Uddhava Gita is part of an old Purana
Puranas is a class of Hindu literature that have been developed by generations of storytellers. Uddhava Gita is part of the Bhagavata Purana, also called Srimad Bhagavatam, which tells the great history (Mahapurana) has ancient origins. Veda Vyasa is given the credit of being its author. Most modern scholars date the extant version to the 800s or 900s CE.
The Srimad Bhagavatam is the most well known and influential of the main Puranas (Mahapuranas, great puranas). There are over eighteen such collections, and many other Puranas. The primary focus of the Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavata) is on bhakti (devotion) to the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, particularly Krishna.
The book tells about the lila (sport, play) of Krishna. It also teaches that bhakti (piousness, devotion etc.) is more important than caste (varna, or social class). The text is also critical of getting, protecting, and enjoying wealth. The work emphasises attaining moksha, spirit freedom, through cultivating a personal and devoted relationship with the Blessed Lord (Bhagaván).
The philosophy and teachings of the Bhagavata include several traditions. Although bhakti Yoga is the prominent teaching, various passages also include syntheses of Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, and Advaita Vedanta. Samkhya is a dominant philosophy in the text, with a marked, added stress on bhakti (piousness, devotion).
The book often discusses the merging of the individual soul (jiva) with the Absolute Brahman, or "the return of Brahman into His own true nature", which is an advaitic or non-dualistic philosophy. The concept of Bhagaván (Personal God) is added, and the resulting over-all outlook is described as "Advaitic Theism"
"Those who possess the knowledge of the Truth call the knowledge of non-duality as the Truth; it is called Brahman, the Highest Self and Bhagavan." The Bhagavata thus clearly appeals to the non-dualist tradition of Vedanta as the framework for its assertions about the nondual nature of the Absolute, who is identified with Bhagavan Krishna. (Sheridan 1986, 136)
The Bhagavata also contains many well-known stories from the life of Krishna, and its eleventh book includes the last discourse of Krishna, Uddhava Gita, which is also referred to as Hamsa Gita.
The Bhagavata Purana
Veda Vyasa told the Bhagavata Purana to his son Shuka, who appeared to others like a mad and dumb person. Yet Shuka told it through seven days to the dying King Parakshit. A man called Suta was present there, and he told the great history (Mahapurana) to the contemplative Saunaka and a gathering of sages who asked to be taught. Suta then related the Bhagavata Purana as he has heard it when Shuka taught Parikshit.
There are twelve sections or cantos in all. The tenth has stories of Krishna's boyhood, youth, manhood and pastimes. The eleventh contains instructions to various devoted followers, and the Uddhava Gita is in that section too.
The ancient Bhagavata Purana tells of worthy goals in life. The Uddhava Gita in it is similar to the Bhagavad Gita in that it is a teaching poem (narrative); that Krishna instructs a follower; and conditions are pressing and a tragedy is at hand.
In Puranas, Uddhava is the friend of Krishna, and plays a significant role in being taught yoga directly by Krishna. Uddhava approaches Krishna and begs him to take him with him when Krishna is about to depart. Instead Krishna expounds the Uddhava Gita to him, in part as consolation. (WP, "Uddhava")
Uddhava Gita is a mixture of sublime devotional passages and practical advice on how to live and meditate.
Krishna, his devoted ones, and his dynasty
It comes to the fore in the Mahabharata and in the Srimad Bhagavata (Bhagavata Purana, Bhagavatam), that Krishna had decided to do away with the nobles and other kings by having them locked in a war. But why? For the sake of Righteousness (Dharma) on our earth, we are told.
Once there was a gambling match in the court of Hastinapura, where the five Pandava brothers lost everything, including their freedom, to their half-brothers, the Kauravas. They also bet on their common wife Draupadi and lost her too. Afterwards the winner, Dushasana, brought Draupadi to the court, pulling her by her long, black hair, and tried to strip her naked in front of all the others. He started pulling her sari. Draupadi called her husbands to save her, but they had sold themselves to be slaves during the dice-playing, and did not consider themselves free to help her. She then called for help from all the elders sitting in the court, but they did not get up. Most of them closed their eyes. None came forward to help Draupadi. All her appeals fell on deaf ears. Then Draupadi called on the absent Krishna to save her. In a moment her sari (dress) was made longer, so that no matter how Dushasana kept pulling on the sari, he was not able to remove all of it from her.
Later, in a forest, Krishna visited the five brothers and was told many details. In consequence, Krishna got angry with the disrobing party and said something like, "I will make this earth wet with the blood of these lusty warriors. I swear to do this." And to Draupadi he said, "Listen to my oath. The heavens may fall, the seas may dry up . . . but the words of Krishna [me] will never be vain, empty words. You will see all the Kauravas dead."
So when two huge armies went to war some years later, it was explained as Krishna's revenge and subtle manipulations to fulfil Righteousness and his own oath.
A mother of some of the dead warriors said to him in a flare of anger: "You could have averted this," and then she cursed him and his dynasty.
