Uddhava, the apprentice of Krishna, one day expressed his dissatisfaction to Krishna that in-spite of studying all Vedas, Upanishadas and Sutras, he still was not recipient of the title “Maha-Rishi”, meaning the great sage. He indirectly suggested that Krishna should use his weight in the council of wise men to honor him with the title.
Krishna sensed the ego and pride of Uddhava. He smiled and asked Uddhava if he thought his study was complete. Uddhava answered a confident yes. Krishna did not say anything. He just told Uddhava to come and see him the next day.
The next day Krishna asked him a for a favor. He asked Uddhava to visit Vrindavan, where Krishna’s soul mate Radha resided, and to give her a message. Uddhava gladly agreed. After all, getting to do a special assignment for no one else but Krishna, the divine one, was an honor. When he was ready to leave, Krishna smiled and waved him goodbye. Uddhava asked about the message and Krishna said he had none.
Uddhava was surprised. He sat in chariot and started on his way, but he could not help wonder what would be Radha’s reaction. He was sure Radha would be very angry at this. He did not want to see a problem in Radha and Krishna’s relationship. So just before he entered Vrindavan, he got a parch-paper and wrote a hi-hello message to Radha and forged to look like it came from Krishna.
On reaching Vrindavan, he did not have problem finding Radha’s house. She gave him a warm welcome. After he settled, he handed over the message, hoping she would not examine the message in too much detail.
For a moment Radha stared at the parch-paper and then she started laughing hysterically. Uddhava was confused. He asked Radha what was the matter. She said the message Krishna wrote was funny. Uddhava pretended surprise and asked what was the message.
“The message says Uddhava’s study is still not complete.” replied Radha.
On listening this, Uddava was stunned.
‘How could she have known this?’ he wondered.
Radha calmed him down.
“I love Krishna and trust Krishna in ways beyond you can imagine.” She said “We are two bodies but same soul. There is nothing to be said in between us. We have walked the path of trust, love, devotion and sacrifices for so long that there are no boundaries in my being and his. He does not need to send me messages. He is my message. He is my love letter from the universe.”
“But Uddhava, you have not learned to trust Krishna. You have not learned to give up your self, your ego, and stop your manipulating mind. You ego stands between you and the truth. Between you and the supreme awakening.”
“Erasing the sense of duality and being one with the universe, being one with the one who beholds universe, is this not the jist of the sacred ancient texts, Uddhava?”
Uddhava was speechless. Within a minute, Radha had explained the the deepest mysteries of life. He just wanted to stand there and listen.
He spent the whole day at her house. She talked about life in layman’s terms of love and truth. But Uddhava found answers to his most profound questions in philosophies he learned all this life.
“How did you get so much knowledge staying in this village and living life doing chores?” He asked.
“Each moment makes you take sides. If you always take side of truth and love, you will gain insights. Each insight awakens you from the illusion and takes you a step closer to the supreme awakening.”
“How can you be in Love with Krishna and still remain free from bonds of life ?”
“There is distinction between the love that results from insecurity and the love that results from faith. The former results in bonds. The later results in freedom. The former gets lost, the later transcends. The former leads to fear of death and abandonment. The later leads to Nirvana, to enlightenment that is death of death, to realization that Radha and Krishna are just ripples and love is like the water, eternal and infinite.”
“How can you get awakened without leaving the society and becoming a monk?”
“Where a man reaches by renouncing the world, a woman reaches by embracing the world in its wholeness.” Said Radha.
“Is there no point in pursuit of knowledge? Then what is the meaning of life?”
“Your ability to give it any meaning, is the meaning of life. ” Ansewred Radha. “And about the pursuits, pursuit of currency is not the same as pursuit of wealth, pursuit of sensation is not pursuit of happiness, pursuit of titles is not pursuit of knowledge. These pursuits are in synergy for some time, and they are at conflict later. You must wake up, and open your eyes.”
Radha’s answers turned all of Uddhavas learning upside down and inside out and presented to him as a paradox, a paradox his doubting mind could never grasp. Uddhava’s ego surrendered. The constant chatter of thoughts at the back of his mind stopped and he saw a totally new world at the same place. An eternal, peaceful world where everything seemed OK.
On his way back to Dwaraka, Uddhava sensed a big change within him. He sang to himself. He offered lift to a sick man. He appreciated the sunset in the Western sky. He did not feel rush to get home and work on getting his title.
Next day he met Krishna. Krishna sensed the change too.
Krishna smiled and said “So let’s talk about your title Maha-rishi.”
“I am not that interested in the title anymore. ” replied Uddhava and bent to touch Krishna’s feet.
Krishna rose from his throne. He hold on to Uddhava’s shoulders and smiled at him.
” Your journey is complete. You have arrived. Uddhava, I bestow you the responsibility of writing down my teaching in simple language for all those who do not have luxury of spending their life trying to be Maha-rishi. You will share the gems of knowledge that do not belong to any title such as Maha-rishi. “
“And for this great contribution to humanity, hereafter you shall be known as Maha-rishi.”