Shukamuni son of Veda Vyasa (part 1)
Shukamuni or Sukhdev Muni was the son of Veda Vyasa and Pinjala, Pinjala was also called Vatika. She was the daughter of sage Jabali. Veda Vyasa was given a boon by Shakti (goddess), that an illustrious son would be born to him. Shukamuni is the main narrator of the Bhagavata-Purana to King Parikshit. His birth anniversary is celebrated as Suka Jayanti which is observed, on the Amavasi in the Vaishakha month. Shuka was gifted with perfect memory and was also a great philosopher who was not interested in worldly activities. Hence he took sannyasa at a very early age, renouncing the world in pursuit of Moksha (liberation) and achieved it.
Once Narada visited mount Kailash to meet Lord Shiva, but seeing Lord Shiva in deep penance, he goes to meet goddess Parvati. Narada true to his nature of creating rift wanted to bring some in between Shiva and Parvati. So he questions her why her husband is wearing skull garland and whose skulls are those? Parvathi was unable to answer his question and looks confused. Meanwhile, Narada quietly leaves the place and goes away. Parvati waited patiently for Shiva to come out of his Samadhi and when Shiva came out of his Samadi state, she asked him the same question curiously which Narada had asked her.
Lord Shiva replies that all skulls are that from the previous birth of Parvati Devi. In all her previous birth, Parvati used to marry him, and after her death, Shiva was unable to bear the separation from Parvati, so he used to wear her skull around his neck as a memento of her. Parvati was once again surprised why she alone faced the cycle of birth and death and not Lord Shiva. For which Lord Shiva says he knew the secret of Amaratwa (immortality). Parvati requested Lord Shiva to tell her the secret of immortality. Shiva agreed, to disclose the secret of Amaratwa to Parvati on two conditions
- No one else other than Parvathi should listen,
- He would close his eyes and narrate to her, but she should be saying “hmm” after each sentence so that he would know she is listening attentively.
Lord Shiva shakes his damaru (small two-headed drum) so that every living being in that area leaves the place so that the secret does not slip into them. When Shiva started shaking his damaru, every animal left that place. There was a parrot nest near to this place. When mother parrot heard the sound of damaru mother parrot left that place, but there was an egg of a parrot on the verge of cracking, and when the parrot comes out, he too becomes the listener of the story, but no one knows that he was there. When the story started, Parvati makes the sound, but midway falls asleep. Since the parrots are good in imitating human voice, it starts repeating the same sound and Lord Shiva does not stop his story. When Shiva finishes his story, he found Goddess Parvati sleeping, and he understood that someone else had heard his story. He notices the parrot and chases to kill him.
The parrot out of fear flies to nearby woods. In the forest, there was an ashram of sage Vyasa and, while the wife of Rishi Vyasa was yawning, parrot enters into the womb of Vyasa’s wife through her mouth. Lord Shiva comes searching for the parrot, but, he figured that the parrot had entered the womb of Pinjala, so he ordered parrot to come out at once. Parrot knew if he came out, Lord Shiva would harm him, so the parrot was reluctant to come out. Vyasa came to know, what had happened, Vyasa persuaded Lord to leave the parrot because parrot knew the secret of Amaratwa, it was no use killing it as it will be still alive just like Rahu. But Lord Shiva refused to leave the place. The parrot out of fear continued to stay inside. It continued for almost 12 years, but Vyasa wife Pinjala had to bear the pain as parrot grew inside her womb for all those years. Seeing the suffering of his wife Vyasa prayed Lord Vishnu for help. Then Krishna arrives and assures the parrot that no one will kill him, and he would be incapable of attachment and eligible for Moksha. The parrot then comes out as a full-grown human form and is named “Shuka” (in Sanskrit Shuka means parrot).
Shuka had his early education under Vyasa and Dev guru Brihaspati. He became an expert at Veda Vedanta and got his Samavartan. In the later part of Mahabharata (Mahaprasthanika Parva), Pandavas crowned grandson of Arjuna (Parikshit) as king of Hastinapur. Then they started their journey towards Himalaya (Mt Kailash). It is during the King Parikshit rule, Kali-yuga entered, and Dvapara-Yuga ended. Parikshit was cursed by Rishi Shamika’s son Sringin that he would die within 7 days by a snake bit from Takshaka (king of snakes). When Parikshit learnt about the curse, he gave up everything and went to the banks of River Ganges. Knowing Parikshit was the perfect listener, Sage Shuka came there on his own accord and narrated Srimad Bhagavatam for seven days. The banyan tree under which the sage recited this is known as the Akshaya vat. The uniqueness of this tree is that it does not shed leaves. Later, when king Parikshit died, he attained Moksha as a result of listening to Srimad Bhagavatam. Apart from king Parikshit sage Pouranika also heard Srimad Bhagavatam from Sage Shuka.
Shukamuni is renowned in the world for the one who imparted the knowledge of Vedas and Bhagavata-Purana.