Nala Charitre: The Legend of Nala(A Short Epic)


This book presents the mythological narrative of Nala-Damayanti as an epic poem in English. Among the luminaries of sixteenth century Bhakti tradition, Kanakadasa?s literary and musical compositions (kirtanes) are imbued with philosophical meanings, which show immense formative influence on the cultural and literary scene of Karnataka. Also, Kanakadasa?s literary works such as Mohana Tarangini, Haribhaktisara, and the eminent allegorical masterpiece Ramadhanya Charitre incorporate metaphors taken from everyday life, which fascinate the commoners and offers them respite from mundane life-struggles. While such metaphorical expressions represent a remarkable trend in Bhakti poetry, in Kanakadasa?s depiction of Nala and Damayanti?s misfortunes, the toilsome life of common men and women stares forth. Hauled out of their palatial leisurely living, a curious turn of events compels them to survive amidst endless suffering. On one hand Nala Charitre is a poignant story of love, and on the other, it thematizes human existence, humandivine relationship and simplifies poetry to reach the audience beyond the limited circle of literates. As the Bhakti Literature assimilates the vernacular into devotional poetry, Kanakadasa?s epic poem interweaves mythological themes from Mahabharata with struggles of medieval Indian society, thus overcoming the binaries of human and divine.

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