Parikshit said, “What a wonder! You, the supreme exalted saints have considered me, a worthless being, as worthy of your blessings and have arrived here. I am truly fortunate. I am that unworthy person who has sinned. Generally families of kings lose out on the chance to wash the feet of supreme saints. Supremely accomplished sages (Brahma-rishis) particularly do not prefer to approach Kings or be in their vicinity.
I, who am eternally attached towards this bonded material world, have committed a terrible sin due to my pride. The Lord who rules this universe has created dispassion in me, in the form of a Brahmin’s curse. This is the Lord’s divine sport. This is not the deed of an ordinary Brahmin. The Lord had incarnated in the form of that Brahmin to elevate me. The Lord was compassionate to chop off my pride and ego.
When such a terrible curse hovers over one’s head, he will definitely be terrified to associate with these worldly bondages. Can anyone sleep peacefully when a serpent is sleeping beside him? Can anyone be peaceful when he knows a snake has entered his house? When a sword is hanging over the head, can a person be at peace? In the same manner a fearful curse has now fallen on my head. This is nothing but the punishment for my terrible sin. I have insulted another person. I have behaved wrongly. Hence the Supreme Lord, in the form of the saint’s son has awarded this to me.
O great saints! This wretched person seeks refuge at your feet. Please accept it. May Goddess Ganga, who flows here, realize that I have fixed my mind exclusively upon the Supreme Lord! May Takshaka, in accordance with the orders of the saint’s son, deceptively arrive and bite me till such time as it is satisfied!
O saints, kindly continue to sing the glories of the Supreme Lord. I offer my obeisance to you! I seek that if at all I need to take birth again in any form, in that birth I should continue to have unending devotion towards the Supreme Lord, holy association with supreme saints who are His devotees and feelings of compassion, love and friendliness towards all forms of life!”
Having said this, Parikshit, who possessed supreme discriminatory capacities, handed over the responsibility of the kingdom to his son Janmejaya.
Parikshit then sat on a seat made of straw on the southern bank of Ganga. He ensured that the roots of the straw seat faced the east, while he faced the northern direction. Thus when he settled down for Prayopaveśa (awaiting death through fasting), the Devatas in heaven sang his glory and rained flowers upon him. They beat the celestial drums.
Maharishis seek the well-being of one and all! Even their penance is directed towards obtaining the welfare of the world! Such great Maharishis praised him profusely and applauded his decision. They began speaking about the Supreme Lord in this manner,
“O chief amongst the saintly kings (rāja-rishis)! This deed of yours is not at all astonishing as you have been born in the lineage of the Pandavas, who walked on the path laid down by Srikrishna and who served Him with devotion! Your forefather Yudhisthira and others, seeking to reach the abode of that Supreme Lord, gave up the throne which was served by many smaller vassal kings, and which was the sign of their supremacy.
Let us all be seated here until this Parikshit, who is the foremost amongst the supreme devotees of the Lord, gives up this body and attains that ultimate state of liberation which is over and above the trigunas and which is devoid of grief!” All the Maharishis decided this in unison.
What Parikshit displayed was a supreme state of dispassion that is not easily attained. It is common for a person to strive to drive away death when it arrives although it is not possible to run away from it. To be able to face it, to be able to give up all comforts and sit there awaiting its arrival by taking up Prayopavesa, shows his exalted state.
Hearing those words which were perfectly correct, impartial, nectarous and filled with essence, Parikshit praised the assembled Maharishis, who were all-knowing. Parikshit who was yearning to listen to the glories of the great Lord said to them, “You, who are like the Vedas which reside in their true form in Satyaloka, have assembled here, having come from various different directions. It is your natural tendency to bless and do good to others. Apart from this, there is nothing that you seek either in this world or in the next. O great saints! Therefore placing full faith in You, I ask you to please advise me what my duty is.
What is the specific duty of a human being, which he should abide by at all times and in all situations and more exceptionally at the time of death? Please think about this in great detail and teach me.” Hearing this question, all the saints assembled there began to reflect upon it.
Exactly at that moment, Maharishi Śuka, the son of Maharishi Vedavyasa, who had been wandering around the universe, arrived there as if by providence. Maharishi Śuka was over and above every form of desire; he did not show any symbols of being associated with any of the four stages of life; he had attained total contentment due to Self-realization and was an Avadhoota in the form of a digambara.
Maharishi Śuka simply wanders about the universe along with the wind. No one knows where he would be at any given point of time. Whom he will grace, at what point of time he will grace, where he will arrive no one knows. Such an exalted saint arrived there exactly at that time! He was surrounded by many women and children who were excitedly following him.
Śuka Maharishi was sixteen years of age. He had tender hands, legs, thighs, shoulders, arms, cheeks etc. He had a delicate fine-looking nose. His eyelids were exceptionally wide and beautiful. His ears were long and equally proportioned. His face was glowing radiantly. His neck was shaped like a beautiful conch. His chest was wide, fleshy and well raised. His navel was beautifully designed like a whirlpool and his abdomen had three beautiful folds. He was naked. With hair that was strewn all over his face and his long arms, he was shining like the Supreme Lord Mahavishnu. He was dark complexioned. He is eternally like a sixteen year old boy. With his youth, charming face and tender smile he captivates the hearts of even women.
The supreme Maharishis who were seated there knew about the supremacy and greatness of this saint. They observed the splendor on His face as He arrived and immediately got up from their seats in order to receive him warmly.
Narayana! We are having the darshan of Maharishi śuka! Narayana!