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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Shrimad Bhagavatam > Canto-9 > King Yayati



  King Yayati.



     In the seventh generation after Ayu, the son of Pururava, there appeared Dhanvantari, the incarnation of the Lord and inaugurator of the medical science. King Nahusha, another son of Ayu, had six sons named Yati, Yayati, Samyati, Ayati, Viyati, and Kriti.

     Knowing that the acceptance of the royal throne makes one blind to self-realization, Yati refused to accept the rule of the kingdom, even though his father offered it to him. Because Agastya Rishi cursed Nahusha after he had molested Indra’s wife, he fell down from heaven and accepted the body of a python. Consequently, Yayati became the king, and allowed his four younger brothers to rule the four directions.

Once upon a time, Sharmistha, the daughter of King Vrishaparva, who was innocent but angry by nature, was walking in the palace garden along with Devayani, the daughter of Sukracharya, and thousands of other girlfriends. The garden was full of flowering trees and inhabited by sweetly singing birds, and when the girls came to the shore of a lotus pond, they decided to play in the water. After leaving their clothes on the shore, the girls entered the lake and began enjoying themselves by throwing water upon one another and swimming about.

     Then, suddenly, the lotus-eyed young girls saw Lord Shiva pass by, seated on the back of his bull-carrier, along with his wife, Parvati. Ashamed at their nakedness, the girls quickly got out of the water and began covering themselves with their garments. At this time, Sharmistha unknowingly put on Devayani’s dress.

When the daughter of Sukracharya understood this, she angrily rebuked the princess by saying, “Oh, just see what this maidservant Sharmistha has done! Disregarding all etiquette, she has put on my dress, just like a dog that snatches ghee meant for use in sacrifice. We are among the qualified brahmanas who have created the universe by their austerity, and who always keep the Absolute Truth within the core of their hearts. Because the brahmanas are the only worshipble objects within this world, not only the great demigods offer them prayers, but even the Supreme Lord Himself. And yet, although this girl’s father is our disciple, she has put on my dress, exactly like a shudra trying to take charge of Vedic knowledge.”

     Sharmishtha became very angry after being rebuked with such cruel words. While breathing heavily and biting her lower lip, she replied to Devayani, “You beggar. Without knowing your actual position, why do you unnecessarily talk so much? Don’t you all wait at our father’s house, depending upon us for your livlihood just like crows?”

     After retaliating with these unkind words, the infuriated Sharmishtha took away all of Devayani’s clothes, threw her into a well, and then returned home along with her friends.

     Soon thereafter, while wandering in the forest on a hunting excursion, King Yayati approached that well to drink some water. When he saw the naked Devayani within, the surprised king very kindly offered her his upper cloth, and then lifted her out of the well by taking hold of her hand.

     After being rescued, Devayani spoke to Yayati in a voice that was saturated with love and affection: “O great hero, by taking my hand, you have accepted me as your married wife. Because our relationship has been arranged by providence, let me not have to be touched by others. After I cursed Kacha, the son of Brihaspati, he also cursed me by saying that I would not get a brahmana for a husband. Therefore, our union is quite appropriate.”

     Devayani had spoken in this way, because, although an anuloma marriage (between a brahmana man and a kshatriya girl) was socially accepted, a pratiloma marriage (between a kshatriya man and a brahmana girl) was not. Actually, because such a marriage is not sanctioned by shastra, King Yayati did not like it.But, because his meeting with Devayani had been providentially arranged, and he was attracted by her youthful beauty, King Yayati agreed to accept her nonetheless.

     The two then parted ways, and Devayani went home crying to her father. When Sukracharya heard from his daughter about Sharmishtha’s misbehavior, his mind became very aggrieved. While condemning professional priesthood, which obliged him to take sides in such a childish matter, and praising the life of uncha-vritti (collecting grains from the field), Sukracharya took his daughter and departed for the king’s palace.

     The intelligent King Vrishaparva could understand that Sukracharya was coming to either chastise or curse him, and so before his arrival, he went out into the street and fell down at his preceptor’s feet, in an attempt to pacify him. Sukracharya was certainly angry for a few minutes, but upon seeing Vrishaparva’s very humble and submissive behavior, he gave up his wrath and then said, “My dear King, please fulfill Devayani’s desire. Because she is my daughter, I cannot neglect her.”

