Vyasa’s meditation and Suka’s birth : Devi Bhagavatham : 10th and 14th Adhyaya of the First Skanda

Chapter 10, first Skanda, Devi Bhagavatham : Source and Reference :

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“On the very beautiful summit of Mount Meru, Vyâsa, the son of Satyavati, firmly determined, practised very severe austerities for the attainment of a son. Having heard from Nârada, he, the great ascetic, repeated the one syllabled mantra of Vâk and worshipped the Highest Mahâmayâ with the object of getting a son. He asked, Let a son be born to me as pure and as spirited and powerful as fire, air, earth, and Âkâs’a. He thought over in his mind that the man possessed of S’akti is worshipped in this world and the man devoid of S’akti is censured here, and thus came to the conclusion that S’akti is therefore worshipped every where; and, therefore,worshipped Bhagavân Mahes’vara coupled with the auspicious Âdyâ S’akti and spent away one hundred years without any food. He began his tapasyâ on that mountain summit which was ornamented with the garden of Karnikâr, where all the Devas play, and where live the Munis highly ascetic, the Âdityas, Vasus, Rudras, Marut, the two As’vîns, and the other mindful Risis, the knowers of Brahmâ and where the Kinnaras always resound the air with their songs of music, etc.; such a place Vyâsa Deva preferred for his tapasyâ.”

“The whole universe was pervaded with the spirit of asceticism of the intelligent Parâsara’s son Vyâsa Deva; and the hairs of his head were clotted and looked tawny, of the colour of flames.”

Seeing his penance, Indra, the husband of Saci got scared. : (By the way, The name Saci itself is a variant of Sakthi.)

This is again one of the surprising and recurring themes in our legends. Why would SataKratu, the Deva of the Vedas be worried by the tapas or penance of rshis or rakshasas? And that too of the penance of Vyasa of all rshis?

  • Some researchers like prof P.L. Bhargava think that all negative passages about Indra were later added to the Puranas.
  • Some Vedic translators of the Aurobindo School like Prof R.L. Kashyap say that Indra represents our senses which must be crossed before reaching the divine.
  • The traditional explanation is that one who performs severe penance can attain any level  from Indra-Padam(state)/ Patha – (path : Vishu) to even Dhruva (Polaris) padam (Patham)
  • It may be a poetic way of saying that Vyasa’s penance was of such a high intensity that he could have had Indra -Padam/Patham, if he had wanted it.
  • In a a more recent context, whenever Gandhiji undertook a fast for a purpose, the British Rulers were afraid of the consequences.
  • (Today, fasts are on for a separate state of Telangana)

Bhagavân Rudra, seeing Indra thus afraid, fatigued and morose, asked him :– “O Indra, why do you look so fear-stricken to-day? O Lord of the Devas! What is the cause of your grief? Never show your jealousy and anger to the ascetics; for the mindful ascetics always practise severe asceticism with a noble object and worship Me, knowing Me to be possessed of the all powerful S’akti; they never want ill of any body”. When Bhagavân Rudra said this, Indra asked him :– “What is his object?” At this S’ankara said :– “For the attainment of a son, Parasâra’s son is practising so severe austerities; now one-hundred years is being completed; I will go to him, and give him to-day the auspicious boon of a son.” Thus speaking to Indra, Bhagavân Rudra, the Guru of the world, went to Vyâsa Deva and, with merciful eyes, said :– “O sinless Vâsavi’s son! Get up; I grant to you the boon, that you will get a son very fiery, luminous and spirited like the five elements fire, air, earth, water and Âkâs’a, the supreme Jñânî, the store of all auspicious qualities, of great renown, beloved to all, ornamented with all Sattvik qualities, truthful and valorous.”

Thus Siva reassured Indra and granted Vyasa’s desire.

Vyasa went back to his hermitage, tired and happy. As he rubbed together two Arani sticks to start a fire, he wondered how he would ever have a son without a wife. He was an old ascetic, set in his ways and he did not want a wife, however helpful or perfect, who would bind him to the world.  At this instant he saw the beautiful apsarasa Ghrtaci in the sky. (Ghratci is also the mother of Drona). He did not wish to fall for the charms of this devakanya, because he knew from Narada, how much trouble the apsara Uravasi was to Pururava. It would be a terrible distraction from his penance and spiritual goals.

Agnimandha, Arani : Click for source

Chapter 10, first Skanda, Devi Bhagavatham : Source and Reference :

On her part, Ghrtaci had a fear of being cursed by rshis in general, so she turned into a Suka (parrot) and flew away. Overcome by his attraction for Ghrtaci and firmly determined not to get distracted, Vyasa went on kindling the Arani sticks…” when arose from that Aranî the wonderfully beautiful form of S’ûka deva, looking like a second Vyâsa. This boy, born of Aranî fuel, looked there brilliant like the blazing fire of the sacrificial place, whereon oblations of ghee are poured. Seeing that son,Vyâsa Deva was struck with great wonder and thought thus :– “What is this? How is it that my son is born without any woman.” Thinking for a while, he came to the conclusion, that this had certainly come to pass as the result of boon granted to him by S’iva. No sooner the fiery S’ûka Deva, was born of Aranî, he looked brilliant, like fire, by his own tejas (spirit/brilliance). At that time Vyâsa Deva began to look with one steady gaze the blissful form of his son as a second Gârhapatya Fire, brilliant with the Divine fire.  The river Ganges came there from the Himalayas and washed all the inner nerves of the child S’ûka Deva, by her holy waters and showers of flowers were poured on his head.

A lot of divine events happened… “… the celestial drums were sounded and the celestial nymphs began to dance and the lords of the Gandharvas Visvâvasu, Nârada, Tumburu and others began to sing with great joy for the sight of the son. Then were dropped down from the sky the divine rod (Danda), Kamandalu, and the antelope skin. No sooner the extraordinarily brilliant S’ûka Deva was born than he grew up, and Vyâsadeva, who is master of endless learning and how to impart them to others, performed the son’s Upanayana ceremony. No sooner the child was born than all the Vedas with all their secrets and epitomes began to flash in the mind of S’ûka Deva, as it reigned in Vyâsa Deva.  Bhagavân Vyâsa Deva gave the name of the child as S’ûka as during the moment of his birth he saw the form of Ghritâchî in the form of the S’ûka bird..”

S’ûka then accepted Brihaspati as his guru and began devotedly, with his whole head and heart to perform duly the Brahmacharya vow (the life of studentship and celibacy). The Muni S’ûka remained in the house of his Guru and studied the four Vedas with their secrets and epitomes and all the other Dharma S’âstras and gave Daksinâ to the Guru duly according to proper rules, and returned home to his father Krisna Dvaipâyana. Seeing his son S’ûka, Vyâsadeva got up and received him with great love and honour and embraced him and took the smell of his head. The holy Vyâsa asked about his welfare and about his studies and requested him to stay in that auspicious Âs’rama.

Vyâsa then thought of S’ûka’s marriage and he became anxious and began to enquire where a beautiful girl of a Muni can be found.

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