\u015ar\u012b-\u015auka is the peerless seer who epitomizes the guru, glorified in the Bh\u0101rat\u012bya tradition as the beacon of light that illuminates the path to liberation. \u092f\u0902 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u0935\u094d\u0930\u091c\u0928\u094d\u0924\u092e\u0928\u0941\u092a\u0947\u0924\u092e\u092a\u0947\u0924\u0915\u0943\u0924\u094d\u092f\u0902 \u0926\u094d\u0935\u0948\u092a\u093e\u092f\u0928\u094b \u0935\u093f\u0930\u0939\u0915\u093e\u0924\u0930 \u0906\u091c\u0941\u0939\u093e\u0935\u0964 \u092a\u0941\u0924\u094d\u0930\u0947\u0924\u093f \u0924\u0928\u094d\u092e\u092f\u0924\u092f\u093e \u0924\u0930\u0935\u094b\u093d\u092d\u093f\u0928\u0947\u0926\u0941\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0902 \u0938\u0930\u094d\u0935\u092d\u0942\u0924\u0939\u0943\u0926\u092f\u0902 \u092e\u0941\u0928\u093f\u092e\u093e\u0928\u0924\u094b\u093d\u0938\u094d\u092e\u093f\u0965 ya\u1e41 pravrajantamanupetamapetak\u1e5btya\u1e41 dvaip\u0101yano virahak\u0101tara \u0101juh\u0101va| putreti tanmayatay\u0101 taravo'bhinedusta\u1e41 sarvabh\u016btah\u1e5bdaya\u1e41 munim\u0101nato'smi|| To him (\u015auka) who was bereft of (the pulls) of karmic deeds and relationships, and who roamed about oblivious; to him on behalf of whom the call of an aching father (the great Dvaip\u0101yana) - \u2018my dear son\u2019 - was responded to by the trees of the forest; to that great seer, the very soul of creation, I bow. \u015ar\u012bmadbh\u0101gavata, 1.2.2 Par\u012bk\u1e63it, the grandson of the P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0dava, Arjuna, is saddled with death. He is given seven days to identify how best to spend the remaining days of his mortal sojourn. Births of yearning for a higher consciousness resonates within Par\u012bk\u1e63it in the dreadful wake of death1. It dawns on him that the sins of the shameful act of humiliating a pious soul as he had done, was far worse than the death he now faced. He decided to undertake a fast upon the sacred banks of the Ga\u1e45g\u0101, surrendering himself to the will of the Supreme. He sat facing the north, upon a seat woven from sacred ku\u015ba grass, his senses reined in, awaiting the call of death. To a soul who was thus resigned to the will of the Supreme, and fully accepting of the consequences of his deeds, appeared the guru who would cut asunder the shackles of sams\u0101ra2 - \u015auka. 1Par\u012bk\u1e63it is cursed by a young ascetic to meet his end within a week, from a snake bite. The curse is brought upon by Par\u012bk\u1e63it\u2019s disregard towards the ascetic\u2019s father, a pious sage. 2 The unending cycle of materialism, that binds souls to birth and death. \u015aukabrahmar\u1e63i was the son of the great Vy\u0101sa, who is celebrated as none other than lord Vi\u1e63\u1e47u himself. \u015auka was a realized soul whose sole purpose upon earth seems to have been the propagation of the matchless treatise, \u015ar\u012bmadbh\u0101gavata. Sage \u015auka was ever lost in contemplative bliss, roaming around the forests nude, oblivious to creation. His absorption in the self was so profound, that his naked presence did little to either offend or threaten onlookers. It so happened that one day, \u015auka who appeared to be sixteen years of age, wandered into the territory where celestial nymphs sported in water. His naked person that brimmed with the exquisiteness of youth excited no emotions in them. They continued to sport in water. However, when sage Vy\u0101sa appeared soon after, in search of \u015auka, the damsels hastened to cover themselves. On being asked why they were unaffected by the youthful \u015auka but were driven to bashfulness by the presence of an old man such as himself, the damsels, responded, \u2018your son is oblivious to everything in creation, and is ever absorbed in the bliss of the Supreme. You however, still see us and recognize us to be women who are unclothed.\u2019 This seer is described in the \u015ar\u012bmadbh\u0101gavata as the parrot that pecks at the nectarine fruit of the Vedic tree, namely the Bh\u0101gavata, thereby himself relishing its inexplicable sweetness and affording the rest of the world a taste of it. \u0928\u093f\u0917\u092e\u0915\u0932\u094d\u092a\u0924\u0930\u094b\u0930\u094d\u0917\u0932\u093f\u0924\u0902 \u092b\u0932\u0902 \u0936\u0941\u0915\u092e\u0941\u0916\u093e\u0926\u092e\u0943\u0924\u0926\u094d\u0930\u0935\u0938\u0902\u092f\u0941\u0924\u092e\u094d\u0964 \u092a\u093f\u092c\u0924 \u092d\u093e\u0917\u0935\u0924\u0902 \u0930\u0938\u092e\u093e\u0932\u092f\u0902 \u092e\u0941\u0939\u0941\u0930\u0939\u094b \u0930\u0938\u093f\u0915\u093e \u092d\u0941\u0935\u093f \u092d\u093e\u0935\u0941\u0915\u093e\u0903\u0965 nigamakalpatarorgalita\u1e41 phala\u1e41 \u015bukamukh\u0101dam\u1e5btadravasa\u1e41yutam| pibata bh\u0101gavat\u1e41 rasam\u0101laya\u1e41 muhuraho rasik\u0101 bhuvi bh\u0101vuk\u0101\u1e25|| Connoisseurs, hasten to partake of the repository of sweetness, the \u015ar\u012bmadbh\u0101gavata, verily the nectarine fruit of the Vedas, which is now enriched by the sweet lips of \u015auka. \u015ar\u012bmadbh\u0101gavata, 1.1.3 