The Story of Sudhama
by Saranya Kannan
(Theni, Tamil Nadu)
It was a small village in Gujarat State, known as Sudhamapuri. It is today's Porbunder (Mahatma Gandhiji’s birth place). There was a poor Brahmin boy called Sudhama. He was always fond of food.
This boy studied in Sandipini’s Gurukulam along with Krishna in Avanti (today's Ujjaini). He was a close friend of Krishna. After completion of his education he returned to his native place and married Susheela and lived with her. Sathyavathi Susheela wept most of her time to see her husband's hunger and she could not drive away poverty from their family. She wanted to see her husband at least eating heartily.
One day she told her husband: “There are lots of people who had visited your friend Krishna and got lot of gifts from him and have settled here happily. Hence why should not you visit Krishna and solicit help?”
Sudhama: “My friend is generous. I will not ask any help from him. If I ask him so, our friendship will be degraded”.
Sathyavathi: “You need not ask anything from him. It will be enough if you had his darshan (see)”.
Sudhama pondered over her suggestion. It seemed good for action. He reached himself to start.
Sudhama: “Is it proper for me to meet him without any gifts to present?” He told his wife with some hesitation.
Sathyavathi collected four handful of flat rice from nearby houses and packed it in an old cloth and gave it to him.
The poor Brahmin started his journey with a walking stick. On his way he rested daytime under shadows of trees and stayed at the coulters in the night time. He thus reached Dwaraka through a sea bridge connecting Dwaraka.
Since he was a Brahmin, nobody prevented him, nor enquired him. He went through the city streets. Some people got down from their chariots and paid their obeisance to him. Sudhama, who was naturally a shy person, was very much ashamed to receive their respects.
He continued his walk with hunger, thirst and staggering legs. On the way he approached a security person and asked with hesitation: “I want to see Krishna, where is his palace?”
That security guided him by showing many palaces and told him: “He is everywhere."
Sudhama got confused. In the hot sun he was continuing his journey in a single mindedness. Lots of Rishis and Sages were coming and going happily uninterrupted.
Sudhama entered into a palace not knowing that belonged to Rukmini. The maid-servants were puzzled to look at Sudhama who looked bony. Nobody prevented him and stepped aside.
Krishna was sitting with Rukmini on the cot. He saw Sudhama coming to the palace at a distance, and ran towards him with his upper cloths flying.
He embraced his friend tightly and told: “Sudhama, O my dearest friend, how are you? Still remembering me and came to see me?”
He made him sit on his cot. Sudhama with sky tried to raise. Krishna pressed his hand on his shoulders so that Sudhama would sit. Then Krishna sat on the floor near the feet of Sudhama and massaged his feet gently.
Krishna’s eyes were filled with tears when he looked at the cracks with blood in Sudhama’s feet where stones and thorns have pierced the sole.
Krishna: “Rukmini, go and fetch water immediately.”
When Rukmini brought water, Krishna himself cleaned Sudhama’s feet. Then he sprinkled the cleaned water on his head and also on Rukmini and the servants heads. He took up the remaining water in a plate and ordered servants to sprinkle the same in the whole palace.
Sudhama’s shyness exceeded
the limits. Without speaking anything he was silently weeping.
Rukmini: “He has told about you a lot. Today only I have the chance to meet you. Please come for lunch.” The fortune goddess of all universe Rukmani fell on his feet.
Krishna himself served him food. Rukmini fanned with the hand-fan. Krishna
also skipped the cabinet meeting and sat beside Sudhama. They enjoyed talking about their Gurukulavasam days.
Sudhama stayed there for the night. In the morning, he was readying to return to his village. Rukmini and Krishna requested to stay for some more days. Sudhama was sitting silently.
Krishna: “You have eaten only in my first wife's residence. How can you go without taking food in my other wives houses”. Hence you should dine each day in each house of my wives.
Sudhama pondered over his words. He decided that because of him there should not be any problem in Krishna’s houses. Then he asked Krishna: "OK, I will eat as per you wish. How many wives do you have?”
Krishna replied: “16108”.
Perplexed, Sudhama said: “My life time will not be sufficient; I am leaving now itself.
Rukmini and the maid-servants who were nearby, laughed. Krishna was silent with little confused. Sudhama raised from the cot.
Krishna said: “Sudhama, my friend, my sister-in-law must have sent something for me. Please give that to me.”
Sudhama was perplexed. He tightened his grips on the un-clean bundle which he had on his right hand arm pit. On seeing this, Krishna, rushed towards him and pulled the bundle from his hands. Yet Sudhama had not loosened his grips on the bundle as a result of which there was tug of war between them. In this process, Sudhama’s clothes were torn into pieces. The rice flakes fell down. They were in different colours since they were obtained from different places. Overwhelmed with shyness, Sudhama bent his head down.
Then, Krishna collected the rice flakes with his right hand and then he put them all in his left hand. Afterwards he put all the rice flakes in to his mouth.
“What a taste? My sister-in-law’s handwork is always special”. Saying this, Krishna began to eat the rice flakes slowly.
He again tried to take another handful from the floor. At that time Rukmini rushed in and caught hold of his wrist and thus prevented him from further eating. Krishna also agreed. Since he was very much satisfied after taking one handful of rice flakes and granted him all the wealth and prosperity.
If he takes another handful, it will mean that he has given his own self. So Rukmini was afraid. She told Krishna: “The blessing which was offered to you must also be given to us. Hence give us the balance rice flakes”.
Since Krishna stepped aside, Rukmini and other maid-servants together collected the remaining rice flakes from the floor.
After some time Sudhama started his return journey. Krishna went up to the street to send him off. After his friend Sudhama left the palace he was looking at him who was disappearing from his sight. He then returned to his palace with tears.
To Sudhama who was returning empty handed had no other thoughts except Krishna. Now he has forgotten everything except Krishna and his tears.
Before his arrival, his whole village was transformed in to an Indra’s world by Viswakarma within a night. The people of village were transformed in to the likeness of Devas.
Sudhama lived there with his wife humbly as before. Afterwards that place was called as “Sudhamapuri”. Till date it is called so. ***