There was a brahmana by the name of Sudama, who once upon a time, used to play with Krishna during his childhood. Krishna had gone on to become the King of Dwarka, with an opulent palace, whereas Sudama, who was never after material possessions, had married, had children and lived a very simple life. They began to face poverty – his children were starving, they were weak and ill. However, Krishna’s name never left Sudama’s lips. Sudama’s wife told him to go to Krishna and ask him for some help. She sent him off, with a packet of puffed rice – one of Krishna’s favorites. Sudama set off to meet his long lost friend. He walked along rough paths, cut his bare feet, bruised his ankles, tore his skin. But he never winced – because he was constantly engaged in singing the glories of Krishna. He was so excited to meet him again. At last, he was on his way to see Krishna again! Meanwhile, somewhere in the palace, Krishna felt a pinch on his foot. Somehow, a thorn had made its way into his foot.
When Sudama arrived at the gates of Krishna’s palace, the guards refused to let him in.
“I am Krishna’s friend! Ask Him! He knows me! Tell Him Sudama is here to see Him!” cried Sudama.
The guards then conveyed this message to Krishna. Krishna immediately left all that He was doing and ran towards the gates of His palace.
“Sudama! Sudama! You have come at last!” Krishna screamed in joy, running to the gates. “Did you forget me Sudama? Why did it take you so long to come visit me? Have you forgotten your old friend?”
Normally, it is devotees who run to Krishna. But we never see how Krishna runs towards us. Note how He ran towards Sudama. He embraced Sudama. Tears filled their eyes. How could Sudama ever forget Krishna? How could Krishna ever forget Sudama? This shows just how happy the Lord is to receive us, when we go to Him. Quite contrary of how we think Krishna will react!
Krishna welcomed Sudama into the palace. Krishna offered him his bed to sit on. Humble Sudama sat on the floor in front of the bed instead, saying that was his place and he was fine there. Krishna would not have it. Krishna seated him on his bed and ordered His queens to bring a water bowl and some other items. Our beloved Krishna then sat on the floor, took Sudama’s feet and began to pour water on them. The heart, how it aches to know that the God of this Universe is ready to wash the feet of His devotees! Krishna’s devotees would give anything to offer obeisances to Krishna’s feet, and here He was, the Lord of all Creation, washing His devotee’s feet. Krishna saw the blood stains on Sudama’s feet, He saw the wounds on Sudama’s feet. He saw a thorn. It was the thorn that had pricked Krishna’s foot earlier. Krishna’s love just shatters the heart. The heart, it breaks to see that Krishna felt the same pain that His beloved devotee felt. Krishna was pricked by the same thorn that His devotee was pricked by. Krishna began to cry. He held on to Sudama’s feet and let the tears fall. He washed Sudama’s feet with His tears. Even though His devotees don’t cry in pain, simply because their thoughts are focused on Krishna, our Lord cries because of the pain we face. Such is His Love. Such is the purity of His eternal relationship with us.
Krishna then gave Sudama new clothes to wear and he gave him food to eat. Poor Sudama, he couldn’t eat thinking about his children who were starving at home. But Krishna fed him. And for Krishna, he ate. Devotees, see how merciful Krishna is! We always offer our food to Krishna, we feed Him sweets and meals, and here Krishna is offering food to His devotee! Sudama thought of his family. He had come here for a reason. He had come here to ask Krishna to help sustain his family. But how could he ask Him? He is the King of Dwaraka! How can Sudama just show up after so many years and ask him to provide for his family? Sudama was embarrassed and hesitant to ask for Krishna’s help.
Sometime later when Krishna and Sudama were alone, Krishna asked Sudama what his sister-in-law (Sudama’s wife) had sent for him.
“Surely she must have sent something for me, Sudama! I know my sister-in-law! She has definitely sent something, I know it!” said Krishna.
Sudama acted like she hadn’t sent anything. He was embarrassed. Here he was, in front of the King of Dwaraka, with nothing but a packet of puffed rice to offer Him. How unfit for a King! What kind of a gift is this? He tried to hide the packet. But nothing remains hidden from the Lord. Krishna took it out of his hand and opened it.
“Puffed rice! My favorite!” exclaimed Krishna.
The queens had reappeared, and Sudama quickly grabbed the packet out of Krishna’s hand, out of embarrassment. He didn’t want the queens to see what an insignificant gift he had brought for the King of Dwarka.
Later that night, when Sudama was asleep, Krishna went by his bedside. He took the packet of rice, and he ate some. Sudama’s home instantly turned into a beautiful palace. There was beautiful furniture inside and treasure chests, filled with gold and jewels. There was food on the tables, delicious sweets, wonderful drinks… Sudama’s family’s rags turned into robes fit for royalty!
The next morning, Sudama, being the humble man that he was, returned the new robes he had received. He then left, still feeling hesitant to ask Krishna for any help. Sudama left, apprehension taking over. He thought about how he would face his family, who were expecting him to fix everything with Krishna’s help. What would he tell his wife? That even after traveling so far, he was not able to bring even a little food for their children? Tension filled his being. Little did he know, that Krishna had already fixed his problems. Sudama did not even ask Krishna to help him but Krishna knew His devotee’s desires. He knew that Sudama had come to seek some help. The Lord was grateful to Sudama for having approached Him to solve His problems. Without even asking, Krishna took care of everything. Such is the Lord’s shelter. We just have to call on Krishna and He will fix everything. Have faith in Him. Don’t doubt that Krishna will not be able to solve your problems. He is the Lord of the Universe. He can solve anything. The Lord performed many wonderful lilas to teach us all these things. Sudama’s lila shows us that Krishna will never forget us, He is waiting for us, He will solve any problem we might have, He knows everything, He cares for us, He wants us to depend on Him, He is waiting for us to love Him so He can show us just how much He loves us too. Just think of it this way. Suppose you have a partner. Now you know that your partner loves you. And you love your partner. But when your partner goes out of his/her way to show you their love, doesn’t it make you want to go way more out of your way to show them your love? When we show Krishna that we love Him, when we make that little effort, He sees it. It makes Him want to go way out of His way to show us that He loves us too. In fact, the Lord is so merciful, that even if we pray to Him to develop our faith in Him, to plant that seed of devotion in us, He does. All we have to do is ask.
Just ask. Just pray. Just surrender. Just love. Just take shelter of His lotus feet and everything will be fine.