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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Excerpts from Shri Uddhava Gita

Like the bee gathering honey
From many blossoms,
Those who aspire to be sages
Must take something of wisdom
From all the scriptures -
Both the great and the small. ||Shri Uddhava Gita- 5:10||

It is vital for the true seeker to keep the company of holy men, be it in the form of direct association, listening to their recorded talks or reading the holy scriptures written by the Sages. It is the beauty of Upanisads that most of them were written in the form of logical question answer discourse. The most famous of the Upanisads is Shrimad BhagwatGita, which is the dialogue between Shri Krishna and his companion, a young warrior Arjuna. Another important text, which comes from a much larger text called the Bhagavatha Purana, is Uddava Gita. In the Uddhava Gita, it is an old friend and humble counselor of Shri Krishna who asks spiritual advice on the eves of Shri Krishna's departure from earth. To fully understand the message of Shri Krishna, we need both the urgent questioning of Arjuna, the young warrior faced with overwhelming odds, and the gentle probing of the wise, older man, Uddava.

A beautiful translation of this wonderful text is written by Swami Ambikananda Saraswati called “The Uddhava Gita – The final teaching ofKrishna”. I encourage all the seekers to read this beautifully translated text. Here are a few excerpts from this text:

The devotee Uddhava asked:
O Radiant One, Krishna,
Enemy of the enemies of the Self,
What constitutes self-control,
And how will I know
When I have achieved balance?
What is tolerance
And what is steadiness?
Tell me please, Beloved. || 14-28||

What is charity?
What is austerity?
What is courage?
What is honesty?
What is renunciation?
What is wealth worth coveting?
What is religious scrifice,
And what is he proper renumeration
To the teacher or the priest?||14-29||

Most Beloved, tell me,
What is the real strength of a person?
What is real profit and gain?
What is real knowledge
And what is real humility?
And what is beauty
And what are joy and sorrow?||14-30||

Who is the true sage
And who is the fool?
Which is the correct path
And which is the false one?
What is heaven
And what is hell?
Who is truly a friend
And what may be called home?||14-31||

Who is rich
And who is poor?
Who is taker
And who is the giver?
O Ruler of the Virtuous,
Please answer these questions. ||14-32||

The Radiant One, Krishna, replied:
The mind becomes calm
Only when fixed on the Self,
The most perfect self control
Is control of the senses.
Tolerance is the bearing of sorrow,
And steadiness is control of senses,
The tongue and the sexual impulse. ||14-36||

The greatest charity
Is to relinquish any thought
Of violence towards others.
Austerity is the renunciation
Of all hopes and desires,
Courage is overcoming
One's own tendencies.
Honesty is looking upon all
With impartial vision. ||14-37||

Truthfulness is is speech that is kind
And which even the sages may praise.
Purity is non-attachment
To the results of one's actions,
While renunciation is the acceptance
Of the sannyasa stage of life. ||14-38||

A spiritual life is the wealth
That should be coveted.
I, the supreme Self,
Am the religious sacrifice.
The teaching of knowledge
Is the ultimate religious renumeration,
And control of the vitality
Is true strength. ||14-39||

True fortune and splendor
Are my own divine Self.
Profit and gain
Are devotion to me.
Real knowledge
Is the knowledge which ends
All multiplicities.
Real humility
Is avoiding wrongful actions. ||14-40||

True beauty is desirelessness,
Happiness is equanimity
In both joy and sorrow.
Sorrow is the ceaseless longing
For gratification of the senses.
A true sage
Is one who can distinguish
Between bondage and liberation. ||14-41||

A fool is one who has identified
With only the body and personality.
The right path is that
Which leads to me.
The wrong path is the one
That causes confusion.
Heaven is the sattvic mind. ||14-42||

Hell is the tamastic mind.
The teacher in whom I abide
Is the only true friend.
O Uddhava, the human body
May be called home.
One who is virtuous
May be called wealthy. ||14-43||

A poor person
Is one who is never satisfied.
A wretched person
Is one who has never conquered the senses.
Only those who are detached from
The objects of the senses
Are masters of themselves. ||14-44||

Now I have answered your questions, Uddhava.
And there is nothing to be gained
From continuing the discussion in this direction.
What are the definitions of good and evil?
Judging another to be good or bad or evil.
To cease making judgments between good and bad,
That is true goodness. ||14-45||

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