Sukadeva was born from the Divine Fire when Veda Vyasa was making Yagya. Sukadeva came out, he bowed down to his father and said, “Father! What shall I do?” And the father said, “Go learn the Vedas, study with Brihaspati.” Sukadeva studied with Brihaspati for many years and he became expert at Veda Vedanta and he got his Samavartan.
He came back from his graduation from studies – the Guru sent him back to his father’s home. “You are now Veda-vid, You are a knower of the Vedas.” And Sukadeva bowed down to his father Veda Vyasa and Veda Vyasa kissed him and hugged him and said, “My son you have come back full of knowledge.” And Sukadeva said, “Father, now what do you want me to do?”
And Father said, “According to our scriptures, you finished your Brahmachari stage, you should now become a Grahasta, get married, have a family, make a contribution to this world, make this world a better place because of your having been here.” And Sukadeva said, “Father, you’ve got to be kidding me, I was born from the Divine Fire, I had a father like Veda Vyasa, I studied under a Guru like Brihaspati, the Guru of the Gods. I learned for many, many years Veda, Vedanta and now you’re throwing me in to the whirlpool of maya and attachment. You want me to get married! No way!”
Now Veda Vyasa tried again and again and again to convince Sukadeva that you’ve got to get married, that’s what it says in the scriptures. You’ve studied the scriptures, first your Brahmacharya, then you’re Grahasta, then you can become a Vanaprastha, and then you become Sanyasa, and nobody skips a step. No matter how Veda Vyasa pleaded with Suakdeva, Sukadeva refused to get married.
He said, “No way!” And Veda Vyasa said, “I’m at my wits end, I don’t know how to convince this kid what he should do, what’s best for him. You won’t follow my instructions, I’m telling you, Sukadeva, if you don’t believe me go see Janak Raja, go see the King Janak, get darshan of King Janak. And then you come back here and see me and I will allow you to do anything you choose to do, you make your own decision.”
So Sukadeva went to see Janak. And he had to cross all of India, and he had so many adventures on the way. He got to Janak’s court in Mithila and he was greeted by the guard who said, “Who are you, and what business do you have in our city, and where do you think you are going?”
And Sukadeva said, “I’m a Brahmin, I’ve come to see the King, my father sent me, but I don’t think there is any reason to see the King. My father said that I would see the darshan of someone who is known as Videha, He doesn’t have a body, He’s liberated while living, He is a jivanmukta. And here this man is so bound by attachment, he’s got guards and soldiers standing with weapons around his city saying “Who are you, and what business do you have to enter my door?” No reason to go in at all, I don’t even want to see this guy, I’m going home!”
And the guard said, “Wait, wait please, I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just that my job is to stand here and ask everybody, “Who are you and what business do you have to come in to the city, and where are you going and what is your purpose here.” But I can tell you are a noble man, you are a knowledgeable man. Please feel free to go about your business.”
And Sukadeva said, “Well, I know this is a wasted trip, and I know there is nothing to be accomplished here, but I’ve come this far I might as well just go in and look around.” And he walked in to the city and he saw normal people conducting the normal functions of life.
And people were bartering, and people were bickering, and people were trying to bargain over the price of goods and commodities and trying to beat each other down to the lowest common denominator. And everyone was just normal. Ad nauseum. Normal. And so when Janak heard that Sukadeva, his Guru’s son had come to see him, he sent the prime minister.
And the prime minister went and greeted Sukadeva and invited him in to the hospitality chambers where he was served delicious food, and he was massaged by beautiful maidens and given a nice bath and given fine clothes to wear and treated like a royal guest. And Sukadeva said, “What nonsense this is. I’m a brahmin, I was born from the Divine Fire, I had a father like Veda Vyasa, I had a Guru like Brihaspati. I studied the Vedas for all my life, and here these people are trying to bribe me with beautiful clothes and sumptuous feast and beautiful ladies, I have no desire whatsoever.”
Well, the night passed in this way. Sukadeva got up early in the morning and performed his meditation, and he performed his puja, and then he recited his path. And then he had his breakfast. And then the king sent for him. And he went into the audience chamber with Janak Raja, the king. And Janak greeted him politely and gave him a seat, and they sat down and began to talk.
And Janak said, “What is the purpose of your visit here?” And Sukadeva said, “King, I was born from the Divine Fire, I had a father like Veda Vyasa, I had a Guru like Brihaspati, I studied the Vedas and I came home and my dad said get married.” I said, “What nonsense! Why shall I get married and bind myself to the attachments. To a wife, and family, household, a need for an income, all that nonsense when here I am with this knowledge and this mind I’m already feeling free, why should I do that?”
And Janak said, “Well, you know, it says in our scriptures that a man should be a Brahmacharya, then he becomes a Grahasta, and then he is a Vanaprastha, and then he takes Sanyasa. And Sukadeva said, “I’ve heard all that before, I’m not interested. A man who is bound to a sacrificial pillar could hope for escape, but a man who is bound to care for a wife and family can never hope for escape. Where is he going to run away too! How can he flee from the attachments, the bondage to family? I don’t want to get married!”
Janak said, “Well, this is our custom, and this is our tradition, and this is the best thing in your interest. Because who knows, when you go in to the forest, you are one man by yourself. You have an asan, you have a water pot, you have a stick, these are yours, thereâ€™s no less attachment to these articles.”
Sukadeva responded, “King, look at all the stuff that you have! You’ve got this whole kingdom and this throne and this golden crown and all these silk cloths. And these sumptuous feasts, and all these beautiful ladies to wait and serve on you, aren’t you attached to them?” And Janak said, “What you say is very true. I have all of these responsibilities, but none of it is mine. I’m the administrator of this kingdom on behalf of a higher King. I’m only a servant in the kingdom of God. And that’s why they call me liberated while living.”
Sukadeva bowed down to the King, and went back to Veda Vyasa’s house, and said, “Father, Whatever you say, I’m ready to do.”
And as the story went, Sukadeva got married and he had two children. And he educated his children. He gave his daughter and son in marriage and he fixed their marriage, and set them up in their own households with their own livelihoods, and when they were firmly established he said, “Ok.” And he ascended to heaven. And Veda Vyasa called out, “Sukadeva, come back down here, wait a minute, I wanted a son so that posterity would be here in order to perform my funeral rites so that I could go to heaven. And here you’ve achieved liberation and you are ascending to heaven and leaving me here.”
And Sukadeva called down to his father Veda Vyasa, “Father, don’t look at me through the eyes of attachment, look at me through the eyes of wisdom. And know that I have fulfilled my dharma, I fulfilled my highest purpose on this earth, and now I am free to ascend. You still have karma left to perform, you remain and perform it.”