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Krishn and Uddhav

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Krishn and Uddhav
The following conversation between Krishn and Uddhav has been taken from Sri KM Munshi's Krishnaavataar.

Uddhav was the closest friend and right hand man of Krishn since childhood. He was Krishn's cousin, born at around the same time as Krishn. He was sent from Mathuraa to Vrindaa Van as an infant to be a playmate to Krishn. From then, Uddhav became the most intimate friend and follower of Krishn. The following episode happens when Uddhav, sent on a mission by Krishn to Shreegaalav Vaasudev of Karaveer Pur (an impostor king claiming to be the only Lord Vaasudev (Vishnu) on earth and forcing everybody to worship him), falls in love with the King's niece Shaibyaa, a gorgeous young woman thoroughly devoted to her uncle (the King). But Krishn goes and beheads him in front of her eyes and she is enraged at both Krishn and Uddhav.

Before all this, Aachaarya Shwetketu, the foremost disciple of Saandeepan (Guru of Krishn and Uddhav) sees Shaibyaa near his Guru's Ashram and gets thoroughly infatuated with Shaibyaa, so much so that he even leaves his Aashram to go after her to eventually become impostor Vaasudev's sidekick, just for her sake. But she keeps waiting for her uncle's permission to marry him, which never comes. After killing the impostor King, Krishn brings Shwetketu to his senses by persuasion. That is the time when Uddhav also gets infatuated with Shaibyaa. Krishn was around 21 years old at that time. Now read on...

That night Krishn felt very concerned about Uddhav. During all the time that they had lived together from the days of their infancy, He had never seen Uddhav so constrained, and so absent-minded, behaving so strangely. Though a man of a few words, he had always been open-hearted, quiet, self-effacing, always radiating warmth. With Damghosh and Balaraam, Krishn had traveled in the first chariot; Shaibyaa and her maids were in the next. The Aachaarya followed in other chariots or on foot, while Uddhav, being in charge of the caravan, rode around all the time on the horse-back. At night, however, he came as usual to wherever Krishn happened to be waiting for him and, walking arm in arm or lying side by side as was their wont, they would exchange their impressions of the day. But a little after they began their journey, Krishn had sensed the change, though not clearly at first. As the days went by, a new mood seemed to possess Uddhav, and, during the last two nights, he had purposely kept away from Krishn, invariably avoiding his gaze even during the day-time.

Because Krishn had insisted, Uddhav had promised to come that night and had done so. After a short conversation, both retired to sleep. Balaraam was already fast asleep, breathing with heavy evenness. But Krishn, who usually went to sleep as soon as he closed his eyes, kept awake, for he found that his friend was tossing uneasily from side to side in his sleep. After some time, He sat up, drew closer to Uddhav and placed a hand on his friend's shoulder with a gesture of infinite tenderness. Uddhav woke up with a start; Krishn enveloped him in His arms.

A late moon was in the sky, throwing varied patterns of light and shade on the earth throughout the leafy branches of the trees.
"Uddhav, I want to talk to you. Come," He said. Uddhav got up and following his friend to a platform of earth which surrounded a tree in the neighborhood. Krishn pulled Uddhav to His side and silently watched him for a few moments. He could see that Uddhav was nervous. "My brother, you have become different these days," Krishn said softly. Uddhav gave an imperceptible start, which Krishn did not fail to notice. "Do I look different? You are mistaken." Uddhav said with a forced smile.

"Uddhav, what has come between us? Have I done anything to offend you?" asked Krishn.
"You to offend me?" said Uddhav, clinging to Krishn like a drowning man. "You would never offend me, and whatever you do, I will never take as an offence. Have you any doubt, Krishn?" he asked anxiously.
"No, Uddhav. That is why I want to know what troubles you." Krishn felt a tremor passing through Uddhav's frame. "Tell me, my brother."
"What can I say? I don't understand it myself." said Uddhav looking away from Krishn.
"I will try to understand it for you," said Krishn. "Since we have left Karaveer Pur something has happened to you - something which had not happened to you before."

"Nothing has happened to me. I was with you all the time." replied Uddhav with a forced smile.
Krishn smiled indulgently. "That is what I want to know. What happens to you and why, when I am with you? I see you feel a want, a sense of loss, a self-defeat - which you never did before. Tell me, Uddhav. Don't try to conceal it." Krishn pressed Uddhav to His heart.

