“Although Krishna is independent of everyone, out of His causeless mercy He is dependent upon Garga Rishi for religious instruction; for learning the military art He is dependent upon Satyaki; and for good counsel He is dependent upon His friend, Uddhava.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 24)
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At least that is the claim of the acharyas, the teachers who lead by example. They don’t come upon the knowledge through some magical, mystical experience. There is connection with a chain of instructors. That succession is known as parampara, and it is only bona fide when the first person, the origination point, is the Supreme Lord Himself.
One component of being the Almighty is having complete independence. Not relying on anyone. Not having to bend to anyone’s will. No forced submission. Everyone else has some sort of dependence. We need the sun to survive. We need food and water. Without these things even the most independent person would be stopped in their tracks.
Yet Krishna is so kind that through His mercy He becomes dependent upon others. That is to say it looks like He requires the assistance of certain people. This is to both increase their stature and show the world the power of Divine love.
1. Garga Rishi
He is the family priest, the kula-guru. He plays an important role in Krishna-lila, particularly when the Supreme Lord has just arrived in Gokula, being transferred from the neighboring town of Mathura. In Vedic culture a priest is called to the home shortly after the birth of a new child. Studying the astrological signs pertaining to the birth, the priest determines a name.
Garga Rishi was amazed at Krishna’s characteristics. He gave different names to the boy, all referencing the Divine nature. Garga was relied upon for religious instruction by the entire family, and he even has his own recorded recollections of the time Krishna spent on this earth some five thousand years ago. The related work is known as the Garga-samhita.
He is a great warrior in the Vrishni group, to which Krishna also belongs. Though the Supreme Lord spent His childhood in the farm community of Vrindavana, from the birth parents He was related to the warrior race. In adulthood He became the king of the underwater city of gates known as Dvaraka.
Since Satyaki was such a great supporter of Krishna, the Supreme Lord obliged that service by becoming reliant on Satyaki for learning the military arts. The Vedas are compared to a blossoming tree that has many branches. Those branches represent different departments of knowledge. All aspects of living, both material and spiritual, are covered by Vedic teachings. Even in that ancient time period there were people expert in the military arts, in knowing how to arrange phalanxes and deciding when and where to attack.
He is Krishna’s cousin, having almost an identical outward appearance. Uddhava is Krishna’s good friend, as well. As was the case with the previous Divine incarnation of Shri Ramachandra, Krishna set the proper example by taking counsel before making any important decision. It is good to hear different points of view, the many opinions of those who are expert in the particular subject matter, before proceeding in a difficult task. Uddhava was someone Krishna relied upon, and this cousin too received tremendous wisdom in the form of a conversation. With the cousin Arjuna the conversation was known as the Bhagavad-gita and with Uddhava the Uddhava-gita.
When we speak of God, His close associates are included. As the devotees are always thinking of Krishna, He is always thinking of them. There is never any real separation. Every individual, from the highest to the lowest, has God inside of them through the expansion known as Paramatma. The difference between the suras and the asuras, the dividing line between good and evil, is the remembrance of this feature.
I can be living next to someone for twenty years and never speak to them. We are close in terms of physical proximity, but there is no relationship. At the same time I could speak to another person halfway across the globe every day for twenty years. It is like I am always with them.
The Supreme Lord is already within us, but the advantage is wasted when we forget Him. In continued remembrance Krishna is so kind in showering His mercy that He may make Himself appear to be dependent on us, that He requires the daily offerings of food in the mode of goodness, the sound of the arati bell, and the warm, inviting lamp waved in his honor. Such kindness only gives further impetus to regularly chant His holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Despite everything already knowing,
Satyaki to Him military arts showing.
Names too many to count,
But family priest effort to mount.
Who recollections providing his own,
Sacred work as Garga-samhita is known.
Shri Krishna of boundless mercy is He,
The wellbeing of devotees to see.
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