Shuka, son of sage Vyasa was a born saint, enlightened from a tender age. After studying all the scriptures in his father’s hermitage, he decided to leave to further his quest.
“Father, you have become too attached to me. I won’t be able to progress spiritually any more under you, so we must part ways. It will be good for you as well,” he told his father and began to take his leave.
Overcome by emotion, sage Vyasa cried out, “Listen, my son, there is still much I can teach you! Stop, come back to me.”
But young Shuka’s mind was made up. He kept striding away, while his father followed with a painful heart.
At a distance, a few celestial nymphs were bathing in a pond. They saw Shuka, a young man clad in very little, but with a face so radiant, they rejoiced at the sight.
Soon old sage Vyasa appeared along the same path. The nymphs, who were almost nude, hurriedly began to cover their bodies in shyness.
Observing this, Vyasa went back to them and asked, “Pardon me, O celestial ladies! You saw my young son walking this path but didn’t cover your bodies. Yet when you saw me, an old man, you were seized with modesty. Why is that?”
The nymphs replied, “When we saw him, it did not make us conscious that he was a man. But when we saw you, we felt we were seeing a man, so that made us shy.”
At that moment, sage Vyasa realized his son was spiritually soaring. Shuka had even crossed ture-born limitations, he was neither a man nor a woman, such was the level of enlightenment he had reached.
As the learned sage reflected on his failure to attain the exalted state his son had so early in life moved into, his preceptor sage rada suddenly appeared before him.
“My dear Vyasa, you have achieved great things. You have written the entire Mahabharata, you have segregated the Vedas. Yet the higher states still elude you,” said sage rada.
He continued: “You, who have accomplished these intellectual feats, now need devotion. Write about the life of Lord Vishnu and his devotees, it will help the whole world and you as well.”
Sage Vyasa listened to his master. From his quill flowed a supreme work of 18,000 verses extolling God’s maintaining aspect personified by the transcendental form of Lord Vishnu.
And that is how Srimad Bhagavatam came into being.