     Vrishaparva gave his consent, and awaited Devayani’s words. Sukracharya’s daughter then expressed her desire as follows: “Whenever I marry, by the order of my father, my friend Sharmishtha must go with me as a maidservant, along with all of her companions.”

     Vrishaparva wisely thought that Sukracharya’s displeasure would bring danger, whereas his pleasure would bring material gain. Therefore, when his preceptor gave his daughter in marriage to King Yayati, Vrishaparva had Sharmishtha go with Devayani, along with thousands of other women, to serve her like a slave. At the time of Devayani’s marriage, Sukracharya warned Yayati, “My dear King, take my advice and never allow this girl Sharmishtha to lie down with you in your bed.”

     In due course of time, Devayani gave birth to a nice son. Upon seeing this, Sharmishtha also desired to beget children, and so she approached Yayati in a secluded place, at the appropriate time for conception, and begged him to give her a son. The king was well aware of the religious principle that a kshatriya cannot refuse any woman who approaches him for the purpose of begetting offspring. Thus, in spite of remembering his father-in-law’s warning, Yayati considered the union with Sharmishtha to be the desire of the Supreme, and so he engaged in sexual intercourse with her.

     Later on, however, when the proud Devayani understood from various sources that Sharmishtha was pregnant by union with her husband, she became frenzied with rage. After storming out of the palace, she departed for her father’s house. The lusty King Yayati followed his wife, and after catching up to her, he tried to appease her by speaking very sweet words and massaging her feet. But Devayani was not to be pacified by such means, and so she continued on until she reached her father’s cottage.

      When Sukracharya understood the whole situation, he very angrily chastised King Yayati: “You untruthful fool, lusting after women! Because of your great fault, I hereby curse you to be immediately attacked by invalidity and old age.”

     King Yayati pleaded, “O learned and worshipable brahmana, I have not yet satisfied my lusty desires with your daughter.”

     Sukracharya could understand that his curse was also not in the interest of his lusty daughter. Therefore, he replied, “As a concession, you may exchange your old age with someone who will agree to transfer his youth to you.”

     Through Devayani, Yayati had begotten two sons- Yadu and Turvasu- and through Sharmishtha he had begotten three- Druhyu, Anu and Puru. Yayati first went and requested his eldest son, “My dear Yadu, please give me your youth in exchange for my old age and invalidity, for I have not yet satisfied my sexual desires. If you are merciful to me, I can utilize your youth and thus enjoy life for a few more years.”

     Yadu was ready to accept his father’s request, but because he was very eager to engage fully in the devotional service of the Lord, and accelerate the appearance of Lord Krishna in his dynasty, he was afraid that unsatiated material desires might prove to be an impediment.

He therefore replied, “My dear father, I do not welcome your old age and invalidity, for unless one enjoys material happiness, he cannot attain renunciation.”

     Yadu’s refusal of his father’s order was religious. On the other hand, Turvasu, Druhyu and Anu irreligiously refused Yayati’s proposal, due to considering their flickering youthful life to be eternal. Next, Yayati approached Puru, who was younger than these three brothers, but more qualified. The King requested, “My dear son, do not become disobedient like your elder brothers, for that is not your duty.”

     Puru replied, “Who in this world can repay the debt he owes to his father? It is by his mercy that one gets a human body whereby he can become an associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A son who anticipates his father’s desire and then executes it is first class. One who acts only after receiving his father’s order is second class, and one who executes his father’s command irreverently is third class. But, a son who flatly refuses to obey his father’s order is no better than his stool.”

     Puru regretted that he did not accept his father’s proposal before being asked to do so, but still, he was determined not to become the lowest type of son, who is no better than his father’s stool.

     After taking Puru’s youth in exchange for his old age, King Yayati became the emperor of the entire earth, consisting of seven islands, and ruled his subjects just like an affectionate father. With unimpaired senses, Maharaja Yayati enjoyed the greatest amount of material happiness possible in the company of his dear wife. By engaging her mind, words, and body as well as various paraphernalia, Devayani always brought her husband as much sensual pleasure as he desired.

