindam-border,

With his wife and children

And his army of men.

 

Sent a messenger

 

His messenger he sent

To Pushkaran straight

Asking him to meet

There on the spot.

 

Pushkaran saw

 

Pushkaran saw King Nalan

With his wife and children

Backed up by a big army.

And studied them slowly.

 

Made enquiry

 

He enquired, “Oh Nalan,

Hope all of you are fine?

Any trouble on your way?

Glad to see you this day.”

Placed the ring

 

For a dice game,

Nalan invited him.

Pushkaran agreed.

His ring Nalan staked.

 

Won the winner

 

Nalan played skilfully.

He won the games finally

All those he had lost,

He got them back at last.

 

Pushkaran went away

 

Having lost his game

And also his fame,

He went back to his place

With all his disgrace.

 

Nalan reached his place

 

Having won the game

And also his fame,

Nalan got back his city

And went there finally.

 

How to describe?

 

Mavindam, the city of peace

Will it match peacock dance

Or the abundant fertile land

That lies in and around?

 

Sage Vyasa blessed and went

 

Vyasa conclude, “Oh Dharman,

You heard the story of Nalan.

So, stop worrying at last.”

He blessed him and went.

 

Long live! Long Live!

 

Long live all the Vedas.

Long live learned Pundits.

Long live those who heard

And also those who read

This story of Nalan

THE END

May 30th

NN31. FAMILY UNITED

By Raja

NALAN

He was the king

 

Dhamayanthi was certain

That the cook was Nalan.

She told this to her father

“As a cook, Nalan is here.”

 

Vimarasan got confused

 

Vimarasan saw the cook,

But with cook’s ugly look,

He got confused, how that man

Could be his daughter’s Nalan?

 

From the talk he learnt

 

The cook talked like Nalan,

So, it could be her Nalan,

At first, Vimarasan guessed.

This finally, he confirmed.”

 

Show your real shape

 

Vimarasan said, ‘Oh Nalan,

Of this great land you own,

This is not your shape.

Show me your real shape.”

 

King Cobra’s robe

 

Nalan thought for while,

And gave a soft smile.

He got himself dressed.

With the robe he had.

 

(The robe was given

By the King Cobra)

 

Charioteer was gone

 

The shape of charioteer,

Was no more there,

Instead, the great warrior

King Nalan stood there.

 

Children found

 

His children shed tears

When they saw their father,

And fell at his feet

As a mark of respect.

 

How Dhamayanthi came?

 

There Dhamayanthi came

Wearing half cut sari, the same

One she wore in the forest.

With tears, she fell at his feet.

 

Tears covered her vision

 

He left her alone in the forest

Because her eyes were shut.

Now the tears blocked her vision.

So, clearly she couldn’t see Nalan.

 

Flowers rained

 

All Devas from the heaven

Showered flowers like rain.

They said, “Is there anyone

So noble like this Nalan?”

 

Kali’s request

 

Before Nalan, Kali appeared.

“Oh king, I’m well pleased.

For chastity, it’s your woman.

For justice, you’re the one.”

 

“You ask for any boon.

I’ll grant the same one.”

This Nalan’s story did melt,

Even the Kali’s stone heart.

 

Don’t go near

 

Nalan prayed, “Don’t go near

Those pious people, who hear

My story and trouble them

Now or at any time.”

 

Kali’s promise

 

Kali said, “I promise

That I’ll not catch those

Who hear your story,

Or cause them any worry.”

 

Gave a feast

 

Vimarasan gave a feast

To Nalan and the rest,

To celebrate their reunion

After years of separation.

 

 Ayodhya King requested

 

Ayodhya King requested

“I may kindly be excused,”

He took leave of Nalan,

And went back alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 30th

NN30. CHILDREN AND FATHER

By Raja

NALAN

Entered the kitchen

 

Nalan untied the horses

And took them for rests.

He entered the royal kitchen

To cook food for his king then.

 

(Perhaps a custom for a king

to have food from his own cook

wherever he went for

self-protection)

 

Without filling filled

 

When he went inside the kitchen,

With no effort of his own,

Everything got itself cooked.

By Devas’ boon, he once received.

 

(In 1.5 – Indra’s  messenger,

Last but one heading:

Granted boons)

 

Know and come

 

Wise Dhamayanthi sent

Her clever maid at night

To find out from the cook

Some items, how to cook?

 

Sent her son and daughter

 

Her daughter and son

She sent them to Nalan

To find out how he felt

And to know the result.

 

Whose children?

 

Nalan hugged them

Tight in his bosom

Like his own he felt.

He tried to find out.

 

“How nice you’re!

Whose children you’re?

With all his affection

He put this question.

 

They said, we’re the children

Of Nalan, who went out alone.

Our land is ruled by another man,

And not by our father, Nalan.”

 

Stood almost lifeless

 

When the cook Nalan heard

What the children said

He stood almost lifeless,

And shed his tears.

 

Disgraceful act

 

 “Oh prince, your kingdom

Is ruled by another king

You left your own city,

And live in this city.”

 

“Don’t you feel it

A disgraceful act

To live like that?

