Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Devayani included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Devayānī

Sukrācārya’s daughter.


Svāyambhuvamanu, son of Brahmā had two sons: Priyavrata and Uttānapāda. Priyavrata wedded Surūpā and Barhiṣmatī, two very beautiful daughters of Viśvakarmaprajāpati, and he had by Surūpā ten sons called Agnīdhra, Idhmajihvā, Yajñabāhu, Mahāvīra, Rukmasukra, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha, Savana, Medhātithi, Vītihotra and Kavi as also a daughter called Ūrjasvatī who was the youngest of the whole lot. Of the above ten sons Kavi, Savana and Mahāvīra were spiritual giants and great sages. Uttama, Tāpasa and Raivata, the three sons of Priyavrata by his second wife Barhiṣmatī turned out to be manvantarādhipatis. Ūrjasvatī, the only daughter of Priyavrata was married to Śukrācārya, preceptor of the asuras. Devayānī was Śukrācārya’s daughter by Ūrjasvatī. (Devībhāgavata, Aṣṭama Skandha).

Curse by Kaca.

Kaca, son of Bṛhaspati became Śukrācārya’s disciple to learn Mṛtasañjīvanī vidyā (the science to ward off death for ever). Devayānī fell madly in love with Kaca. But, after his studies under her father were over Kaca returned to devaloka without marrying Devayānī, who cursed that Kaca’s learning should prove useless. And, Kaca cursed her in return that nobody from devaloka should marry her. (For details see Kaca).

Devayānī in a neglected well.

Once Vṛṣaparvan was the king of the asuras, and Śukrācārya lived in his palace. Śarmiṣṭhā, the daughter of the king and Devayānī, the daughter of Śukrācārya became thick friends. While one day these two friends with their companions were engaged in water sports Indra came that way. Very much interested in seeing the deva damsels thus engaged in water sports Indra assumed the form of air and blew off the dresses of the damsels from the shore while they were playing in the river. The damsels hurriedly got out of water, ran after the fleeing garments and put on whatever came to their hands. In the confusion what Śarmiṣṭhā got and wore was Devayānī’s clothes. Devayānī ran after Śarmiṣṭhā and caught hold of the clothes, but the latter did not yield them to her. Both of them indulged in hot words against each other, Śarmiṣṭhā calling Śukrācārya a beggar living in her father’s palace for his food. Not only that, she pushed Devayānī into a neglected well and went her way.

At that time prince Yayāti, son of Nahuṣa, was hunting in that forest. Feeling very thirsty he came to the well for a drink and therein saw Devayānī in tears. He brought her out from the well and leaving her there went on his way.

Śukrācārya and his wife actually got anxious and upset that their daughter had not returned even after the lapse of so much time and deputed their servant Gurṇikā to seek for Devayānī. She found her out in the forest. But, Devayānī refused to return home as she did not want to continue as the daughter of one who lived on the charity of Śarmiṣṭhā and her father. Gurṇikā carried back this news to Śukrācārya, who then went himself to the forest and met his daughter. He felt deeply wounded to hear about the insults heaped on his daughter by Śarmiṣṭhā, and sent word to Vṛṣaparvan that they were not returning to the palace. Vṛṣaparvan realised that if Śukrācārya quarrelled with him the whole asura world also would become divided. He, therefore, tried his best to pacify the ācārya and his daughter. At last Devayānī agreed to return to the palace in case Śarmiṣṭhā went to her with one thousand of her maids to serve as her (Devayānī's) maids. Vṛṣaparvan acted accordingly and Devayānī was satisfied and returned to the palace with her father. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 78 onwards.)

Wedding of Devayānī.

Some time afterwards when Devayānī was sporting in the forest with Śarmiṣṭhā and others, King Yayāti happened to pass that way. They recognised each other and Devayānī requested Yayāti to marry her as she had mentally chosen him as her husband on the very same day on which he had saved her from the well.

Yayāti realised only too well that it was really dangerous to marry the daughter of Śukrācārya in the forest secretly and he, therefore, rejected Devayānī’s request. But, she got down her father there and with his permission Yayāti married her. He also got much wealth by way of dowry. Śarmiṣṭhā and her maids accompanied Devayānī but Sukrācārya warned Yayāti that on no account should he touch Śarmiṣṭhā.

With his wife and her attendants Yayāti returned to his palace; but he put Śarmiṣṭhā and her maids in a place newly built for the purpose. Devayānī delivered a child in due course and it was named Yadu. Śarmiṣṭhā one day met Yayāti in the forest and requested for a child by him. Though at first he was reluctant to oblige remembering only too well the injunction of Śukrācārya, he at last succumbed to the eloquence of Śarmiṣṭhā. She got pregnant by him and the child she delivered was called Druhyu.

Devayānī was alarmed at the birth of a child to Śarmiṣṭha, who was unmarried, and questioned her about it. Śarmiṣṭhā’s answer that a brahmin stranger, who came that way was the father of her child satisfied Devayānī.

Ere long another son, Turvasu, was born to Devayānī, and Śarmiṣṭhā too delivered two children called Anudruhyu and Pūru. Thus the mistress (Devayānī) had two sons and her servant, Śarmiṣṭhā three sons.

While Yayāti and Devayānī were one day strolling in the garden the sons of Śarmiṣṭhā came there. She noticed the close resemblance of those boys to her husband (Yayāti) and it kindled her wrath. Though Yayāti did not, because of the presence of Devayānī, notice the children, when she asked them who their father was, they answered "Yayāti", whereupon in great rage she ran up to her father. Yayāti too followed her. Devayānī told her father about the infidelity of Yayāti and he (Śukra) cursed that Yayāti be afflicted with old age. When Yayāti asked for redumption from the curse Śukrācārya told him that he could exchange his old age for the youth of somebody else.

Yayāti then called together all his five sons and asked them whether anyone of them was prepared to exchange his (son's) youth for his (Yayāti's) old age for one thousand years. The three elder sons refused to agree to the proposal, but the fourth son Pūru gladly exchanged his youth with his father’s old age. After spending his life in youthful enjoyment for one thousand years Yayāti returned his youth to Pūru, and Pūru assumed Kingship of the country. (Ādi Parva, Chapters 81-83).

Synonyms for Devayānī.

Auśanasī, Śukratanayā and Bhārgavī.

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