Sudhama and Krishna – The Value of Friendship
Our ancient mythologies have always popularized tales on eternal friendship. Sudama and Krishna are such eternal friends. Sudhama was even a great devotee of lord Krishna. Many stories regarding their friendship are popular in the Hindu epics. So let’s begin.
History: Sudama, who was also known as Kuchela in South India, was a childhood friend of Lord Sri Krishna. According to Legends, Sudhama was the reincarnation of Narada who came down to earth to be a part of the great Lilas of Lord Vishnu. Sudama was born in a poor Brahmin family, to Matuka and Rochana Devi. Krishna, on the other hand, hailed from the royal family and hence, enjoyed the highest possible social status. Nevertheless, this did not hinder their pious friendship and they did schooling from the same Acharya Sandipan’s hermitage. The two were inseparable while in Vrindavan. During their early life in Vrindavan, both of them once went to collect brushwood in the forest. It grew late and Krishna was hungry. Sudhama had some grains with him but hesitated to offer it to Krishna who came from a royal family. Krishna knew about this and was aware that Sudhama too was hungry. So Krishna acted of falling asleep so that Sudhama can eat. Sudhama ate and both of them returned after a while. Even when Krishna went to Dwarka, Sudhama kept on loving and worshipping him. His wife Susheela numerous times requested him to visit Krishna but he was not interested in material wealth and only devoted his time worshipping Krishna. According to Legends, an arrogant knight lived in the city of Sudhama who was jealous of Krishna’s fame and hated him. He too hated Sudhama as he was a devotee of Krishna. Once the knight called Sudhama and told him that if Sudhama chanted his name instead of Krishna, he would get anything he wants. However, Sudhama being a true friend rejected this offer and kept on chanting the name of Lord Krishna. The Knight grew irritated by this act and decided to punish Sudhama. In the meantime, Sudhama’s wife nudged him to visit Krishna for help as she was concerned about her family. However, Sudhama had the belief that Krishna being a god already knew their sufferings and he need not complain separately to him. The Knight once visited Sudhama’s house and started beating him. Krishna was sitting in his palace with his two wives Satyabhama and Rukmini. Each time Sudhama was hit, Krishna felt the pain but kept quiet. All wondered that why Krishna was having sudden bruises but he kept quiet. He wanted Sudhama to approach him. Such was their bond. The torture of the Knight on Sudhama continued. Finally after repeated requests from his wife and not able to bear the pain, Sudhama decided to visit Krishna. Reluctant to go empty handed his wife packed stuffed rice of Poha for Krishna. They did not have any other eatables in the house. When Sudhama reached Dwarka, he was stunned by the magnificent palace. Nevertheless, he entered crossing many military camps. Krishna was seated with Rukmini. He immediately warmly welcomed Sudhama and embraced him. All were shocked at a king embracing a poor Brahmin. Krishna then washed the feet of Sudhama with his hands to pay respect to a Brahmin. He then sprinkled the feet washed water of Sudhama on his head. Sudhama was mesmerized by the excellent welcome. Krishna then offered him refreshments to calm down his tiredness.
A tale of Friendship: Krishna was overwhelmed by Sudhama’s visit and offered him his own plush bed to sit. Sudhama was wonderstruck by the Lord’s childhood memories and they relived them. Krishna cherished the days spent together in Guru’s Ashram and also remembered an incident when they were ordered by the Guru to collect wood from the forest. They were stuck in a huge storm and rainfall. They could not find their way back and had to spend the night in the dark forest. In morning the Guru found them by his other disciples and blessed them for their devotion. Krishna was thankful for getting such a great teacher. Sudhama was amazed by the supreme lord’s humility and simplicity. Krishna asked him for any gifts he had brought for him. Sudhama hesitantly offered him the stuffed rice which Krishna very happily took. He very joyously ate a mouthful of the rice thinking to heavily award Sudhama. When he was about to take the second mouthful, his wife Rukmini who is the goddess of fortune Laxmi forbid him silently. This was due to the fact that with Krishna taking one mouthful of rice, Sudhama has already become very rich and the goddess has to stay with the Brahmin in this life but she did not wish so in his next birth. So she forbid Krishna to eat the second time as that would make Sudhama rich in the next life as well. The Lord smiled and kept aside the meal. Sudhama was then served a magnificent meal and made to rest. He was in a state of eternal bliss and forgot his purpose of going there. Next morning Krishna bid him farewell happily. Sudhama was contented and thought that Krishna did not give him material wealth so that he is not proud and remain devoted towards the Lord. He happily made for his home. As he reached home, he was amazed to see his little cottage turn into a beautiful palace and heavenly gardens fit for the King of Gods Indra. A divine music was playing in the background. His wife happily greeted him decked in jewels. He entered the golden palace and was awestruck by his splendour. It had ornate chambers and ornamented pillars with silk and velvet canopies hanging. Sudhama understood that the selfless offering of Poha to the Lord granted him such luxury unimaginable to human mind. He then prayed to Krishna and never was in the trap of ego. He continued to leave peacefully rest of his life praying to the Lord. Krishna knew how difficult it was for Sudhama to bring that packet of rice. With the utmost devotion and love he offered it to Krishna, he had to revert back. Krishna was himself bound to the selfless love and friendship of Sudhama and showered him with opulent wealth. It is said that Annadaan or the act of offering food is the greatest ever charity man can perform in his lifetime. By offering the Lord a handful of poha, Sudama had unknowingly done the greatest deed of feeding the Universal Form of the Lord Himself. With that handful of Poha Krishna fed the whole universe. Thus this selfless act of Sudhama earned him good deeds freeing him of all his bad deeds. Sudhama was very poor and his family would fast for days with only water to satiate their hunger. In that scenario, it was very difficult for Sudhama to offer a packet of rice but still he devotedly fed the universal Lord thus earning him good Karma.
Sudama and Akshaya Tritiya: It is believed that Sudhama visited Krishna on the day of Akshaya Tritiya and offered Poha to him. This day is considered extremely auspicious in the Hindu calendar and comes only once a year. It is celebrated on the month of Vaishakh that is April- May according to the English calendar. On this day, the Sun and the Moon are in exalted position and shine at their brightest. Akshaya means unending and imperishable. It is said that any valuables bought on this day brings immense fortune and lasts a lifetime. On this day people purchase valuables due to this reason. It’s also a pious day for weddings and new start-ups. Indians on this day bath in the holy rivers, perform religious ceremonies and do charity. Lord Ganesh and Goddess of wealth Laxmi are worshipped on this day. Thus the legend of this day dates back to the eternal friendship of Lord Krishna and Sudhama. During the childhood days, not knowing the divine nature of the Lord, Sudhama slyly ate the food while Krishna was asleep. Krishna too was hungry but Sudhama out of contempt did not offer him. Krishna knowing everything kept quiet to complete the Karma Chakra of Sudhama. Thus this act earned him poverty for the most of his life. However, when Sudhama offered Poha to Krishna with such devotion and selfless love, he was instantly rewarded by the Supreme Lord. This suggests that Bhakti or devotion towards Lord is always rewarding and peace giving.
Thus this was a tale of true friendship where the pain of one affected the other. This tale teaches us that true friendship lies in true devotion and how even the Universal Lord is bound by devotion and friendship. Hope you had a peaceful reading. Stay connected with us for more such interesting facts. Take care and stay safe.