Shuka preaching to sages
|Family||Vyasa (father) |
Shuka (also Shukadeva, Shuka deva, Suka, Sukadev, Śukadeva Gosvāmī) was the son of the sage Vyasa (credited as the organizer of the Vedas and Puranas) and the main narrator of the Bhagavata Purana. Most of the Bhagavata Purana consists of Shuka reciting the story to the dying king Parikshit. Shuka is depicted as a sannyasi, renouncing the world in pursuit of moksha (liberation), which most narratives assert that he achieved.
According to the Mahabharata, after one hundred years of austerity by Vyasa, Shuka was churned out of a stick of fire, born with ascetic power and with the Vedas dwelling inside him, just like his father. The Mahabharata also recounts how Shuka was sent by Vyasa for training to King Janaka, who was considered to be a Jivanmukta or one who is liberated while still in a body. Shuka studied under Brihaspati and his own father, Vyasa. Shuka asked Janaka about the way to liberation, with Janaka recommending the traditional progression of the four ashramas, which included the householder stage. After expressing contempt for the householder life, Shuka questioned Janaka about the real need for following the householder path. Seeing Shuka's advanced state of realization, Janaka told him that there was no need in his case.
Stories recount how Shuka surpassed his father in spiritual attainment. Once, when following his son, Vyasa encountered a group of celestial nymphs who were bathing. Shuka's purity was such that the nymphs did not consider him to be a distraction, even though he was naked, but covered themselves when faced with his father. Shuka is sometimes portrayed as wandering about naked, due to his complete lack of self-consciousness.
A completely different version of the later life of Shuka is given in the Devi-Bhagavata Purana, considered a secondary Purana (upapurana) by many, but an important work in the Shakta tradition. In this account, Shuka is convinced by Janaka to follow the ashrama tradition and returns home to marry and follow the path of yoga. He has five children with his wife Pivari—four sons and a daughter. The story concludes in the same vein as the common tradition, with Shuka achieving moksha.
A place called Shukachari is believed to be the cave of Shuka, where he disappeared in cave stones as per local traditions. Shuka in Sanskrit means parrot and thus the name is derived from the large number of parrots found around the Shukachari hills. Shukachari literally means abode of parrots in the Sanskrit language.
- Shuka. In: Wilfried Huchzermeyer: Studies in the Mahabharata. Indian Culture, Dharma and Spirituality in the Great Epic. Karlsruhe 2018, ISBN 978-3-931172-32-9, pp. 164-178
Shuka. Being a Holy saint and having a distinction of founding Srimad Bhagavatam in the present elaborated form as received from Lord Veda Vyasa is the main Guru. Hence, is called as Sri Shukacharya or Shuka Muni with reverence. The Mangalacharan or the first verse of prayer to start Srimad Bhagavatam is offered to Sri Shukacharya in the Uttara Khanda of Padma Purana called The Glory and the Procedure to hear Srimad Bhagavatam immediately after that of Lord. Starting with Uttara Khand of Padma Purana has been a tradition. Here, Sri Shukacharya has been described as having the dominant attribute of dispassion to materialistic things including his body. Sri Madhvacharya has concluded Sri Shukachary as an incarnation of Rudra. Sri Shukacharya always appears as sixteen years old.
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