Uddhava, knowing that Krishna will be leaving for his realm in Vaikuntha, seeks his final message.
Krishna begins with the story of the avadhuta and his twenty-four gurus. He elaborates on the various duties of men in various stages of life and the course of conduct expected of them as celibates, householders and recluses, where the devotion to Krishna is common to them all.
Then he expounds on the path of Yoga stressing on the control of the mind and analyses the three paths which lead to him -- the Jnanayoga (path of knowledge), Karmayoga (path of performing ones duties) and Bhaktiyoga (the path of devotion). He asserts that through Bhakti alone, which is a simplest of the three, can a devotee easily attain all that can be obtained through reading of scriptures, observing austerities or the practise of Yoga. Pious men in fact do not seek anything from the Lord, not even final beatitude. He then gives a dissertation on the doctrine of Sankhya, a philosophy of duality - Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (realm of matter - consisting of the aspects of cause and effect) practised by seers like Kapila.
Krishna then describes how the three gunas (satva, rajas and tamas) operate. Ignorant men take delight in the gunas, indulging themselves. They resort to pleasing gods with rituals, animal sacrifices etc. with dreams of revelling in the other world. "O Uddhava, they stake all their hard-earned fortune in such activities, not knowing that it is evanescent and a source of misery, although delightful to hear. At the end of such enjoyment, after their stock of merit is exhausted, they will be born again in the terrestrial regions. The other course, which will lead to lifting the veil of maya, would be to devote oneself to me. (who is beyond the three gunaas). The human body, such a rarity to be born in, is the only means to knowledge and self-realisation -- one should cultivate contemplation on me through the satva guna, and with a tranquil mind, unite with me. After which, that satva guna should also be conquered by satva itself."
Uddhava keenly listens to Krishna, but asks him : "Krishna, for a person who cannot control his mind, this yogic discipline seems extremely hard to practise. Pray, Lord! Tell me explicitly the means by which a man may attain perfection." Krishna replies to Uddhava lovingly: "I shall tell you the most auspicious course which pleases me, following which a mortal can conquer even death. With the mind and intellect dedicated to me, one should perform all actions for my sake, remembering me at all times." He goes on to explain in detail the qualities of bhakti, and the ways to worship him.
"Uddhava, one who looks upon a brahmin and a thief, the sun and a spark, the tender-hearted and the cruel one with an equal eye, is considered wise. Rivalry, fault-finding and contempt coupled with self-conceit surely disappears in time from the mind of man, who looks upon everyone as no other than myself."
"When a mortal relinquishes his duties and dedicates himself to me, he will be favoured and become one with me." In the course of his discourse, Krishna repeatedly emphasises the importance of bhakti as the most simple and effective way to attain him, especially for those who will be born during the age of Kali. (He had already asserted in the Bhagavad Gita that he could be reached only through devotion -- Bhakthyaahamekaya grahya...) This teaching, Krishna says, is the import of all the Vedas, which is difficult to grasp. This message of Krishna to Uddhava is called the Uddhava Gita and it consists of two sub-stories illustrating his upadesha, called the Hamsa Gita and the Bikshu Gita.
Uddhava stood with joined palms, his eyes flowing with tears. He could not utter a single word. Choked with emotion, he gathers himself and touches Krishna's feet with his head : "O Krishna! my Lord, the darkness of ignorance which was hugging me has been dispelled by your teaching. It is only through your grace that your deluding potency, maya, can be cut asunder with the sword of self-realisation. My salutation to you, O Yogacharya. I seek refuge in your feet -- let unceasing love for you always abide in my heart."
Krishna instructs: "Go Uddhava! Go to my hermitage in Badarikashrama where the Alakananda (Ganga) flows. Ruminate upon what you have learnt from me. Do your duties devoting your mind and speech to me. You will attain me in due course."
Uddhava painfully takes leave of Krishna, bowing to him again and again, circumambulating him, tears welling up in his eyes. Still agonised from the thought of separation, he takes Krishna's pair of wooden sandals as a token of his pleasure, and bearing it on his head, departs to Vishala (Badarikashrama), the Lord installed securely in the innermost of his heart.
Sage Shuka continues the narration to Parikshit: "I bow to the Supreme Person, known by the name of Krishna. He extracted like the bee, the nectar of the quintessence of the vedas in the form of Gnana (Self-knowledge) and Vignana (god-realisation) and gave it to his devotees as amrita to drink, in order put an end to the rebirth of his devotees."
The elders, women and infants of Dwaraka are relocated to Prabhasa to escape the flooding of Dwaraka. The Yadus, as a prelude to the holocaust, drank the intoxicating but delicious drink called Maireyaka (from the grass called Eraka, which grew out of the powdered pestle which was washed ashore). Inflamed with anger, they challenge their rivals with all sorts of weapons. A great battle ensues, where yadus kill one another, irrespective of whether they were brothers, sons, uncles or friends. When the stocks of weapons depleted they used handfuls of the Eraka grass, hard as clubs. The fury engendered by rivalry, possessed by the sages' curse and the maya of Krishna, brought about their destruction, just as a forestfire would consume a whole forest of bamboos.
Balarama, identifying himself with the Supreme casts off his human semblance and departs to his abode in patala. Krishna, concentrating his mind on his own Self, went up to a peepul tree and sat down resting against its trunk. He looked resplendant in his four armed form, with a countenance enhanced by small curve of his smile. His divine weapons attended on him in a personal form. He sat placing his left foot on his right thigh. Jara, a hunter (who had earlier forged an arrow out the remaining piece of metal left of the pestle), saw Krishna's foot, which appeared to him like the face of a deer, shoots that arrow. When he goes to retrieve the deer, he finds that he had committed a grave offence. Struck with fear he falls at Krishna's feet and seeks forgiveness. Krishna tells Jara: "O Jaraa, get up! you have only played your part as desired by me. You will ascend the abode of the virtuous."
In Dwaraka, Krishna's charioteer, Daruka searches for Krishna and finds him under the Aswatha tree. As Daruka kept speaking about how he missed Krishna's absence, the chariot with the flag of Garuda, along with the horses and the transcendent weapons of Krishna. Krishna asks Daruka to communicate to kinsfolk about the destruction of the Yadus and Balarama's departure, as also his predicament. As the sea will submerge Dwaraka he instructs Daruka to take all the families there without exception, along with Vasudeva and Devaki to Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas. Daruka pays his respects to Krishna and proceeds to Dwaraka, sad at heart.
Krishna concentrates his mind on his own essence and departs to his own realm, without leaving a trace, disappearing just as the lightning into the sky. The gods watched on in wonder, extoll him and leave for their own realms, unable to perceive him.
Arjuna, upon hearing the turn of events in Dwaraka, organises the various funeral rites for those killed in the battle. He arranges to take the survivors of the battle and their kinsfolk to Indraprastha and settles them there. Arjuna crowns Vajra, the surviving grandson of Krishna to lead them.
Shukha tells Parikshit: "O King! your grandfathers, hearing from Arjuna about Krishna's departure, proceed to the Himalayas, appointing you as their successor to the throne of Hastinapura."