The discourse between king Nala and Karkotaka

बृहदश्व उवाच उत्सृज्य दमयन्ती तु नलो राजा विशाम्पते। ददर्श दावं दह्यन्तं महान्तं गहने वने।॥
Brihadashava said : O king! king Nala, having forsaken Damayanti, beheld a great fire breaking out in that dreadful forest.

तत्र शुश्राव शब्दं वै मध्ये भूतस्य कस्यचित्। अभिधाव नलेत्युच्चैः पुण्यश्लाकेति चासकृत्॥ मा भैरिति नलश्चोक्त्वा मध्यमग्नेः प्रविश्य तम्। ददर्श नागराजानं शयानं कुण्डलीकृतम्॥
There in the midst of that great fire he heard the voice of some living object, which cried over and over again unto the righteous Nala, Saying-Come hither. Nala answered him, saying-do not fear. Thus saying, he entered into the conflagration and saw there the king of the snakes lying in coils.

स नागः प्राञ्जलिर्भूत्वा वेपमानो नलं तदा। उवाच मां विद्धि राजन् नागं कर्कोटकं नृप।॥ मया प्रलब्धो ब्रह्मर्षिर्नारदः सुमहातपाः। तेन मन्युपरीतेन शप्तोऽस्मि मनुजाधिप।॥ तिष्ठ त्वं स्थावर इव यावदेव नल: क्वचित्। इतो नेता हि तत्र त्वं शापान्मोक्ष्यसि मत्कृतात्॥
Thereupon the Naga (the king of the snakes), with folded hands and trembling with fear, addressed Nala. 'O king! know me that I am Naga (snake), Karkotaka by name. O lord of men! the great sage, Narada, observing rigid austerity, was once deceived by me; and who, again, filled with rage, coursed me, saying: Remain here like some immovable thing, until king Nala leads you hence. And, indeed, wherever shall he take you, there shall you be released from my curse.'

तस्य शापान शक्तोऽस्मि पदाद् विचलितुं पदम् उपदेक्ष्यामि ते श्रेयस्त्रातुमर्हति मां भवान्॥
It is owing to his curse that I am unable to move even a step-father. It behoves you, therefore, to release me; and then I will instruct you as regards your welfare.

सखा च ते भविष्यामि मत्समो नास्ति पन्नगः। लघुश्च ते भविष्यामि शीघ्रमादाय गच्छ माम्॥
I have not a peer among the snakes; I will be your companion. I am very light. So do you carry me in your hands and spcedily go.'

एवमुक्त्वा स नागेन्द्रो बभूवाङ्गुष्ठमात्रकः। तं गृहीत्वा नलः प्रायाद् देशं दावविवर्जितम्॥
Having thus addressed the king, the prince of the snakes assumed the size of the thumb. King Nala, having thus taken him up, repaired to a country, free from the conflagration.

आकाशदेशमासाद्य विमुक्तं कृष्णवर्मना। उत्स्रष्टुकामं तं नागः पुन: कर्कोटकोऽब्रवीत्॥
Having approached an open ground, free from the fire, Nala was desirous of leaving him, whereupon the Naga (king of the snakes) again said to him:

पदानि गणयन् गच्छ स्वानि नैषध कानिचित्। तत्र तेऽहं महाबाहो श्रेयोधास्यामि यत् परम्॥
“O king of the Nishadhas! do you proceed counting your own steps. O mighty-armed warrior! I will render great good to you."

तत: संख्यातुमारब्धमदशद् दशमे पदे। तस्य दष्टस्य तद् रूपं क्षिप्रमन्तरधीयत॥
Thereupon the king commenced counting his own steps, and at the tenth step he was bit. Having thus bitten him, the snake soon assumed a speedy change, viz., his original form.

