Saturday, August 15, 2015

31. Devayani and Sarmishta

When Kacha was about to return to his home in the heavens, after taking leave of Sukra, he was approached by Devayani, Sukra's daughter, requesting him to marry her. Kacha said, "Being my receptor's daughter, you deserve to be worshipped by me. I can't marry you."

Devayani reminded him of her coming to his rescue and saving his life during the times attempts were made on his life. She said that she was devoted him and that he should accept her hand in marriage.  Kacha replied "Since I was in your father's body for a while, you are my sister. So there is no way I could marry you.  Don't ask me to commit a sin by marrying you. All along we have had a pleasant and friendly relationship. Please go back to your place after wishing me a safe journey home. Please take good care of my preceptor."

Angered by Kacha's reply, Devayani cursed him saying, "If you didn't marry me, your  knowledge won't bear fruit." Unfazed by her curse, Kacha said "I turned down your request because you are the daughter of my preceptor, not because you have any fault. You may curse me but I don't deserve to be cursed. You have said that my knowledge won't bear fruit. Let your curse may prevail. But I can impart my knowledge to another person and it will bear fruit to him."

Kacha then left her and returned home. The Devas gave him a rousing reception and commended him for having learnt the Sanjivini mantra which would help them in their fight against the Asuras. Emboldened by the advantage they have gained, the Devas decided to take on the Asuras. Some of them began to wander in the celestial sphere. On the way, they saw some ladies sporting in a lake in the garden of a Gandharva by name Chitraratha. Meghavat, one of the Devas took the form of the wind and mixed up the garments left by the ladies in the garden.

Returning from the lake, the ladies began to don their garments. Because of the mix up created by Meghavat, the garments of evayani, the daughter of Sukracharya, the preceptor of the Asuras were picked up by Sarmishta, the daughter of the Asura king Vrishaparvan. Noticing this, Devayani protested saying"Sarmishta! You can't appropriate the garments of the daughter of your father's preceptor. Irked by this remark, Sarmishta retorted saying"Devayani! Your father is occupying a seat at a lower level than the seat of my father. After all, your father is living on the alms provided by my father."

Devayani was angered by this insult and pulled the clothes of Sarmishta. Sarmishta threw Devayani into a well and went home, thinking that Devayani was dead.

King Yayati who was returning from a hunting expedition was looking for water for himself, his soldiers and horses. Looking into the well to check whether it had water, he saw Devayani lying at the bottom of the well. . He asked her who she was. Devayani introduced herself as Sukracharya's daughter and requested him to pull her out. Yayati pulled her out of the well. Then he returned to his capital.

Devayani's maid Ghurnika came in search of her and found her sitting near the well. Devayani asked her maid to go to her father and tell him what had happened to his daughter.

Learning of Devayani's ordeal, Sukra rushed to the spot and met Devayani. After hugging and comforting her, he said,"My dear daughter! The sufferings we undergo are due to our own faults. Comfort yourself by realizing that you have expiated for some sin committed by you in the past.

Devayani replied, "Oh father, let it be that I suffered due to some wrongdoing on my part. But listen to the insulting words Sarmishta uttered about you" and narrated the derisive comments made by Sarmishta. "If, you are a person who receives gifts from the king for singing his praise, then I should also sing the praise of Sarmishta" she concluded.

Angered by what he heard, Sukra said, "Devayani, you are not the daughter of someone who makes a living by flattering the king. You are the daughter of someone who is adored and respected by all, including Indra, the chief of the celestials and Yayati, the king who saved you. Devayani! One who ignores the evil words of others can conquer everything. So shake off your anger like a snake shaking off it slough (worn out skin)."

Devayani replied "Yes father, I know about the ill effects of anger and the value of forgiveness.  But I feel that a disciple who shows disrespect to his preceptor should not be forgiven, if the preceptor is interested in  doing good to his disciple. I don't want to live in a country where there is no respect for the preceptor. The harsh words used by Vrishaparvan's daughter burn my heart. Nothing can be more pathetic than a person adoring his enemies blessed with good fortune while he himself possesses none. For such a person, death will be better than living."

Hearing his daughter's words, Sukracharya also became angry. He went to King Vrishaparvan and told him, "Oh king, sins committed by a person may not bring in punishment immediately. But over a period, one has to face the consequences of one's sins. You killed Kacha, who had done no harm to you. And your daughter has insulted my daughter. I am leaving your kingdom and you may take care of yourself."

Vrishaparvan pleaded with Sukracharya not to leave him, asserting that he had not shown any disrespect to his preceptor. "If you leave us, we will go into the depths of the ocean."

Sukrasaid, "I don't care what happens to you. I am only concerned about my daughter's grief. If you want me to stay here, you should pacify my daughter."

Vrishaparvan went to Devayani and told her that he would do whatever she wanted him to. Devayani said "Sarmishtha with a thousand maids should wait on me! She must also follow me to my husband's place after I get married."

Vrishaparvan asked a maid to bring Sarmishta. The maid told Sarmishta of what transpired. Sarmishta said, "I will do whatever Devayani wants. The Asuras should not suffer for my fault."

As instructed by her father, Sarmishta went to Devayani along with a thousand maids and told her "I, along with a thousand maids, will be waiting on you. I will accompany you to any place you may go to after your marriage."

Devayani asked her sarcastically, "How can the daughter of a king be the waiting maid to me, the daughter of one who makes his living through begging and seeking alms?"

Sarmishta replied, "One should contribute to the happiness of one's afflicted relatives by whatever means possible."

Devayani told her father, "Oh, best of Brahmins! I feel gratified. Now I will enter the Asuras' capital. I now know  the power of your learning."

When Sukra entered the capital along with his daughter, he was greeted with respect by the Asuras.

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