     King Yayati also performed many sacrifices, and gave abundant charity to the brahmanas, for the satisvaction of the Supreme Lord, who is the reservoir of all the demigods. Although externally King Yayati appeared to be very fond of material enjoyment, internally he desired to become an eternal servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, and thus he worshiped the Lord without material motive.

     Maharaja Yayati ruled the earth for one thousand years, and yet, despite engaging his mind and senses in enjoying material objects for such a long period of time, he found that he could never achieve satisfaction. Although the king had been very much attached to women, in due course of time, he became disgusted with sexual enjoyment and its bad effects.

     While thus thinking of renouncing the materialistic way of life, Yayati narrated the following story to his beloved wife: “O daughter of Sukracharya, please listen as I tell you about someone who was just like me. While wandering in the forest, a he-goat happened by chance to approach a well, and within it he saw a she-goat helplessly standing, having fallen in as a result of her past karma.”

     “After planning how to get the she-goat out of the well, the he-goat laboriously dug up the earth with his horns, so that she could easily climb up. After being rescued, the she-goat, who had very nice hips, wanted to accept the he-goat as her husband, because of his handsome body, nice moustache, and expertise in discharginrg semen during sexual intercourse. Along with this she-goat, many other she-goats desired to have the he-goat as their husband, and thus, in their association, he engaged in erotic activities, completely forgetting his real business of self-realization,”

     “Once, when the she-goat saw her husband engaged in sexual affairs with another she-goat, she could not tolerate it. Considering the he-goat to be a hard-hearted, temporary friend only interested in enjoying sense gratification, the she-goat departed for the residence of a brahmana who was the maintainer of another she-goat. The aggrieved he-goat, being subservient to his wife, followed her on the road, and although he tried his best to flatter her, she could not be pacified. The brahmana angrily cut off the he-goat’s dangling testicles, but then, at his request, he later on rejoined them by utilizing his mystic power. Thereafter, the he-goat continued to enjoy with the she-goat for many years, and yet even now he has not beome satisfied.”

     King Yayati continued, “My dear wife, I am exactly like that he-goat, for I have been captivated by your beauty and thus have forgotten the real task of self-realization. A lusty person cannot satisfy his mind, even if he possesses enough of everything that is desirable within this world. Just as supplying ghee to a fire does not diminish it, but instead increases it more and more, the endeavor to quench lusty desires by continual enjoyment only aggrevates them.”

      “Therefore, one must voluntarily cease from trying to fulfill his desires for sense enjoyment, if he at all hopes to get free from them. Of course, it is very difficult for those who are too attached to material enjoyment to give up the activities of sense gratification. Even when one is invalid due to old age, he cannot give up desires for sensual pleasure, for that has been his life-long habit.”

      “Still, one who actually wants to become happy must give up such unsatisfied desires, knowing them very well to be the cause of all tribulations. One should not allow himself to sit on the same seat with even his own mother, sister or daughter, for the senses are so strong that even though one may be very advanced in knowledge, he may become attracted by desires for sex.”

     “My dear wife, even though I have spent one thousand years enjoying sense gratification, my desire to enjoy such pleasure still increases daily. Therefore, I shall now give up these desires, and meditate upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Free from the dualities of mental concoction and devoid of false prestige, I shall wander in the forest along with the animals. One who knows that material happiness, whether pious or impious, on earth or in heaven, in this life or the next is temporary and useless, and thus should not even be thought of, and so what to speak of engaged in, is the true knower of the self.”

     After speaking to his wife, King Yayati, who was now detached from all material desires, called for his son Puru and returned to him his youth in exchange for his old age. Yayati then enthroned Puru as the emperor of the world, and made his elder sons subordinate kings of the various directions.

     Thus, even though King Yayati had become accustomed to sense enjoyment, due to having indulged in it for many, many years- he gave it up entirely in a moment, just as a bird flies away from its nest, as soon as its wings have grown. This was possible because King Yayati completely surrendered himself at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus achieved his original position as the Lord’s associate.

     After hearing Yayati’s story of the he-goat and the she-goat, even though it was presented as joking between husband and wife, Devayani understood its meaning and was also awakened to self-realization. As a faithful wife, she followed the path of her husband and thus also gave up her imaginary position in the material world and fixed her mind upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus, by the mercy of King Yayati, Devayani was not only rescued from a well, but she achieved liberation from material bondage as well.