How the Gods became immortal

Now I will tell a story that has no mother and no father!

Hundreds of people have told this story. The story itself is authentic, but each writer has taken tremendous liberty. I also told this story many years ago. Today I am telling it again and embellishing it in my own way.

We all know that the gods are immortal. But there was a time when the gods were not immortal. They were mortal, like us. There were constant fights between the gods and the asuras, or demons. And quite often the asuras used to defeat the gods. The Preceptor of the asuras is Sukracharya, and the Guru of the Cosmic Gods is Brihaspati. They are cousins. From the astrological point of view, Brihaspati is my Guru. I was born on a Thursday, and Thursday in Bengali is Brihaspatibar, Brihaspati’s day.

Sukracharya somehow learnt the art of immortality, so he could revive his followers. When they died, he would utter a particular mantra and bring them back to life. Unfortunately, Brihaspati did not know this mantra, so his followers, the gods, used to suffer tremendously.

The gods were very, very sad. The trinity — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — went to Brihaspati for advice. They asked him how they could also acquire immortality. Brihaspati informed them that he had not learnt the art. He, too, was extremely sad. Brihaspati’s son, Kach, happened to overhear their conversation. He said, “I have a brilliant idea! I shall learn the mantra from Sukracharya.”

Some of them laughed when they heard this. Others were worried because they felt that if Sukracharya saw Kach, he would know why Kach had come and he would kill Brihaspati’s son. But Kach did not listen to them.

Kach went to Sukracharya and begged to become his disciple. Sukracharya replied, “I am ready to accept you, but will you be able to pray and meditate as long as it takes to please me?”

Kach said, “I am ready to take ten thousand years if it is needed.”

Then Sukracharya said, “If you can please me within ten thousand years, then whatever boon you want, I shall grant you.”

Kach was so happy that Sukracharya had accepted him as his disciple. He began praying and meditating most intensely. He also took Sukracharya’s cows to graze. He used to do everything to please Sukracharya sooner than the soonest. It went on like this for years.

Meanwhile, the asuras were very, very unhappy. They knew that Kach had come to their Preceptor to learn the art of immortality, and so they became very angry and also jealous of Kach. In so many ways, they tried to punish him and torture him. It went on and on and on.

In the meantime, another problem arose for poor Kach. Sukracharya had a daughter named Devyani, who was a few years older than Kach. She became very, very fond of Kach, but Kach was not so interested in her because he had only one purpose in mind: to learn from her father the art of immortality. Devyani fell seriously in love with Kach. He was very kind to her, but he was not in love with her.

One day, when Kach took the cows to the field, the asuras attacked him and killed him. They left his dead body lying in the field where dogs and jackals could soon devour it.

Every day, when Kach returned from the field, he used to chat with Sukracharya, and Sukracharya became extremely fond of his nephew. On the day that Kach was killed, when he did not come home from the field, Devyani became very worried. She said to her father, “How is it that all the cattle have come home and Kach is not here?”

She began crying and crying. She said, “Father, I love him so much. I cannot live without him.”

Sukracharya replied, “I, too, love him.”

The daughter pleaded, “Then give him back his life. Please revive him!”

Sukracharya used his third eye to see what had happened. Suddenly he exclaimed, “O my God! Now his body is being devoured by dogs and jackals!”

Then Sukracharya used his tremendous occult power. He brought back the pieces of the dead body from the dogs and jackals, and he gave life to Kach once more. Then he was so happy, and Devyani was also very, very happy.

But the jealousy of the asuras never left them. They wanted to punish Kach once and for all. This second time they killed him and, piece by piece, they threw him into the ocean. Now evening had set in, but Kach did not come back from the field. The calves came back without him, and Devyani started worrying and worrying. Where could Kach be? Her father again used his occult vision and found that Kach’s body was scattered in the waters. Once more he used his occult power, and he was able to bring Kach back from the ocean. Devyani was full of joy, and Sukracharya was also happy to see Kach again.

But, alas, these asuras would be satisfied only if Kach was truly dead, so this time they had a most brilliant idea. They knew that Sukracharya enjoyed drinking wine. They decided to kill Kach and grind his bones into powder. Then they poured the powder from Kach’s bones into Sukracharya’s drink. The rest of Kach’s body they threw away.

When Sukracharya drank his wine as usual, he did not notice anything different. There was nothing, no reaction. But Devyani was again disturbed, because Kach had not returned. She started worrying and crying, so her father concentrated. O God, he saw that Kach was inside his own body! He said to his daughter, “Now, here is a serious problem. If I use my mantra, then Kach will come out from me, from my stomach, and I will die. If not, he will remain inside my body. He will be dead. What do you want me to do?”

Devyani answered, “Father, I love you and Kach equally. Without you, I cannot live; without him, also, I cannot live.”

Sukracharya said, “What can I do?” He thought for a moment and then he said, “Oh, I know what I should do! All of you move away — do not remain here. I will secretly teach my mantra to Kach, and then Kach will come out. When Kach comes out of my body, he will use the same mantra to revive me!”

It was a wonderful plan. Sukracharya taught Kach his mantra, and Kach came out of Sukracharya’s body. Then Kach used the same mantra, and Sukracharya was restored to life. It was a happier than the happiest moment for everybody, save and except the asuras. They were so miserable because Kach had learnt the mantra.

Now the time had come for Kach to leave. He had learnt the mantra; he knew how to revive dead bodies. Kach said to Sukracharya, “Uncle, you told me that if I could please you, you would fulfil my prayer. This was my prayer: I wanted to learn how to give life back to people who had been killed.”

Sukracharya said, “All right, you have pleased me immensely and now you have learnt the mantra. You can go back to your father.”

When Kach was all ready to leave Sukracharya’s abode, Devyani came to him very distraught. “No, I will not allow you to go,” she said. “You have to marry me!”

Kach was horrified. “My God! I took you as my sister, and you are older than me. How can a brother marry a sister?”

“No, no, you have to marry me!” she said.

Kach refused to listen to her. “I cannot, I cannot, I cannot,” he said. “You fell in love with me, but my affection is for you as an elder sister, an elder sister. I always cared for you and loved you, but as an elder sister.”

“No, I loved you and I wanted to be your wife,” Devyani insisted.

But Kach would not be swayed. Just as he was about to depart, Devyani said to him, “I curse you! You will never be satisfied with any woman. I curse you! You will never be happy if you get married.”

Kach smiled and said, “I am a seeker. I will never get married, so I do not have to be miserable. But you have cursed me, so I am now cursing you. My curse is that no man should ever trust a woman!”

Kach went back to his father, and the Cosmic Gods were so happy that now they would also be immortal, like the asuras. This is how the story ends.

These stories are very instructive and inspiring. So many people have used their fertile imaginations to tell the story of Kach and Devyani.