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Krishna Sudama Leela

Bal Mukund / January 05, 2020

The story of Shree Krishna and Sudama is a glowing example of true friendship. It is a beautiful Leela describing the sweet bond of selfless love between the Lord and his dear most devotees. 

 

1. Krishna Sudama Story - How did Shree Krishna meet Sudama?

When Shree Krishna and Balaram ji became old enough, as was the custom, they were sent from the royal palace in Mathura to the ashram of Guru Sandipani.  Here at the Gurukul, they lived and served the Guru along with other disciples and received training to become future warriors and rulers. This is where Shree Krishna met Sudama for the first time.

2. Krishna Sudama Friendship - An Eternal Friendship Begins with a Divine Promise

Shree Krishna asked Sudama, "Will you be my friend?". How fortunate is that soul who the Lord Himself asks for friendship! The humble Sudama hesitated at first, because he felt his lowliness acutely. He said," But I'm a poor Brahmin and you are a royal, how can we ever be friends? Friends help each other in times of need but there is nothing I can offer you! ". Shree Krishna said, “Just promise me that no matter what we will always be friends. I promise, that as your friend, I will never ask you for something you cannot give me." Hearing this Sudama accepted Shree Krishna's offer of friendship!

3. Krishna Sudama Leela - Sudama Steals from Shree Krishna

Once the two boys were ordered by Guru Sandipani to collect firewood from the forest. They were given roasted gram by Guru Sandipani's wife as a snack for when they became tired. The boys worked hard, cutting wood in the forest from dawn to dusk, when it started raining. They quickly wrapped up the firewood to make sure it stayed dry and while doing so they heard a tiger roaring nearby! To protect themselves they climbed a tree and spent the night on the tree branches. In the middle of the night, Sudama felt very hungry and he stealthily ate all the roasted gram without telling Shree Krishna. When Shree Krishna felt hungry, He asked Sudama for the gram, but Sudama lied and said that the bag of gram had fallen and the gram scattered. Sheer Krishna could still hear chewing and He playfully asked Sudama, “What is that sound then?".  Sudama lied again and said, “That is just the sound of my teeth chattering!". Shree Krishna despite knowing about the lie did not reveal anything and smilingly forgave Sudama in true friendship. The Guru's wife unfortunately was not that forgiving. The boys went back to the ashram and Shree Krishna being very hungry asked Guru Sandipani's wife for some food. She was puzzled as she had given enough gram for both boys. When she found out what happened, she cursed Sudama with lifelong poverty! 

4. Shree Krishna and Sudama Separate Ways

The time had come for Shree Krishna to execute the works for which he had incarnated on Earth. Sudama was saddened at the thought of having to leave his dear friend. They parted ways and did not meet for several years. Shree Krishna went on to become the King of Dwarka, and lived with Rukmini, Satyabhama, and several other queens in great opulence.

 Sudama on the other hand, was living out his curse - ridden with poverty. He didn't even have enough money to feed his children. His wife Susheela, though pious like him, could not bear the thought of her husband and children living in poverty. Sudama's elder brother had a job in the king's palace and he recommended Sudama for a job to the king. Susheela convinced Sudama to take this job.

5. Krishna Sudama Leela - Shree Krishna Feels Sudama’s Pain

Sudama reached the palace and started              singing the praises of Shree Krishna. The arrogant king enraged that Sudama would not sing praises for him but for Shree Krishna, bound Sudama and ordered his staff to beat Sudama. Sudama winced in pain but did not stop chanting the Lord's name. This continued for many days and a desperate Susheela begged Sudama to ask Shree Krishna for help. Sudama stubbornly refused. Meanwhile sitting far away in Dwarka, Shree Krishna felt the pain of each blow on His own body leaving his queens puzzled! Like a true friend, the Lord experienced the pain of His dear friend as His own! He bore it silently giving no explanation to his wives.