I feel so, in fact.”

 

Truth is strength

 

The prince replied,

“Oh cook, you said

Those words impertinent

As an inferior servant.”

 

“To keep up his words

My father went to woods.

Truth is strength, he knows.

That’s how his life goes.”

 

Scars on the feet

 

“The scars on his feet

Many you can count.

In his fight with kings

He had these things.”

 

Bowed his head

 

Nalan bowed his head

And to the prince said,

“Cooks does not know

What the kings know.”

 

Dhamayanthi got the truth

 

Dhamayanthi’s maid revealed

What all between them happened.

When she knew he was Nalan

She cried and fell down.

 

Cried out in despair

 

In despair, she cried out,

And she had this doubt

How ugly he became

As a cook when he came.

 

“Did the smoke cause it?

Did the heat change it?

What a royal face he had?

How it turned now bad?”

May 30th

NN29. IN THE CITY OF VIMARASAN

By Raja

NALAN

Reached the City of Vimarasan

 

The King left his Ayodhya City,

The big and the beautiful one,

And reached Vimarasan’s City,

One more beautiful one.

 

In the Vimarasan’s palace

 

His chariot made a halt

Before the palace gate.

Alone he went inside,

Keeping Nalan outside.

 

What for you came?

 

When Irudubarnan came,

Surprised Vimarasan became.

“What for you’ve come?”

Vimarasan asked him.

 

(Irudubarnan is the name

Of the King of Ayodhya)

 

Desired to meet you

 

“I came to you

Just to meet you,”

The visitor said then

Hiding the reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 30th

NN28. THE CHARIOT WENT FAST

By Raja

NALAN

 

Get into the chariot

 

Nalan told the king,

“I’m now bringing

The best chariot,

The one fastest.”

 

“Like the sun’s chariot

This one will run fast.

Oh King, please get in

We’ll be there by morn.”

 

Faster than thought

 

The chariot ran so fast,

It was faster than the thought

Of the King, whose mind

Was on another man’s maid.

 

Fell down and take it.

 

When the chariot ran fast well

The king’s upper garment fell

By then, he began to tell

It crossed four-six miles.

 

Think and see

 

The king told Nalan

“In the nearby garden

Trees, ten thousand,

You can now find.”

 

There Nalan stopped

And quickly counted

The exact number

To the King’s wonder.

 

Change our work

 

The king appreciated,

And immediately said,

“You take my work.

I’ll take your work.”

 

Kali went away

 

Nalan became too wise

Having learnt all the arts

From the Ayodhya-king

The art of fast counting.

 

Kali became panicky then,

That Nalan will win

In any tough gambling,

With his art of counting.

 

Once for all, Kali left Nalan,

Whose good days began.

From that moment onward

His life went forward.

 

 

 

 

May 30th

NN27. SECOND SUYAM-VARAM

By Raja

NALAN

Another Suyam-Varam

 

Dhamayanthi told the Brahmin,

“Go to Ayodhya again.

Tell them, we’ve once more,

Having Suyam-Varam here.”

 

Suyam-Varam tomorrow

 

To Ayodhya the Brahmin went

And told, “Here I’m sent

To inform, by tomorrow certain,

Suyam-Varam will go again.”

 

What to do?

 

The king who heard,

The Brahmin’s word,

Asked his charioteer

“How to go there?

 

It was evening by then.

Next day is the function.

Within these few hours

How to reach there?

 

Can it be talked?

 

Nalan said, “She’s a woman,

Having no mind for another man,

How can such a chaste woman

Even talk of any other man?”

 

The King told Nalan

 

 “On the last occasion

Her garland fell on Nalan.

It should have been mine,

When it was thrown.”

 

Nalan’s worry

 

“Is she trying to find me out?

Like this, never in the past,

A talk of this kind arose

But now why it goes?”

 

Realised his duty

 

Nalan realised his duty.

He kept the chariot ready

With good galloping horses

To reach the spot in hours.

 

 

 

 

May 30th

NN26. BRAHMIN WHO SEARCHED

By Raja

NALAN

Search for the king

 

Dhamayanthi got relief,

A little bit, from her grief.

She asked the Brahmin to find

What was in Nalan’s mind?

 

How to find?

 

“Ask him how manly it was

To leave his wife in darkness

When she was sleeping

In a dilapidated building?”

 

“What reply he has for this?

Go there and find this.”

She told, how to find him,

And where to look for him,

 

Reached Ayodhya

 

The Brahmin went in search,

And finally he could reach

Ayodhya City after many days,

Walking on rough road ways.

 

Came before

 

“Is it fair for a wise man

To leave her woman

In the dark forest?

For a king, does it fit?”

 

This query, the Brahmin put

In the King’s royal court,

Where Nalan was present

He came there in front.

 

The result of fate

 

*Vaguvan said, “It’s the fate

That forced him like that.

It wasn’t his intention

To leave her and run.”

 

*Nalan in disguise

 

Did you find him?

 

In the court, what he heard,

The same Brahmin told.

Dhamayanthi asked him,

“Did you find him?”

