Vyasa is a central figure in Hindu tradition and is also one of the revered figures. He is mostly known for his role in writing the Hindu epic Mahabharata. What is unknown though is the story about his son Shuka.
At the age of 5-6, Shuka indulged himself in the world of spirituality when the other kids where playing games and learning in the material world. By the time he grew up, he had studied all the scriptures, and he reached a conclusion. He went to his father and said: “Father, I have been attached to you and you have been too attached to me. In order to progress my spiritual journey, I must part away and walk in the quest for higher knowledge. It would be beneficial for both of us.” With those words, he started to walk away.
Vyasa followed him and kept telling his son: “There is still plenty of things I can teach you. Stop there and come back to me.”
But Shuka wasn’t going to listen to his father, was he? He had set his mind on the only target. He kept walking forward and Vyasa kept following him.
As they kept moving forward, they crossed paths with young celestial nymphs bathing in the pond. When the nymphs saw Shuka, they rejoiced the sight. But as soon as Vyasa reached the path, the nymphs started to cover the bodies.
Observing these dual reactions, Vyasa went to the nymphs and asked: “Excuse me, Oh celestial ladies. When you saw my son walking this path, you didn’t cover your bodies. But when you saw me, you covered yourselves. Could you please provide me with the reason for this reaction?”
They replied: “When we saw him, we were not conscious that he was a man. But when we saw you, we felt we were seeing a man. So, we were shy and covered our bodies.”
It was at this point Vyasa realized his son was indeed in a spiritual journey and he had passed the physical limitation of a human being. He had become neither a man or a woman but reached beyond the limitation. This troubled Vyasa.
He kept pondering about his own situation. He is the one who wrote the great epic Mahabharata. He has connected to Gods in his own way. But yet, it is his son who surpassed the realm of spirituality. He realized that he had not reached the higher state and wondered about his mistakes. Right then, Guru Sage Narada appeared and said, “Vyasa. You have done great things in life. You segregated the Vedas. You wrote the Mahabharata. And yet, this sense of achieving higher states eludes you. You have already done great intellectual works. You need devotion, write about the life of Lord Vishnu and his devotees. This will help the whole world, including yourself.”
With those words, Vyasa started constructing another great piece – Srimad Bhagavatam. And this is how it came into existence.