Gods are considered to be immortal. That is because they got an elixir by churning the milky ocean. We now go into a story that happened much before that.
The gods and demons waged wars even in those days and killed each other in large numbers. The bone of contention was the supremacy over the three worlds. The demons had a Brahmin, by name Sukra, as their chief priest (Acharya). Sukra knew a secret Mantra called Mrita Sanjeevani. By invoking that Mantra a dead person would come alive as though from sleep. The Acharya used its potency to bring back all those demons who were killed by gods in battles.
The gods had no such means to revive their dead. Hence, their numbers started gradually dwindling. This made the gods a worried lot. They discussed the issue among themselves and came up with a plan.
To learn the secret
The Acharya of Gods was Brihaspati. He had a handsome son by name Kacha. They requested the youth to approach Sukra and somehow learn the Mrita Sanjeevani from him. They also gave him some tips on how to go about it.
Sukra had a daughter by name Devayani. Kacha should look for every opportunity to please her while he was engaged in serving her father. The secret was that Sukra was very much attached to his daughter. He would do anything to please her.
Kacha agreed and went to Sukra Acharya. He prostrated before the Acharya and introduced himself. Kacha’s father was a highly respected Brahmin. So, Sukra could not refuse to take him in as disciple.
Days and months passed. Kacha did everything he could to please his teacher and his daughter. Both were highly pleased with him. Devayani gradually fell in love with the handsome youth.
A fatal encounter
Kacha’s duty included taking his teacher’s cattle to nearby forests for grazing. The demons soon came to know of Kacha’s mission. One day they confronted the youth in the forest. Who was he and what was his mission ? When Kacha admitted that he was the son of god’s priest they cut him into pieces and fed him to wolves.
That evening the cattle returned without the herdsman. Devayani was worried that her darling Kacha would have faced some misfortune. She went to her father with a worried look. When asked for the cause she reported that Kacha had not returned home.
The Mantra at work
Sukra, through is divine vision, could see what happened. He invoked the magic Mantra and Kacha came back to life bursting open the stomach of every animal that ate him. He returned home later and reported all that happened to his teacher and his daughter.
The demons thought of a better way to dispose off their enemy next time. They burnt Kacha alive when he was on his mission and washed his ashes in the ocean. But, the Mantra of the great Acharya was powerful enough to give life to the dead even in that condition.
The ultimate trial
The demons thought for a better way. Days passed and Devayani found her lover missing one day. She was apprehensive and went to her father. It was then that Sukra realized that the demons had played smart that time. Kacha had been reduced to ashes and mixed with wine for him to drink. Sukra could, still, make Kacha alive. But, then he, himself, would die. He asked Devayani to make her choice. She would be left either with her father or her lover. Whom would she choose ?
But, Devayani loved both and was not ready for a deal. It did not matter to her how, but, she wanted both of them alive.
Sukra then thought of a plan. He chanted the Mantra aloud. Kacha became alive in his stomach. At the same time he also learnt the Mantra. Sukra died when Kacha tried to come out of his teacher’s belly. But, he chanted the newly learnt Mantra and made his teacher alive again. The Acharya decreed that day that Brahmins, thenceforth, are forbidden to drink wine or any other type of alcohol.
Kacha’s mission was accomplished. But, he stayed on with his teacher for a while longer. Then, he wanted to leave. Sukra blessed him and gave him permission. But, Devayani would not let him go without her. She wanted him to marry her.
Kacha had no such intention. He said that Sukra, being his teacher, was like a father to him. Moreover, he came out of his belly in his second life. In that sense Devayani was like his sister. He loved her, but would not even think of her as his fiancée.
Devayani was totally disappointed. Her repeated requests did not change Kacha’s resolve. Finally, she cursed Kacha that he would not succeed in using his newly learnt Mantra to bring any dead to life. Kacha wondered whether all his efforts went in vain. But, he thought of a way out. He would teach the Mantra to another and that way achieve the same results.He reached the abode of Gods and received a joyous welcome there. We shall learn more about Devayani later.