The Divine Friendship of Sri Krishna and Sudama
“Don’t walk in front of me..
I may not follow you;
Don’t walk behind me;
I may not lead you;
Walk beside me;
Just be my friend.”
The divine friendship of Sri Krishna and Sudama is the best example of this quote. I hope this narration fills the readers’ hearts with nectar and makes them feel its sweetness.
Rishi Sandipani’s Gurukul
The story dates back to Dwaparyuga when the Lord incarnated on the Earth to perform his past times (Leela). Sri Krishna along with his elder brother Balarama joined Rishi Sandipani’s Ashram at the age of 16.
Though, He is the supreme knowledgeable, he joined gurukul because he was in his Leela avatar.
Sudama was also a student in the same gurukul. He was a poor Brahmin son from a small village in Mathura named Vrindapuri.
This divine friendship started in the gurukul itself when Sudama and Krishna met for the very first time.
Once it happened, Krishna was thirsty, Sudama came up with water to quench his thirst. As soon as Krishna drank the water, he praised Sudama with his sweet words and addressed him as his friend. This astonished Sudama, how come a stranger refers to him as a friend!! Then Krishna assured him of his friendship. Since then this divine friendship started taking shape.
As time passed their friendship grew stronger. Though they stayed in the gurukul for a very short period, their friendship remained strong.
Sri Krishna and Balaram learned all the 64 skills in just 64 days. As they completed their formal education, they left the ashram. Since then, the friends departed physically.
Time after they separated
Time passed by, eventually, Sudama completed his education and returned home. Sudama remained in poverty in his village, Vrindapuri. On the other hand, Krishna established his prosperous empire in Dwarka.
As Sudama grew up, he got married to Vasundhara Devi. Eventually, he had 3 children. Time passed by but it did not change for good, rather it worsened.
Sudama, being a dutiful Brahmin, was poor but never greedy. He, as per the rule, begged only from 5 houses for his daily needs. It was not that every time he got enough grains for his family. There were times they slept half stomach or even without any food. He never complained about his condition since he knew he was suffering his past Karma.
Time became harsher; the children’s suffering was not bearable. It was they who suffered the most. Seeing this, his wife Vasundhara Devi was convinced to request Sudama to seek help from Dwarkadhish, Sri Krishna. But Sudama did not agree to this proposal.
Now, here the readers must understand one thing. Sudama and Krishna had a dual relationship, the first of a devotee, and the second one of friendship. Sudama being a devotee and can express himself in front of his Lord since the relation between the Lord and his devotee is very intimate. But on the other hand, he feared that he could never help his friend when needed. So he hesitated to seek help from his friend.
After lots of requests from his wife, he agreed to visit Sri Krishna in Dwarka. He asked for some stuff as a symbol of love for his friend. But there was nothing in the house. Therefore, his wife borrowed some puffed rice from the neighbour and gave it to him.
Now he left for Dwarka. The journey was long and difficult in the scorching weather. He kept on walking chanting Hari Naam. This gave him the energy to make his journey successfully. Hari Naam, as we all know is very powerful in itself made the path easier for him.
Sudama Reached Dwarka
He finally reached Dwarka after the long journey. His bare feet were injured. Finding the Dwarkadhish palace was very difficult for him. He asked people for help. But everyone mocked him seeing his poor attire.
Sudama finally reached the palace and asked the guards to inform the Lord about his arrival. He referred to himself as Sri Krishna’s friend. The guards initially did not believe him. But on request, they were convinced to convey his message.
His condition as described the Sudama Charit by Narottamdas is given below:
सीस पगा न झगा तन में प्रभु‚ जानै को आहि बसै किस ग्रामा।
धोति फटी सी लटी दुपटी अरु‚ पायँ ऊपानह की नहिं सामा।
द्वार खड्यो द्विज दुर्बल एक‚ रह्यो चकिसौं वसुधा अभिरामा।
पूछत दीन दयाल को धाम. बतावत आपनो नाम सुदामा।
His clothes were in shattered condition. He was tired of the journey. Poverty exhibited itself over his body. It showed his sufferings and poverty.
Hearing of Sudama’s arrival, Sri Krishna ran barefooted to welcome his supreme friend. He was so excited that he could not understand anything else happening near him. These divine emotions show how loving the Supreme Lord is for his devotees. ( Hence a line comes up to this context, “Naam Sudama ka sun ke Prabhu nange pair uthaye, Sakha Sakha chillate Prabhu mahal o se bahar aaye!” ).
He hugged Sudama with utmost love and both of them started weeping seeing each other. Everything happened at the palace gate, thus setting up an exemplary friendship for the people. Everyone was astonished seeing these events of kindness and love.
Sri Krishna gave him a warm welcome in his palace. He made him sit on his seat. Sudama felt embarrassed taking service from the Lord and kept on weeping.
The kind Lord washed his feet with his tears and warmed his friend. He took out all the thorns and stones from his feet and gave him first aid personally. Sudama was given a very special treatment to him as written in the extract from Sudama Charit.
ऐसे बेहाल बेवाइन सौं पग‚ कंटक–जाल लगे पुनि जोये।
हाय महादुख पायो सखा तुम‚ आये इतै न कितै दिन खोये।
देखि सुदामा की दीन दसा‚ करुना करिके करुनानिधि रोय।
पानी परात को हाथ छुयो नहिं‚ नैनन के जल से पग धोये।
Now, Sri Krishna started his Leela. He snatched the packet of the gift from his Sudama which he hesitated to gift due to inferiority complex.
The Lord is so kind that he started naming all his property to him every time he took a morsel (small piece of food). For the first morsel, he gave away swaraga lok, next he gave away the mrityu lok (the earth). As he was about to take up the third morsel,Rukmini Devi stopped him from eating as he would give his abode, Vaikuntha to his friend.
Sudama never asked him anything for help. But the all-knowing Lord blessed him with prosperity. And this is why the Lord is being referred by various names like Dayanidhi, Kripasindhu, Bhakt Vatsal, Karunasagar, etc. depicting his kindness.
Sudama was Blessed
Spending a good time with the Lord for a few days, Sudama decided to return Vrindapuri. Sudama did not know that he was blessed with prosperity, so he kept walking thinking that he could not face his wife as he wasn’t provided any financial support.
He kept walking chanting the Lord’s name and eventually reached Vrindapuri. But he couldn’t identify the village. The houses there have turned into palaces and everything has changed as if Goddess Laxmi has blessed it with her wealth.
Finally, he realised the Lord’s greatness and paid his obeisance to the Lord. He thanked the Lord and prayed for being free from greed. This shows how strong was Sudama’s character.
This was all that we see in the divine friendship of Sri Krishna and Sudama.
After reading the story, the readers may agree to the conclusion, selfless devotion to the Lord is always rewarded.
Sudama did not expect anything rather did his duty with utmost sincerity and eventually was rewarded. His dutiful (karma yogi) character is also a quality to be learned.
In today’s world, even people who are well off; complain about their condition and blame God for this situation. People forget their duty and keep blaming others. They appreciate themselves for the success and blame the Lord for miseries. This is quite easily visible in 2020, where everyone is busy blaming time and God.
All these show how ungrateful people have become. And we need to get rid of such behaviour and try to be grateful. There’s a famous quote for this, “The one who isn’t Grateful, is a Great Fool.”
So in this age of Kali, where only 1/4th of righteousness remains, chanting the Lord’s name, i.e. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare; shall make us free from all such evil characteristics like anger, stress, anxiety, etc.
Please feel free to let me know your Honest Opinions in the Comments below.