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Monday, October 24, 2011

Yayati's curse

Not many people have Y as a third of their names, but Yayati did. The word Yayati definitely makes a cool sound (somewhat like yo-yo and definitely reminiscent of Yousuf Youhana, though nowhere in the same league as Dhristadyumna as far as coolness is concerned).

He was the brother of Yati (not to be confused with The Abominable Snowman), who, perpetually depressed by the fact that his name contained a solitary Y, discarded throne and led the life of an ascetic. Yayati, thus, succeeded the illustrious Nahush of the Lunar Dynasty (Chandravansha) to the throne, until, well, all went well. In the literal sense.


Let us go a tad behind in time.

The asurs had a king and a teacher; the king was called Brishaparba, and the teacher Shukracharya (I get a nasty feeling that this translates to nothing that you'd call innocent). They had a daughter each: Brishaparba's daughter was Sharmishtha, and Shukracharya's, Devyani. Despite being remarkably women of the same age and having fathers of tremendous stature, the girls were good friends to start off with.

They were out one day, trying to bathe in one of those potent rivers of the underworld. They had a, well, rather trivial bath. Then all went wrong.

Devyani couldn't find her clothes. She accused Sharmishtha of stealing them. What followed is, however pleasing to the male eye, subject to censorship owing to a nude catfight between two nubile beauties, and hence shall be omitted.

Let us put a curtain on the scene, and raise it only to find Devyani bruised and dejected inside a dry well (yes, she's still nude), and Sharmishtha back at her father's.

No, Yayati wasn't riding a yacht (which he should have, if you go by names) at this point of time. And yes, you've guessed it right: he was riding in the very forest which had this incredible Devyani-infested well. He stooped over. He possibly anticipated some water, which, as we all know, is the commonest occupant of most wells.

Once again, exactly how Yayati rescued Devyani is not something that I shall describe in the vividest of details, so think twice before getting your testosterone all worked up. The conversation that followed was possibly like this:

Devyani: Thanks for rescuing me, O Noble King.
Yayati: Shall we?
Devyani: What's your name, O Saviour?
Yayati: Shall we?
Devyani: Do you have a substantial amount of cloth that you can heroically drape my bounties with, O Formidable?
Yayati: Shall we?
Devyani: I really need to get back to my father, O Valiant.
Yayati: Shall we?

And so on.
(Yes, I'm aware that Crystal Blur had done a much better job of Yayati and his adventures with Devyani's nudity in her Mahabharat section, so once you're through with this crap, make sure you read hers.)


Rumours are that the forest came to be known as Hot Girls in Wells. When a later author got desperate enough to use time travel to visit the place, he was named after the forest as well.


What followed was, well, in one word, pandemonium. Sharmishtha's father was the king, but Devyani's father was the Real Thing: some people might find a parallel in one of the leading parties in contemporary Indian politics, but I won't.

So, Devyani, who was cursed against marrying a Brahmin by a spy called Kach (not to be confused with a certursain geographical region of Gujarat), decided to marry Yayati. However, the catch was that she added a clause, too: Sharmishtha would have to escort her to Yayati's palace as her maid, and would have to serve her for the rest of her life.

Once in Yoyo's palace, however, Devyani turned a tad lenient: she asked her husband, who was possibly drooling over the memories of that bird's-eye view, to provide Sharmishtha with a proper residence in the forest.

Our hero, by now specialised in seeking out belles in forests, sought out the rather virtuous (as virtuous as an asur-princess can get, that is) Sharmishtha. For whatever reason, whether revenge or lust, Sharmishtha fell in love too. And then, in typical David Dhawan movie style, Yoyo executed two simultaneous marriages, and was blessed with five sons - Yadu and Turbasu from Devyani, and Dyuhu, Anu and Puru from Sharmishtha.

Anyway, Devyani managed to find Sharmishtha's sons in the forest, and upon subsequent investigations, got to know of their parentage. As before, she rushed to her father, and Shukracharya, as before, rushed to the scenario.

Then came the curse. We shall refer to this as Curse 1.

Thou shall lose thy youth and vigour; this doesn't necessarily include the ability to wage wars, but this certainly involves the physique to perform you-know-what.