Krishna pointed out that his duty was to protect Dharma (Righteousness) and not to prevent the war. He smiled: "I am not sorry for the deaths of the Kauravas." As for his own dynasty, he said, "I am glad your curse has solved a problem; I would have had to kill them if you had not cursed them."
So, he arranged for kings who were troubling the earth to assemble with their armies on opposite sides of the battlefield, and had them killed in war, no matter how great they had been called and still are called. In this way the earth was relieved of a great burden, we are told (Bhagavata Purana 11.1.2)
Krishna thought to himself, "Although some may say that the earth's burden is now gone, in My opinion it is not yet gone. For there still remains my own dynasty. Its strength is unbearable for the earth." (Ibid. 11.1.3)
Krishna further thought, "No outside force could ever bring about the defeat of this family. But I will inspire a quarrel within the dynasty, and that quarrel will act just like a fire created from the friction of bamboo in a grove." (Ibid. 11. 1.4)
Krishna now wanted to have his own dynasty wiped out, and annihilated it was.
Right before his dynasty was wiped out in a drinking brawl and time had come for Krishna to leave the earth, he taught the Uddhava Gita to his friend Uddhava. These teachings are called Uddhava Gita, also Hamsa Gita. It is in the 11th book of the Srimad Bhagavata (Bhagavata Purana), from chapter 7 onwards. Uddhava Gita gist is found on another page: [Link]
So: He came for the sake of Righteousness, made many famed warriors fight to death for the sake of Righteousness even though he could have saved a lot of those who were not present when Draupadi was about to get clotheless in court, and only later joined the battle on each side. Was is wise and proportionate to have most warriors killed for what a few had done to a woman's sari?
The credited author: Vyasa
Vyasa is central to the major Hindu traditions. His name, Vyása, means "split, differentiate, or describe". He is also called Badarayana (because the island Vyasa was born on, is said to have been covered by Badara (Indian jujube) trees), Veda Vyasa ("compiler of the Vedas") and Krishna Dvaipayana ("dark-skinned and island-born"). He is known traditionally as the author of the Vedas and supplementary texts to it, such as eighteen Puranas. Vyasa is held to be a chiranjivin (long-lived or immortal), who remains alive somewhere, somehow, according to general Hindu belief.
Vyasa is an important character in the massive Mahábhárata poem, making occasional appearances in the story as a spiritual guide to the young princes. The son of a ferryman's or fisherman's daughter and the wandering sage Parashara, he was born on an island in the river Yamuna.
According to an ancient practice his mother requested Vyasa to produce children after her husband and two other sons died. Vyasa fathered two princes with the two widows of one of his brothers, who was a king. But one was blind and the other pale, so the two widows sent a maid in place of themselves for a third try. Vyasa thus became grandfather to the warring parties in the Mahabharata epic, the blind and the pale one - and the healthy child Vidura.
Vyasa also had another son, Shuka, born to his own wife.
Vyasa told stories. His scribe with an elephant's head, Ganesh, wrote them down in Sanskrit. The Mahábhárata is structured as a narration by the professional story-teller Suta to an assembly of sages (rishis, seers).
The Vedantic work Brahma Sutras is also attributed to Badarayana (Vyasa) by many - which should make him the proponent of Vedanta, which is called the crest-jewel school of Hindu philosophy. Vyasa is also credited as the author of a commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Living beings: Mind is not a product of matter in Hindu belief.
Diet and lifestyle. Vegetarianism might be attempted.
Bias may influence translation choices.
Ambikananda Saraswati. Swami, ed. The Uddhava Gita. London: Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2000.
Brown, Vasu K. Uddhava Gita: The Final Teachings of Krishna and the Lesser Known Companion to Bhagavad-Gita. Holliston, MA: Sri Lakshmi Services, 2007.
Prabhavananda, Swami, tr. The Wisdom of God (Srimad Bhagavatam). New York: Capricorn/Putnam, 1968.
Prabhu, Anand A., tr. Srimad Bhagavatam. Filognostic Association of The Order of Time. [bhagavata.org], 2005.
Purnaprajna Dasa, ed. 2007. The Uddhava Gita: Krsna Speaks His Sequel to Bhagavad Gita: Original Sanskrit Text, Roman Transliterations, and Translations. Kolkata, IN: Touchstone Media.
Raghunathan, N., tr. 1976. Srimad Bhagavatam, Vols 1-2. Madras: Vighneswara, 1976.
Rosen, Steven J. 2010. Krishna's Other Song: A New Look at the Uddhava Gita. Oxford, UK: Praeger.
Shastri, J. L. ed. 1955. The Bhagavata Purana. Vols 1-5. Tr. G. V. Tagare. Delhi, IN: Motilal Banarsidass. ⍽▢⍽ There are several reprint editions as well.
Sheridan, Daniel P. 1986. The Advaitic Theism of the Bhagavata Purana. Delhi, IN: Motilal Banarsidass.
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