―But what about mritasanyjivani?‖ asked the sages. ―You haven‘t told us how Shukracharya came to acquire this wonderful knowledge.‖ Lomaharshana told them the following story. The gods and the demons fought all the time and the demons were sometimes worsted in these encounters. Shukracharya consoled the demons. ―Do not worry,‖ he said. ―I will try and acquire powers that will make the demons invincible. I am going off to pray. While I am gone, do not fight with the gods. Give up arms and lead the lives of hermits. Wait till my return.‖ Shukracharya‘s father was the sage Brhrigu. The demons were instructed to wait in Bhrigu‘s hermitage for Shukracharya‘s return. The preceptor of the demons began to pray to Shiva. When Shiva appeared, Shukracharya told him that he wished to be taught a mantra that would make the demons invincible. ―I will grant your request,‖ said Shiva. ―But you will have to observed a difficult vrata (religious rite). For a thousand years you will have to meditate. And you will have to live only on smoke.‖ Shukracharya agreed to observe the vrata.
Meanwhile, the gods got to know what Shukracharya was up to. They realized that, once Shukracharya returned, they would be in no position to tackle the demons. The best thing to do was to attack the demons immediately, when they had given up arms and were living as hermits. The demons tried to tell the gods that this was not fair. They should not be attacked when they had forsaken arms. But the gods would not listen. They started to kill the demons. The demons fled to Shukracharya‘s mother, Bhrigu‘s wife, for protecion. ―Do not despair,‖ she assured the demons. ―I will protect you.‖ When the gods attacked, the lady used her powers to make Indra completely immobile. Indra could not move at all. He stood there like a statue. This strange sight unverved the gods so much that they started to run away. Vishnu came to help Indra. He told Indra to enter his body, so that Vishnu might be able to save him. ―I will burn both of you up through my powers,‖ said Shukracharya‘s mother. ―What are you waiting for?‖ Indra asked Vishnu. ―Can‖t you see that this woman will destroy us both? Kill her at once.‖ Vishnu summoned up his sudarshana chakra and with this, he neatly severed the lady‘s head.
The sage Bhrigu was not present at that time. When he returned and found out what had happened, he was greatly angered. Vishnu had committed the crime of killing a woman. Bhrigu therefore cursed Vishnu that he would have to be born several times on earth. These are Vishnu‘s avataras (incarnations). As for his own wife, Bhrigu resurrected her through his powers. Indra
had a daughter named Jayanti. Having failed in his attempt to kill the demons, Indra reasoned that he ought to try and disturb Shukracharya‘s meditation. He therefore sent Jayanti to the place where Shukracharya was praying. Her instructions were to try and distract the sage. Jayanti served Shukracharya faithfully throughout the appointed period of a thousand years. When the vrata was over, Shiva appeared before Shukracharva and taught him the art of mritasanjivani.
It was then that Shukracharya noticed Jayanti. ―Who are you?‖ he asked. ―And why have you been serving me thus? I am exceedingly pleased with what you have done. Tell me what I can do for you.‖ ―If you wish to grant me a boon, marry me and live as my husband for ten years,‖ replied Jayanti. Shukracharya was lured away by Jayanti. Indra was bent upon ensuring the destruction of the demons and he now hit upon a plan. He asked Brihaspati to adopt Shukracharya‘s form and go to the demons. The demons were expecting their guru back after the thousand years were over and took Brihaspati to be Shukracharya. They honoured him and served him faithfully. When the ten years with Jayanti were over, Shukracharya returned and discovered Brihaspati among the demons. ―Who is this upstart?‘ he demanded to know. ―Give him up and seek refuge with me. I am the real Shukracharya.‖ ―Not at all,‖ replied Brihaspati. ―I am the real Shukracharya.‖ The demons were bemused.
Brihaspati and Shukracharya were as alike as two peas in a pod; there was no way of telling the apart. They finally reasoned that the person who had been living with them for the last ten years must be their real guru. They therefore accepted Brihaspati and shooed Shukracharya away. Shukracharya cursed the demons that they were bound to be destroyed. As soon as Shukracharya cursed the demons, Brihaspati adopted his own form. The demons realized that they had been tricked, but the harm had been done.