6. Sudama Leaves for Dwarka to meet Shree Krishna

Finally, with tearful eyes, Sudama's wife told him, "It doesn't matter if we are hungry, but we should at least be able to feed the children enough."

 Upon hearing this Sudama felt very hurt & said, "What can be done? We can't ask for favors from anybody." Sudama's wife replied, "You talk of Shree Krishna so often. You have been saying that you have a deep bond of friendship with him. He is the King of Dwarka, so why don't you go to him? There won't be any need to ask for anything there." Sudama being a selfless devotee of the Lord, did not like the idea of asking his beloved friend for any favors. Nevertheless, moved by the plight of his children, he decided to go to Dwarka. However, he wanted to take a gift along to not go empty handed to his friend. Sudama's wife borrowed flattened rice from their neighbor. She bound the food in a cloth ridden with holes and Sudama left with the cloth bundle for Dwarka on foot.

7. Palace Guards Stop Sudama from Entering

Upon seeing Dwarka, Sudama was amazed. The entire city was built with gold and the citizens were very prosperous. He asked for directions to Shree Krishna's palace. The journey from his hometown to Dwarka had left him looking like a mendicant - with tattered clothes, sunburnt skin and cracked, dusty feet, bleeding from the sharp stones on the way. 

 "Why have you come here?"- the palace guards thundered!

Sudama who was extremely enthusiastic despite his exhaustion answered with the possessiveness that only a friend can show, "I want to meet Krishna - He is my dearest friend. Go & tell him that Sudama has come to meet you! ". The guard smirked and scoffed at poor Sudama's tattered attire. He laughed in poor Sudama's face and said, “Everybody here wants to meet Dwarikadheesh Shree Krishna. After all He is the king. How can you, looking like a mendicant, be a friend of the king? ". Sudama waited a whole day outside the palace until another guard went and informed Shree Krishna of Sudama's arrival.

8. Krishna Sudama Milan - The Tearful Welcome

On hearing Sudama's name, every pore of Shree Krishna's body was filled with jubilant emotion. Everyone, from the queens to the palace staff, looked on in wonder as Shree Krishna ran bare-footed to meet his poor friend, also bare-footed and bruised. Shree Krishna looking at His emaciated friend, embraced Sudama tightly and took him into the palace. He could not bear to see Sudama's destitute state. Filled with deep sorrow, marveling at the selfless love of his dear sakha Sudama who not once has asked Him for anything, the Lord washed His friend's feet with His own tears instead of water.

"dekha sudama ki din dasa, karuna karike karunanidhi roye,

pani parat ko hath chhuyo nahin, nainan ke jalason pag dhoye."

9. Krishna Sudama Milan - Relishing Memories of Days Past.

Three joyful days passed, with Shree Krishna and Sudama recounting their childhood pastimes. Shree Krishna recalled the night they had spent in the forest and the wonderful times they had spent in Guru Sandipani's ashram. Friendly banter and mischievous comments were exchanged as is usually the case with lifelong friends and bosom buddies. The queens were astonished to meet this unique devotee of Shree Krishna, anxious to get his darshan and offer their respects. They all came one by one to prostrate before Sudama. Soon enough Sudama realized that there was a never-ending line of queens! He gently teased Shree Krishna and asked Him, “My dear Krishna, how many wives do you have?". Shree Krishna replied, "I have 16,108 wives." Sudama then said, “In that case ask them all to offer their respects from wherever they are!". The queens immediately did so. It was now time for Sudama to leave and the subject he had been trying to avoid bringing up was uncomfortably close. Shree Krishna had made no mention of it in three days and he decided not to ask knowing that the Lord is omniscient.

10. Sudama Hides His Gift for Shree Krishna

Sudama had brought a gift for Shree Krishna. However, Sudama felt ashamed of the humble flattened rice he had brought in a tattered bundle. Shree Krishna, ever the prankster, with a twinkle in His eye, exclaimed to Sudama repeatedly, “Why don't you show me what is in this bag my dear friend, it is something for me isn't it?".  Sudama kept dodging Shree Krishna to avoid Him! But Shree Krishna, won the little duel, and snatched the bag of rice, leaving Sudama dismayed. How was he to know that though he had been cursed with lifelong poverty, it was time for his fortunes to change! - One who the Lord chooses to protect cannot be destroyed by anything else. Sudama's bad karma accrued from stealing from the Lord in childhood, had been exhausted.

