Nala and Damayanti (Myths and Legends of the World)
In Hindu mythology, Nala and Damayanti were lovers who overcame various obstacles to marry and live happily. Their story appears in the Hindu the Mahabharata and in the Naiadhiyacarita, a poem written by the poet Shriharsha.
According to legend, Nala was the young, handsome, and skillful king of Nishadha in central India. Damayanti, said to be the most beautiful girl in the world, was the daughter of King Bhima of Vidarbha, a neighboring country. One day Nala captured a swan. In return for freedom, the swan flew to Vidarbha and praised the virtues of Nala to Damayanti. After hearing about him, Damayanti hoped that he would fall in love with her.
Soon after, Damayanti's father decided to find a suitable husband for his daughter and invited many princes to his palace. Several of the gods also sought her hand in marriage. On the way to the palace, the gods met Nala and told him to serve as messenger and announce their intentions to Damayanti. When he arrived at the palace, Damayanti marveled at Nala's good looks. Nala relayed the message from the gods, but Damayanti told him that she wanted only him and vowed to wed him or die.
On the day that Damayanti was supposed to choose her future husband, the royal court was full of men. Among them were the gods, who each appeared as the handsome Nala. Unable to distinguish among them, Damayanti...
(The entire section is 433 words.)
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