The Uddhava-Gita: an appreciation
Very rarely one comes across a book, among the myriads of books being published today, that can explain the spiritual science of Krishna consciousness to sincere seekers. Even rarer is to come across a book which can cut through the volume of spiritual knowledge available and present the conclusive truths without deviation, purely in context, purely as-it-is. However the rarest of all opportunities I have been able to get is to come across the Uddhava-Gita, on the eve of Christmas 2012.
Despite the price tag of this book, I resolved to offer myself a Krishna conscious gift, in the hope that I would truly redeem my spiritual life, which suffered from the throes of complacence. Well guess what? I was not disappointed…
Not a single page of this treasure-house of spiritual knowledge gets boring, not a single verse creates drudgery or an “I already know that one” reaction – the Uddhava Gita promises and delivers, verse after verse, page after page, delving deep into the spiritual science of the self and its essential praxis within the purview of devotional service. The Uddhava-Gita, it should be pointed out, is the final exposé of Lord Sri Krishna Himself to Sri Uddhava just before departing from this earthly planet. While the Bhagavad-Gita was a spiritual discourse Krishna had to deliver on the battlefield of Kurukshetra in a relatively short time, the Uddhava-Gita was spoken by the Master of all mystics while seated under a banyan tree, after apprising to Sri Uddhava that he has arranged for the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty simply so that all his entourage can regain the spiritual world. Uddhava, however, was entrusted with the last task of delivering his Gita, the Uddhava-Gita, to the sages at Badrikasrama to ensure the perpetuation of this great scripture.
Hence, the hardbound edition of the living tradition and wisdom came into my hands as a most wonderful Christmas gift- thanks to Srila Prabhupada and his glorious movement. The book, in appearance is a treat to those who cherish transcendental knowledge and Touchstone Media, its publisher, didn’t leave a stone unturned in making the material exquisitely presented and readily approachable. It took less than a week for me to delve into the 760 pages of verse-prose while occasionally skimming through the purport and commentary of Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakura respectively.
Lord Krishna starts by instructing Uddhava and then follows through by expounding on the story of Pingala, detachment from the material, the nature of fruitive activity, the symptoms of conditioned and liberated souls, knowledge & renunciation, the yoga system, the mystic yoga perfections, His opulence, a description of Varnashrama dharma, the perfection of spiritual knowledge etc. He also recounts such poetic renditions such as the song of the Avanti Brahmana and elaborates on His answers to the sons of Brahma when the latter himself was perplexed by the questions of the four Kumaras. He concludes with the science of Deity worship, jnana-yoga and the superior position of the bhakti-yoga process.
Especially heroic of Sri Krishna is his description of the Hamsa avatara answering the questions of the mental sons of Brahma. Lord Sri Krishna, here, in just about five verses outlines the science and technique behind distilling the self’s pure consciousness from the influence of the mind, the senses and the three modes of nature. And then of course, the spiritual discourse gets even more interesting and satisfying as the beloved friend of Uddhava, Sri Krishna, counteracts doubts with the torch of transcendental vision. Such vision, which distinguishes spirit from matter or reality from illusion, is ultimately purifying to the spirit soul and stirs transcendental bliss. That day when I finished reading this gem of spiritual wisdom brought tears of joy to my eyes as all my anxiety and its concomitant impressions of distress truly vanished…