When man became conscious of his body, it is said by the wise, vice sprouted. In this material world, transcending bodily consciousness and consciousness of a superlative level are more theories for research and commercial activities than real practice. They are also interesting discussion topics though we take little pains to come out of the bodily rut.
The sages of yore underwent rigorous penances in order that they may earn a place in an elevated sphere. But there was one born perfect: Shuka, the son of sage Vyasa known as Shuka Brahmam as he had knowledge of the absolute even at birth.
Once it occurred to Vyasa that he required a son to safeguard the knowledge of the world and he prayed to Lord Shiva. At that moment a celestial parrot flew past on which the sage cast his eyes and it issued forthwith a child of great beauty and a divine glow. The child was called Shuka Deva, the Lord of Parrots.
Shuka was taught by Vyasa and in no time the boy had mastered everything. Since it was not wont of a father to certify his own son, Shuka was sent to the great sage-king of Mithila, Janaka.
Janaka, foreseeing the coming of Shuka, ordered his guards not to let him in until further orders. Shuka was thus kept waiting at the gates without food or sleep or even a drop of water for three full days. At the end of three days, the king himself came out and Shuka was taken inside the palace in a grand royal procession. Beautiful maidens then bathed him and served him the best food. The young yet composed Shuka ate.
The king, observing all this told: Son, you may now accompany me to the court.
The court was a grand place with all the insignia of a flourishing kingdom headquarters. There were enchantingly beautiful maidens performing graceful dances and singing lilting tunes.
The king bade Shuka hold a cup and poured in oil to its brim. He then asked him to take the cup of oil around the court and to anoint the Shiva Linga kept yonder. Quietly, the boy took the oil to the Linga, not spilling out even a single drop in the process, and performed the rite.
The king went to Shuka, embraced him and said: My Dear Child! What more is there for you to learn? Neither difficulty nor royal paraphernalia nor any of the distractions of the senses can touch you. You are a Brahmajnani* already!
*Brahmajnani = One who has knowledge of the Supreme Truth (Brahman)
Vyasa had to take great care of his son, as Shuka was seldom conscious of the material world. Once it happened that Shuka wandered off and Vyasa followed him to keep guard. On the way was a pool in which young maidens were bathing and playing. Shuka passed by but they showed no sign of shyness and continued to play. But when Vyasa came by, they immediately hid themselves in the water. Surprised, the sage asked: That handsome young boy, not even clad, did not stir your senses, but you are ashamed when I, a fully clothed old man come by. Please explain this behaviour?
The damsels replied: Oh great one! Is it not true that the pure one there is not aware of the difference in sexes while you are? How can we not be ashamed?
Shuka was one of those who propagated the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatham to the gods and men, thus safeguarding the knowledge of the world.