(This story appears in Matsya Puran - Chapter 25 onwards. Kuch was the elder son of Brihaspati and was chosen by the Devas to learn the Sanjeevani Vidya; the science of bringing the Dead back to life. He was committed only to the achievment of this Vidya, but destiny had a different story to tell, now read on............)
Once upon a time there was a war between the Devas and the Asuras for the control of the Triloki (the trree worlds). The Devas appointed Brihaspati as the Purohit and similarly the Asuras appointed Shukracharya as their Purohit. Both the Gurus were well known for their knowledge and divine blessings in the art of warfare. Shukracharya had the edge for he alone knew the Sanjeevani Vidya. Thus, during the days period of war all the Asuras were brought back to life by their Purohit, but, the the Devas killed in action just passed away and the numbers of Devas began to dwindle.
The Devas were deeply distressed and after mutual consultations decided to depute someone to learn the Vidya from Shukracharya. But, this was nearly impossible that Shukracharya would impart the crucial Vidya to someone from the Enemy Camp of the Devas. The Devas collectively approached Kuch, the eldest son of Brihaspati with folded hands and said, 'Brahman, we seek sharan (patronage and protection) from you. Please accept us and help our cause. We request that you learn the Sanjeevani Vidya from Rishi Shukracharya. We will share the yagya bhag (Offerings at the yajna) in future with you. You could approach Shukracharya in the Kingdom of Asura King Vrishparva. He stays there and helps only the Daanav class but does nothing for anyone else. We all unanimously feel that you alone are the most deserving person to learn the rare Vidya. Shukrachrya has a daughter by the name of Devyani and you could please her by your dedicated service.' Kuch said, 'Evamastu', and conceded their request.
Kuch met Rishi Shukracharya and introduced himself, ' Shreeman, I am Kuch, the grandson of Rishi Angira and son of the learned Brihaspati. I seek to become your Shishya (Pupil). O! Master, I will follow brahmcharya (celibacy) for a thousand years and learn under your guidance. Kindly accept me and grant my request'. Shukracharya conceded.
Kuch began to serve both Brihaspati and his daughter in real earnest. He was adept in Singing and Dancing and with these two arts had captured the Daughters full attention. He would fetch fruits and flowers for her from the forest. Devyani reciprocated his service by having a soft corner for him. By the time the Danavas came to know of Kuch being there, five hundred years had already passed and they were furious taht their Purohit was teaching the son of Brihaspati. One day while Kuch was tending the cows in an isolated forest grassland, they killed him to prevent him from achieving the Sanjeevani Vidya from his Guru. Then they cut his body into small pieces and fed it to jackals and wild dogs. At dusk the cows returned to the Ashram without their usual escort and cowherd.
Devyani approached her father and said, ' Father, the sun has set and you have completed your evening prayers. Even the cows have returned home but I do not see Kuch anywhere. I fear he has been kidnapped or perhaps been killed. I speak the truth, I will not be able to live without him as I love him so much.'. Brihaspati reassured her and sat down to practise his Vidya for recalling Kuch from whereever he was. Presently Kuch appeared and told his Guru that he had been killed by the Danavas. At another time too, while he was collecting flowers in the forest for Devyani, the Danavas saw him again and promptly killed him. This time they consigned his body to the flames. They, then, picked up his ashes and mixed it with Liquor and fed it to Shukracharyai. Devyani again missed him and went back to her father and asked him to locate Kuch for her. Shukracharya used his divine powers and found that remains of Kuch were in his own stomach along with the liquor.
He said to the weeping daughter, 'Dear Devyani, Kuch has been killed. Though I have brought him back to life so many times, the Danavas seek and kill him over and over again. Even if I give his life back to him the Danavas will definitely kill him again. You are a strong girl and the Vedas, the brahmins, Indra and other Gods and all the living beings of the three worlds hold you in high esteem. You should not cry for Kuch nor grieve for his loss. I do not see any gain in bringing him back to life again'.
Devyani said, ' He is the great grandson of Rishi Angira and son of a Rishi of great standing. How can I not grieve for one like Kuch who was sworn to celebacy and performed Tapsya under your guidance. He was a responsible worker and committed to serve both you and myself. I love him from the heart and if you do not retrieve him, I will give up food and drinks and will join him whereevr he may be now'. Cornered, Shukracharya spoke angrily to the Danavas and said, ' You all are conniving against my Brahmanatva and are working to dislodge me from my position of being your Purohit. You are killing my pupils and bringing disrepute for me. If you kill a Brahmin surely you will die yourself for committing the sin of Brahmin-hatya'. Thus saying, he asked Kuch, 'how did you enter my stomach'. Kuch narrated the event and said, 'I could come out if your stomach by ripping it apart, but, instead, in reverence to you, I am undergoing severe pain and agony'.
It became obvious to Brihaspati that if he brought Kuch to life, he himself will surely die with a burst open stomach and if he chose not to give life to Kuch he would insult the Vidya and also make Devyani very unhappy. He began to think. Then he addressed Kuch,' I now give you this Sanjeevani Vidya if you are not an incarnate of Indra. There is no one else other than a Brahmin who can escape out from my stomach alive. Once you come out of my stomach you will be as good as myself to handle the Vidya, therefore, soon after you come out, you must return me back to life'. Then Shhukracharya exercised the Vidya and Kuch came through his split stomach and then he restored life to his Guru.
