If Bhagavad Gita was the knowledge given by Lord Krishna at the backdrop of the Mahabharata war that destroyed the unrighteous Kurus, Uddhava Gita was given at the backdrop of the internal strife of the Yadavas which resulted in the wiping out of the Yadava clan to which Lord Krishna himself belonged.
While Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and his friend Arjuna, Uddhava too is a dear childhood friend of Lord Krishna. Bhagavad Gita, which is also available as an independent text, is a part of the Bhisma Parva of Mahabharata. Similarly Udhava Gita is available as an independent text. But is part of the Bhagavata Purana which is exclusively dedicated to Lord Krishna and his various Leelas beginning from early childhood. Srimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavata Mahapurana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas said to have been compiled by Veda Vyasa.
Uddhava Gita, which is also known as the last message of Lord Krishna, can be said to be a sequel to the Bhagavad Gita. Some contents of the Bhadavad Gita has been repeated while some of its concepts have been further elaborated.
The background of Uddhava Gita is like this. Uddhava is not only Lord Krishna’s close friend but also a counsellor of the Yadava clan. Learning about the impending disaster that would wipe out the Yadava clan and also learning that Lord Krishna himself would end his own human avatar and return to his abode in Baikuntha, Uddhava is desperate. He asks Lord Krishan to take him but the Lord in turn advises him to stay behind and also empowers him with spiritual knowledge to rise above the vicissitudes of life and lead a calm and contended life.
Even though Bhakti is the underlying theme of Uddhava Gita, all systems of yoga and darshana are expounded. One popular story from Uddhava Gita is Avadhuta or Dattatreya and his twenty four gurus. They range from inert objects like earth and mountain to dancing girls, thieves and serpents which may sound strange in spiritual context. But, it signifies the fact that if we are open and positive we can even learn something from a thief. If closed, even the knowledge of Yogeswara Krishna will be lost on us.
The Gita which is popular with Devi devotees is Devi Gita. Like the two Gitas mentioned above, it is available as an independent text even though it is actually part of Srimad Devi Bhagavata Purana. This also contains advises and explanations on various types of spiritual practices and concepts.
The most esoteric of the Gitas is perhaps the Astavakra Gita which is considered to contain the ultimate knowledge of Jnana Yoga. It is a dialogue between king Janaka and Rishi Astavakra. King Janaka is considered as the best example of someone who was enlightened but continued to carry on with his worldly duties.
In case you want to undertake serious study of any of these Gitas, please bear in mind certain points that I have explained in my post – Interpretation of Indic Texts. By the way, Uddhava Gita is also known as Hansa Gita. Hansa or swan has great spiritual significance as it is a symbol of viveka (prudence /discrimination). A swan is said to have the capability to separate milk from water with ease. A spiritual seeker must develop viveka. Without this, there are chances he may get lost in the ocean of knowledge itself.
A confused mind sees a world of multiplicities, a world of good and bad. This creates a compulsion to act or refrain from acting, depending on perceived gain or loss. Thus are attachments and repulsions created and both are reasons of bondage. Therefore, practise to have a say over your senses and the tendencies of your mind. See this entire universe as the Self and see this self in me, its supreme abode. In this way you will come to know and realize that the self with you is the same self of all embodied beings. Once you know this your mind will shed restlessness and all obstacles will be removed. (Lord Krishna’s advice to Uddhava)
This is the alphabet U post of Blogchatter AtoZ Challenge 2021. My theme this year is ‘The beauty of Sanskrit and Sanskrit texts’, where in I explore selected compositions in Sanskrit and also some unique aspects of Sanskrit language and texts. Join with me in my journey to understand India’s spiritual and intellectual heritage. All the posts of AtoZ Challenge 2021 can be accessed here.