For all the women who are both impossibly strong and deeply human.
We have been a strong woman for a long time now. Many of you know what that means.
Let me give you one right example of a strong women.
Making it short and simple……
The story of Damayanthi from The Mahabharata is a very popular and frequently told story.
King Bheema reigned in the kingdom of Vidarbha. He had a daughter named Damayanthi. As damayanthi grew up into a lovely women,stories of her beauty and intelligence spread everywhere.
There was a strong and handsome Nala who ruled over the kingdom of Nishaba. Known as ever-just and always truthful king,he looked after his people like a father. The people loved him in return.
One fine day a Brahmin came into his court. On learning of his bachelor status he suggested the name damayanthi,the daughter of king vidarbh. He painted such an impressive picture of the princess that Nala fell in love with her.
One day Nala was wandering alone in the royal garden,lost in thoughts of damayanthi. A flock of golden-winged swans landed on the grass. Nala ran forward and caught one of them. The swan struggled to get away. Nala held it close “Nala let me go” the swan said, “You speak in human voice” Nala was surprised. Yes i know human language now let me go release a wonderful bird like you? How can i? Nala replied if you release me i will do you a favour i will fly to the kingdom of vidarbha and tell it’s princess damayanthi about you. I will so describe about you that she will want to be nobody else’s except you.
Nala let go of the swan. I’ve set you free. Now go. Tell damayanthi about my love for her. The swan flew to vidarbha. Damayanthi ran towards the swan. Swan led her far away into a quiet corner. Then it spoke to her. Damayanti, listen to me. I have come to tell you about Nala’s love for you. The swan praised Nala in glowing words. “If you agree to become his, your life and beauty would have been worthwhile. You are a gem among women. Nala is the noblest among men. The joining of the best with the best makes for happiness. What is your answer?”
Blushing, Damayanti replied, “Dear swan, go and tell Nala that I am his and always have been his.” The swan flew back and gave Damayanti’s message to Nala.
Meanwhile, Bhima was making plans to hold a grand ceremony for Damayanti called the swayamvara, where she could choose her own husband.
News of the swayamvara reached even the gods in heaven.
The devas: Indra, king of the gods,
Agni, the god of fire,
Varuna, god of the waters, and
Yama, god of the underworld, had also heard of Damayanti’s charms. They too decided to attend the swayamvara.
Kings, wearing rich clothes and jewels, came on golden chariots drawn by superb horses, and surrounded by attendants, to impress Damayanti. The four gods too descended to earth. They saw Nala, who was also on his way to the swayamvara. The gods were surprised at this mortal man’s dignified bearing and noble look.
The gods approached him. “You are Nala, are you not? We have heard of you, of your great-heartedness and your love of truth. Will you help us? Will you take a message for us?” Nala bowed to them. I will do whatever you ask.
Go tell damayanthi we are coming and to choose one of us as her husband. No, Nala replied.
Earlier, you promised you would do anything we asked. Will you now go back on your word? Indra asked.
As the gods had assured him, Nala was able to go without being stopped, straight into the palace and into Damayanti’s rooms. He saw her sitting there.
“I am Nala. I have come as a messenger of the gods. The four chief gods of heaven want you to choose one of them as your husband. I have come here unseen through their power. I have delivered their message as I promised. Now do as you think best, Damayanti.”
Damayanti thought for a moment. Then she said, “Nala, you have done your duty to the gods by delivering their message. But the matter of choice lies in my hands. If it is I who place the garland on your neck, then you are not to blame. No wrong can fall on you because of my act. Go and tell the gods that, in their presence, I will choose you.”
Nala’s heart soared with joy. He returned to the place where the four celestials were waiting, and gave them Damayanti’s message.
The hour of the swayamvara arrived. The royal invitees were gathered in the hall. All eyes were on the entrance door. Damayanti entered, holding a garland. Without stopping, she went to where Nala was seated. Then a frown appeared on her brow. There were five men seated before her who looked exactly like Nala. How could this be? In a flash, Damayanti guessed who the men were. There were the four gods who had taken the form of Nala.
Then Damayanti began to pray. Oh gods, I have chosen Nala for my husband with faith and sincerity. For the sake of this faith, please reveal him to me.
Damayanti saw the change happening. Their eyes did not blink at all. And their feet, as if not meant for this earth, were not resting on the ground, but hovering over it. The flowers in their garlands were as fresh as if they had just been plucked. Hot sunlight was streaming in, causing shadows to fall sideways. But the four men cast no shadows.
Nala sat beside them, light sweat covering his face, his garland wilting in the heat, his eyes blinking naturally. His feet were on the ground, and Damayanti looked at the precious shadow he cast with joy and thankfulness. She put the garland around Nala’s neck.
Appreciations!! The gods took on their true forms and blessed the young couple. Nala said, Damayanti, you have chosen me in preference to the gods themselves. I will be the most devoted partner to you.
The four gods realised the power of damayanthi’s love,a power which was far stronger than their own. They were touched by her firm will and her pure heart.
We need women who are so strong they can be gentle,so educated they can be humble,so fericy they can be compassionate,so passionate they can be rational,and so disciplined they can be free…….