Thursday, December 17, 2009



Understandably, the Gita is truly famous but Arjuna was not the only one to be favoured with direct Divine teaching; there was another equally fortunate, namely Uddhava.

Uddhava was one of the Yadavas who was deeply devoted to Krishna. Shortly before the curtain was to be rung down, Krishna acknowledged Uddhava's devotion or Bhakti by favouring him with special advice, sometimes referred to as the Uddhava Gita. Unlike the dialogue with Arjuna that was severely curtailed by the impending battle, Krishna's conversation with Uddhava was more relaxed. Uddhava wanted to know many things and Krishna patiently obliged.

The Lord said, "Uddhava, I am pleased with your spiritual thirst. Let Me quench it with some advice. First, I shall briefly recall what Dattatreya told my ancestor Yadu. In his wanderings, Yadu came across Dattatreya, around whom there was the aura or glow of inner peace. When asked about the secret, Dattatreya replied,

"O King, Nature is the best teacher. My teachers have been the earth, the sky, water, the Moon, the Sun, a pigeon, a python, the ocean, a moth, the honey-bee, the keeper of a beehive, an elephant, a deer, a fish, a woman named Pingala, a squirrel-like animal called Kurari, a child, a young girl, an archer, a snake, a spider and a wasp."

Seeing the puzzled look on Yadu's face, Dattatreya continued, "I shall explain myself with a few examples.

  • I saw that the earth bears all loads silently. This taught me forbearance and the need for being firm like a mountain.
  • Next the sky. When the sky is overcast, we think it is covered with clouds; but that is not true because there is no contact between the clouds and the sky. From this I learnt that though the Atma is enclosed in a body which is made up of the five elements, it (the Atma) is not involved with the body; in other words, the Brahman is always apart from His manifestation.
  • The water of a river is pure and sweet and it purifies those who come to it. In the same manner, good men serve to purify humanity with their presence (Darshan), their touch (Sparshan) and words (Sambhashan).
  • What about the python? As you know, the python never goes out of its way to obtain food; it is content to eat whatever comes its way, be it big or small. Sometimes it even starves for days together but it always waits patiently. This taught me that man should accept with fortitude whatever life offers, be it favourable or otherwise.
  • The moth, as you know, is attracted by flame to which it later falls a prey. It is a victim of the sense of sight which beguiles it. From this, I learnt that unless a person controlled his senses, he runs the danger of being destroyed.
  • Turning to the bee, I noticed that it does not hurt the flower it sucks nectar from. Also, it does not take more than just a small amount. Even so, a renunciate or Sannyasi must accept from a householder just so much and no more.
  • Next the Kurari. Once it had a piece of meat. Large birds then surrounded the Kurari and attacked it fiercely. The Kurari suffered much and could not ward off the attackers. Finally, it let go the piece of meat and instantly the attack stopped. To me this was a lesson that renunciation leads to peace.
  • The snake avoids company and lives by itself in a hole in the ground. Likewise, a renunciate or Sannyasi should shun company and live by himself in a secluded cave or hermitage.
  • The spider taught me the final lesson. One day I was watching this spider sitting on a branch. Suddenly he spat saliva and began to weave threads, which he made into a nice web. Later he ate the threads and soon nothing was left of the web. Even so, at the beginning of an aeon or Kalpa, Paramatma or the Supreme Lord manifests Himself as the phenomenal Universe which, later at the end of the Kalpa, He withdraws into Himself."

"This, O King", Dattatreya concluded, "should give you some idea of how to learn from Nature, shape your life and derive inner peace."

Krishna then said to Uddhava, "See Uddhava, everywhere there are lessons to learn from. These lessons would become apparent only if you train yourself to look beneath the surface and search for a meaning. Creation is beautiful but don't be dazzled by it for that is what Maya (illusion) is all about. Look beyond and you will see the Creator who is much grander!


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