Vanity thought #1368. Mystery of Uddhava

This is born out of a comment I left on someone else’s blog.

Uddhava is a really special personality who doesn’t fit into our usual understanding how things work when Kṛṣṇa descends into the material world. Generally, we accept that Kṛṣṇa manifests His own planet, Goloka, in our realm so that we can get a glimpse of life in the spiritual world. One model is that material universes are moving like on a carousel that goes past a window into the spiritual sky and so through that window someone somewhere always sees the Lord and His pastimes.

This explains Kṛṣṇa’s appearance once in a day of Brahma – that’s how often our universe passes that window. This explains how devotees can get birth during Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes without having to wait – as souls we aren’t confined to any specific universe, I guess. We can always be taken to where Kṛṣṇa is right now.

I might be wrong here but it gives me hope of edging closer and closer to either Kṛṣṇa or Lord Caitanya with every consecutive incarnation, or even getting straight into their pastimes in whatever universe they are visible at the moment.

What this model doesn’t explain is how the place in our universe that passes by the window is also non-different from spiritual Vṛndāvana. When we, the conditioned souls, see the Lord during His advent we are not seeing Him through any windows, we see Him right here between us. These places, either Navadvīpa or Vṛndāvana, are here and at the same time there. They are here even when the Lord is invisible, like right now. So, perhaps, our carousel doesn’t pass by the window but rather through the spiritual world, as if it was a fun park ride passing through a waterfall.

In any case, what we see here is the same stuff that goes on up there. There must be differences, however. Demons do not exist in the spiritual world, Kaṁsa does not exist in the spiritual world, the battle of Kurukṣetra does not happen in the spiritual world, lots of our earthly pastimes are not possible there. This is reconciled in our literature but not in great detail, afaik.

With demons, for example, there’s a fear, not their actual presence, and Kṛṣṇa dispels this fear in the hearts of His devotees. For them it’s part of their relationships with the Lord, they don’t need actual third parties to experience them in full. This doesn’t explain Kurukṣetra or Kaṁsa, however.

Kurukṣetra is at least not part of Lord’s abode but Mathurā is. Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes involving Pāṇḍavas might not exist in the spiritual Goloka but Mathurā is definitely there, and how could Mathurā not have Kaṃsa? How could such a major part of devotees appreciation fo the Lord here be absent in the spiritual world? Everyone here knows Kṛṣṇa is a slayer of Kaṃsa, how could this most basic memory be absent there?

This could be reconciled somehow, I guess. The story of Kṛṣṇa entering Mathurā includes non-devotees and karma-miśra devotees so it’s clearly not the part of the spiritual universe, the fully spiritual part could be Kṛṣṇa’s life here with the members of His dynasty.

Then they all moved to Dvārakā, which is another part of spiritual Goloka. Dvārakā was here along with all Dvārakā’s devotees, the queens, the Yadus – they were all there. There was a problem with Earthly Yadus, of course – how they were “only” demigods who had to be “retired” during a drunken battle, but similar problems can be found in Vṛṇdāvana, too – the brāhmaṇas who refused Kṛṣṇa when he asked for food, for example, or the gopīs who couldn’t join the rasa dance.

Our Earthly manifestations of Goloka allow for the inclusion of devotees rising from the ranks of the conditioned souls, which is great for us. Uddhava, however, is Kṛṣṇa’s eternal associate, He is not one of us, He is always with Kṛṣṇa as His dearest friend and most trusted adviser. He is eternally present in spiritual Dvārakā, too.

The mystery which puzzles me is that Uddhava is not satisfied with his position. He is engaged in service in a legitimate rasa as Kṛṣṇa’s friend and servant. This rasa should correspond to his eternal spiritual svarūpa and should fully satisfy his soul, and yet he longs for something more. How’s this possible?

He lives in Dvārakā among among Kṛṣṇa’s seniors who are in vātsalya rasa with the Lord, and Kṛṣṇa’s queens are there, too, who are in mādhurya rasa. Both of these are technically superior to Uddhava’s sakhyā, yet he is not interested in upgrading to them.

He was perfectly situated in his position until Kṛṣṇa sent him to Vṛndāvana with a message to the gopīs. I guess until then Uddhava had only a vague idea who the gopīs were and what were their relationships with Kṛṣṇa. When he saw them, however, they turned his world upside down. He had never seen love for the Lord that was so intense and so absorbing and so self-rewarding.

Interestingly, he didn’t want it for himself. He didn’t want an upgrade to parakīyā, he simply wanted to serve them in any way he could. From that moment on his heart’s desire was to be born in the land of Vraja so that he could get the mercy of the gopīs upon himself (SB 10.47.61):

    Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers or herbs in Vṛndāvana, because the gopīs trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.

In the purport it’s explained that Uddhava knew gopīs wouldn’t bless him with their footdust but if he was born there as a bush or a creeper he would eventually get it. His wish was granted, for course, and there’s a place on the banks of Kusuma Sarovara where grass is believed to be the incarnation of Uddhava. Alternatively, he was born in Puṣpavana. From where I am details are not really that important, locals there can explain it better.

So, what happened to Uddhava and his eternal svarūpā? Has he “ugraded” himself to the servant of the gopīs? Or can we say that he traded his position as Kṛṣṇa’s friend in Dvārakā to the position of Vṛndāvana’s grass? Grass is supposed to be in a neutral rasa, however. Or is he the kind of grass that sees itself as a servant of a servant of a servant? Now that he got his wish and got gopīs footdust all over his body, what happens as a result? Would he become gopīs servant or would he accept their exact mood, including conjugal attraction to the Lord?

I tend to think that he would rather always remain their servant and admirer even without leaving Dvārakā. This makes a lot more sense – he is there, in his eternal form and eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa, but he knows that there are devotees who are better and more dedicated than him.

I might be wrong, it’s all very speculative, but it’s the kind of speculation that can increase our appreciation for the love and humility displayed by Lord’s devotees. If that has been achieved then the exact answer is immaterial, it could be whatever and arguing about it would completely miss the point.

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