Community on Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda and Spirituality
Once upon a time there lived an ancient sage called Vyasa. Vyasa was renowned as the writer of the Mahabharata with Ganesha Deva’s assistance.It was written in one sitting and was recognised as a wonder. He pined for a son who would be as pure as the snows of Mansarover, and the air of Mount Meru.His son would be the master of the elements,earth,water,fire,air and ether. He thought that if he prayed to Shakti, his desire would be fulfilled. After all a man who possessed Shakti was worshipped whereas a man devoid of Shakti was reviled.After more contemplation he decided to pray to Maheshwara, and Adya Shakti. Maheshwararepresented the Purush and Adyashakti the Shakti, without whom nothing was possible.
He prayed and practiced austerities and penances. Nothing moved him. The seasons came and went. Winter, turned to spring, spring turned to summer and then it was winter again. The birds sang, flowers were opening, bees were humming and nature was at its most beauteous self. A hundred seasons and years went. Not a morsel nor a drop went to his lips.This tapasya was happening on Mount Meru, where the Gods were engaged in frolic, dance and music. The fountains were singing and there were other wise saints also living here. Nothing disturbed his concentration.His hair had become long and matted, He was covered with ashes and his purity blazed like a fire. Indra the god of the heavens was disturbed by his piety and ascetisim. He asked Rudra to find out what Vyasa desired. Rudra asked Indra “Why do you want to know? Are you jealous of his piety and devotion. Why is your beautiful face expressing such fear. You should never be angry with a hermit practicing penance as they only have a noble aim. I am worshipped because I am one with Shakti. ”Indra plucked up his courage and asked Rudra,” What is Vyasa’s aim ?” Rudra answered “Vyasa is desirous of having a son who would complete his earthly obligations.Since Vyasa has prayed for a century,I will grant his boon.”Rudra/Shiva went to Vyasa and said,” Open your eyes,your penance is over.You will have a son who will have all the qualities of the elements.He will be a spiritual and luminous being and only will have the sattvic virtues.”
Having been blessed by Shiva,Vyasa went to his hermitage.He wanted to light a fire to offer thanks.He started rubbing two pieces of kindle(arani) wood together.The Arani wood is from the Goddess of the woods,Aranya.While he was engaged in this activity he started thinking about having a son.He wondered whether he would have a child by this act of rubbing this wood.He did not have as ordained by the gods, a beautiful woman with child bearing hips and arms.Such a woman would be a bondage as she would be a deterrent in his dhyana.She would take care of his home and the cattle.But he would be tied to her and as an ascetic how could he also assume the role of a householder.While these thoughts were whirling through his head,there appeared a beautiful sprite Ghritachi before him.He was dumbstruck by her appearance and was angry at the feelings of lust which rose within him.He had spent a century meditating and now this sprite was trying to take his spiritual energy away from him.His mind and body were torn between passion and dharma.It was written that a son paved the way for liberation.If he married this woman he would have everything.He would live like a householder but yoked to the burdens of domestic life.He gazed at the sprite and decided that she was not fit to be in his home.The sprite seeing the sage’s expression was terrified that he would plant a curse on her so she took the form of a Suka bird (suka bird is a resplendent parrot)and flew away.Vyasa looked up and was surprised.He was even more enamoured of her and he fell in love with her.He could not control his feelings and it was not to be but as the gods had ordained.All this time he had been rubbing the arani sticks and a drop of his semen fell on the sticks.He was immersed in this activity.Out of the arani wood a beautiful boy rose and this was Suka Deva not born of woman.
Vyasa looked upon this lad and thought that this was his wonderful son born without a woman’s womb.He pondered on how this had happened and realised that it was Shiva’s boon.Sukadev shone like the sun and his skin was pearly and clear.His eyes were clear and dark like the night sky.The river Ganga descended from the Himalayas and washed all his nadis with her water and flowers rained upon him from the heavens.
Vyasa performed all the ceremonies obligatory for a child.The celestial nymphs danced to the drums and the gods rejoiced. Hymns were sung and from the sky the divine rod and antelope skin were dropped for Sukadev.The name Sukadev was given because Vyasa saw Ghritachi in the form of a suka bird when he was born.Sukadev was also blessed with Vyasa’s wisdom.
