In days of yore, when the sages implored to suggest to them a suitable site on earth to perform the Satra yaga, the latter rolled out a Chakra [nemi] made of darbha [Kusa grass] which stopped at a forest [aranya] thus indicating that it was an ideal place for them to do their penance. The became known as the Naimisharanys. According to another version it was called Naimisharanya. Because of the annihilation by the Lord here of holdes of Asuras in minute [Nlmisha].
In Naimisharanya, the famous redezvous of sages and birthplace of the Puranas, God has taken the form of a Pushkarma, while in forest. He exists as water, with a view to providing the sages with shade, tubers and fruits so that could listen to expositions of divine stories uninterruptedly without having to break in order to appease their hunger thirst or to take rest. It was here that Lava and Kusa, the twin sons of Sri Rama sang the Ramayana and the sagh Parasara’s son was conferred the title of Veda Vyasa also Balarama was felicitated by the sages on his annihilating the Asura. Balvanan and Srimad Bhagavata was retold at the commencement of KaliYuga by Sage Suka.
Many puranic stories associated with the sacred tanks of Darbharanyeswara were told in the sacred forest of Naimisharanya.
1) THE CURSE
A king of the Kalinga country who was cursed to take the form of a wild elephant along with his queen and prince and Roam about in the wilderness because of an unpremeditated slight he offered to Sage Bhagava shed his animal existence along with the members of his family by Sage Narada’s intercession who had directed the accursed king to go to Darbharanyeswara and manage to get a drop of the water fall on his body from the head of a pilgrim who just had a dip in the sacred Brahma Thirtha.
Accordingly, the King his Consort and son were transformed to the former elves. When a drop of his sacred water fell on them from the head of a pilgrim who was mopping his wet hair just after a bath in the sacred tank.
2) NALAS REDEMPTION
Nala the handsome and brave king of Nishadha was married to Damayanthi, the Princess of Vidardha she choose him as her Lord in preference to celestials Jndra. Varuna, Agni and Yama, Shani who also had an eye on marrying Damayanthi became enraged at this. He reviled the gods for allowing a mortal to wed Damayanthi and vowed, out of sheer spite, to bring about their separation and ruin Nala also. But he had to wait for twelve long years before he could find any flaw in Nala whose adherence to just ce, probity and righteousness and strict observance of religious were impeccable generally. On the commission of a breach in the performance of his morning ablutions on a certain dry Shani took hold of him at once. Thence commenced Nala’s misfortunes. He played a game of dice with the wicked Pushkara. He had staked his kingdom and lost but continued the game unmindful of the counsels of the virtuous wife fondly hoping to succeed at one stage to another, Ultimately losing everything Nala left his kingdom and wildernesses. Later, he forsock his wife also, who stood steadfast his companion all through, on a pitch dark night while she was asleep and wended his way through the dense forest. And espying a bigserpant caught ina forest fire writhing in agony, he resuced it. The serpant Karkotaka in return bit Nala its own rescuer, whose body was suddenly transformed into that of a dark dwarf. Karkotaka told him that this transformation in his physical appearance was a service rendered to him in his own interest, which eventual happenings in his life would prove to be correct, and also gave him a snake skin by donning which Nala could assume his original from at will. He also advised him to go to King Ritupanna of Ayodhya and learn from him the tricks employed in the play of the game of dice. Progressing further. Nala reached Ayodhya and his dentity being unrecognisable on account of the physical change effected by the snake bite, he appreached King Ritupanna under the name Bahuka and sought of him employment. He was given one which was that of the king’s charioteer, Ritupanna little suspecting that Bahuka was no other than Nala. A king royal who had not his compeer in the three worlds in the art of horsemanship.
Now for Damayandhi, she was greatly distressed at Nala’s desernion of her and roamed about the forest until she came upon a caravan whose members were very hospitable to her and agreed to take her to the neighbouring city the next morning. But as ill luck would have it, that night mad elephant attacked the caravan and killed the merchants. When the foriorn Damayanthi came forward voluntarily to give herself up to the animal preferring death the widbeast became submissive and went its way doing her no harm. Trusting in God, Damayanthi resumed her journey and reached the city of Chedi whose Queen captivated by the bewitching beauty of Damayanthi allowed her to emain with her as her companion and maid in the meantime some of the messengers of King Bhima of Vidardha who had arrived in Chedi in search of the royal couple recognized Damayanthi as their princess and she was back by the Queen to Vidarbha with a royal escort.
Damayanthi that a minute examination of Bahuka the short, swarthy charioteer of King Ritupanna suggested that he was a great personage who had gone down in life. Clever Damayanthi forthwith send word through the messenger to King Riutppanna that a second Swayamwara was to take place for her since Nala had deserted her. And King Ritupanna whose love for Damayanthi had never wanted even after the disappointment at the first Swayamwara got ready to attend it the very next morning.
The sight of the chariot which was whirling through the sky immediately revealed to Damayanthi the charioteer’s mastery over the art of horsemanshop. But the charioteer locked ugly and disease! However, in and all out effort to identify Nala. Damayanthi was prepared to go to any length. She employed several strategies whereby she could identify some of the unique skills that Nala had possessed including proficincy in the culinary arts and her strategies did yield truth.
At long Nala did get back his old majestic and handsome appearance [by wearing the snake – skin]. Unlessing the reunited couple and their children King Ritupanna left Kundinapura. With the help of his father-in-law Nala marched at the head of an army to Nishadha, defeated King Pushkar in gambirg with the help of knowledge of the science of numbers he had acquired from King Ritupanna, and took back possession of his lost kingdom.
Notwithstanding the restoration of his lost fortune. Nala was still dogged by misery and unhappiness owing to the effects of Shani and on the advice of Sage Bharadwaja at Vriddhachalam he came to Tirunallar where, after a bath in the sacred Brahma Tirtea he regained his mental equipoise, and peace of mind was restored to him thereafter.
He sojowrned for a few days at the sacred shrine dug a tank which was named Nala Tirth after him and got the temple renovated. Whoever has a bath in this tank should be blessed. He prayed to the lord fermently, “And be free saturaline influence” and the lord granted his prayer.