Sudama Krishna Friendship
It is not a special kind of friendship, it is just a friendship. Here too, our ideas come in the way of our understanding. It seems to us that giving away all the wealth of the world in return for a handful of rice is too much. We fail to see that it is more difficult for poor Sudama to bring a handful of rice as a present for his friend, than it is for Krishna to give all the wealth of the world to Sudama. Sudama is so utterly poor, a beggar, that even a handful of rice is too much. Therefore his gift is more important than Krishna’s; he is the real giver, not Krishna.
But we see it differently, we look at the quantity and not the quality of the gift. We are not aware how difficult it was for a beggar like Sudama to collect a handful of rice; it is not that difficult for Krishna to give away lots of wealth, he is a king. He does not do a special favor to Sudama, he only responds to his friend’s gift; and I think Krishna is not satisfied with his own gift to Sudama. Sudama’s gift is rare; he is destitute. In my eyes Sudama shines as a greater friend than Krishna.
It is significant that Sudama comes to Krishna not for any favor, but just to express his friendship, his love to him, and even as a poor man he brings a gift for his old friend. Usually a poor person wants to receive something. he rarely gives anything. Here Sudama comes with a gift and not for a gift, he does not go to Krishna’s palace as a beggar. And when a poor man gives his gift, his affluence of heart is in comparable. In the same way, a rich man is expected to give something to charity. But when the contrary happens, when the rich man chooses to beg, as it happened with Buddha – a king turned beggar is again something extraordinary.
If you consider Buddha and Sudama together you will know the significance. Sudama has nothing, and yet he gives; Buddha has everything, and yet he begs. These two events are extraordinary, unearthly. Ordinarily a poor man begs and a rich man gives; there is nothing special about it. But when they re verse their roles, it has immense significance. Sudama is as extraordinary as Buddha; both are rare persons. Poor Sudama bringing a gift to Krishna, who is a king, is what makes the event great. But this is love’s way; it does not bother whether you have too much or too little, it goes on giving. Love will never accept that you have too much.
Let us understand this aspect of love, which does not accept the idea that anyone has so much he does not need more. Love goes on giving and it will never say it has given you enough. There is no end to love’s bounty. Love goes on pouring its gifts and yet it feels shy that it is insufficient. If you tell a woman that she has done a lot for her child, if she is a nurse, she will thankfully acknowledge your compliments. But if she is a mother she will protest saying, “I could do only a little; a lot remains to be done.” A nurse is aware of what she has done; a mother is aware of what she has yet to do. And if a mother brags about her sacrifices for her child, she is a nurse and not a mother. Love is always aware that a lot more remains to be done.
Sudama knows that Krishna lacks nothing; he is a king. Yet he is anxious to bring a gift to him.
When he was leaving his home, his wife said, “Your friend happens to be a king, don’t forget to bring a substantial gift from him.” But he comes with a gift, and does not ask for anything.
When Sudama meets Krishna he feels very hesitant about his gift; he hides the packet of a handful of rice from his friend. That is the way of love; even if it gives a lot it never thinks it is enough. Love does not give with fanfare as ordinary donors do; it likes to give anonymously. So Sudama hesitates, he hides his gift from Krishna. He is hesitant not just because it is a poor gift of rice; he would have hesitated even if he had rare diamonds. Love does not proclaim its gift; proclamation is the way of the ego.
So Sudama is hesitant and afraid; it is something rare. And what is more amusing is that immediately on seeing him Krishna begins to inquire what gift he has brought. Krishna knows that love always comes to give and not to take. And he also is aware that the ways of love are shy and secretive; he asks for his presents over and over again. And ultimately he succeeds in snatching his gift from his old friend. And what is more amazing, Krishna immediately begins to eat the raw rice that he finds in the packet.
There is nothing special about it; it is love’s way. It is because love has become so scarce for us that we are so surprised about it.