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Vidura's meeting with Uddhava and Maitreya
After hearing how Shukadeva Gosvami had described the Lord’s creation of the manifested universes, Shaunaka Rishi requested Suta Gosvami to narrate how Vidura had come to leave home and, later on, receive instructions from Maitreya Rishi. In reply, Suta Gosvami related these topics to the sages at Naimisharanya just as Shukadeva Gosvami had narrated them to Maharaja Parikshit.
After the Pandavas’ return from exile, Dhritarashtra had invited Vidura for consultation, and the latter had advised his elder brother as follows: “You should now return the rightful share of the kingdom to Yudhisthira, for he has undergone great suffering on account of your offenses. Surely you are afraid of the vengeful Bhima and Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who has accepted the Pandavas as His kinsmen.”
“You are maintaining offense personified, Duryodhana as your son, and because he is envious of Krishna, you have become devoid of all auspiciousness. You should relieve yourself of this misfortune at once, and thus do good to your entire family.”
Duryodhana was present, along with is younger brothers, Karna, and his maternal uncle Shakuni. His lips quivering in anger, Duryodhana replied, “Who asked this son of a kept mistress to come here? He is so crooked that he spies on those under whose protection he grew up, so that he can favor the enemy. Throw him out of the palace at once, leaving him only with his breath!”
Being pierced through the ears by these wordy arrows, Vidura’s heart certainly became afflicted. Above and beyond this, though, Vidura considered such an act of the external energy to be Lord Krishna’s merciful way of detaching him from the diplomatic intrigues of palace life. Vidura was never attracted by the royal opulence of his brother, and he was always prepared to leave home to fully devote himself to the service of the Lord. Now, when Vidura saw the arrival of his golden opportunity, he appreciated how the supreme energy of the Lord, although acting externally toward Duryodhana- was acting internally, to help him. For this reason, Vidura was not at all sorry. He actually thanked Duryodhana within his heart as he placed his bow at the door and then quickly embarked upon a pilgrim’s journey.
Of course, Vidura could have directly approached Lord Krishna at Dvaraka. But, being a humble Vaishnava, he considered himself to be contaminated by Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana’s association. Knowing that one cannot be one hundred percent devoted to the Lord unless freed from all sinful reactions, Vidura considered himself to be unfit for the Lord’s association. For this reason, he decided to visit the holy places of pilgrimage, so that he could become purified and thus come nearer to the Lord. With his mind fixed upon Lord Krishna, Vidura travelled to many of the tirthas, including Ayodhya, Dvaraka and Mathura, and while doing so he dressed as a mendicant, without caring for his body, so that he would not be recognized by anyone, not even his relatives.
At Prabhasa, Vidura heard about the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty and thereafter, he proceeded westward along the banks of the River Sarasvati. At last, after passing through the kingdoms of Surashtra, Sauvira, Matsya and Kurujangala, Vidura arrived at the River Yamuna. There, he happened to meet Uddhava, who was Lord Krishna’s cousin and constant companion, and a former student of Brihaspati.
Vidura embraced Uddhava with great affection, and then asked for news about Krishna, Balarama, the other Yadavas, the Pandavas and Kuntidevi. He did not inquire about Dhritarashtra’s welfare, for he knew that there could only be news of his gliding down toward hell. Vidura already knew that the Yadus were no longer in this world, but due to the shock of having heard this news at Prabhasa, he wanted to hear about it once more from Uddhava. Vidura also requested Uddhava to speak about the glories of Lord Krishna, because the Lord had appeared on the earth simply for the welfare and understanding of all people.
While listening to Vidura’s inquiries, Uddhava became completely absorbed in remembering Lord Krishna, and thus, due to the anxiety of separation, he was unable to reply at first. Indeed, as Uddhava went increasingly deeper and deeper into the ecstasy of remembering Lord Krishna’s lotus feet, all of the bodily symptoms of that transcendental emotion became manifest. By seeing this, Vidura could understand that Uddhava had come to the perfectional stage of full love of Godhead.
Even as a five-year-old child, Uddhava had been so absorbed in Krishna consciousness that when his mother had called him for breakfast, he could not bear to tear himself away from playing with his Krishna dolls by dressing, feeding and worshiping Them. This is the characteristic of a nitya-siddha devotee. From his very birth, Uddhava manifest the instinct of serving Lord Krishna.
Finally, after a few moments, Uddhava came back to the human plane from the abode of the Lord, Dvaraka. He then replied to Vidura in a very pleasing manner: “The sun of this world, Lord Krishna, has set and so what else can be said about our welfare? The universe has been rendered unfortunate, and even more unfortunate were the Yadus, because they could not understand that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, any more than fish can identify the moon.”
As a pure devotee, Uddhava lamented for the members of the Yadu dynasty because they could only understand Krishna as the all-pervading Paramatma Who had incarnated into their family, and not as the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Uddhava continued, “All of the demigods assembled to witness Maharaja Yudhisthira’s Rajasuya sacrifice, and after seeing the beautiful bodily features of Krishna, they thought Him to be Brahma’s ultimate aesthetic creation. When I think of how, due to fear of Kamsa, Krishna had been taken to Vraja to live incognito, and how He had fearfully fled from Mathura, although He is unlimitedly powerful, these bewildering incidents give me distress.”
