Thursday, November 22, 2012

32 Bhagavatha: The story of Yayati.

Devayani, the daughter of Shukracharya and Sharmishta, the daughter of king Vrishaparva, along with their companions were having a bath in a pond.  Seeing a respectable person pass by, they hurriedly come out of the pond and dress up.  The princess Sharmishta, unintentionally  puts on the clothes of Devayani.  Devayani was angry beyond reason. Using harsh words, she abuses Sharmishta and ill-treats her.  Sharmishta snatches Devayani's clothes  and pushed her into a well.
Yayati, (the son of Nahusha of the Lunar dynasty) was hunting in the forest. He comes to the well searching for water. He finds Devayani in the well, with no clothes on. He throws his upper garment and rescues her by giving his hand. Devayani speaks lovingly to Yayati: "O king! I am the daughter of Shukracharya. You have held my right hand. So it is only proper, perhaps ordained, that you be my husband."  Yayati, fearing Shukracharya's wrath, and due to his weak mind, was unable to turn down the dharmically unacceptable match.  He agrees to the proposal and departs.
Devayani, returns weeping to her father and complains about Sharmishta. Shukracharya, along with his daughter, goes out of the city, sad at the turn of events. Vrishaparva, the danava king, placates Shukracharya (afraid that he might have intentions to switch loyalty to the gods) and falls at his feet. Shukracharya asks the King to fulfill his daughter's wish.
Devayani says, "wherever I go, even after I am married, Sharmishta will be my follow me along with her companions." Perceiving that there was more to gain from Shukracharya to the danavas, Sharmishta agrees to become a slave to Devayani. While giving away his daughter Devayani in marriage to Yayati, Shukracharya warns Yayati to stay away from Sharmishta.
Devayani and Yayati have two sons, Yadu and Turvasu.
Sharmishta, once when alone in the grove, solicits the King for progeny. Yayati, although recollecting Shukracharya's warning,  accedes to her request and secretly marries Sharmishta. They have three children  -- Dhruhyu, Anu and Puru.
Devayani is overwhelmed with rage on hearing this. She returns to her father and complains to him. No amount of sweet words and blandishments by Yayati would console her. Shukracharya curses him: "O fool! O liar, hankering after women,  let old age, which disfigures a man, overtake you."
Yayati pleads with Sukracharya that he was unsated with pleasures of the sense and would like to revel in it for some more years. Shukracharya relaxes his curse: "Your old age may be exchanged at will with the youth of any other -- who may voluntarily accept it."
Yayati asks each of his sons to accept his old age in return for their youth. Yadu replies that he has no courage to live with old age, even before tasting the pleasures. Other sons also decline, as they looked upon the transient body as eternal. Only Puru, the youngest and most virtuous of them all, accepts the old age of his father, saying that an ideal son would accomplish whatever is expected of him by his father, in anticipation.
Yayati, having an extended age of youth enjoys pleasures for a long time, and yet does not feel satiated. He tells Devayani his thoughts (in the form of a parable):  "the quest for worldly pleasures grow stronger and stronger like fire fed by ghee. The powerful senses lead even a learned man astray. One desirous of happiness should get rid of the thirst for pleasure -- it does not decrease even when the body becomes old.  In fact, it renews itself every time."
As realisation of his spiritual fall dawns on him, he returns his youth back to his son Puru, and takes back his old age. He crowns the worthiest son, Puru as the King and retires to the forest to meditate on Lord Vasudeva.
Yayati's sons through Devayani were the Yadavas and through Sharmishta, the Kauravas.
The earth was overrun by demons disguised as kings. Endeavouring  to remove this burden of earth, and to shower his grace on his devotees, Lord Krishna, accompanied by his elder brother Samkarshana (Balarama) descend on earth in the Yadava clan.

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Srimad Bhagavatham