And after the steeds had been yoked, the king without
loss of time mounted upon the car, when those best
of horses fell down upon the ground on their knees.
Then, O king, that foremost of men, the blessed king
Nala began to soothe horses endued with energy and
strength. And raising them up with the reins
and making the charioteer Varshneya sit on the car,
he prepared to set out with great speed. And
those best of steeds, duly urged by Vahuka, rose to
the sky, confounding the occupant of the vehicle.
And beholding those steeds gifted with the speed of
the wind thus drawing the car, the blessed king of
Ayodhaya was exceedingly amazed. And noticing
the rattle of the car and also the management of the
steeds, Varshneya reflected upon Vahuka’s skill
in guiding horses. And he thought, ’Is
he Matali, the charioteer of the king of the celestials?
I find the same magnificent indications in the heroic
Vahuka. Or, hath Salihotra versed in the science
of horses taken this human shape so beautiful?
Or, is it king Nala the reducer of hostile towns that
hath come here? Or, it may be that this Vahuka
knoweth the science that Nala knoweth, for I perceive
that the knowledge of Vahuka is equal to that of Nala.
Further, Vahuka and Nala are of the same age.
This one, again, may not be Nala of high prowess,
but somebody of equal knowledge. Illustrious
persons, however, walk this earth in disguise in consequence
of misfortune, or agreeably to the ordinance of the
scriptures. That this person is of unsightly
appearance need not change my opinion; for Nala, I
think, may even be despoiled of his personal features.
In respect of age this one equals Nala. There
is difference, however, in personal appearance.
Vahuka, again is endued with every accomplishment.
I think, therefore, he is Nala.’ Having
thus reasoned long in his mind, O mighty monarch,
Varshneya, the (former) charioteer of the righteous
Nala, became absorbed in thought. And that foremost
of kings Rituparna, also, beholding the skill of Vahuka
in equestrian science experienced great delight, along
with his charioteer Varshneya. And thinking of
Vahuka’s application and ardour and the manner
of his holding the reins, the king felt exceedingly
“Vrihadaswa said, ’Like a bird coursing
through the sky, Nala soon crossed rivers and mountains,
and woods and lakes. And while the car was coursing
thus, that conqueror of hostile cities, the royal son
of Bhangasura, saw his upper garment drop down on
the ground. And at soon as his garment had dropped
down the high-minded monarch, without loss of time,
told Nala, ’I intend to recover it. O thou
of profound intelligence, retain these steeds endued
with exceeding swiftness until Varshneya bringeth
back my garment.’ Thereupon Nala replied
unto him, ’The sheet is dropped down far away.
We have travelled one yojana thence. Therefore,
it is incapable of being recovered.’ After