Sunday, 27 November 2011

Virshika’s quest for revenge

History is shaped by the brilliant and the whimsical. The brilliant, chisel their ideas, meticulously and persistently, till they sculpt a world for us to live in admiration. The whimsical, fixated with an idea steeped in irrationality, powered by unbridled delusion, unleash a tornado that sweeps all, leaving behind wreckage that generations struggle to recover from.

It is told that Yayati, son of Nahusa, was forced to marry Devayani, the imperious daughter of the dreaded seer Kavya Usanas. Kayva Usanas also insisted that after her marriage, Devayani be accompanied by the beautiful princess Sarmishta, who, having once offended Devayani, is now her slave.

Now human nature has its own way. So while Yayati had two legitimate sons with Devayani – Yadu and Turuvasa, he secretly fathered three sons by Saramishta – Druhyu, Anu and Puru. When Devayani and Kavya Usanas discovered the secret, the latter cursed Yayati to old age instantly. 

Yayati begged for forgiveness and finally Usanas relented not to reduce the punishment but for Yayati to transfer it to someone who would willingly accept it. Yayati summoned each of his sons and entreated them to give him their youth, but each refused except Puru, the youngest.

A shocked and insulted father cursed his older sons. Turvasa is cursed to be king over people who will never abide by order, but live in the manner of animals. To Druhyu, he announced that he will be king only in name and that he will live with his companions in a land without roads where no horses, elephants, no animals or vehicles can pass, where one can move only by raft. Anu is cursed that his sons will die before they have attained the flower of age and that Anu himself will not be qualified to assure the services of the fire altar.

To Yadu, he cursed that his descendants will always be “arajyabhaj” – without the enjoyment of royalty. The eldest, he is further heaped scorn by denial of using the titles and claim lineage of Nahusa.

Finally, and most important of all, each is banished from the kingdom, which is reserved for the respectful Puru.

It was several hundred years later that young Virshika, born into the Vrcivan clan, of the Yadu tribe, first heard about his ancestry from his father. It incensed him then and continued to do all his adult life. As he was made head of his clan, he swore to reclaim what he felt was rightfully his. He would teach those bastards a lesson.

Granted that the Purus and Anus had great power, they had powerful Gods and equally powerful seers. But Virshika had no fear, no fear for humans or animals, not even of the Gods. He and his clan would turn savages and unleash a terror that the world had not seen, indeed he would take it to the very heavens.

A messenger had just returned with good news from the border. The Vrcivans had crushed a settlement at the outpost of the Panchalas. Virshika quaffed at the soma drink in satisfaction. The time had come to put the next phase of his plan into action.

Notes & References

Some readers will no doubt find an echo of Virshika in Duryodhana, the Kaurava prince. Indeed when Duryodhana questions his father Dhrtarashtra on why Yudhishtra and not he should be the rightful heir to the throne, Dhrtarashtra narrates Yayati’s example of passing Yadu over in favour of Puru.

In other texts, Kavya Usanas is also referred to as Sukracharya.

The Vrcivans or Vricivat are to be identified with Vraich/Varaich clan of the Jats/Yadu tribe.  Their descandants are still found in modern day Pakistan and India.

Modern day Vrcivans

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