 

“Where did you stay?

Did you, on your way

Meet our noble king?

Did he say anything?”

 

The Brahmin replied

 

“He speaks like our king

But he’s not our king.

He’s only a charioteer,

In the palace there.”

 

 

 

 

 

May 29th

NN25. STAY AT AYODHYA

By Raja

NALAN

Nalan started

 

On the advice of Karkotagan,

For Ayodhya, started Nalan.

With no proper place for rest,

He was passing thru’ the forest.

 

Saw the seashore

 

He saw the seashore.

A male bird there

Was awake in the night,

While its mate slept.

 

He felt shy, having left

His sleeping wife at night,

Instead of guarding her

By her side forever.

 

No word from the bird

 

Nalan said, “Oh young bird,

Why no consoling word

From you on my action,

In leaving my wife alone?”

 

Lost his soul

 

He saw a speckled male bee,

Waiting on its female bee,

While drinking sweet honey

From the flowers many.

 

He felt sorry for his action

In deserting her alone

In the dead of night

Like a coward’s act.

 

Crab, you tell

 

Into its hole, a crab ran

On seeing a man,

As its natural habit,

But Nalan mistook it.

 

“Oh crab, why do you run

And hide yourself in your den?

Perhaps, it may be the reason

I left her in the forest alone.”

 

What she thought?

 

Nalan saw a sea crane

And asked, “Oh crane,

Of me, what she thought,

When she woke up at night?”

 

Left her at night?

 

“Oh sea, you’re going

And back here coming,

Is it that you’ve also left

Your wife at night?”

 

Many laughed

 

On the shore, when he walked,

Many seaside girls laughed,

On seeing his shape, short

And ugly to look at.

 

He reached Ayodhya City,

With water sources in plenty,

To seek his livelihood

In the shape what he had.

 

Inform my arrival

 

He reached the palace,

And told, “Oh guards,

Inform your king,

Here I’m standing.”

 

“I’m a charioteer

And can take care

Of horses and chariot,

Clean and neat.”

 

“I’m a good cook.

So, I can also work

In the royal kitchen,

If a chance is given.”

 

Went before the king  

 

They informed the king

Of the message, everything.

He heard and ordered them

“Before me bring him.”

 

King of Ayodhya asked

 

The King asked Vaguvan,

The incognito King Nalan,

“What kind of work

You wish to seek?”

 

I’m an expert

 

“Oh King, I’m an expert

In driving any chariot,

And in the art of cooking,

For any work, I’m willing,”

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29th

NN24. KALI HAD GONE

By Raja

NALAN

 

King cobra’s gift

The Lotus feet’s mercy

 

Gajendran, the elephant

In danger, cried out

For help, and Thirumal

Rushed up to its call.

 

He saved it from a crocodile.

He helps those who call.

Behind cows, he went.

We submit to his feet.

 

In the temple of mind.

 

Let Mahadevan save us.

With a deer in hand, He dances.

He’s in the hearts of devotees.

And Master of all Devas.

 

King Cobra surrendered

 

Chased by Kali, Nalan

In the forest walked alone.

A King Cobra called him,

“Oh King, please come.”

 

“Under you, I take shelter,

As I’m now in danger.

From this forest fire

Save me at this hour.”

 

He saw him burning

 

As the fire was spreading,

The Cobra was burning.

Nalan saw this plight

And went to him straight.

 

He went to King Cobra

 

The Fire God’s boon 

Came to his mind then.

So, he crossed the fire

And slowly went near.

 

Save me he said.

 

“Due to a sage’s curse

I’m burnt like this.

Please help me

From fire save me.”

 

Like this Cobra said.

His story Nalan heard.

He decided to help him

And from fire save him.

 

Take me away

 

Cobra said, “Take me.

In a safe place, leave me.

My curse will leave me

Once you save me.”

 

He saved the Cobra

 

Nalan took him away

For him to stay

At a safe distance

From the fire place.

 

Count ten and put me down

 

The cobra told Nalan,

“Please count ten

From your first step

Drop me at the tenth step.”

 

Nalan counted ten

 

From the first step

To the tenth step,

When Nalan counted ten

The cobra bit him then.

 

What was the reason?

 

Nalan asked, “Tell me

Why did you bite me?

With no provocation,

What’s the reason?

 

Body became dark

 

When cobra bit Nalan

For a valid reason,

His body became dark,

Short and shrunk.

 

Explained the reason

 

“I bit you for the reason

You’ll not be known

To anyone in this body

Which is too ugly.”

 

“I’m Karkotakan.

I did this in return

For what you did.

Now you can hide.”

 

Take this robe

 

“From this forest fire,

You brought me here.

Take this robe for use

Whenever you need this.”

 

On use, it will shine

 

“This shape will disappear

Your old one will appear,

This robe, whenever you use,

So, carefully keep this.”

 

Be a charioteer

 

“Your name is not Nalan,

But will be Vagugan,

Meaning short-handed man,

And as a charioteer, you’ll join.”

 

“Go to Ayodhya direct

And there you start

Your fresh career

As the best charioteer.”

 

 

 

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