However wise the great man might have been, he did not realise that the curse was going to ensure that his own daughter was going to lead a life of celibacy as an impact of this curse. So, upon subsequent pleas, Shukracharya decided to modify this curse somewhat, to what we'd refer to as Curse 1.1:

Thou might trade thy newly acquired geriatric condition with a virile youth, provided he willingly consents to do so.

Yayati asked all five sons, in succession: will you?

One by one they refused. First Yadu, then Turbasu, Dyuhu and Anu. Puru, however, consented. Did I mention anywhere that the word puru literally means thick?

Yayati and Puru swapped their age, health and everything available on the cards, but not before Yayati took some actions no one thought he was capable of: he cursed his four sons and blessed Puru.

I won't get into details regarding Turbashu, Dyuhu and Anu (though Anu might have been cursed with people with variants of thy name shall compose tunes for and sing "do me a favour, let's play Holi", a definite contender for the worst lyrics ever). Yadu, however, was cursed that none of his descendants would ever become a king. We shall call this Curse 2.1.

Puru inherited the kingdom, and also won Blessing 1.0 - they descendants shall become kings forever, and shall continue to sit on the throne of The Lunar Dynasty.


The story could, and should have ended here. From Puru came Kuru, and the great Kauravs, one after another. Yadu went to Dwarka, where he married the king's daughters. From Yadu came Yadavs: Dwarka never had a well-defined king - they had an assembly that took decisions (Greece, anyone?).

But what about the curse? Did it hold good that the Yadavs never made it to the Hastinapur throne, but the Pauravs/Kauravs did? Check the diagram below and think again. The names in red have ruled Hastinapur over time.
Click to enlarge


  1. first! and well-written too - never thought of this!

  2. This is absolutely awesome man! I am damn impressed with your writing though most of the time I was damn confused :)

    Exquisite writing!

  3. Ya ya ti ti ya ya ya
    Chhotisi mulaqaten etc.

    Need I mention this was well-written? Mythology is your forte, keep that in mind.

  4. it would have been even better if his name was spelt Yayaty.

    Krishna and Arjun were related in 3 ways -
    1. Both were descendants of YaYatY.
    2. Krishna's pop and Arjun's mom were sibs.
    3. lastly they were brothers-in-law.

    Quite complicated, eh!

    putting it into the current context, maybe that is the reason why both our present Yadav heroes (or villains, in reality) could never secure the throne at Delhi. now you know it. its in the genes. :)

  5. Good one, Sam.

    Also, Krishna's son Shamba married Duryodhan's daughter, so there's another way that Krishna was related to Arjun. Then, again, Arjun and Duryodhan weren't strictly related...

  6. couldn't finish it...first tell me,
    Spill the beans,O-the-user-of-yahoo,did the king used his equipment as a rope?

  7. on the philosophical end(?),did it matter who made it to the throne?

  8. Ya Ya Toure-er kothao mone pore gelo... dibbi hoyechhe... mythology with touch of your wonderful sense of humor. BTW, ami recently Yoyo-r kotha Kishor Bharati pujabarshiki-te Nachiketar lekha ekta uponyase porlam... seta ki by any chnace porechho?

  9. Nachiketar lekha uponyash? Eta ki typo? :O

  10. Na typo noe... bhaloi likhechhilo lokta... pore dekhte paro.

  11. lekha ta dibyi...tomar mythology niye lekha gulo sob kotai sundor..kintu chart ta ghyam!!!darun!!!

  12. Can we have something on Devyani's history? The Kach story?

  13. A very nice pic indeed, not to mention the curses and boons et al! Great writing, welcome back to Mythology :). Incidentally, I had a few remarks:

    (a) The arrow from Bhishma to Ganga/Shantanu is missing.

    (b) I take it that Balaram and the other Paandavas are missing deliberately (for space considerations, as are the 100 Kauravas and the five sons of Draupadi).

    (c) It's a bit funny to see Pandu so far apart from Kunti :). But true!

    (d) Wasn't Krishna Vaasudev, and his father Vasudev? (Just like Draupadi was Krishnaa.)

    In any case, we need more of these tales!

  14. superbly composed n summed up...
    Awesome read !!!