स दृष्ट्वा विस्मितस्तस्थावात्मानं विकृतं नलः। स्वरूपधारिणं नागं ददर्श स महीपतिः॥
Beholding the change of form, Nala became struck with astonishment. The ruler of the earth also behold the snake to assume his real form,

ततः कर्कोटको नागः सान्त्वयन् नलमब्रवीत्। मया तेऽन्तर्हितं रूपं न त्वां विद्युर्जना इति॥
Thereupon the snake, Karkotaka, consoling him, spoke to Nala: "I have wrought this change of your beauty for the reason that the people will not recognise you."

यत्कृते चासि निकृतो दुःखेन महता नल। विषेण स मदीयेन त्वयि दुःखं निवत्स्यति॥
As I have done this, O Nala, the person, by whom have you been cast into great distress, will dwell within yourself, oppressed by my venom."

विषेण संवृतैर्गात्रैर्यावत् त्वां न विमोक्ष्यति। तावत् त्वयि महाराज दुःखं वै स निवत्स्यति॥
O foremost of the kings! as long as the person will not leave you, he shall have to miserably reside in yourself with the whole body filled with my poison.

अनागा येन निकृतस्त्वमन) जनाधिप। क्रोधादसूययित्वा तं रक्षा मे भवतः कृता॥
O king of men! from the person by whom, out of anger or hate, have you been cast into distress, I ilave saved you.

न ते भयं नरव्याघ्र दंष्ट्रिभ्यः शत्रुतोऽपि वा। ब्रह्मविद्भ्यश्च भविता मत्प्रसादान्नराधिप॥
O best of kings! O ruler of men! (hitherto fore) you shall have no fear either from the animals with fangs or from your cnemies or the Brahmanas conversant with the texts of the Vedas; for I am most graceful to you.

राजन् विषनिमित्ता च न ते पीडा भविष्यति। संग्रमेषु च राजेन्द्र शश्वज्जयमवाप्स्यसि॥
O king! you shall feel no uneasiness owing to my venom. O best of kings! you shall ever gain victory in battles.

गच्छ राजनित: सूतो बाहुकोऽहमिति ब्रुवन्। समीपमृतुपर्णस्य स हि चैवाक्षनैपुणः॥ अयोध्या नगरी रम्यामद्य वै निषधेश्वर। स तेऽक्षहृदयं दाता राजाश्चहृदयेन वै॥
O monarch! O the prince of the Nishadhas! do you go from here this day to the city of Ayodhya before Rituparna, who is most sk in the game at dice, calling yourself that you are the charioteer, Bahuka by name. That king will exchange his skill at dice for your knowledge in the management of horses.

इक्ष्वाकुकुलजः श्रीमान् मित्रं चैव भविष्यति। भविष्यसि यदाक्षज्ञः श्रेयसा योक्ष्यसे तदा।॥
That prosperous one, descended from the line of Ikshvaku, will be your friend. Then shall you obtain skillfulness at dice and meet your prosperity.

सममेष्यसि दारैस्त्वं मा स्म शोके मनः कृथाः। राज्येन तनयाभ्यां च सत्यमेतद् ब्रवीमि ते॥
I tell you the truth that you shall find your wife, son and daughter and also obtain your kingdom back and so be not filled with grief.

स्वं रूपं च यदा द्रष्टुमिच्छेथास्त्वं नराधिप। संस्मर्तव्यस्तदा तेऽहं वासश्चेदं निवासयेः॥
O king of men! when shall you desire to witness your own form, call me back to your mind; and put on these pieces of cloth.

अनेन वाससाच्छन्नः स्वं रूपं प्रतिपत्स्यसे। इत्युक्त्वा प्रददौ तस्मै दिव्यं वासोयुगं तदा॥
Wearing these pieces of cloth, you shall recover your proper form. Having said this, the king of the snakes then gave to him (Nala) two pieces of cloth of superior worth."

एवं नलं च संदिश्य वासो दत्त्वा च कौरव। नागराजस्ततो राजंस्तत्रैवान्तरधीयत।॥
O descendant of Kuru! O king! having thus advised Nala and given to him the celestials garment, the monarch of the snakes disappeared then and there.