This story is written by Bhanu Narasimhan, Sister of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Radha had no messages to send to Krishna. What was the need for messages when they were but one?! But the little green parrot was impatiently fluttering his wings time and again eager to begin his flight. There were many parrots who flew to Krishna every day, but he felt important and special when he went with a message from Radha. “Go tell him the butter is extra tasty today and is waiting for him!” said Radha. Filled with purpose, the little bird soared into the sky in the direction where his heart pulled him.
The messages were mundane. But it mattered in the least. The parrot’s life and mind oscillated between Radha and Krishna, between longing and love. As years went by and it was time for Radha to leave her body, she told the parrot that his purpose was to share the glories of her Lord with all. Having lived in her presence, every cell of his being was soaked with the sweet nectar of devotion. But he had only delivered Radha’s simple messages. He knew not the details of the stories of the Lord.
One day, as he wandered into Parvati’s gardens in Kailasha, he saw that Shiva was about to tell her a story. He perched himself in a branch above to listen. As luck would have it, Shiva started sharing in great detail the incidents from the life of Lord Krishna and Parvati was listening and encouraging him from time to time with a gentle ‘hmm’. Shiva was so immersed in the tales that he did not notice that Parvati had dozed off. The parrot was worried that Shiva may stop his narration and imitated the gentle sound of Parvati.
Eventually, she woke up, and once Shiva finished, she apologized to him for having slept in between. Now, Shiva’s brows came together, and his third eye looked ready to open. “if you were sleeping, then who was making the humming sound just like you?” He sensed the presence of the parrot. Before Shiva turned in his direction, the little parrot flew away as fast as his wings could carry him. He flew far and beyond without rest or respite. The ashram of Maharishi Veda Vyasa was ahead. He entered his kutir. His wife Vatika, daughter of the venerable Rishi Jabali, yawned at that very moment. Instantly the parrot entered her in his subtle form.
Vyasa saw what happened. He saw Shiva approaching his kutir and rose to offer his salutations. “The parrot I seek has taken refuge in your abode great Rishi”, said Shiva, “he had the audacity to imitate Parvati!” Vyasa saw all that had transpired with his divyadhrusti (intuitive eye). “O Lord, is that gentle creature to be blamed for thirsting to hear the enchanting stories of Lord Krishna? And that too, when narrated by none other than you in the purest and most auspicious manner?” Shiva smiled on hearing the words of the Sage. “Further, he is liberated from any seeds of karma that he may have had after hearing your narration! He is now pure and free from the distortions of the mind. Let him be O Mahadeva! Bless him to bring this spark of devotion and wisdom to all of humanity in the coming age” Shiva knew that Vyasa spoke the truth for the parrot had absorbed with great devotion and sincerity all that he had shared. He blessed the parrot and returned. Vyasa reflected deeply and smiled to himself as he knew that the Sattvic anger of Shiva would only bring immense benefit to all.
The parrot in his subtle form, stayed in deep samadhi for a period of sixteen years in Vatika’s womb. He refused to come out and told Vyasa that he was at peace inside. He said, “The moment the jiva comes out into the world, the mind is caught between cravings and aversions, the intellect thrown between judgements and doubts. I am fine here.” However, the time had come for him to fulfill his purpose. Vyasa promised him that he would be untouched by the veil of Maya and encouraged him to come out.
The story goes that as soon as the child was born, he instantly grew to be a sixteen-year old boy of unmatched radiance. He was named Shuka. Vyasa taught him all that he could, and he further studied with Brihaspati, the guru of the devas. The boy soaked in the wisdom with the ease of a sponge in water. In spite of all that he learnt, he still felt incomplete. Vyasa guided him to approach King Janaka to be his Guru and bestow the Supreme knowledge of the Self.
For seven days he waited at the palace gates completely ignored. He stood unfazed and as radiant. He was then received with great pomp and for seven days offered all the pleasures of the senses. He remained unmoved. Seeing how centered Shuka was, Janaka was pleased and bestowed the highest knowledge of the Brahman to this young boy.
Shuka shone with the brilliance of a thousand suns. His very presence was so gentle, loving, pleasing and divine. When the right time neared, he was sought by King Parikshit to narrate the Srimad Bhagavatam in his assembly. Having offered his prayers to the benevolent Mahadeva, he started his narration. But whenever the story involved Radha, he would be unable to say her name. Just the thought of Radha was enough for Shuka to go into deep Samadhi. And when he would come out again, he would just continue the story after that.
And so, it is said that there is no mention of Radha in the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Gurudev says “the very meaning of the word ‘Radha’ means to return to your source.” It is no surprise that just the thought of Radha took Shuka deep within.
Gurudev further says, “Dhara’ means that which comes from the source, while ‘Radha’ means that which goes back to the source. Until we go to the source we cannot experience Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna is the source and Radha is the way or path to the source. Even if you are Rukmini or Satyabhama, till you become Radha, till you return to the source, you cannot attain Lord Krishna.”