In ancient India, there was this king Saryata who had a young and beautiful daughter by name Sukanya.
Near his kingdom in the deep woods there lived an old sage by name Chyavana. He lived all by himself and used to go into deep meditation for long periods. He was not aware of what was going on around him till he came out of his trance every time. Sometimes, creepers used to grow on him, sometimes ant hills used to be built around him but the sage had such deep concentration.
One day the playful Sukanya went out to the woods with her friends to spend the day out. As they were playing hide and seek, Sukanya spotted a huge ant hill. She had never seen an anthill before and so went near the ant hill with her friends. The friends were also unaware of what the structure was and they wanted to see what was inside. So Sukanya took a sharp stick and poked into the ant hill. Something moved inside and a loud shriek of pain “Aaaaaa” arose from the ant hill. The anthill split open and there came out the old sage Chyavana with both his eyes bleeding.
Sukanya was startled and shocked. Startled that there was a man inside the ant hill and shocked that her stick had hurt the eyes of the poor sage. She did not know what to do and her whole body shook in panic. The palace guards who had accompanied the girls for security ran and told the king of what had happened and the king rushed to the spot.
Sukanya was pleading with the sage to forgive her but the sage was in no mood to forgive.The king also asked for forgiveness and told the sage that he would grant him anything he asked. The sage said, “O King, I live all alone in these woods. Till today, it was OK as I was able to manage my activities alone. But your daughter has blinded me now with her prank. How will I, a blind man survive alone in the woods? I seek your daughter’s hand in wedding so that she can help me in my daily activities”
The king could not say anything as he had already promised the sage that he would grant anything. In those days a promise was always kept and people never went back on their words.
Sukanya was horrified. She was so young and she had to marry this old sage. But she knew she also had to honour her father’s words. Children always respected their parents words and believed that the parents did good only to them. She had no other option but to marry the old sage. She started to live with the sage in his hermitage.
Soon she started liking the life in the hermitage and served the sage whole heartedly. Life was going on very smoothly, when one day the Ashwini Kumars, who are celestial beings, the physicians to the Devas, were passing by Sage Chyavana’s hermitage. They spotted the young Sukanya and were enchanted by her beauty. They came down and enquired about her and came to know that she was Sage Chyavana’s wife.
They were taken aback by the truthfulness and sincerity of Sukanya and admired her faithfulness. Still they wanted to test her. So they said “Sukanya, we have not told you who we are. We are the Ashwini Kumars who are celestial physicians. We can restore youth to your husband but on one condition”. Sukanya was excited and asked them what was the condition. The Ashwini Kumars continued, “We shall take your husband into the river for a dip and when we come out you have to identify your husband correctly. If you do so, your husband will have his youth back”. Sukanya convinced Sage Chyavana to go with the Ashwini Kumars and they all dipped themselves into the river and were out in a jiffy. But what was this?? All the three looked alike. Sukanya had to identify her husband correctly. She was confused for a moment but the next moment with all her concentration she prayed to the Supreme Goddess to help her and within few seconds she could feel that the person in the middle was her husband. She surrendered to the Goddess and with total faith on the Goddess, pointed out to the person in the middle. SHE WAS RIGHT!!!
Sage Chyavana was equally happy that she identified him. The Ashwini Kumars blessed them both and gifted longevity and youth to Sage Chyavana. Both Chyavana and Sukanya were extremely delighted and thanked the Ashwini Kumars for restoring the sage’s youth.
It is said that the Ayurvedic tonic Chyavanaprash or restoring youthfulness has its name originating from Sage Chyavana.
Sage Chyavana and Sukanya lived a happy life.