Sharmishtha was the daughter of Vrishaparva, the king of the danavas. Sharmishtha and Devayani were great friends, until Indra played some mischief. The two friends had gone to bathe in a pond and had left their clothes on the bank. Indra adopted the form of a breeze and mixed up the clothes. When Sharmishtha donned her clothes after having had her bath, she put on Devayani‘s clothes by mistake. Devayani said, ―How dare you wear my clothes ? My father is your father‘s teacher and you are my inferior in every respect. You have no business to put on my clothes.‖ ―I am not your inferior.‖ Replied Sharmishatha. ―It is you who are my inferior. My father is the king and your father thrives on my father‘s generoisty.‖ The two friends started to quarrel. Sharmishtha flung Devayani into a well and left her there, taking her to be dead.
At that time, King Yayati came to the forest on a hunt. He was thirsty and looked for some water. When he found the well, he discovered Devayani inside it. He rescued Devayani. Yayati also fell in love with her, so that the two got married. Shukracharya got to know about all this and was furious at the treatment that Sharmishtha had meted out to his daughter. He threatened to leave the demons. Vrishaparva did his best to persuade Shukracharya not to leave them, but Shukracharya insisted that he would stay only if Devayani was pacified. Vrishaparva promised to give Devayani whatever it was that she wished for. ―Sharmishtha has insulted me,‖ said Devayani. ―She has called me her inferior. My mind will be set at rest only if Sharmishtha serves as a servant. Vrishaparva agree to this conditon and Sharistha became Devayani‘s servant, together with one thousand other demon women.
After Yayati and Devayani got married, Shukracharya told Yayati, ―Sharmisha is Devayani‘s servant and you are married to Devayani. Under no circumstances marry Sharmishtha, otherwise I am going to curse. In due course, Devayani gave birth to Yadu and Turvasu. Sharmishtha had secretly married Yayati and she too gave birth to Druhya, Anu and Puru. ―How came you to have sons? Asked Devayani. ―Who is your husband? ―My husband is a brahmana,‖ replied
Sharmishtha. ―I do not know his name.‖ But when Devayani asked Druhya, Anu and Puru about their father, the truth came out. They told her that they were King Yayati‘s sons. ―You have insulted me,‖ Devayani told Yayati. ―Will remain your wife no longer. You have married my servant.‖
Shukracharya was also furious. Yayati had gone against his wishes and had married Sharmishtha. Shukracharya cursed Yayati that old age would set upon the king, although he was still in the prime of youth. ―Please do not curse me,‖ said Yayati. ―I am married to your daughter. I wish to live with her as her husband. Do you wish your son-in-law to be an old servant?‖ ―My curse cannot be lifted,‖ replied Shukracharya. ―But I will try and mitigate the effects. I grant you the power that you can pass on this old age to whomsoever you wish.‖ It was this old age that Puru accepted.