Uddhav hesitated a while, sighed, and then spoke in a voice which trembled a little. "If you want to know, I will tell you. I am tired of life. I want to give up this life and return to Badaree Aashram." he said and paused as he found he was unable to express himself clearly.
"Why turn an ascetic? We are here to affirm life, to rise above it, not to deny it." said Krishn.
"You can do so, for you are a God. You are born to dominate life," said Uddhav helplessly, "but I am not."
"Life was meant to be lived. Even the venerable Parashuraam said so. And both of us have lived it well so far." said Krishn.
"I have no desire to live well, Krishn. Don't make me more unhappy by having to confess it. I have made up my mind." said Uddhav, his eyes full of a silent pathetic appeal to Krishn not to probe into his heart any further.

"Brother, you can't be unhappy just because I want you to share your unhappiness with me," Krishn suddenly stood up and gathered Uddhav to His breast as a thought struck him. "Have you become infatuated with Shaibyaa?" He asked.
Uddhav hid his face on Krishn's breast, "Krishn, don't ask me."
"Now I know. Kaam Dev's arrows have hit you, Uddhav. I now understand what you feel," said Krishn sympathetically, "She is pledged to Shwetketu; you won't take her away from him; you cannot live without her; you cannot have her; you, therefore, want to renounce life."
"Don't, don't," piteously sobbed Uddhav, "I have gone mad. I have sinned. I have been untrue to you."

"Don't be so harsh on yourself. What you suffer is only natural. Woman, when the darts of Kaam Dev pierce your hearts, is like fire; whoever then touches her gets singed (ie, burnt superficially or lightly, scorched)." said Krishn.
"I don't want only to be singed by the fire. I want to throw myself into it and be reduced to ashes. You cannot understand what I feel. You can love the Gopee(s) and leave them without a sigh." said Uddhav.
"You are wrong, Uddhav." said Krishn quietly.
"You are so different from all of us, Krishn," said Uddhav, heaving a sigh. Then his reserve broke down. "Now that you have asked me, Krishn, let me make a clean breast of it. I was wanting to do it all these days, for I cannot live as a stranger to you. You do not know what I have suffered since we left Karaveer Pur. Awake or asleep, I have seen her beautiful eyes full of tears before me. I see her in my dreams. Oh, she is so wonderful!" He paused, "And I feel like a thief when I think how Shwetketu and Shaibyaa are pledged to each other."
"How did it happen so suddenly?" asked Krishn sympathetically.

"The day we started, I went to her to see that she was well looked after. She was sitting in the chariot, her face between her knees. When I asked her whether she wanted anything, her eyes, Krishn, flashed an angry look at me. They looked so wonderful. Then my eyes fell on her neck, her shoulder, her figure - and I was struck dumb as Shwetketu was once. My blood appeared to be on fire. I felt like fainting," said Uddhav.
"That is Kaam Dev fanning the fire." said Krishn indulgently.
"Call it what you will," said Uddhav, "I then asked her to take some milk which the maid had brought. She took the earthen cup from her hands and threw it at me." Uddhav hesitated for a while, sighed and continued, "I felt that I must make her eat and drink something, otherwise she would die. So I stood there obstinately holding out another cup of milk for her to take. She glared at me. I continued to smile. At last she took the cup from me and said in disgust, "You want me to take it. Very well, I will." She drank the milk and handed back the cup to the maid. "Now please go and don't make me more miserable." she said. 'I came away, but could not forget even for a moment how she had looked at me. Then day after day I went to her twice, sometimes three times a day, and offered her food. Every time she would stare at me, take the food from me, and after eating it, would fold her hands and beg me to leave her alone. Doing this day after day, I felt myself floating in the air. The color of earth and heaven changed. You became distant too - almost unreal."

Krishn smiled with understanding, "I became a dim star in the distant sky?" He asked with a sly wink.
Uddhav ignored the irrelevant question, "At night whether I am awake or asleep, they are before me - the angry eyes, the arching bows, the defiant nose, the long tapering fingers, the gait of voluptuous grace....,' he paused.

"If you like, I will complete the description: - of a fascinating leopardess, growling in suppressed ferocity at my poor Uddhav,' said Krishn, mischievously.
"Don't tease me, Krishn. You don't know how miserable I am. You don't know what happens to me night after night." said Uddhav.
"I know you have disturbed sleep these days." said Krishn.
"Often after midnight I wake up. My body then trembles like a leaf in a breeze; flames course along my veins; bells ring in my ears." said Uddhav and looked down almost shamefacedly and continued in low, halting accents, "I see her.... I cling to her.... oh, Krishn, I am fallen beyond redemption. I have no right to your love. When I am half asleep, sometimes I see myself carrying her away, stabbing Shwetketu."
"I know you dislike the brutish ways of our Kshatriya's - raiding and capturing women like cattle against their will." added Uddhav.

