The Eternal Bond of Friendship- Krishna and Sudama

The Eternal Bond of Friendship- Krishna and Sudama

Indian mythology abounds with colorful and flavorful tales and lore, each having a hidden moral or lesson to learn from. While some of these stories deal with valor and heroic deeds; others relate in detail, instances of love and friendship. In this present-day jet-age, a true friend is one who is the most dinarfficult to find and keep. We have several hundreds of friends, both online and offline, but only the really lucky ones get to meet that one friend and companion who will stay by their side, no matter what happens in their lives.

This time, we bring you a wonderfully refreshing and touching tale of the eternal bond of true and divine friendship between man and God – the bond that verily uplifts the Jeevatma to the level of the Paramatma and makes him one with the Creator. We present before you the story of Krishna and Sudama.

Sudama was a childhood friend of Lord Sri Krishna. Krishna and Sudama once went to the forest to gather brushwood. They stayed on there for long, walking and chatting with each other, while also enjoying the beauty of their environs. It started getting quite late and Krishna got hungry. Sudama, in the meantime, had some grams with him. However, he felt embarrassed to offer this simple food to his friend, who hailed from a royal family. Krishna kept telling him how hungry he was and asked his friend if he had anything at all to eat. Sudama denied taking along anything to eat.

Krishna knew very well that his friend had some food with him. He also knew that the boy too was hungry, so he dozed off for a little while. Sudama immediately opened his little pack of food and stealthily ate up some of it. Krishna noticed all this but said nothing. Both the boys then collected the brushwood and left for their homes.

After finishing with their studies, they lost touch for several years. Krishna moved away from Vrindavan and went on to Dwaraka, where he got married. He then became the King and a military leader of great repute. Sudama, though, remained as impoverished as always and stayed on in the same village; continuing to dedicate his life to religious austerities, mantra, japa and developing a spiritual attitude toward life. He also continued thinking of Krishna and loved him as always.

In due course of time, Sudama got married to Susheela . However, he never had any interest in accumulating wealth. He was happy to live frugally, desiring no material gains. He accepted his financial status and preferred to spend time in the contemplation of the Supreme Godhead. He had not much money to spare for his wife and children. There were many times when the family did not even get two square meals.

Sudama’s wife repeatedly requested her husband to visit his old friend Krishna and beseech him for some financial assistance. She would remind him that he being a true Brahmin, a devotee and long-lost close friend of Krishna, the latter would be only too willing to help him in his time of trouble. Susheela, like her husband, was not bothered about acquiring material treasures; but she was concerned about the health of her family, especially that of her children.

He eventually agreed to visit his long-lost royal friend at Dwaraka. He realized that it would not be nice to go empty-handed to visit the King and so, he asked his wife to prepare some foodstuff that he could present before Krishna. Having nothing to eat in the house, she picked up some flattened rice or “poha” and packed it in a little piece of cloth. Sudama took it and happily left for Dwaraka.

Reaching Dwaraka, Sudama stared in amazement at the massive gates of the palace, and then entered therein, passing through several military camps and residential quarters on the way. Once inside, he saw Krishna seated with Rukmini. The Lord immediately got up and warmly received Sudama, fondly embracing him. The palace attendants were shocked to see their King behaving in such a fashion with this humble, obviously very poor Brahmin. Sudama was completely overwhelmed by the rousing welcome that Krishna gave him. The Lord asked him to be seated and, in traditional fashion, washed Sudama’s feet, as a mark of respect for a Brahmin. Krishna then took some of the water used to wash his feet and sprinkled it over his own head. He then offered Sudama food and drink to refresh him after his long journey.

 

Krishna’s mood turned jovial and, with a mischievous glint in his eye, he asked his friend what the latter had brought him as a gift and if his wife had packed some nice eatables. Reluctantly and feeling very embarrassed, Sudama offered him the packet of flattened rice. Krishna, knowing what his friend was thinking, enthusiastically opened the packet and was very happy when he saw the contents inside it. He decided he would partake of the rice and then richly reward Sudama for the same.

The Lord grabbed a handful of the foodstuff and happily ate it up. When he tried to put in a second mouthful though, his wife Rukmini, the Goddess of Fortune, held his hand and shook her head ever so slightly. She meant to tell him that with one handful of the rice, Sudama would become extremely wealthy in his present life. But with a second handful, he would continue to reap riches even in his next life. She was already obliged by Sudama’s offering, to stay in this Brahmin’s house and shower her grace in his present birth. She did not wish to continue doing so in his next birth as well.

Krishna understood what Rukmini was trying to tell him and, with a gentle smile on his lips, kept aside the packet of rice. He then fed his friend a lavish meal, asked him to rest for a while and then spent some more time talking with him. Sudama, in the meantime, was in a state of transcendental bliss and so, actually forgot the reason why he had come here in the first place. He spent the night at the palace and left for his home early next morning. Krishna lovingly bade him farewell, though he did not offer him anything in material terms. On the way, he was completely happy and absorbed thinking of the wonderful time he had spent with the Lord.

He thought that Krishna had desisted from giving him money and other material things, as he probably thought that those things may spoil his own attitude and make him too proud and arrogant; finally making him forget God. Thinking thus, he continued on his way back home.

He thought that Krishna had desisted from giving him money and other material things, as he probably thought that those things may spoil his own attitude and make him too proud and arrogant; finally making him forget God. Thinking thus, he continued on his way back home.

A Palace Of Gold Awaits Sudama

As he neared his home, Sudama was dismayed to see that his humble little cottage was missing. In place of that was a large, gleaming palace, made of gold, stones and jewels. His poor and shabby neighborhood had been converted into beautiful gardens and parks with lovely lotus-filled lakes, filled with flocks of different multi-colored birds! Regal-looking men and women were strolling around the parks and divine music was playing somewhere in the background.

Sure that he had come to the right place, Sudama wondered where his little home had disappeared, virtually overnight. As he stood there taking in the sights, his wife ran out of the palace to greet him. She was dressed in opulent, rich silks and heavy gold jewelry and seemed to him like the Goddess of Fortune herself. She affectionately led her amazed husband inside the palace. Its chambers were beautiful and ornate, fit for Indra, the King of the Gods. The palace consisted of several ornamented columns and pillars, with rich silk and velvet canopies hanging from the windows.

Sudama then understood that all of this was Krishna’s doing. The Lord had been silently watching him and his suffering for all these years. But his small, seemingly meaningless offering of the poha had paid rich rewards. He had been bestowed wonderful and incomparable riches and a palace, beautiful beyond human imagination.

Moral Contained In The Story

The story of Krishna and Sudama contains several hidden lessons that we could learn from. Some of them are as follows:
All are equal in the eyes of the Lord and He does not differentiate friendship based on petty caste, wealth and social status. We too should learn to respect each individual, as each one is a creation of that Supreme Being.

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