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Shvoong Home>Books>5. The Marriage of Devayani: Mahabharata Review

5. The Marriage of Devayani: Mahabharata

Book Review   by:babushona     Original Author: C. Rajagopalachari
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Write your abstract here. The daughters of Vrishaparva, king of the demons, and Devayani were good friends. Once, as they were together enjoying a bath in a pool, a gust of wind ruffled their discarded garments and left them in a heap. By mistake, Devayani put on the clothes of princess Sarmishtha and expressed her amusement at having done so. But Sarmishtha was not amused. She took the incident in the wrong spirit and abused Devayani by calling her the daughter of a beggar who lived on her father’s mercies. Not content with this, she slapped Devayani and pushed her into a dry well nearby. Vrishaparva’s daughters assumed that she was dead. Devayani was really alive, but could not climb up the well. Emperor Yayati of the Bharata race, who was out hunting in the forest, saw her and helped her out of the well. A flustered Devayani had no intentions of going back to the kingdom of the demons and appealed to Yayati to marry her. Yayati refused, arguing that marriage between a woman from a priestly caste and a man from the martial races was forbidden as it meant lowering the woman’s status. Devayani was disappointed but was still bent on not returning home. Sukracharya, alarmed by her daughter’s long absence, himself set out in search of her after other means had failed. He located Devayani near the well and entreated her to return, explaining that a magnanimous person is expected to stay unperturbed by the vices of others. With anguish, Devayani described to Sukracharya the nasty treatment meted out to her by Sarmishtha and refused to listen to her father’s advice. This prompted Sukracharya to return to Vrishaparva. He confronted the king and reminded him that he had remained patient in spite of the demons’ multiple attempts at killing his disciple Kacha, an innocent youth. Now that her humiliated daughter had taken a vow not to come back home, Sukracharya saw no other alternative but to follow suit, because he could not stay alive separated from her beloved daughter.
Vrishaparva, who knew right from wrong, begged pardon of his preceptor, took his retinue to where Devayani was and asked for her forgiveness. Devayani, however, insisted that she would relent only if Sarmishtha agreed to act as her housemaid. Sarmishtha, who had by now acknowledged her high- handed behaviour with Devayani, agreed and bowed in submission. Finally satisfied, Devayani returned home. As luck would have it, Devayani came across Yayati one more time and this time too requested him to marry her. But since Yayati’s reservations were genuine, they agreed to approach Sukracharya for his consent. Sukracharya solemnised their marriage. The couple lived on happily, until one day Devayani learnt that Yayati had secretly also wed their housemaid, Sarmishtha. Devayani, in her desolation, complained to Sukracharya. Enraged, Sukracharya cast a curse on Yayati that the latter be shorn of his youth. Yayati was crestfallen and fervently asked to be pardoned. Sukracharya was touched by Yayati’s repentance. He also remembered that Yayati had once rescued Devayani from a well. But then, a curse was destined to run its course. Therefore, the best that Sukracharya could do was to assure Yayati that his youth would be restored if and when a young man willingly exchanged his youth for Yayati’s old age.
Published: May 19, 2006   
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