The Guru now addressed the Danavas, ' You all are fools that you killed Kuch and fed him to me by mixing his ashes in liquor and making me drink that. I had no option except granting him the Sanjeevani Vidya because of your rash actions. He is now fully accomplished and will use his skills as per his descretion and help the Devas to comeback from the dead'. By this time Kuch had completed his one thousand years at the ashram and he prepared to return to the Devas.
Having received permission from his Guru, Kuch was preparing to leave and be with his kin after a long absence. Devyani came to him and said, 'You are from a family of great lineage, have received the best education, have performed great Tapasya and have excellent control over your sensories. I respect Rishi Angira and your father, Rishi Brihaspati.Now please consider what I have to say. You will remember my attitude towards you when you were committed to your Vrat (Resolve) and learning of the Vidya from my father and see that I deeply love you. So please accept me as your wife after marrying me'. Kuch replied, 'O! lady of beautiful limbs. I rever you father as my Guru and hold him in high esteem. I hold you in higher esteem because you are my Guru putri (Daughter of my Guru). For me both of you will always have the same high position as that of a Guru. So please do not talk to me like that'.
Tears filled in her eyes and she said,' You are like a son to my father who is your Guru, but you are not like a son to his family. Please recall the times when the Asuras killed you on various occassions, it is I and my love for you that my Father brought you back to life every time. You are well versed with my feelings for you as both love and devotion. You can not reject my love'. Kuch grew serious and said, ' O! Lady of beautiful face and big eyes and a face like the moon itself, you are pushing me to perform something that is not right. Since I was in the same belly of Rishi Shukracharya where you had been at another time, then, in the ways of Dharma, I am your brother. I stayed here with great pleasure and served the house-hold as a Shishya should and had no other wishes or wants.Now, I wish to return, so please wish me farewell and give me your blessings as an elder sister'.
Devyani was severely offended and said to Kuch,' Each time that the Asuras killed you I fended for you in the spirit of a wife, so it should be taken as an act of your Dharma to accept me as your wife'. She halted and continued again, ' If you do not marry me you will no longer be able to use the Sanjeevani Vidya that you received after serving here for a thousand years'. Kuch replied,' I had taken the decision to not marry you as you are my Guruputri and not because of any other consideration. This follows religious guidelines and is the right decision. You are entitled to give me any Shap (curse) as my sister and I will accept that happily even if I do not deserve it. Because of what you have said to me, no Rishiputri will ever accept you as his bride. Your curse will make me incapable to exercise the Vidya and this will always be true, but, anyone else to whom I impart this knowledge to will surely achive desired results'.
Saying this, Kuch quickly left for Indra-lok and assured Indra that he now has the Vidya and therefore, the Devas should plan to annihilate the Danavas in a war. He also narrated his conversation with Devyani. Indra decided to first address the issue of Devyani and he descended down to the earth in a scenic forest called Chaitrath. Here, in a blue water lake Devyani was playing water games with her female friends. One of them was Sharmishtha, the daughter of Daanav King Vrishparva. Even as the girls were having fun, Indra intermixed their clothes kept on the shore and vanished. After the water sports the girls came ashore and there was a discord between them about their clothes and soon there began a scuffel between Devyani and Sharmishtha. They began to push each other and at last Devyani was pushed into a dry well. The other girls retreated thinking that Devyani was perhaps dead and went to inform Shukracharya.
Soon after, Yayati, son of King Nahush was passing that way and his throat was parched dry. He paused by the well and was surprised to see a girl in the well. Devyani pleaded with him and asked to be rescued. She offfered him her right hand and asked him to pull her out. Yayati pulled her out and after a brief introduction, left the place.
When Shukracharya came there, Devyani said I will not enter the Kingdom of Vrishparva because his daughter tried to take my life by pushing me into the well. I will forgive her only if she, along with another thousand girls becomes my attendent and serves me now and later after I marry someone, she must accompany me to my new home. The Guru (of the Asuras) was very angry with Vrishparva and told him clearly that he was quitting as Purohit of the Danavas because of what his daughter did to Devyani. Shukracharya knew that without their Guru, the Asuras would be pushed into Patal Lok or into the sea. He pleaded with his daughter Sharmishtha who readily agreed to the conditions of truce. Thereafter they were all living a pleasant life.
One day Devyani, in the company of Sharmishtha and other girls were frolicking in a garden outside the city when Yayati happened to be pass by again. He did not recognise that he had earlier saved the girls life, but Devyani remembered. Devyani narrtaed the event and told him how Sharmishtha became her Dasi (servant). Then she told Yayati that since he had held her by her hand, he should now marry her and take all the retinue of servants too. Yayati was amazed but he realised that he indeed had accepted her hand. Presently he said, 'I am a kshatriya and you are daughter of a Brahmin, hence it is not appropriate for me to marry you'. Devyani countered, ' though strictly speaking what you say is correct, but in the society there is a fair degree of intermingling of these two casts. In any case, you did hold my hand and it would be socially acceptable that you marry me'. Then Devyani sent a maid to call her father Shukracharya.
Shukracharya, agreed to what Devyani had to say and readily blessed Yayati and performed their marriage. He told Yayati that they should live happily but he should never talk in private with Sharmishtha or ever sleep with her. Then he solomanised their marriage and returned home after Yayati departed with his new bride and the thousand Dassi's
(This story ends here but Yayati did beget a son through Sharmishtha................ That story! Some other time)