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Hamsa Gita or Uddhava Gita


Yadu Chakravarthi once went to an Avadootha and asked him, despite good health and young age why he spend his time on wandering. The Avadootha,who is always in joyful mood said, he met 24 of his teachers and was lucky to learn from them only because of his habits of wandering. King was curious about the holy teachers. Then, as wished by the king the Avadootha narrated about his teachers and what he learned from them.

Earth is the first teacher I met. Feasts and calamities, fortune and deprivations, difficulties and dangers are common to man. But I must learn to live among them un-perturbed like the earth, with the firm conviction that they are the will and dispensations of providence. Like the mountain, the life of a man is solely intended for the service of other living creature. Like the tree I must be submissive to all, yet be satisfied with what I get and not run after sense gratification; because I am an ascetic, I should not store or over indulge.

Air (wind) is my next teacher. The air is not attached to anything nor contaminated by the objects it comes across. So also I should not get attached to any object or the merit or sin of contacts that come across me. Like the Air, I learned not to prefer flowers over thorns or friends over foes. Like the wind, my goal is to provide freshness to all without becoming attached.

Sky (space) is another teacher. The sky is all-pervading, free, limitless, unaffected by the passing clouds. I, too, must have room for all the diversities, and still remain unaffected by what I contain. All visible and invisible objects may have their rightful place within me, but they have no power to confine my consciousness.

Water is also a teacher. Like water, the ascetic is pure by himself, transparent, soft and sweet in nature. It cleanses whatever it touches and provides life to whoever drinks it. Water flows unceasingly. If it stops, it becomes stagnant and chance of getting dirty. Keep moving is the lesson I learned from water.

Fire is also a best teacher. Like the fire, an ascetic eats whatever is offered, makes no difference; he does not select his food. I learnt how to absorb everything that life brings and how to turn it into flame. This flame enlightens my life and in that light, others can walk safely. The oil of a lamp is constantly rising up and getting evaporated by the fire in the form of a flame yet it appears as though the flame is constant. So also the body is dying every minute yet appears as though it is continuously living.

Moon is my next teacher. The moon in itself is complete but appears to decrease or increase its size on account of the varying shadow upon it by earth. So also the changes of the body as birth, growth, etc, do not affect the Atman in the body. This reality I learned from moon.

Sun is an important teacher. The sun drowse water from the sea during summer and releases it as rain during the monsoon; Rain falls on forests, mountains, valleys, deserts, oceans, and cities. Like the sun, I learned how to gather knowledge from all sources, transform that Knowledge into practical wisdom, and share it with all without preferring some recipients and excluding others.

Dove is one among my teachers. Once, a dove loved its wife and children intensely. A hunter caught its wife and young ones in his trap. The dove, on account of its intense love, also fell into the net of the hunter and did not care for its life. So man should not have excessive attachment or fondness for wife, children, persons, property or objects. All attachments bring on pain and pleasure; they are obstacle in a yogi’s life.

Python is a valid teacher. The python has a long and stout body, lives in the forest. It eats whatever obtained through the providence at its mouth, sweet or bitter, small or big; starve if no food is got, believing that also as His will (Ajagara Vritti). So also, a wise ascetic should not indulge in activity or enjoy sense-pleasures; the body, mind and senses must be under his control.

Sea is one of my teachers. Through all the rivers empty into the sea the sea is not concerned; it is not proud. It does not overflow. So also, a sage should remain calm and peaceful what-ever pleasure, pains, or temptation may flow towards him.

Moth is an important teacher. As moth attracted to brilliance of fires and its passionate flame; so also a man who has no control over his senses, being influenced by Maya, falls into the snares of woman and perishes. Control the sense of sight is the lesson I learned from the moth.

Honey bee is also a teacher. The bee gathers small quantities of honey from different flowers. It takes only the essence without harming the flowers in any way. So also an ascetic I should receive only small quantities of food from a house holder and should not cause them any inconvenience (Madhukari Vritti). Also, Honeybee teaches that while gathering knowledge from different scripture, gather only the essence.

The Elephant is a good teacher. Once I saw a wild elephant being trapped. A tamed female elephant was the bait. Sensing her presence, the wild male emerged from its domain and fell into a pit that had been cleverly concealed with branches and heaps of leaves. Once caught, the wild elephant was tamed to be used by others. This elephant is my guru because he taught me to be careful about my passions and desires. Worldly charms arouse our sensory impulses and, while chasing after the sense cravings, the mind gets trapped and enslaved.