'Yes it is A-Dharm to do so." said Krishn.
Clinging to Krishn like a drowning man, Uddhav repeated, "I am fallen. I am sunk in vile passion, lust and greed and jealousy."
"And when I realized that I had fallen, I felt a shock, Krishn," continued Uddhav, "I could not take away what was Shwetketu's. I could not give her up. So I decided to renounce the world,"
"Only a few, whom the Gods bless, can renounce women and live a life of vigor. But that is not given to us all. If you go to Badaree Aashram, Shaibyaa - in one form or other - will follow you. She will haunt your loneliness. You can't live in vigor and forget women." said Krishn.
"I want to forget women - at least Shaibyaa. Otherwise I will go mad. How can I do it?" asked Uddhav.
"Control yourself." replied Krishn.
"I don't know how I can do it," said Uddhav in an appealing voice, "I have never felt this way before."

Krishn was silent for a while and then in a quiet, affectionate voice resumed, "I told you, to us, whenever wounded by Kaam Dev's arrows, woman becomes fire. We are first inclined to make of her a wayside fire to give a fleeting warmth and then pass by it on our way. Then the breezes fan the fire; the flames set fire to the grass under our feet and the dry branches overhead."
"Very little is left of me, and whatever is left will soon be reduced to ashes." said Uddhav bitterly.
"There is one way, the only way. Keep the warmth, but stay away from the flames." said Krishn.
"It is easy to say so, but how? I have nothing of me left which would let me stay away." Uddhav pleaded helplessly.
"Try. Do you really want Shaibyaa?" asked Krishn.
"I want her, but I will not be untrue to my friend, Shwetketu." replied Uddhav.

"You can weave any women into your life - may be not as you wish - if you convert the wayside fire into the sacrificial fire on a Vedee, an altar (a Devtaa for Aaraadhanaa / worship).
"Why a wayside fire?" asked Uddhav.
"Because you don't wait to inquire of what it is made; you don't care who warmed himself at it before you did, or what will happen to it after you have left. You are only selfish; you want a passing warmth. You don't consider how it will affect you later. You don't want it to lead you to strength." said Krishn.
"Oh!" said Uddhav.
"A passing fancy for a wayside fire will only singe (ie, burn superficially or lightly, scorch); lifelong worship at the altar will give warmth - always." Krishn placed his hands on Uddhav's shoulders and His voice, as on all such occasions, had the ring of certitude, of authority.

"Don't talk to me in riddles. Tell me clearly, please, I beg of you, Krishn." said Uddhav helplessly.
"You want Shaibyaa for your life and hers?" asked Krishn.
"I want her, but do not want to be untrue to Shwetketu - nor to you." Uddhav shook his head.
"Then stand true to yourself; build an altar of devotion around her; offer her the most precious thing you can offer; then she will give you the warmth and strength of the sacrificial fire." said Krishn.
"But in that way, Krishn, she will never be mine as I want her to be." said Uddhav, unconvinced.
"And if you throw yourself into the fire, will you become the Lord of the fire? No, Uddhav. The sacrificial fire gives blessings only to the one who offers all, not to the one who demands all." said Krishn.

"The thought that Shaibya will not be mine sends me mad." said Uddhav shaking his head in utter helplessness.
"Do I not know how wonderful Shaibyaa is? She has the fiery spirit of a half-tamed mare. She is a woman of great ability and devotion. Only she is at war with the world - that is the trouble with her. No sooner had I seen her than I was drawn to her myself - and constructed an altar around her. I do it with every woman who enters my life. I did the same with Mother Yashodaa, with the Gopee, with Vishaakhaa, with Raadhaa, with Mother Devakee, and even with Trivakraa (Kans's palace maid whom Krishn cured of disfigurement)." said Krishn.
"I cannot do what you can. I could only build an altar round you, and that is now defiled." said Uddhav.
"I will show you the way to build the altar, Uddhav. It is not difficult. Are you ready to bear the thousand thorns which would afflict you as you lived with Shaibya day by day?" asked Krishn.

"Why do you ask these questions, Krishn? They hurt me. I want her for ever and ever, but I am never going to obtain her." said Uddhav.
"Answer my question," said Krishn, "Would you like her to be the mother of your children, the Kul Stree, the presiding goddess of your family, who would surround you and your children with love and transmit your family traditions to your children?"
"I don't know," Uddhav confessed, "I have never thought of those things."
"Then you are selfish; you have no devotion to offer her, you only want her as a passing glow." said Krishn.
Uddhav was indignant, but speechless.

