Updated: Jan 1
Uddhav Meets the Gopis Of Vrij
Shri Krishna, after completing his studies with Sandipani, returned to Mathura and helped King Ugrasena run the kingdom. Life in the royal palace was comfortable, praises showered on him from every quarter, but Krishna seemed lost. He would walk up to the terrace, sit there and shed tears. The separation from Mother Yashoda, the gopis, his cows, his gopa friends made him feel wretched and he spent hours remembering them, tears rolling down his face.
Uddhav, Krishna’s friend and cousin, tall, dark with curly hair resembled him in his looks. He was very close to Krishna and couldn’t bear to always see Krishna so sad. He was also a great scholar and the disciple of Guru Vrihaspati. He was very wise but his heart had not been warmed with love and devotion. He advised Krishna that the childhood days of playing with the inhabitants of Vrij was long gone and as the ruler of Mathura, he should enjoy the prosperity of the kingdom.
Krishna looked up at Uddhav and asked, “Udhau, Mohin Vrij Bisrat Nahi. I cannot forget Vrij. Will you do me a favour? Please go to Vrij and teach the inhabitants there about spiritual wisdom. It will reduce the pain of separation that they feel. Once they forget me, it will become easier for me to forget them.”
Uddhav replied, “Why don’t you write them letters regularly?”
Overwhelmed, Krishna said, “I have tried, dear Uddhav, I have tried several times! But I don’t find words to comfort Maa and the gopis. So, you should go to Vrij to educate them to forget me. The Gopis have abandoned their happiness, their husbands, their families, their duties and their very selves for me. I am their most cherished love. I am the only one they remember, day in and day out, are struggle to maintain their lives because I have promised them to return. Please go to them with my message.”
Uddhav acceded to his request and in order to fulfil his desire, started for Vrij. Krishna gave Uddhav his yellow garment (pitambara) and garland (vaijayanti mala) saying that in this dress, the gopis would surely recognise him as Krishna’s messenger. Tears rolled down his face as Krishna sent Uddhav off to Vrij. Uddhav set off in his chariot, perplexed, as It was always difficult for him to comprehend why Krishna always started weeping at the mention of Vrij.
Uddhav reached Vrij at sunset to behold the most picturesque sight. The redness of the sky disrupted by the clouds of dust from the hooves of the cattles, the cowherd boys bringing the cows back home from the forests after an exhausting day, the calves jumping and running hither-tither, followed by their mothers whose udders were heavy with the weight of the milk. The village, surrounded by the flowering forests with swarms of bees buzzing around, the lakes crowded with swans and blooming lotuses, the sweet note of the flute and the songs glorifying Krishna’s leelas reverberated in the atmosphere and felt like nectar when it reached his ears. The houses were decorated with burning lamps and incense sticks as if they were all set to welcome Uddhav. The newcomer’s chariot reached Nanda’s home and he was warmly ushered in. The household gathered around him, worshipped him and made him sit on a comfortable bed. After inquiring about the welfare of Vasudeva and Devaki, they wanted to know about their dearest Krishna. Did he remember them - His friends, the village of Gokul and Govardhan? They choked as they remembered Krishna and his pastimes. The intense love that the mother felt for her son caused milk to flow from Yashoda’s breasts at the mention of Krishna. They informed that remembering Krishna and his leelas, visiting the places where he placed his lotus feet, made them feel like Krishna all around them and that was their only joy.
Then it was Uddhav’s turn to pacify them, telling them that both Nanda and Yashoda were the most fortunate ones to have had Krishna as their son.
Krishna is the absolute truth. He is present in the hearts of all beings just like the fire lies dormant within wood. He is neither subjected to birth nor death, nor does he belong to anyone but appears to enjoy spiritual happiness and carry out leelas with his devotees. What can be said about the two purest souls who had nurtured Krishna with unconditional love served him with all their heart?! He passed on Krishna’s assurance that he would soon return to Vrij.
Nanda said that he felt like Krishna was still there in Vrij. He would hear the sweet melody of Krishna’s flute and it felt as if his son was sitting on his lap and talking to him. The forests, river Yamuna, Govardhan hill, they were all awaiting his return. Tears of the Gopis had been flowing incessantly like waterways since the day Krishna left. Cows had stopped grazing, while Nanda and Yashoda hadn’t eaten anything, waiting to feed their darling Krishna first. Everything around, including the blue colour of Yamuna, brought back memories of Krishna. Uddhav was at a loss of words. What could he preach to the very ones who saw Krishna everywhere, in everything?
The night passed by, talking and reminiscing about Krishna and his deeds. As the eastern sky began to glow with a reddish lustre, the sounds of the gopis churning butter in tune with the singing of glories of Krishna filled the sky. When the sun lighted up the village, the gopis saw Uddhav’s chariot and rushed to it, thinking Akrura must have brought Krishna back home. But when they peeped in and saw Uddhav, they were astonished. With long arms, lotus shaped eyes, yellow garment, a vaijayanti garland and a lotus like face shinning with brightly polished earrings, he looked just like their very own Krishna. They went near him and took him to a secluded place where they could speak to him confidentially.
They inquired if Krishna had sent him to find out about his parents. After all, there was nothing else worth remembering in the pastures of Vrij, they thought dejectedly.
They were remembering Krishna and his activities and wept loudly without shame, while Uddhav tried to console them saying that by surrendering everything they have, even their whole existence to Krishna, they had become the greatest devotees. They were the most fortunate as Krishna was the dearest to them. To increase their attraction for him and to intensify their longing, he had left them so that their mind could be fixed on him constantly. Their constant remembrance would pull him back to them.
But the gopis’ thirst to hear about their Krishna was unquenchable. They kept interrupting each other, asking, “Is Krishna happy after killing Kamsa? Does he enjoy being surrounded by his family and the women of Mathura? Does he remember us, poor, unsophisticated maidens of Vrij? Does he remember the way he sang and danced with us? Will he ever come back to us and enliven us, just as Indra’s heavy showers give life to dried up trees in forests? We understand that renunciation is the greatest path. but how can we ever give up our only wish of meeting Krishna? Our hearts have been stolen away by his beautiful face, his sweet flute, his reassuring words, his bewitching smile and his graceful gait.”
Uddhav came to educate the gopis that they should worship the formless almighty. But the gopis replied that the bliss given by Krishna could not be received from Uddhav’s wisdom. Their body, mind and soul had been surrendered to Sri Krishna and they had nothing left to invest in seeking the almighty. Uddhav went to Vrindavan to console the gopis but when he saw their love for Sri Krishna, he felt as if his knowledge (gyaan) was of no value in comparision with their divine love. He considered his gyaan to be like a gudri (old, torn, useless piece of cloth) and threw it into the Yamuna. There is a place called ‘Gyaan Gudri’ in Vrindavan where Uddhav’s pride in his knowledge (gyaan) was humbled by the gopis’ love (bhakti). Uddhav stayed in Vrij for a few months to bathe in this ocean of divine love and pronounced that he would consider himself the most fortunate if he took birth as a bush or even a creeper that would sometimes be touched by the dust of the lotus feet of these gopis.
Uddho Suddho ho gaye, suni gopiyon ke bol
Gyan bajawe dugdugi, prem bajawe dhol