Nala and Damayanti
I have previously written about The Illusion of Romantic Love by Robert A Johnston, who uses the Tristan and Iseult story to illustrate the poison chalice of romantic expectations. Johnston speaks admiringly of the more realistic model of marriage in India, where gender roles are stereotyped but accepted. The dharma of a woman is to serve her husband as if he were God Himself. In the Hindu concept dharmorakṣati rakṣitaḥ, "If you do your religious duty, your religious duty will protect you." Doing her dharma empowers her and has its fulfillment in the proper divine social order being restored. She supports and empowers her man in his quest to fulfill his own dharma, and because his role is in the external world, he serves to protect that inner world she rules.
Well, it is a myth, one of many such stories glorifying the sacred nature of the husband-wife relation. They find each other by Destiny and they believe in their Destiny. But times have changed and no one believes in the protecting arms of Dharma, or at least not one that is ready-made. Are there any women who can identify with Damayanti or are we to take her for a fool who gave the benefit of the doubt to her husband well beyond any logical expectations? Just another patriarchal story to bewilder women, bind them to their and to misguide her from her true freedom.