"Do think again and tell me. Do you want her to be a divinity to her children, loved, honored and worshipped by them?" asked Krishn.
"Certainly, I do." replied Uddhav.
"Well, then when she grows old, ailing, decrepit, will you still be able to warm yourself? Or, when your life is running out, will you still be able to warm yourself at the dying fire?" Krishn insisted on an answer.
"How can I say? I am bewildered." said Uddhav.
"If you cannot say it clearly, how can you enshrine Shaibyaa on an altar?" Krishn said slowly and became dreamily reminiscent.
"Uddhav, both you and my Big Brother have always upbraided me for leaving Raadhaa behind in Vrindaa Van. But I did it because I want her to be my sacred fire. I would never have loved Raadhaa had I not felt sure that I was going to be in Vrindaa Van as a cowherd for ever. But when I was called to Mathuraa as Vasudev's son, it would have been wicked to bring her with me. She was born to be an exquisite flower in the spring and would never have survived the hot winds of the life I was called upon to face. She would have never found her "Kaanhaa" in Krishn Vaasudev. And I, with my mission to fulfill, could not have played the gay cowherd, who was the very breath of her life. So I parted from her. She has always remained an altar fire for me and I have remained the altar fire for her. It was the only way." said Krishn, a little sadly.
"I wish we all had your wisdom." said Uddhav.

"If you feel so, why not let me tell you what I think wisdom is?" Krishn was now speaking with authority, "Man and wife, Uddhav, living in mutual lifelong devotion, are at the root of Dharm. The creation springs from them. Don't destroy Dharm for a fleeting comfort at a wayside fire."
"Remember what the Gods did in the days of old," continued Krishn, "They had to offer sacred Purush to make creating possible. Without a sacrificial offering, you cannot create anything,' said Krishn as if speaking to Himself, "If you want a woman, you have to offer something: a present, a house to live in, lifelong protection. But in that way you will only get a woman, her body, her services. The offering however is like sacrificing ghee or barley or a lamb to obtain a place in Heaven. If you want a divinity to inspire you to Dharm and multiply your strength a hundredfold, you must offer something vastly greater. Have not the Gods said: "By the spirit of sacrifice alone shall sacrifice prosper?"
"Don't confuse me, Krishn." said Uddhav, "Tell me what I should do. I have always lived in and for you, always obeyed you. In this case too, I will follow your advice. You have the Power to see, but I have not."
"Then my brother, find out for yourself whether Shaibyaa is a wayside fire for you or worth enshrining on an altar. She is a wonder of a woman - a splendorous creature, not exactly made for a devoted wife or a self-effacing mother, unless she has learnt to give you the devotion which she gave to her uncle. She is at present a raging wild fire. She cannot be even a wayside fire, much less an altar fire - either for you or for Shwetketu. Shwetketu has accepted my advice and will wait till the darting flames - which are Shaibyaa today - subside." said Krishn.

"Do you give me the same advice?" asked Uddhav.
"Yes. In the meantime, let each one of you build his own altar around her....  and who knows if the fire will be tamed and declare its own guardian god." said Krishn.
"It is a hard, hard way." said Uddhav.
"The hardest way is the best - for it is the way of Tapas, of the strength which comes of purifying the body and the mind. If Tapas does not purify passion, women themselves will think it an amusing game to become wayside fires; roaring like Rudra(s), they will sweep Dharm away. Then the unity of man and wife will be dissolved; the family bond will be snapped; the ways of our Fathers will be forgotten and the bonds which keep the worlds together will break. Men and women, lusting and irresponsible, incapable of Tapas, will forswear Rit, to which even the Gods conform. In the end, Dharm will die and men and women will be worse than beasts." said Krishn.
Uddhav kept looking down, listening to the words of his friend.

"I have never spoken to you so freely about this, for no occasion has arisen so far." continued Krishn, "But, Uddhav, listen. We cannot desert Dharm. We have still very far to go. I say we - for without you, I am helpless. Your faith in me keeps me on the path of Dharm. Don't forget it."
"Lord, forgive me." said Uddhav, overborne by such love and kindness, "I am not worthy of such affection. Tell me what to do, and I will do it."
"Tomorrow or the day after, my Big Brother is going with King Kukudmee to capture Kushasthalee (future Dwaarakaa). Go with them. Nothing makes it easier to prepare a good altar than being away from the fire. By the time you come back, the raging flame, which is Shaibyaa today, will have subsided; perhaps by then Shwetketu may have returned to Mathuraa." said Krishn.

"It is a terrible thing that you ask me to do. But I swear, I will carry it out - even at the cost of my life." said Uddhav.
"Great things, Uddhav, are always done at the cost of one's life,' said Krishn.


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Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 12/22/12