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In Hindu mythology, Devayani (Sanskrit: देवयानी, Devayānī) was the important daughter of Shukracharya, Daitya guru and his wife Jayanti, daughter of Indra. She was married to Yayati, son of Nahusha and gave birth to two sons Yadu and Turvasu.
Kacha, son of Brihaspati (king of suras) was sent to the Shukracharya to learn the Mrita Sanjivini Mantra (technique of bringing dead back to life). His father tells him to impress Devayani, dearest daughter of Shukracharya in order to get the blessings of Shukracharya. Kacha follows his advise and unknown to him Devayani falls in love with him. Shukracharya's Daitya disciples want to kill Kacha as he was the son of their rival and could do them harm if he learns Mrita Sanjivini Mantra. They try to kill him twice but Shukracharya brings him back to life on Devayani's insistence. At last they burn him, mix that ash in alcohol and give that to Shukracharya. Shukracharya realises that later and he teaches Mrita Sanjivini Mantra to Kacha and asks him to come out of his stomach by killing him. Kacha comes out and brings Shukracharya back to life with the help of Mantra.
Kacha starts his journey back to Deva loka when Devayani expresses her love for him and asks him to marry her. Kacha tells her that she is like a sister to him as she was the daughter of his guru, equivalent to father according to Hindu Dharma. This infuriates Devayani and she curses him that he would not be able to use Mrita Sanjivini Mantra. Kacha tells her that he would teach mantra to his friends and they would use it as it would make no difference. But he curses her that she wouldn't get a husband of strong character because of her in-discrimination.
Scuffle with Sharmista
Sharmishtha was the daughter of Vrisaparva, the Daitya king, for whom Shukracharya was an adviser. Once Sharmista and Devayani go to take bath in a nearby forest along with Sharmista's retinue. After bathing, Devayani confuses Sharmista's saree with her own and wears it. Sharmista comes back and scold her for that and belittles her by saying that she was the daughter of her father's employee. This infuriates Devayani who tries to attack Sharmista. Sharmista takes her saree and throws naked Devayani in a well and leaves the forest with her retinue. Later Yayati, son of Nahusha, comes there for water and helps her to come up. She tells him that as he held her hand, he should be her husband. Though Yayati gets attracted to Devayani's beauty, he fears Shukracharya and tells her that he couldn't marry her without the permission of her father.
She comes back and stays away from capital and tells her father that she wouldn't come back to the capital till Sharmista becomes her servant. Shukracharya also leaves the capital to stay with his dearest daughter. This makes kingdom unstable without the brains and powers of Shukracharya. At last Sharmista tells her father that she would go as a servant to Devayani to protect the kingdom. Devayani comes back to capital along with her father and enjoys the servitude of Sharmista.
Some days later Devayani goes to a picnic in the forest along with her servants. There Yayati comes for hunting and they meet again. This time she brings him to her father and tells him that they would like to marry. Shukracharya gives his consent and tells Yayati that he should take care of Sharmista too as she was a princess but shouldn't have nuptial relation with her. Yayati marries Devayani and looks after her well.
After some time Sharmista comes to him and asks him to give her a son. He refuses and says that he couldn't face the wrath of Shukracharya. But she convinces him saying that it would be against Dharma if he rejects her request as she was desperate to have a kid. He reluctantly agrees and they start to have conjugal relation. Devayani gives birth to two sons Yadu and Turvasu while Sharmista gives birth to three sons Druhyu, Anu and Puru.
Eventually Devayani comes to know about her husband's relation with Sharmista and complaints to her father. Shukracharya curses Yayati with old age for giving pain to her daughter. But later he tells him that if one of his sons could take his old age and give him his youth back, he could escape from the curse for some time. Yayati asks his sons for their youth but everyone rejects except Puru. Yayati makes him his descendant, who gives rise to Kuru vamsha later.
Death and Legacy
After enjoying some time, Yayati gives his youth back to his son along with his kingdom. Devayani and Yayati leave for forest to spend time peacefully and engage in religious activities dictated as per Dharma. They die there after some time. Her son Yadu gives rise to Yadu dynasty in which Krishna was born later.
- Pargiter, F.E. (1972). Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, pp.196, 196ff.
- Devayani and Kacha Retold by P. R. Ramachander
- Devayani and Yayati Retold by P. R. Ramachander
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