Uddhava was not actually bewildered by Krishna’s pastimes, but he was distressed due to separation from his beloved Lord.
Uddhava continued to address Vidura: “Krishna begged pardon from His parents for His inability to serve them while away from home. This behavior of the Lord gives me pain at heart. You personally saw how Sishupala attained the success of yoga practice, by merging into the brahmajyoti, although he hated Krishna. Who can tolerate separation from the Lord? Those who saw Krishna’s lotus-like face at Kurukshetra, while being purified by the onslaught of Arjuna’s arrows, achieved the abode of the Lord in the spiritual sky.”
“Krishna used to stand before King Ugrasena and submit explanations to him by saying, ‘O my lord, please let it be known to you’. How could I take shelter of one more merciful than He who awarded Putana the position of His mother, although she had intended to poison Him? I consider the demons to be more fortunate than the devotees, because while fighting with the Lord, they saw Him riding upon the shoulders of Garuda, while absorbed in thoughts of enmity toward Him.”
Of course, demons are never equal to the devotees. Still, due to intense feelings of separation, Uddhava thought that since he would not be able to see the Lord face to face at the time of death, he would have to remain in the material world. On the other hand, the demons that had been killed by the Lord were already in the spiritual sky.
Thereafter, to satisfy Vidura’s desire for hearing about the Lord, Uddhava narrated the pastimes that Krishna had performed for eleven years in Vrindavana, and then the pastimes that He had performed out of Vrindavana. As Maharaja Yudhisthira ruled the earth, Lord Krishna ruled from Dvaraka as a subordinate king.
Krishna appeared to be engaged in household life for many years, but at last, He manifested full detachment from ephemeral sex life. Near the end of His manifested pastimes, Lord Krishna advised Uddhava to leave Dvaraka and go to Badarikashram. Knowing about all that would come to pass, the Lord wanted Uddhava to remain in the association of the devotees of Nara-Narayana Rishi, so that he could avoid the distress resulting from His disappearance. Being unable to bear separation from his master, however, Uddhava had followed Lord Krishna, and at last, he came to where Lord Krishna sat with His back resting against the trunk of a young banyan tree. That it was a young banyan tree signifies that this universe is the youngest and the smallest, and that Krishna’s back rested against the trunk indicates that this material manifestation is external.
The Lord’s body was blackish, and very, very beautiful. His eyes were very peaceful, as always, and they were reddish like the rising morning sun. Uddhava recognized Him to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead because of His four arms, His various symbolic representations, and His yellow silk garments. Lord Krishna’s right lotus foot rested upon His left thigh, and He appeared quite cheerful, even though He had left aside all household comforts.
Uddhava bowed down before the Lord, and then, as he was sitting at ease, Maitreya Rishi also came there in the course of his travels. After allowing Uddhava to rest a bit, Lord Krishna began to speak, while smilingly glancing at him in a particularly pleasing manner. Maitreya, who was a gyana-mishra bhakta, also listened in a thoughtful mood.
Lord Krishna said, “Long ago, when you were one of the Vasus, you had desired My association. Although this benediction is very difficult to obtain for others, I awarded it to you. Rest assured that you have achieved My ultimate favor, and so this will be your last birth in the material world. Your visit to Me in this secluded place is a great boon for you, and very soon you will be able to go back to My transcendental abode, Vaikuntha.”
Uddhava replied, “O my Lord, devotees who engage in the transcendental loving service of Your lotus feet have no difficulty in achieving anything within the realm of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. But, as far as I am concerned, I have engaged in Your loving service without any such aspirations.”
“Although Your knowledge is unlimited and thus You were sufficiently able to consult Yourself alone, You still called upon me for consultation, as if bewildered. This act of Yours now bewilders me. My Lord, kindly explain, if You think that we are competent to receive it, the knowledge that gives enlightenment about Yourself, and that You had previously explained to Brahma at the beginning of creation.”
Uddhava then said to Vidura: “Lord Krishna instructed me at great length. At the end of His talks, I circumambulated the Lord and then came here to the banks of the River Yamuna. Due to separation from the Lord, my mind has become very disturbed. Indeed, I have become practically mad in the absence of Lord Krishna, and just to mitigate my distress, I am on my way to Badarikashram, as advised by Him.”
After hearing from Uddhava about the annihilation of his friends and relatives, Vidura pacified his bereaved mind by means of transcendental understanding. Then, as Uddhava was about to depart, Vidura begged him to describe the transcendental knowledge that he had directly received from Lord Krishna. But, so that he would avoid committing the offense known as maryada-vyatikrama, since Uddhava was much younger in years, he requested Vidura to take instruction from the elderly Maitreya, who was staying nearby.
After the disappearance of Lord Krishna and His associates, only Uddhava remained, because the Lord considered Him to be His foremost devotee and the only person that could be entrusted with the dissemination of the most confidential knowledge about Himself. Thus, it is to be understood that Uddhava was given confidential instructions regarding the mystery of the Lord’s disappearance, that were to be delivered to Nara-Narayana Rishi and others at Badarikashram. That night, Uddhava revealed some of these instructions, and Vidura began to cry loudly in ecstatic love, realizing that the Lord had remembered him at the time of His quitting this world. Uddhava departed for Badarikashram the next morning, and then, after spending a few days on the banks of the Yamuna, Vidura went to the mouth of the Ganga at Hardwar, to meet Maitreya Muni.