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SHARMISHTHA-YAYATI-DEVYANI

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

(Readers may recall that in the last blog KUCH-DEVYANI SAGA, Matsya Puran had dwelled upon the tale of Kuch and Devyani where, their wedding did not take shape. Later, Devyani married Yayati and lived with him. As per her desire, Sharmishtha, her friend and now a Dasi had also moved with her. At the time of marriage, Devyani's father, Shukracharya had explicitly forbidden Yayati to neither meet nor sleep with Sharmishtha. Now read on.......)


After Yayati married Devyani he moved to his state Capital and built a Mahal (Castle) for her and also a servants block in the city to house Sharmishtha and other Dasis. Both Yayati and his queen would meet often in their Royal garden and frolic for hours while the retinue of Dasis sang and served them. Later, both would retreat to the Raj-mahal and spend youthful time. Soon Devyani gave birth to a son and the whole Kingdom turned up to bless the Prince.

By now Sharmishtha too, found herself in the child-bearing age and reflected that her friend had married and now has a son, but she still has not found a suitable husband and seemed to be wasting her youth. She was increasingly aware that she too was the daughter of King Vrishparva and needed to marry a King. But as a Dasi she had no access to another king. She decided that she too must marry Yayati as he was her only hope. She was confident that her plan would surely succeed and she too will be able to bear sons, just like Devyani.

One day by chance, while Yayati had visited the city, he happened to meet Sharmishtha alone. She pounced on the lucky break and said to him, 'Maharaj, You are the almighty king where, in his Rajya, all women are safe. You are fully aware of my background as the princess and daughter of Asura King Vrishparva. I have now reached full womanhood and desire to have a son. Please favour me and let us have a son'. Yayati said,' O! Beautiful dame, I am well aware of your family and the might of your Daitya King father, but, I have been restrained from even meeting you alone by the powerful Guru, Shukracharya. Hence, I regret that such a favour can not be granted to you.'. There are five occasssions where a spoken lie is not a sin, something said in lighter vein, regarding ones own wife, at the time of marriage negotiations, when ones life is in jeopardy and when ones life earnigs are at stake. It will be wrong where the question is to look after two people and one favours only one of them. At marriage time you accepted Devyani as a wife but you accepted me too, hence how will it be wrong to marry me and ignore the words of Guru'.

Yayati pondered that a King himself is a measure of truth and untruth and if he speaks a lie then the Kingdom is doomed. But Sharmishtha insisted, 'One must respect the husband of her friend just like she respects her own husband, and you are well aware that Devyani is my friend. In the same way she elected to marry you, I too have decided to marry you'. She put forward many other arguments and Yayati found his resolve weakening, Sharmishtha said, 'One has ownership of a wife, servant and son in equal measures and thus he has ownership of whatever belongs to his wife, servants and son. So please accept me as your wife'.

Yayati, then married her as per dharmik rules and had physical relations with her and in due course of time Sharmishtha became pregnent with his son. When the child was born Devyani asked her how she begot a child. Sharmishtha smiled and lied,' one religeous traveller had passed this way and I pleaded with him for a son and that is how I have a son now'. Devyani was not fully conviced but she accepted that as the truth and the matter blew over for the time being.

Time passed on and King Yayati had another son with Devyani. Their son's names were Yadu and Tarvasu. They both were intelligent and looked powerful like Indra himself. But, then, Yayati also produced three sons from Sharmishtha. The names of these boys were Druhyu, Anu and Pooru. These boys too were handsome and powerful and had almost the same looks as the Sons of Devyani. One day while Devyani and Yayati were enjoying in the Royal garden, when she spotted these three boys and immidiately concluded that they too had been sired by her husband. She approached the boys and asked their names, Gotra and fathers name. The unsuspecting boys revealed that they were sons of Yayati and pointed towards him. Surprised, Devyani asked what their mothers name was. Proudly, they said the mother's name was Sharmishtha. Devyani flew into a rage and ran to her Mahal weeping loudly. Yayati too tried to keep up with her trying to somehow bring the situation under control. But Devyani did not want anything of this compromising appeal. The boys too went to their mother and told her the whole event.

Later, Devyani called Sharmishtha over and said, ' You have again reverted to your Asura ways and have poached on my husband. You are my Dasi and are you not afraid of my anger?' The Dasi replied, ' I had told you that a Dharmik person was father of my boys and that was correct, and now I am telling you that he had married me and my sons are from that wedlock, hence everything is supported by scriptures, and hence, I am not afraid of you. I hold you in high esteem only because you are a Brahminputri and senior to me in age. If you recollect, then I must tell you that my father who is also your Guru had offered both of us together to King Yayati. Now your Husband has married me as well and both of us are his legal wives.'.

