The gods and the demons did not like each other and fought several wars with each other. There were twelve such terrible wars. On one particular occasion, the demons were defeated by the gods. Extremely disheartened, they went to visit their preceptor, Shukracharya. (son of sage Bhrigu.) The demons told Shukracharya. ―We have been defeated by the gods. We have no option but to go and reside in the underworld.‖ ―Don‘t be so disconsolate,‖ replied Shukraacharya. ―I will protect you. I know that Brihaspati, the preceptor of the gods, has obtained wonderful powers by praying to the fire-god, Agni. The gods thrive on these powers. I will pray to Shiva and obtain powers that can counteract these. Till I come back, please be patient. Why don‘t you give up arms and live as hermits till I return?‖ The demons agreed to this proposition.
They informed the gods that they had given up arms and that the gods could do as they willed. They had become hermits and would not fight. Meanwhile, Shukracharya started to pray to Shiva. Shiva appeared before Shukracharya and discovered what the sage desired. Shiva was prepared to grant these powers, subject to a condition being met. Shukracharya would have to meditate for a thousand years. And throughout this period, he would not be allowed to speak and would have to live on smoke. Shukracharya began this process of meditation. The gods got to know what was happening and decided that this was the opportune time to attack the demons.
―What are you doing?‖ said the demons. ―We have given up arms. This is not the time to fight.‖ But the gods would not listen. The demons therefore fled to Bhrigu‘s wife and asked her to protect them. Through her powers, the saintly woman completely paralysed Indra so that he could not move. At the sight of what had happened to their leader, the gods fled in disarray.
―Why are you running away?‖ asked Vishnu. ―As for you, Indra, enter my body. I will take you away from this place.‖
Indra entered Vishnu‘s body and Vishnu proceeded to take him away. This angered Bhrigu‘s wife and she threatened to burn up both Indra and Vishnu. But before this could happen, Vishnu sliced off the lady‘s head with his sudarshana chakra (a bladed-discus).
Bhrigu was aghast at this act. ―Killing a woman is a sin,‖ he told Vishnu. ―You have committed a crime. For this crime, I curse you that you will have to be born several times on earth. As for my wife, through my powers I will resurrect her.‖
This is what Bhrigu did and this act terrified Indra. He got extremely worried that once Shukracharya returned, there would be no way of controlling the demons. Indra had a daughter named Jayanti. He told her, ―Shukracharya is meditating. Please go and try to distract him. Make sure that his meditation is not successfully completed.‖
Jayanti did as her father had asked her to. She started to frequent Shukracharya‘s hermitage and served him faithfully. In due course, Shukracharya‘s meditation was completed and he obtained the desired boon from Shiva. Once this task was accomplished. Shukracharya noticed Jayanti.
―Who are you and what are you doing here?‖ he asked. ―Why have you been serving me thus? In any case, I am pleased with what you have done for me. Please tell me what boon you desire.‖
―Be my husband for ten years,‖ answered Jayanti. Shukracharya agreed. Shukracharya and Janati had a daughter named Devayani.
Meanwhile, Brihaspati adopted Shukracharya‘s form and started to live with the demons. The demons were naturally glad to have their teacher back. They did not realize that the person whom they took to be their teacher was actually Brihaspati. After the ten years were over, Shukracharya returned and found that the demons were following Brihaspati.
―Who is this person whom you are following?‖ he asked. ―Give him up. I am the real
―Not at all,‖ retorted Brihaspati. ―I am the real Shukracharya.‖
The demons did not know what to make of this. The two looked exactly alike and there was absolutely no way of telling them apart. Eventually they concluded that the person with whom they had been associating for the past ten years must be their real guru (teacher). This choice so angered Shukracharya that he left in a huff. When the demons realized their mistake, they sought to pacify Shukracharya and bring him back. But the harm had already been done. The demons could not exploit the powers that Shukracharya had gained.