Indians We Look Up To - Mahaniya
A very well liked and admired story of friendship in Indian mythology is of Lord Shri Krishna and Sudama. Also known as Kuchela in South India, Sudama was an inseparable childhood friend of this Hindu deity. The fact that Sudama was from a poor family and Shri Krishna was royalty, made no difference to their solid friendship.
The Bhagavata Purana has a mention of Sudama’s visit to Dwaraka to meet Shri Krishna. An excerpt of a story that highlights their deep love and friendship for each other goes thus:
While Krishna grew up and ruled over Dwaraka, the poverty stricken life of Sudama did not change. Going through a particularly bad phase of his frugal life, and not having enough money to even feed his children, his wife nudged him to approach Shri Krishna for help.
Reluctant at first, Sudama finally agrees to visit Shri Krishna for the sake of his wife and children. Remembering his friend’s favourite food, Sudama leaves home with a small bundle of borrowed beaten rice as a present to offer him.
Greatly pleased to see his old friend and receiving him royally, with much love and respect, Shri Krishna himself dotes upon Sudama and makes him feel comfortable in his abode.
Overwhelmed by all the attention and adoration bestowed upon him, and feeling thrilled about meeting and spending time with his friend, Sudama feels embarrassed to ask for help. Though Shri Krishna senses the hesitation in his friend and knows exactly what prompted this visit of Sudama without being explicitly told about it, he focuses on enjoying the gift he had received, the humble bundle of beaten rice.
Taking leave of Shri Krishna, Sudama finally returns to his home, to find a palatial mansion with beautiful fountains and gardens and ponds filled with flowers and elegant birds, in place of the simple hut he had left behind. Dressed in opulent rich clothes and jewellery, he also sees his entire family waiting for him eagerly.
Sudama understands that all this was his friend, Lord Shri Krishna’s doing. Thanking the Lord profusely for all the wonderful and incomparable riches bestowed upon him and his family, Sudama continued to live a simple life filled with humility and reverence for the Lord.
Sudama’s affection and friendship is clearly seen when even in his poor state, he wishes to give a tiny gift to his friend, rather than take something for himself. This intense love and devotion is a lesson for all to learn from.