Devyani turned towardsYayati and told him that she can not stay with him any longer and began he journey to reach Shukracharya. Yayati too followed her trying to please her, but she kept crying and did not listen to the appeals. Then, upon reaching her fathers house, she stood with folded hands and wet eyes. The King too folded his hands and greeted him in the correct way. Devyani said, ' Father, Adharma has won over Dharma. The lower ones have won over the upper casts. The daughter of Vrishparva has gone ahead of me and had three sons from this King, while I had only two. This King is known for his righteousness but he has failed to deliver justice to me and crossed all limits'.

Shukracharya cast a curse on Yayati and said, 'Maharaj, you have followed Adharma over Dharma, therefore, soon you will be overcome by old age and you will loose your youth'. Yayati fell at his feet and pleaded his case, ' O! Guru, Sharmishtha had asked me for the daan (gift) of a son and I performed this by the dictats of the scriptures, therefore it is approved as Raj-Dharma. Sharmishtha was given to me by you and I am duty bound to assure her welfare, hence I gave her sons after marrying her as it is the only right way. So, please pardon me and take away your curse as I dont deserve it'.

The Guru reflected this in his mind and said, ' I can not take back the curse, but you may give your old age to somebody else and enjoy his youth till you like and later return the youth and get back your old age till you live'. Then Shukracharya went away for his Sadhna and the two Girls returned to their respective mahals.


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Next day the old Yayati called his eldest son, Yadu and said, ' I have been cursed by Shukracharya with this old age, and I would like you to exchange your youth with me so I can enjoy for some more time. Later, I will give your youth back to you'. But he did not agree and said, 'Maharaj, I do not desire to take an old age where I will go weak and have a stooping body frame and life will have no happy moments'.

Yayati called Tarvasu and asked him the same question. The Royal son replied, 'I do not want an old age when I can no longer enjoy my manhood and carry myself as a person who is not readily accepted in the society'. Having failed in his quest Yayati called his elder son fom Sharmishtha, Druhyu. He repeated his question again and got a reply, 'Father, an old man can neither ride a horse nor a chariot. He can also not perform with a wife. He has very weak sentiments and is pretty much useless'. Saying this he went away. Yayati called Anu, the middle son from Sharmishtha and asked him the same question. Anu replied, 'An old man does not have meals on time and has no controls over his bowls and urine and makes a mess of it. He even does not perform Vedic duties as prescribed, therfore, I am not agreeable'.

Now Yayati called his only hope, Pooru and repeated his question. Pooru said, 'Maharaj, your words are my command and I will do as you say. You can take away my youth and give me this old age. Please enjoy yourself the way you wish and return my youth when ever you have no further use for it'. The king thought of Shukracharya and exchanged his old age with the Pooru's youth and ruled for about a thousand years. Then, he came to Pooru and said, ' Son, I have lived life with your youth and now I am satisfied with the flow of my life. However, one is never satisfied but I feel I have done all that I wanted to. Now you take back your youth and I will live my old age as it will come to me'. Saying this he once again thought of Shukracharya and instantly he bacame old and Pooru got his youth back.

Then as Yayati wanted to hand over the Crown to Pooru as a reward of the favours granted by him, he saw a group of Brahmins coming . The senior Brahmin said, ' Maharaj, you want to make the youngest son the King, this is not as per Vedic laws since your eldest son is alive and fully fit to shoulder the duties of a King. We want you to follow Dharma and take action'. The King responded, ' Brahmins, my son Yadu did not heed to my desire as a father and has thus not followed the Dharma of a son. Similarly, Turvasu and Anu too are guilty of disobeying my orders. Sons who can not follow instructions from the father will also fail to follow needs of the praja and not turn out to be good Kings. My youngest son Pooru placed himself completely at my command and did what an obedient son should do, thus he has proved to be the most suitable to be a KIng after I relenquish the throne'.

The Brahmins found this to be as per scriptures and readily crowned Pooru as the King. Yayati retired to the forest and lived the life of a medicant. From Yadu came the Yadav-warriers, from Tarvasu, came the Yavans (citizens of Yunan or now Iran). Druhyu's children were known as Bhoj and Anu sired the Malechch (non-believers). The Paurav dynasty came after King Pooru.


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