11. Krishna Sudama Leela - Shree Krishna graces Sudama and Rukmini Stops the Lord!

Smiling mischievously Shree Krishna lovingly put a handful of the flavorless flattened rice in his mouth and ate it with great relish. With this mouthful he gave Sudama riches enough for the present lifetime and the next. Fully under the sway of love He was about to take a second mouthful. With it he would have given all the three Lokas(realms) he had dominion over, to Sudama - this is when Rukmini stopped Him! 

12. Sudama's Life is Transformed!

Sudama on the other hand was none the wiser of what has transpired. He felt sad as he remembered his hungry children at home, but he couldn't prepare himself to ask Shree Krishna for any favors.  Shree Krishna embraced Sudama & escorted him out as he bid him farewell. On the way back, Sudama wondered, "What shall I say when my wife asks me what I've brought back?" As Sudama approached home, he could not find his hut! Instead, his wife came out from a magnificent palace dressed in elegant clothes. She told Sudama, "Look at Shree Krishna's might; we have been rid of our poverty. Krishna has ended all our miseries."

Sudama was overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of his friend. He cried out, “But my dear, I never even told Him about our condition!". They both resolved to remain devoted to Shree Krishna all their lives and were unaffected internally by the sudden opulence of their lives.

13. Importance of Akshaya Tritiya

It is believed that the day Sudama met Shree Krishna was the day of Akshaya Tritiya, traditionally a very prosperous day in Hinduism. Akshaya means never ending, and therefore this day is good for beginning new business ventures, making charitable donations, or investing in wealth of any kind.

14. Moral of the Story

There are many things one can learn from this story that serve as guideposts for society. However, this story illustrates the power of selfless love or nishkaam prem that enslaves God. Sudama went through so much mental and physical hardship and yet did not complain. He simply chanted the name of the Lord and surrendered to His will. Despite being destitute Sudama did not want to ask his friend Shree Krishna for anything, he was simply overjoyed to meet Him. He offered everything he had even though it was only a bit of flattened rice. Shree Krishna in turn offered everything He had under the sway of Sudama's love for Him. 

 Bin maange moti mile

Maange mile na bheekh

Even today at Bet Dwarka in Gujarat there is a temple standing on the spot where Shree Krishna met Sudama. This temple is said to have been built by Devi Rukmini herself.  Devotees offer flattened rice to the Lord in a tip of the hat to His greatest friend Sudama.

May we all be graced to love the Lord selflessly like Sudama!


This children’s story was provided by JKYog, a non-profit organization. Since its inception in 2009, JKYog has been successfully hosting spiritual, yoga and meditation programs across USA and India. Led by founder Swami Mukundananda, a renowned teacher of holistic health through yoga, meditation, and spiritual knowledge, JKYog strives to help individuals & communities lead better lives through spiritual enrichment.


Read More Krishna Stories from JKYog

Akrura’s Meeting with Sri Krishna

A Gopi’s Love for Shri Krishna

Yashoda’s Delight

Janmashtami - Celebrate the Birth of the Supreme Lord!!

 

There are several JKYog offerings for children and youth to establish a firm base of Indian heritage, cultural values and cultivate helpful life skills. You can explore them below.

  1. Bal Mukund - A Vedic Playground for Children - This is an early childhood development program with a comprehensive course taught by experienced teachers comprising of yoga, meditation, bhajans, crafts, games, Vedic Wisdom and Festival celebrations. There are several children’s books containing delightful stories from Indian culture, information about festivals and Yoga exercises for children. Visit https://www.jkyog.org/bal-mukund for more information.

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