Honey Gatherer is my next teacher. Misers amass wealth. They do not enjoy it nor do they willingly give it to others to enjoy. There are plenty of chance that some thieves may loot him and even kill him because of his possessions. The bees collect honey with great trouble, and die because the honey gatherers kill them mercilessly before taking away the honey. So from Honey gatherer I learned not to amass wealth.

The Deer, with its keen sense of hearing is a beautiful teacher. It listens intently and is wary of all noises, but is lured to its doom by the melody of the deer hunter's flute. Like the deer, we keep our ears alert for every bit of news, rumor, and gossip, and are skeptical about much that we hear. But we become spellbound by certain words, which, due to our desires, attachments, cravings, that we delight to hear. This tendency creates misery for others and us.

Fish is my next teacher. Fishes are slave to their tongue and blind on eating. They run for the worm and get caught by the hook. A wise man should not go in for tastes as that may enslave him.

Pingala was a woman of bad habits in Videha, a city. She used to soliciting the passers-by with her looks and gestures. One day, as the night advanced and nobody came to her. She got disgusted, frustrated and she began to reflect. “How senseless, foolish, ignorant have I been? I was swept away by my senses, desiring for some pleasure, and by greed; I have lost my sleep and my rest. I thought that I could obtain wealth and joy from a human body of flesh and bones forever. I have forsaken the Lord by my wickedness and here onward I will not repeat my mistake, but take refuge in God. The Lord will surely save and Protector me.” Thus resolved, she went to bed and had a sound sleep. From this teacher of mine I learned, abandonment of hope will lead to contentment.

Kite is my next teacher. A kite had a piece of flesh in its mouth. Stronger kites began to chase and torture it. Unable to bear the torture, the kite dropped off the meat. It had no more trouble. So, acquisition is a source of danger. Man accumulating wealth begets troubles.

Child is also my teacher. I wander in the world like a child; care little for honor or dishonor. The worries of a house-holder do not trouble me. The child is beyond the three gunas and is always cheerful. The virtue of cheerfulness is the lesson I learned from Child.

Maiden is my another teacher. In a village there was a poor family. They had a daughter for marriage. Some people came to their house to look at the bride. The parents had gone out. The guests have to be provided with food. Unfortunately there was no rice in the house, but only paddy. The girl began to pound the paddy. The pounding produced the sound of the bangles on her hands. She felt that others should not know her engagements. She began to remove the bangles one by one. She had only two on one hand even then there was sound. She removed yet another and left with a single bangle on one hand. Now, there was no more sound coming out. Similarly, company of many brings many discord, quarrels and disputes. Even among two, there might be unnecessary words or strife. The ascetic should remain alone in solitude.

Snake is my next teacher. The snake lives in holes made by others and does not worry for a house. Similarly, as an ascetic I must not have a residence or resting place of my own. An ascetic should live in caves or temples built by others.

Arrow maker is a good teacher. An arrow maker who was so absorbed in shaping his arrowheads that the king and his entire army passed without attracting his attention. Thus I learned from the arrow maker that to be absorbed in the task at hand, no matter how big or small pass by. The more pointed is my focus, the greater is my absorption, and the greater my absorption, the more subtle my awareness. When the goal is subtle, then that goal can achieved only by subtle awareness.

Spider is another teacher of mine. The spider pours out of its mouth long threads and weaves them into cobwebs. It gets itself entangled in the net of its own making. Even so, man makes a net of his own ideas and gets entangled in it. The wise man should therefore abandon all worldly thoughts and think of Brahman only. This is the lesson I learned from spider.

Wasp is the next teacher I met with. A worm is lodged in a hole in a wall with a covering of mud and is constantly harassed by a wasp. The poor worm always thinking of wasp, soon turns out to be a wasp. So also the ascetic, by constant contemplation of the Self as Atman, will become one with the infinite Brahman.

Hamsa Gita is the final discourse of Sri Krishna in the form of a story to his longtime friend Uddhava. Since Krishna told this story to Uddhava, this poetry is also called as Uddhava Gita. Sri Krishna was aware of the cruel fate in waiting for Vrishni people and his own final moment, so by this story he meant to advise his boyhood friend Uddhava to go on a pilgrimage and learn from nature and everybody he can meet on the way.

It is worth note that the advice given to a person in advance age in Vanaprastha or Sanyasin stage and not to a householder.

The Avadootha said in story is Lord Dattatreya.

The 1000 verses starting from 40th verse of Section 6 of eleventh Canto of Bhagavata Purana is Hamsa Gita

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