Sunday, June 14, 2015

7. Yayati

Prachetas had a son (his 11th son) by name Dhaksha from whom all creatures have emanated. He is therefore called the Prajapati (Godfather). 

Dhaksha begot 1000 sons and fifty daughters. His sons were taught the Sankhya philosophy (a religious path for salvation) by Narada, the son of Brahma. 10 of his daughters were married to Dharma, 13 to Sage Kashyapa, the son of Mariachi and 27 to Chandra, the Moon God.  These 27 wives of the Moon are known as the 27 stars of the constellation.

Aditi, the eldest wife of Kashyapa gave birth to Adityas, also known as the Devas (the Celestials). Indra was the eldest.  Vivaswat (the Sun) was among the other sons. Vivaswat gave birth to Yama (who became the God of Death) and Manu .

Manu was endowed with intelligence and wisdom.  The human race emanated from him. The human beings are therefore called Manavas (and also Manushyas). In Manu’s race was born Ila to whom was born Puruvaras.  

Puruvaras had six sons of whom Ayus was the eldest. Ayus had four sons, Nahusha being the eldest. Nahusha had great prowess. He conquered many kings and through practice of asceticism qualified to become Indra, the head of the Celestials. He made the seven great sages (Saptharishis) Vashista, Bharadwaja, Jamadagni, Gautama, Atri, Viswamitra and Agasthya to  carry his palanquin and commanded them to go fast. Agastya, angered by Nahusha's arrogance cursed him to become a snake. Nahusha instantly became a snake and fell down from the planquin. He also fell from grace.

Nahusha had six sons.  Since his eldest son Yati chose to become an ascetic, his second son Yayati became the king. He conquered the whole world through his valor. Yayati had two wives Devayani and Sarmishta.  He begot two sons Yadu and Turvasu through Devayani and three sons  Drahyu, Anu, and Puru through Sarmishta.  

Since Yayati had married Sarmishta who was Devayani's slave going against the word of Devayani's father Sukracharya, he was cursed by Sukracharya to lose his youth and be gripped by decrepitude. However, Sukra had given him a reprieve by providing that he could exchange his decrepitude for the youth of any of his sons and that the son who gave Yayati his youth would ascend the throne and attain virtue and fame.

As a result of the curse, Yayati became old but he still had a keen desire for worldly pressures. He called his five sons and told them, “I want to be young and be enjoying the pleasures of life for some more time. Will you take my old age and give me your youth for some time? You can take my aged body and be the king.”

While four of his five sons declined his request, his youngest son Puru exchanged his youthful body with his father’s aged body. Yayati enjoyed the worldly pleasures for many years but realized at the end that the desire for pleasures won't be quenched by enjoyment but would only be intensified. 

He then gave the youthful body back to his son Puru and said, “You are my true son and my race will be known by your name.”

His other sons protested but Yayati justified his decision by pointing out that only his youngest son showed a willingness to fulfill his desire.

Yayati then went to the Mount of Brighu to do penance. He eventually left his mortal body and ascended to heaven along with his two wives.

Yadu's descendants were called the Yadavas, those of Turvasu the Yavanas, those of Drahyu the Bhojas and those of Anu the Mlechchas. 

The descendants of Puru became the Pauravas. The Kauravas and he Pandavas were Pauravas. One of the descendants of Puru was Kuru. Since Kuru was a virtuous and renowned king, the dynasty began to be called the Kuru vamsa. The princes and kings who came in the lineage are called Kauravas. The sons of Dritarashtra as well as those of Pandu are Kauravas. However, with Pandu's sons having been called Pandavas, the term Kauravas are usually applied only to the sons of Dritarashtra.

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