Sukadev now went in the pursuit of knowledge.He went to Brihaspati,his father’s guru.He learnt everything there was to learn and returned to the hermitage.Vyasa was happy to see his sainted son and said,”son why do you not get married?”He replied,”No father, I do not wish to marry ever.”Vyasa said,”My son, I beg you to marry so that I am absolved of all responsibilities. You are a special person born after so many penances and not out of a womb.”Sukadev replied,”My father you have divided the vedas into four parts, you know the rules of dharma and therefore only give true advice.I will obey your wishes.”Vyasa continued “You are free of sin and if you marry I will be set free.”Sukadev listened to his father intently and then he said,”Oh father you are attached to this material world.”Vyasa went on as if he had not heard him.He said,”I will ask a king to give you a house and cows and then you can enjoy life.” Sukadev replied,’’Father,life has no pleasure without pain.If I marry I will have to submit to my wife in order to please her.How would I be happy?I will be dependent on her.It is like being tied to a pillar.I have been born of no woman and I wish to remain celibate.I do not wish to mingle my body fluids with another.I am not seeking sensual pleasures.When I studied the vedas in detail they dealt with the Shastras of Karma Marga (way of action). The Shastras were full of injury(himsa)to others.Then I went to Brihaspati to learn the path of true wisdom.He was attacked with the disease of ignorance and was lost in the world of maya (illusion) . I realised I had to go elsewhere.I must find a guru who can liberate and free me from this world.It is a farce if the world is full of samsaras and there is no happiness in it .Only ignorant people enjoy these samsaras.Persons who study the holy books, find pleasures and samsara and then,they remain ignorant. Only if we study the Vedanta and other shastras without attachment we can gain moksha. We are no better than animals as we get tied to worldly pleasures.The so called pundits have wives,children and cattle.They are bound by samsaras comprising the three gunas of maya.Only a real pundit is not bound by samsaras.We have to remain detached.Studying the books is not enough.The home is called “griha” because a man is imprisoned in his house.The priests and pundits were imprisoned in their houses.Vyasa tried to explain to Sukadev,’’ A house was not a prison. If the mind is detached it is possible to attain moksha.Performing and fulfilling duties frees one.A householder can lead a spiritual life and it is possible to practice this stage in an ashram.The other sages and I are doing this.We are also performing all the rites and rituals listed in the Vedas.If you do not take a wife you will be troubled by the five senses and their actions.Having a wife in one’s youth frees one of lust and then it is possible to practice penances.Look at Brahma,he was overtaken by feelings of desire for his daughter Dawn.My own father was attracted to a fisherman’s daughter and he was an ascetic.I was born from that union.Sukadev was not convinced.
He offered his father his arguments as to why he would not marry.He stated, ”Dear father, I will be like a beast of burden if I marry. I will be careworn and weary with anxieties and the pain of accumulating wealth. I will exploit my relatives to gain more money or they will exploit me. Look at Indra, the god of heaven he gets threatened when an ascetic practices penances. He fears that his power will be taken away from him. He creates obstacles in the path of the sage. Look at Brahma, though he is the creator of the universe, who has created every thing has his share of worries. Look at Vishnu, the preserver, he has a beautiful wife, Kamala who presides over wealth and prosperity. Inspite of that he takes on all the sorrows and cares of the universe. He never rests because he is fighting the demons. Look at Shiva though he is the lord of destruction,he too is fighting evil constantly. If such great gods have no peace, why do you want me to marry. Why should I accept the samsaras. There is always pain in life, pain in youth, pain in old age and the Brahmins are dependent on others for gifts. So their life is spent in daily expectation. Their thoughts are how to feed their children and grand-children. Can they fill their bellies with bark, roots and berries? Where can contentment come in such a life? Please teach me the Shastra on Yoga and eternal truth that will give happiness.I do not want advice on Karma Kanda(series of Action). I want to learn how to exhaust my karmas. How can I destroy my ignorance? Any kind of relationship with a woman will lead to accumulating more karmas.”
Vyasa wept copiously. His son would not listen to him. Sukadev gazed at his father’s face and saw the play of maya. He continued, ”You are the author of Vedanta Darshan and nothing was not known to you. Why are you so worldly? You are a part of Vishnu and now you are behaving like a lost ship at sea. You imagine that I am your son and that you are my father. Maya is playing her game again.”
Sukadev bowed his head to Maha Maya and said “I want to know our relationship and now I feel bound in the net of samsara. Why am I being put under so much pressure.”
Vyasa replied, ”Once long ago Hari was lying as a small child on a leaf floating in the ocean. He wondered, “Who am I and why have I been created as a small baby? Suddenly there was a flash of rainbow light and a heavenly voice which sounded as if a thousand bells were ringing said” All that you see was itself and that was the truth.” Hari again pondered on this and wondered whether this voice belonged to a man or a woman. Was it the creator. He started chanting the name of Bhagwati, Devi. Lo and behold Devi appeared before Hari, lying on a leaf. She was surrounded by her companions, all more beautiful than the other. They all had four pair of hands and they were holding the celestial disc, conch, lotus, shell, and club. Hari who was Vishnu was dumbstruck to see Devi standing on the water. The next question that came to his mind was why was he like a small child on a leaf. Was Devi, his mother or was it the play of maya?
The Devi was Maha Lakshmi and she addressed Vishnu, ”Many times the universe has been destroyed and created and each time I have been with you. Currently you are under the spell of Maha Shakti. She is the granter of boons and when she is pleased with you, she frees you from the bondage of life and karmas. However those who attain eternal wisdom again succumb to Mahamaya.”