The antecedence of \u015auka is not delineated in the \u015ar\u0101madbh\u0101gavata, but in the Mah\u0101bh\u0101rata and the Vi\u1e63\u1e47u-Pur\u0101\u1e47a. Once, Vy\u0101sa lived in a hermitage upon the banks of the sacred river, Sarasvat\u012b. The sage noticed in a nest nearby, the tender care a pair of sparrows extended to their fledglings. Vyasa was astonished. He mused to himself, \u201cbirds who have no expectation of a future reward from bearing and raising children, shower such love upon their young ones. What wonder is it then, that man experiences inexplicable love for his children. An issueless man is stricken with worry in his final years\u201d. The sage was suddenly overcome with a deep yearning for a son. He decided to engage in penance in order to beget a son, but could not decide which deity he must focus on in order to be blessed with a son. As the sage was thus plagued by a quandary, the celestial sage N\u0101rada appeared before sage Vy\u0101sa and advised him to resort to the Supreme potency, Dev\u012b, in order to realize his dream. Advised thus, Sage Vy\u0101sa ascended the peaks of the Sumeru and dedicated himself to the contemplation of Dev\u012b and her consort, Mah\u0101deva. A thousand years went by in arduous penance. Lord \u015aiva appeared before the sage and promised him that an unparalleled son would be born to the sage. Supremely pleased and yet exhausted from the effort, sage Vy\u0101sa returned to his hermitage. Desiring to light a sacred fire, he began churning sacred Ara\u1e47\u012b twigs, his heart consumed by thoughts of a son, when sparks began to fly. Alongside the emergence of the sacred fire, the celestial nymph, Gh\u1e5bit\u0101c\u012b too made an appearance in the hermitage. The sage suddenly found himself consumed by desire. However, sage Vy\u0101sa did not lose himself to desire. He deliberated carefully - \u201cWhat am I to do now? On the one hand, I desire to sire a son. On the other, an association with a celestial nymph after having performed stupendous penance, will earn me eternal ignominy. Every realized soul will look down upon me for the indiscretion.\u201d Even as the sage contemplated thus, fear gripped the heart of the nymph. Terrified that the sage would pronounce a curse, the nymph assumed the form of a parrot and flew away. The desire she had engendered in the sage, however, did not take flight. The seed of desire that rose in sage Vy\u0101sa, fell upon the sacred fire. From the spilled seed arose a lad, brilliant as the sacred fire wherefrom he had risen. Celestial instruments rent the sky with their ethereal symphony. Celestial bards sang sweetly while divine nymphs began to dance for joy. Vy\u0101sa\u2019s son, had emerged from the sparks of the sacred Ara\u1e47i twigs. Deer-hide, a staff and a water-pot fell from the sky, for the sake of this divine ascetic. The knowledge of the Vedas embraced him the moment he assumed form, and even as sage Vy\u0101sa looked on in amazement, the lad grew to youth. The sage named the young ascetic, \u015auka, in memory of the parrot that had been instrumental in the advent of the lad, but had fled the hermitage in fear3. \u015auka took the great B\u1e5bhaspati, the preceptor of the celestials, for his guru and performed the vows of brahmacarya4. Having completed his education at the gurukula of B\u1e5bhaspati, \u015auka returned to Vy\u0101sa\u2019s hermitage5. The sage was delighted to receive his son. Like any father, sage Vy\u0101sa too desired for \u015auka to marry a pious girl and to live the life of a householder. On being persuaded to marry, \u015auka responded, \u201cthere is great misery in the life of a householder. Please instruct me in the path of wisdom. Tell me how I am to cut asunder, the bonds of karmic existence.\u201d 3 The Sanskrit term \u2018\u015auka\u2019 means parrot. 4 A brahmac\u0101r\u012b is typically a lad who has had his threading ceremony performed, and had dedicated himself to the study of the scriptures while remaining celibate. 5 Although the Pur\u0101\u1e47a describes \u015auka as having gained the knowledge of scriptures at birth, \u015auka is still described as resorting to the traditional schooling of a gurukula in order to establish the importance of a guru. Sage Vy\u0101sa was greatly distressed by the words of \u015auka. His face drooping with anxiety, Vy\u0101sa appeared a picture of misery. Moved to compassion, \u015auka said to the great Vy\u0101sa, \u201cindeed is the power of m\u0101y\u0101 inscrutable, if the compiler of the Vedas, the great Vedavy\u0101sa, can fall prey to it. I am your son in this birth; no doubt. However, who was I previously? I feel that this world is a trap and I am unable to shake the feeling off.\u201d Urged thus by \u015auka, sage Vy\u0101sa was awakened to truth. He then instructed his peerless son in the Bh\u0101gavata that was the panacea for all materialistic ills. Imbued with the bliss of the transcendental wisdom of the \u015ar\u012bmadbh\u0101gavata, \u015auka roamed about, oblivious to everything else, until Par\u012bk\u1e63it was readied by the hand of fate to receive the wisdom.