Wednesday, December 19, 2012

59 Bhagavatha - Krishna sends Uddhava to advise the gopis of Vraja.
(the Bhramara geetha)

Uddhava was a beloved friend and counsellor of Krishna. He was well known for his intelligence and wisdom. One day Krishna, holding Uddhava's hand, tells him: "O gentle Uddhava, go and meet my parents Nanda and Yashoda who will be delighted to see you. In particular, meet the gopis and give them my message. It will relieve them of their agony caused by my separation. The cowherd women have renounced
everything and have given their mind to me -- their life is centred in me. They live, forgetful even of their own self, as they constantly think of me. They are propping up their life with great difficulty based on my assurances that I will come back to Vraja."
Instructed by Krishna, Uddhava mounts a chariot and drives to Nanda's Gokula carrying the message of his master. By sunset, he reaches Vraja, his chariot covered with dust raised by cattlehoofs. He hears the milking of the cows, along with the songs about Krishna sung by the gopis.
Nanda welcomes Uddhava with great regard, looking upon him as Krishna himself. After Uddhava is relieved of his fatigue from traveling, Nanda enquires about the well-being of Vasudeva and Krishna. "In Mathura, does Krishna remember us and his mother -- and the people of Vraja who look upon him as their protector? Will he come here once to see his people?" Nanda recounts the various deeds of Krishna in
Vraja with affection and wonder. Yashoda too shed tears of love, remembering her unique relationship with  Krishna.
Uddhava joyfully spoke: "Indeed you are the most praiseworthy of all embodied beings of earth. Krishna will certainly visit you in the near future and delight you all. He will certainly keep up his word. He is not only your son, but the son, father, mother, indeed the very self and ruler of all." The night slipped by, as they kept speaking about Krishna.
Early morning the gopis begin their day churning the curds, their bangles jingling in a rhythm. They sang in a chorus, celebrating the exploits of their Lord, Krishna. Seeing the gold-plated chariot at the portals of Nanda, the gopis wondered who could be the visitor : "Maybe it is Akrura again. He has come to accomplish Kamsa's purpose -- he is now going to offer oblations to Kamsa's body with our bodies..." When they spoke in such vein, they see Uddhava returning to Nanda's home after his morning ablutions in Yamuna.
They gaze at Uddhava who looked like Krishna himself, with unusually long arms, clad in yellow silk and wearing a garland of lotuses. With bright smiles, they eagerly surround Uddhava. After making him sit comfortably and paying him respects with kind words, they addressed him: "We know you to be Krishna's companion. You have been sent here by your master to console and delight his parents -- as there is nothing else worth remembering for him in Vraja, a mere pasture land for cows." Thus they spoke and sang about Krishna with tears welling up. They wept, bereft of any shame, revealing their attachment and loving devotion to him.
A certain gopi perceives a bee which was buzzing around and assuming it to be a messenger of Krishna, addresses it: "O black bee! Don't even touch us with your six feet, tinged with the saffron on Krishna's garland, caused by our rivals, the proud ladies of Mathura. What will you gain by conciliating us, the rustic women of Vraja. He has deserted us just like you leave the guileless flowers. It is because of his false promises in words flowing like honey, that even Lakshmi manages to stay on with him.  The fickle-minded Krishna has left us Vraja women, hard-hearted as he is by nature. He attacked Vali (as Rama) without giving him proper notice, deformed Surpanakha who approched him with lust, bound the King Bali (as Vamana) after accepting his gift and worship. Enough of friendship with  anyone possessing a dark hue. But how
can we forget him? The treasure in the form of his stories is difficult to forget. Which woman on earth can resist the playful movements of his eye-brows, followed by his winsome and cunning smiles? Therefore O messenger! let us talk about something else -- the very mention of Krishna awakens memories that accentuate our agony.
"O friend of our Lord, despite being stung by our pungent words, have you come back to us again?  How will you take us there?  It is indeed hard to forego your companionship, once it has been gained and experienced. Has our dear one returned to Mathura after his studies? Does he remember his godfather Nanda as well as his relations and cowherds in Vraja? When will he come back and place his hand on our head to console us?"
Uddhava, confronted with an unprecedented effusion of love, comforts the gopis with the message of Krishna. "O Gopis! You have all your objects accomplished, as your minds have been completely absorbed in Lord Vasudeva. You have set the highest standards for the ideal type of Supreme bhakti to the Lord -- difficult to obtain even by way of severe austerities, studying the vedas, fasting, chanting prayers, pouring
oblations into the fire etc., You have renounced all your loved ones and your own self and developed an exclusive devotion to the Lord. You have conferred a great boon on me, the opportunity to witness first-hand, your love for Krishna. Now, listen to Krishna's message to you.
Bhagawan says: "My most dear gopis! Your separation from me, is not possible under any circumstance, as I am the cause of all. In the eyes of  the wise, the teachings of the scriptures, the path of Yoga, and the Sankhya system of philosophy, renunciation, facing hardships to subjugate one's senses etc., -- all have their goal in control of the mind. It is only to focus your thought constantly on me, and ensure your mental proximity to me that I am staying far away from your eyes. It is not possible for the mind to focus on their most beloved one if he lives close by. Having devoted your undivided mind on me, you will attain me before long." "
Hearing Krishna's words the gopis were delighted and share with Uddhava their memories of Krishna, etched in their mind. They worship him with due respect, considering him to be Krishna himself.  The people of Vraja constantly recounted the stories of Krishna, delighting Uddhava. The thoughts of Krishna in Vraja made the months of Uddhava's stay seem like mere moments.
Bowing to the gopis with reverence, Uddhava sang. "With their supreme devotion, only these cowherd women have justified their existence in a human body. What grace has descended upon these gopis - that the Lord chose to sport with in the Raasa festival, with his long arms around their necks! Even Lakshmi, exclusively devoted to him on his person, could not obtain that supreme grace. Oh! let me be reborn as a
shrub, creeper or a herb in Vrindavana, rolling in the dust of the feet of these women, who showed us the path to attain Krishna. I repeatedly salute the dust of the feet of Nanda's Vraja, whose loud singing of the glory of Krishna captivates and purifies the entire world."
Seeking Nanda's permission and after a tearful farewell by the gopis, Uddhava leaves for Mathura. He falls prostrate before Krishna and talks about the plentitude of devotion the people (the gopies in particular) of Vraja had towards Krishna and handed over the presents sent by Nanda to Balarama, Krishna and King Ugrasena.
It is said that Krishna sent Uddhava, (the foremost in knowledge of scriptures, tutored by the guru of the gods, Brihaspathi), to advise the gopis on the truths revealed in the scriptures -- Only for Uddhava to realise that bhakti alone can help attain the ultimate truth -- conclusively taught to him by the rustic gopis, bereft of any knowledge of the scriptures.

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Srimad Bhagavatham