By Swami Harshananda
Kaca literally means ‘One who shines by tapas’.
The devas and the asuras were the eternal enemies. They were guided in their actions and dealings by their preceptors, Bṛhaspati and Śukrācārya respectively.
Śukrācārya knew the science of mṛtasañjīvanī whereas Bṛhaspati did not. So, the gods sent Kaca, Bṛhaspati’s son, to Śukrācārya as a Vedic student, to get a knowledge of that science. Cracking the plan of the devas, asuras managed to kill him.
At the earnest entreaties of his dear daughter Devayānī who had fallen in love with Kaca, Śukrācārya brought him back to life. The asuras who would not give up so easily, managed to kill Kaca once again. They burnt his body and surreptitiously fed Śukrācārya with his favorite wine mixed with the ashes of Kaca’s body. When Devayāni became inconsolable at this tragedy, Śukrācārya revived Kaca in his abdomen. He taught the mṛtasañjīvanī science to him and requested him to come out and save his own life. Kaca did as directed.
Having learnt this art, he returned to his father Bṛhaspati. He flatly rejected the marriage proposal of Devayāni. Being the daughter of his guru, she was like a sister to him.
- Mṛtasañjīvanī means bringing the dead back to life.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore