The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Tell me, O grandsire, how the high-souled Suka of austere penances took birth as the son of Vyasa, and how did he succeed in attaining to the highest success? Upon what woman did Vyasa, endued with wealth of asceticism, beget that son of his? We do not know who was Suka's mother, nor do we know anything of the birth of that high-souled ascetic. How was it that, when he was a mere boy, his mind became directed to the knowledge of the subtile (Brahma)? Indeed, in this world no second person can be seen in whom such predilections could be marked at so early an age. I desire to hear all this in detail, O thou of great intelligence. I am never satiated with hearing thy excellent and nectar-like words. Tell me, O grandsire in their proper order, of the greatness, and the knowledge of Suka and of his union with the (Supreme) Soul!"
"Bhishma continued, 'The Rishis did not make merit depend upon years or decrepitude or wealth or friends. They said that he amongst them was great that studied the Vedas. All this that thou enquirest bout has penances for its root. That penance, again, O son of Pandu, rises from the subjugation of the senses. Without doubt, one incurs fault by giving one's senses the reins. It is only by restraining them that one succeeds in earning success. The merit that attaches to a thousand Horse-sacrifices or a hundred Vajapeyas cannot come up to even a sixteenth portion of the merit that arises from Yoga, I shall, on the present occasion, recite to thee the circumstances of Suka's birth, the fruits he won f his penances, and the foremost end he achieved (by his acts), topics that are incapable of being understood by persons of uncleansed soul. Once on a time on the summit of Meru adorned with karnikara flowers, Mahadeva sported, accompanied by the terrible spirits that were his associates. The daughter of the king of mountains, viz., the goddess Parvati, was also there. There at the close vicinity of that summit, the Island-born (Vyasa) underwent extraordinary austerities. O best of the Kurus, devoted to the practices of Yoga, the great ascetic withdrawing himself by Yoga into his own Soul, and engaged in Dharana, practised many austerities for the sake of (obtaining) a son. The prayer he addressed to the great God was,--O puissant one, let me have a son that will have he puissance of Fire and Earth and Water and Wind and Space. Engaged in the austerest of penances, the Island-born Rishi begged of that at God who is incapable of being approached by persons of uncleansed souls, (not by words but) by his Yoga-resolution. The puissant Vyasa remained there for a hundred years, subsisting on air alone, engaged in adoring Mahadeva of multifarious form, the lord of Uma. Thither all the regenerate Rishis and royal sages and the Regents of the world and the Sadhyas along with the Vasus, and the Adityas, the Rudras, and Surya and Chandramas, and the Maruts, and the Oceans, and the Rivers and the Aswins, the Deities,
the Gandharvas, and Narada and Parvata and the Gandharva Viswavasu, and the Siddhas, and the Apsaras. There Mahadeva, called also by the name of Rudra, sat, decked with an excellent garland of Karnikara flowers, and blazed with effulgence like the Moon with his rays. In those delightful and celestial woods populous with deities and heavenly Rishis, the great Rishi remained, engaged in high Yoga-contemplation, from desire of obtaining a son. His strength suffered no diminution, nor did he feel any pain. At this the three worlds were much amazed. While the Rishi, possessed of immeasurable energy, sat in Yoga, his matted locks, in con-sequence of his energy, were seen to blaze like flames of fire. The illustrious Markandeya it was from whom I heard of this. He used always to recite to me the acts of the deities. It is for this that the matted locks of the high-souled and (Island-born) Krishna, thus emblazed by his energy on that occasion, seem to this day to be endued with the complexion of fire. Gratified with such penances and such devotion, O Bharata, of the Rishi, the great God resolved (to grant him his wish). The Three-eyed deity, smiling with pleasure, addressed him and said,--O Island-born one, thou shalt get a son like to what thou wishest! Possessed of greatness, he shall be as pure as Fire, as Wind, as Earth, as Water, and as Space! He shall be possessed of the consciousness of his being Brahma's self; his understanding and soul shall be devoted to Brahma, and he shall completely depend upon Brahma so as to be identifiable with it!'"
Next: Section CCCXXV