This is in contrast to Srimad Bhagavatham which places the birth of Veda Vyasa in the yuga-sandhi between Tretha and Dwapara Yugas and which tells us that Suka was 16 years old at the time of Parikshit’s death. (Parikshit was the son of Abhimanyu and the grandson of Arjuna).
The Bhavishya Puranam too narrates Suka’s activities post Parikshit’s demise. This is a mystery to solve.
Was the s’uka of the Srimad Bhagavatham a younger brother of the s’uka of the Mahabharatam? Did Vyasa name his darling youngest son after his favorite oldest son? Then the eldest could have learned the Devi Bhagavatam and visited Janaka and the youngest to could have learned Srimad Bhagavatam and met Parikshit!
Bhishma narrated Suka’s Story to Yudhisthira: Reference : SantiParva Mahabharata Section 231
Dharmaja Yudhisthira had a lot of questions for his great-uncle Bhishma. In answer to one set of questions, Bhishma decided to tell him the story of Suka.
- He told him how Suka was born from the Arani sticks used to make a Vedic Fire, after his father Vyasa was distracted by the beautiful apsara ghRtaci, who flew away in the form of a parrot (s’uka!). (For Devi Bhagavatham Version : Vyasa’s meditation and Suka’s birth : Devi Bhagavatham : 10th and 14th Adhyaya of the First Skanda).
- The he explained how all the Vedas resided in Suka at birth and yet he sought the deva guru brhaspati as his guru and learned the Vedas formally. This too agrees with the Devi Bhagavatham version.
- We read that Suka Muni Refuses to get Married in the Devi Bhagavatham 14th and 15th Adhyaya, first Skanda but that version is not present in the Mahabharatam. Here Vyasa directly sends Suka to meet Rajarishi Janaka at Mithila and discusses subjects other than marriage. The alternate discussion wherein Suka is advised to visit Raja Janaka, is present in the Devi Bhagavatham. The Mahabharatam also does not talk about his meeting with the the first gatekeeper at Mithila. Nor does it speak of Suka being tested at Mithila which the Devi Bhagavatham records.
Vyasa explained time, effort, destiny, creation and destruction to Suka.
Suka questioned his father about time, creation etc and Vyasa tells him about the various yugas and and time measurements and related topics.
In this section of the Mahabharata also, a mahayuga is 12000 years long with KritaYuga being 4000 + 400 + 400 = 4800 years long and KaliYuga being 1200 years long. New readers can see : How many kinds of Yugas are there? In addition, time is defined in this way : Five and ten winks of the eye make what is called a Kashtha. Thirty Kashthas would make what is called a Kala. Thirty Kalas, with the tenth part of a Kala added, make what is known as a Muhurta. Thirty Muhurtas make up one day and night: The rest of the measurements are as I have described in various articles.. see : Calendars and Time in India. The life span of humans in Krita Yuga is given as 400 years, in Tretha as 300, in Dwapara as 200 and in Kali as 100 years.
Next, Suka was taught about how creation comes from the cit, manas and avidya at the beginning of Brahma‘s day. Then Vyasa told Suka about personal effort and destiny.
Amongst men who have devoted themselves to the science of things, there are some who say that, in the production of effects, exertion is supreme. Some learned persons say that Destiny is supreme, and some that it is Nature which is the agent. Others say that Acts flowing from (personal) exertion, and Destiny, produce effects, aided by Nature. Instead of regarding any of these as singly competent for the production of effects, they say that it is the union of all three that produces all effects.
They however, whose vision is directed to truth regard Brahma as the cause. ..Two Brahmas should be known, viz., the Brahma represented by sound (i.e., the Vedas), and secondly that which is beyond the Vedas and is supreme. One that is conversant with Brahma represented by sound succeeds in attaining to Brahma that is Supreme.
Time which is without beginning and without end, and which ordains this variety in the universe. It is that Time which creates and swallows up all creatures. All the innumerable creatures that exist subject to duality and according to their respective natures, have Time for their refuge. It is Time that assumes those shapes and it is Time that upholds them.
Vyasa then explained to Suka what Pralaya (the final destruction) would be like.
When His day (Brahma’s day) is gone and His night comes, he withdraws all things unto himself.
When the time comes for universal dissolution, the dozen Suns, and Agni with his seven flames, begin to burn. The whole universe, wrapt by those flames, begins to blaze forth in a vast conflagration.
All things mobile and immobile that are on the earth first disappear and merge into the substance of which this planet is composed. After all mobile and immobile objects have thus disappeared, the earth, shorn of trees and herbs, looks naked like a tortoise shell.
Then water takes up the attribute of earth,viz., scent. When earth becomes shorn of its principal attribute, that element is on the eve of dissolution. Water then prevails. Surging into mighty billows and producing awful roars, only water fills this space and moves about or remains still.
Then the attribute of water is taken by Heat, and losing its own attribute, water finds rest in that element. Dazzling flames of fire, ablaze all around, conceal the Sun that is in the centre of space. Indeed, then, space itself, full of those fiery flames, burns in a vast conflagration.
Then Wind comes and takes the attribute, viz., form of Heat or Light, which thereupon becomes extinguished, yielding to Wind, which, possessed of great might, begins to be awfully agitated. The Wind, obtaining its own attribute, viz., sound, begins to traverse upwards and downwards and transversely along all the ten points.
Then Space takes the attribute, viz., sound of Wind, upon which the latter becomes extinguished and enters into a phase of existence resembling that of unheard or unuttered sound. Then Space is all that remains, that element whose attribute, viz., sound dwells in all the other elements, divested of the attributes of form, and taste, and touch, and scent, and without shape of any kind, like sound in its unmanifest state of existence.
Then sound, which is the attribute of space, is swallowed up by Mind which is the essence of all things that are manifest. Thus Mind which in itself is unmanifest withdraws all that is manifested by Mind. This withdrawal of Mind as displayed into Mind as undisplayed or subtle, is called the destruction of the vast external universe.
Then Chandrama’s having made Mind (thus) withdraw its attribute into itself, swallows it up.
When Mind, ceasing to exist, thus enters into Chandramas, the other attributes that are owned by Iswara are all that remain.
This Chandramas, which is called also Sankalpa, is then, after a very long time, brought under Iswara’s sway, then reason being that that Sankalpa has to perform a very difficult act, viz., the destruction of Chitta or the faculties that are employed in the process called judgment.
When this has been effected, the condition reached is said to be of high Knowledge. Then Time swallows up this Knowledge, and as the Sruti declares, Time itself, in its turn, is swallowed up by Might, or Energy.
Might or energy, however, is (again) swallowed up by Time, which last is then brought under her sway by Vidya.
Possessed of Vidya, Iswara then swallows up non-existence (asat) itself into his Soul.
That is Unmanifest and Supreme Brahma.
That is Eternal, and that is the Highest of the High.
Thus all existent creatures are withdrawn into Brahma. Truly hath this, which should be conceived (with the aid of the scriptures) and which is a topic of Science, been thus declared by Yogins possessed of Supreme Souls, after actual experience.
Even thus doth the Unmanifest Brahma repeatedly undergo the processes of Elaboration and Withdrawal (i.e., Creation and Destruction), and even thus Brahman’s Day and Night each consist of a thousand yugas.’”
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