Sukadev followed Vyasa’s advice and studied the puranas and all other books of wisdom. He did not find the peace he was looking for. His heart was troubled and heavy. Vyasa could not bear to see his son so sad. he suggested that he should visit King Janaka in Mithila. He was a wise and mighty king. He followed the precepts of Yoga. Sukadev immediately said, “Father if he is a liberated king, he must have no body . Otherwise he will be guided by his senses. If he is guided by his senses he knows about taste, touch and smell. He knows who his enemies are and who his friends are. Therefore how can he be liberated.”
To please his father he went to visit King Janaka. It was a long journey and he passed through many countries. He saw sand, forests, snow and rain. He met many wise men and also conducted yagnas for yajniks. He observed people farming, trading and living a life. It was like going through the experience. He saw camels, elephants, and other animals. Finally he reached Mithila. It was a beautiful country but the gate man would not let him enter until he stated his purpose. Sukadev stood still, laughed loudly and did not answer. The guard asked, ”What is your purpose for coming, our king does not allow people to come without a reason. I implore you, please reply as you look like a man of honour.” Sukadev replied, ”I have received the answer I was deluded to come here. My father insisted that I visit.My karmas from my past life must have overtaken me. I was told that Mithila is a holy place and the king is a holy man. I have wasted my time and obviously this is not a holy place. I want nothing from King Janaka except to meet him.
The guard was humbled by this speech. He said, ”My good man, you may go where you wish. I am only doing my job. Please come with me and I will take you to a place where you can rest your weary limbs.” He took Sukadev to a large, airy set of rooms, with a garden which had fountains playing. There was a huge cage which was more like a room and it was full of colourful birds,singing and flying about.
Sukadev was very interested in the kingdom of Mithila. He observed everything closely. He came to some conclusions. A learned man was dispassionate when he felt the pain of others, and only then he would find his true self-contentment. This contentment is not found by worldly people. The town had three kinds of people, good, middling and bad. All manner of emotions were displayed. Shops sold all kinds of items. People were buying and selling.
After seeing this life, Sukadev decided to go to the palace. Here he was stopped by yet another guard. He stood like a log of wood and started meditating on Moksha. Immediately a minister came from within the palace and took him to second set of rooms. These were exquisite. The walls were covered in silk and birds were flying in and out of the apartment. The garden was full of flowers and fruits. There were beautiful women to serve him. Sukadev meditated three times a day and ate what was put before him. After a while the women started praying to him. He called them all mother. They were entranced by his humility, innocence and beauty. All of Mithila started talking about this saint until King Janaka heard of him.
King Janaka came to see who this beautiful saint was. He asked Sukadev, ”Who are you? Sukadev humbly replied “I am the son of Vyasa. He asked me to visit you.” King Janaka fell on his knees, and asked, ”Why have I been honoured with your visit.” Sukadev answered, ”My father wants me to marry and have children. I have refused to obey him, so he asked me to visit you and remove my doubts about being a householder.
Janaka replied ”I am not tempted by my senses. An impure heart is the source of the problem. It causes all the pleasures and the pain. When the heart is pure and quiet, all things become pure. Bondage and freedom live in the mind, so when the mind is at peace,the ties of samsara end. Vidya is only experienced if avidya is not experienced.
Sukadev countered, ”Drinking of intoxicants, killing of animals, eating of flesh is mentioned in the Vedas.
Janaka responded, ”Animals are offered in sacrifice and so it is not wilful killing. Real violence is killing for the purpose of eating.”
Sukadev was still not satisfied, he said,”How can a householder ever rid himself of samsaras. A dark room could not be lit by the thought of a light. If one had to attain moksha, then one must not commit any act of cruelty or wrong. A thief was a thief and a saint a saint.You Janaka wear gold and a crown of jewels. You eat delicious food. How to differentiate between a stone and gold. You as a king must know and remember that you have enemies and friends.”
Janaka finally answered Sukadev’s question, “You will never be alone in the forest. You will have the company of the deer and the elephant. The elements will always be there.You will have to think about your staff, your deer skin? How are you free then? I know I am bound to this world and I have no doubts about it. You should stop thinking about pain and samsaras and then you will be free of your thoughts. I know that there is so much wealth in my kingdom but it is not mine.”
Sukadev’s questions had been answered by Janaka. He came back to his father’s ashram with joy in his heart. He stayed with his father, adopted the path of Yoga. He married the daughter of a muni, named Puvari. He had four sons and a daughter.
Sukadev after completing his responsibilities went to meditate in Mount Kailash. He attained siddhis and he appeared like a second sun. His father was still not satisfied with him. Sukadev told him, “We are one.”
Sukadev is considered foremost among the Yogis, and these were the words of Shiva when he comforted Vyasa.