In Hindu mythology, Sharmistha, also known as Sharmista or Sharmishtha, was the daughter of the great Daitya King Vrishparva. She was also a friend of Devayani. She was given as dowry to Yayati of the Lunar dynasty, when he married Devayani, the daughter of Sage Shukracharya, the guru of all Asuras.But then Yayati fell in love with Sharmistha because of her beauty and character and had three sons Druhyu, Anudruhyu and Puru from her. The Puru vamsa takes its origin from Puru.
Sharmistha was the daughter of Vrsaparva, the Daitya king. Devayani was the daughter of Sukra, the Daitya preceptor. One day they were taking bath in a forest brook with their maids, after leaving their clothes on the bank of the stream. At that time Devendra who came that way, transformed himself into a strong wind and carried all the clothes to a place and put all of them in a heap.
Seeing this, the women rushed out of the water and in the hurried confusion in snatching their garments Devayani and Sharmistha happened to put on each other's clothes. A quarrel took place between them with Devyani rebuking and insulting Sharmistha on this mistake . The angry Sharmistha pushed Devayani into an unused well. Thinking that Devayani was dead, Sharmistha and her maids went to the palace. At this time, Yayati who was a king of the lunar dynasty happened to come there exhausted after his hunting. Devayani introduced herself and said that she fell into the well. She then requested the king to pull her out. Yayati helped her out. Devayani demanded that Yayati marry her as he has held her by the right hand. Yayati was alarmed and turned down her request. Yayati then left and Devayani continued to sit under a tree.
When she did not return, Sukracharya set out in search of her. He found Devayani under a tree, her eyes filled with tears of anger and grief. When Sukracharya inquired, Devayani told her father every thing, carefully hiding her own faults. Shukracharya returned to Vrishaparva and announced that he was leaving the Asura kingdom because of his daughter Devayani's unhappy conflict with princess Sharmistha. Vrishaparva wasted no time and went to Devayani taking his daughter Sharmistha along. He begged forgiveness for his daughter.
Devayani agreed to return on one condition that Sharmistha be her handmaiden for the rest of her life. Sharmistha agreed for the sake of her father, the Daity king Vrsaparva.Then Devyani convinced Yayati to marry her.In due course,Yayati married Devyani and both Devyani and Sharmistha went to live with him in his kingdom.
After his arrival in his capital city, Yayati made arrangements for Devayani’s residence in his own palace and made another palace for Sharmistha called Asokvanika. In due course, Yayati fell in love with the beautiful Sharmistha and had three sons – 1. Druhyu 2. Anu and 3. Puru.
One day, Devayani met the three sons of Sharmistha. She asked the boys the name of their father. They pointed to Yayati. Devayani was shocked. She felt deceived and ran to her father's hermitage. Sukracharya was enraged and cursed Yayati with premature old age. Yayati begged for forgiveness. Sukracharya and Devayani felt sorry for him. Sukracharya then said, "I cannot take back my curse, but if any of your sons is ready to exchange his youth for your old age, you will be young again as long as you wish", which was later remedied by her son Puru.
- Dowson, John (1888). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History, and Literature. Trubner & Co., London.
- Mani, Vettam (1964). Puranic Encyclopaedia. Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi. ISBN 0-842-60822-2.