Thursday, August 20, 2015

32. Devayani and Sarmishta (continued)

After sometime, Devayani went to the same forest, along with Sarmishta and thousand other maids. They wandered in the forest, enjoying themselves by eating fruits and drinking honey. 

At that time, King Yayati also visited the place for hunting. Seeing the ladies, he asked Devayani and Sarmishta for their names. Devayani introduced herself ad Sukra's daughter and Sarmishta as the daughter of King Vrishaparvan. Devayani also told him that Sarmishta with her thousand maids was waiting on her and that everything resulted from fate. 

She then asked Yayati to marry her. Yayati declined the proposal citing the fact that he was a Kshatriya while she was the daughter of Sukra, a Brahmin. After repeated persuations by Devayani, Yayati agreed to marry her if her father would offer her to him.

Devayani sent a maid to her father with a message. Sukra came to the forest. Yayati paid obeisance to Sukra. Devayani told her father, "Oh father! This is Yayati, son of Nahusha. He held my hand when I was in distress. I want you to bestow me on him. I will not wed any other man."

Sukra told Yayati, "Since you have been accepted by my daughter, I offer her to you."

When Yayati expressed his concern that he might be committing a sin by marrying a woman belonging to a higher caste, Sukra said, "I am absolving you of this sin. But you should not invite Sarmishta to your bed."

Sukra had the marriage solemnized by performing the prescribed rites. Yayati left for his capital along with his wife Devayani, her maid Sarmishta and two thousand other maids.

Yayati put up Devayani in his palace and as desired by her accommodated Sarmishta and her 1000 maids in a mansion in the woods garden and made arrangements for her comfortable stay by ensuring the availability of food and other necessities.

After sometime, Devayani gave birth to a son. Sarmishta also desired to beget a son through Yayati and wondered whether it would happen. 

Once Yayati met Sarmishta when he was wandering in the woods where Sarmishta's house was located. Sarmishta solicited him. Yayati replied that while he was bewitched by her beauty, he was restrained by the words of Devayan's father that he shouldn't invite Sarmishta to his bed.

Sarmishta pointed out to him that it was considered permissible to lie on five occasions - while telling a joke, about enjoying a woman, in performing a marriage, while facing a danger to one's life and while facing a threat to one's whole fortune.Yayati replied that as a king, he  should be a model for his people. He said that he would not venture to tell a lie even if he was threatened by the greatest loss to his life or fortune.

Sarmishta then told Yayati "Oh King, a woman may look upon her friend's husband as her own. Since you have been chosen as her husband by my friend, you are my husband as well!"

The king began to relent. He said, "It is my vow to grant people whatever they ask of me. So, tell me what I should do."

Sarmishta said, "Oh king, wives, sons and slaves cannot earn any wealth for themselves. Whatever they earn will go the people who own them. I am the slave of Devayani, You, being the master of Devayani, are my master as well. I solicit you to fulfil my wish of begetting a son through you."

Convinced that he had a duty to protect Sarmishta's virtue, Yayati spent some time with her and then returned to his palace. Sarmishta became pregnant and eventually delivered a son who had celestial looks and had eyes that looked like lotus flowers.

Learning about Sarmishta's giving birth to a child, Devayani summoned her and accused her of  having committed a sin, Sarmishta said that the child was born to a Rishi (sage). Devayani asked for the name of the Rishi but Sarmishta said that she was so overwhelmed by the resplendent appearance of the Rishi that she didn't think of asking for his name. Devayani was satisfied with this reply. She chatted with Sarmishta in a friendly way for some time and then let her go.

Three sons Drahyu, Anu and Puru were born to Sarmishta and two sons Yadu and Turvasu were born to Devayani.

Once when Devayani went to the woods along with Yayati, she met three handsome boys. She asked them who their father was. They, being Sarmishta's children,  pointed at Yayati. They also ran towards Yayati tried to clasp his knees. Yayati, intending to prevent Devayani from  finding the truth, avoided the children.

Devayani who had realized that those three children were born to Sarmishta through her husband, went to Sarmishta and demanded her to reveal who the father of her children were. Sarmishta said defiantly, "I have not committed any sin. It is a custom to consider a friend's husband as one's own husband. However, you are my master and the daughter of a respected Brahmin. I have a lot of respect for you."

Angered by what she had learnt, Devayani burst out at Yayati "You have wronged me." She went to her father. Yayati followed her to her father's abode. Devayani told her father "Oh father, my husband has betrayed me. I have been humiliated by Sarmishta once again. He has given her three sons!"

Yayati pleaded with Sukracharya that he didn't do anything out of lust but only out of a sense of duty. He pointed out that the Vedas described the man who did not fulfill the desire of a woman who would solicit him during the season as a slayer of the embryo.

Sukracharya said that since he had, even before giving his daughter in marriage, commanded that Yayati not invite Sarmishta to his bed, Yayati should have sought his permission before accepting the request of Sarmishta.  He cursed Yayati that he would be divested of his youth immediately and gripped by decrepitude.

Yayati then told Sukra that he had not yet attained satisfaction with his youth and that he wanted to live happily with Devayani for some more time. 
Sukra then relented a little and said that Yayati could exchange his decrepitude for the youth of another. Yayati requested Sukracharya to grant him a boon that his son who exchanged his youth for Yayati's decrepitude would become the king and attain greatness and Sukra granted his wish accordingly.

As a result of the curse, Yayati became old. However, he still had a keen desire for worldly pressures. He called his five sons and told them, “I want to be young and be enjoying the pleasures of life for some more time. Will you take my old age and give me your youth for some time? You can take my aged body and be the king.”

While four of his five sons declined his request, his youngest son Puru exchanged his youthful body with his father’s aged body. Yayati enjoyed the worldly pleasures for many years but realized at the end that the desire for pleasures won't be quenched by enjoyment but would only be intensified. 

He then gave the youthful body back to his son Puru and said, “You are my true son and my race will be known by your name.”

His other sons protested but Yayati justified his decision by pointing out that only his youngest son showed a willingness to fulfill his desire.

Yayati then went to the Mount of Brighu to do penance. He eventually left his mortal body and ascended to heaven along with his two wives.

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