Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

The Life of Shuka

Devi Bhagavata

This story is from [Devi:1.10.1-1.14.1]

According to Narada's advice, Vyasa retired to Mt. Meru to perform a penance directed towards the great Devi. He began meditating on the Glory of the Goddess and the supreme Male principle, chanting the single syllable Mantra transmitted to him by sage Narada. His penace lasted for a hundred years.

At last, Mahadeva (Shiva) appeared before him and said, "Arise O son of Satyavati, your prayers have been heard by us. We know the one secret longing in your heart. You will have a great son. He will propagate your race and render your name illustrious with his good deeds and learning."

After obtaining the boon from Mahadeva, Vyasa returned to his hermitage on the banks of the river Saraswati. He thought to himself, "While I have obtained the boon I sought from the Lord, a son cannot be born to me till I marry. My mind is fixed on ascetism and I cannot even think of becoming a mere householder, bound to a wife and family."

At this time, he was preparing for the Agni-hotra sacrifice and rubbing the Arani sticks together to produce the sacred fire. He looked up at the sky and spotted an Apsara named Ghritachi flying through the air. As his eye fell on her divine form, he became inflamed with lust. He tried to recollect his knowledge of the scriptures, which prohibited lust as an emotion unworthy of a hermit, but try as he might, he could not take his gaze away from the nymph.

When the nymph saw that the Rishi was staring at her, she became afraid. She felt that the sage might curse her in anger, for having distracted him from his daily rituals. She transformed herself into a parrot and continued flying.

Vyasa recollected the fickleness of the divine nymphs, with the humiliation suffered by King Puroorava at the hands of the damsel Urvashi due to his desire for her. Despite his best efforts he could not control his baser instincts. Totally overcome by his lust, his semen emerged from his body and fell on the Arani sticks. Vyasa continued to rub the sticks together in his attempt to kindle the fire. Instead of fire, a young child emerged from the Aranis. The sage realized that this was the son that was promised to him by Shiva.

Many good omens appeared in the sky at the time of this child's birth. From the heavens, various items fell down for the use of the young hermit. The young boy shone with the light of the knowledge. As he was born from the Aranis, they are called his mother. He is the spiritual brother of Agni, who is also born from the same sticks. In sanskrit, the Shuka is the word for a parrot. Since Vyasa was looking at Ghritachi, who was in the form of a parrot, the sage named him Shuka.

Last Modified At: Thu Nov 4 00:38:20 2004