(Other names: Sukhdev, Shukhdev)
Shukdev was the son of Maharshi Ved Vyas. He was born to a nymph named Dhritayi who had come to earth in the form of Shuk (a female parrot). That is why he was named Shukdev. Shukdev is famous as a great storyteller of the folklore. He was a great philosopher and an administrator of justice. From childhood itself Shukdev was of a fine nature. He was not interested in worldly activities. He always thought of religion, spiritualism and salvation.
There is one more ancient story available about the birth of Shukdev. According to this story, once Shivji (part of holy trinity of Hindu mythology, Brahma being the first, Vishnu the second and Shiva the third) was preaching on Vishnu Shahastranaam to Parvati to become immortal. At that time child Shuk was also listening to it while hiding himself. When Shivji came to know, he followed Shuk. That time, Vyasji’s wife was yawning in her courtyard.
On getting scared of Shiva, Shukdev left his own body and went inside the stomach of Vyas’s wife through her mouth. He lived inside for twelve years. During this period, Vyasji told the stories of Mahabharata and Puranas to his wife. So Shukdev got all the knowledge while he was in the womb and this way he was called Vyas’s son.
It is said that he survived in the womb for sixteen years and came out of the womb as a full grown man in beard and just walked away without looking back. Shukdev’s public teacher was Brihaspati (Jupiter, Guru of the devtas) but he had got the education on Bhagwat and Vedas from Sage Vyas.
Out of all the storehouse of knowledge, Shukdev was especially attracted to Shri Krishna’s leelas and teachings of Geeta. In a way, his life was engrossed in the knowledge of Bhagwat and in the Krishna Leela.
In the end of Dwapar Age, after the Pandavas left for the Himalayas, Parikshit became the king and that time Kalyug was trying to find a place to reside in. Kalyug entered the golden crown of Parikshit and misguided Parikshit’s wit. So Parikshit unknowingly insulted a Saint.
With the curse of the Sage’s son, the life of Parikshit was to come to an end in seven days but Shukdev read Bhagwat Geeta to him for seven days and got him salvation. The banyan tree under which the Sage recited this is known as the Akshayavat which means the Undying Tree. The uniqueness of this tree as its name suggests is that it does not shed leaves.
In the study of Indian philosophy, Shukdev is renowned as such a philosopher who very casually adapted the lifestyle without hypocrisy and gave the knowledge of Vedas and Bhagwat.