0

Akshaya Patra – An Inexhaustible Source of Food

That was the time when the Pandava brothers were in exile for twelve years. A group of Brahmins from Hastinapur and other adjacent places followed the Pandavas as they continued their journey through the forest. The Pandavas out of their moral stature owned the responsibility of food and security of the Brahmins. As the journey became tougher, apprehensive of the hardship that might come ahead, the Pandavas requested the Brahmins to go back to their respective places. Even the humble request of Yudhisthira fell on deaf ears, as the Brahmins were steadfast in their wish to accompany the Pandavas in the journey. They even promised that they would take care of their own food and security.

Dismayed at such a decision, Draupadi prayed the Sun God for help. Pleased with her sincere prayer, the Sun God offered her an Akshaya Patra, a vessel that would be an inexhaustible source of food, for good, irrespective of the number of people consuming food from it. The uniqueness of the vessel was that it would always remain filled with food and would be empty only when Draupadi herself ate food out of it at the end of the day. The Pandavas were pleased for such a gift from the Sun God and were jubilant with the thought that their food worries for the entire twelve years of their exile would be nulled.

When jealous Duryodhana knew of this incident, he was deeply disturbed. To see the Pandavas suffer was his sole motto. So he consulted with Sakuni to devise a new way to put the Pandavas in trouble. They got the plan ready. Sage Durbasha was wandering in the same forest with his disciples. Duryodhana requested Durbasha to visit the Pandavas and ask for food when they would feel hungry. Little aware of Duryodhana’s ill intention, Durbasha and his disciples wished to go and meet the Pandavas immediately. But Duryodhana somehow kept all of them engaged in conversation until Draupadi had her food from the vessel at last.

The Pandavas, often known for their hospitality, were worried to see Sage Durbasha and his disciples at such a time when the vessel was empty and there was no food available to serve. When they expressed their desire to have food, the Pandavas were lost in thought of how to handle such a situation. They asked Sage Durbasha and his disciples to go and take bath before having food. Draupadi worried more as she was sure of the imminent curse from infamous Durbasha when there would be no food for him and his disciples. As always, the last resort for her was to remember her friend and guide, Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna appeared before her in a while and asked for something to eat as he was feeling hungry. Draupadi, ashamed at her inability to provide the Lord anything to eat, explained about her precarious situation. Lord Krishna wore a weird smile on his lips and took Draupadi’s hand in his hand. He took away a rice particle stuck in the corner of her finger nail and ate that. Then, he told Draupadi that was sufficient to satisfy his hunger and he was feeling content.

When Sage Durbasha and his disciples came back refreshed, they told the Pandavas that they would not have to worry for their food as they were feeling quite full at that moment. The Pandavas were pleasantly surprised at such a decision of Sage Durbasha and his disciples. After they left the place, the Pandava brothers asked Draupadi if she had any clue to what might have been the reason for such a change. Draupadi narrated the whole episode of how Lord Krishna helped them get rid of such a puzzle. The Pandavas felt obliged to Lord Krishna. And Lord Krishna yet again showed his love for his ardent followers.

Lessons learnt:

  • When you have unflinching faith in God, your silent prayers in the midst of any crisis would be heard, provided your intentions are morally upright.
  • Let us not allow a crisis to force us to change our moral stance, come what may. When helpless, let us confide in the Providence and wait for his interference.
0

Samba’s Arrogance Leads to the End of the Yadavas

Samba, a son of Lord Krishna and Jambabati was a handsome young man. He prided himself on his good looks and considered himself to be the best among all sons of Lord Krishna. That he resembled Lord Krishna made him haughtier to such an extent that he became disrespectful to all the guests who were visiting Dwaraka.

On one occasion, Samba made fun of Narada due to his peculiar dressing style. Narada kept quiet considering that as his folly and also keeping in mind that he was Lord Krishna’s son. But the omniscient Lord could know of the incident and got very angry with Samba and cursed him with leprosy, as that would take away his handsomeness which he prides in so much.

Moments later when Samba got affected with leprosy, both, he and his mother Jambabati, got worried and pleaded before Lord Krishna for help. Lord Krishna became considerate and let them know an antidote to the curse. To get rid of leprosy, Samba had to meditate and worship the Sun God at the Chandrabhaga beach (near Konark, Odisha) for 12 year long years. Legend has it that after the Sun God waived off the curse and returned him his original handsomeness, Samba constructed the Sun temple of Konark, now considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

But that episode wasn’t perhaps enough for Samba to learn a lesson. As he regained his handsomeness, he started priding himself on his looks and figure. On one occasion, Narada, Durbasha, and Kanwa Munni came to meet Lord Krishna at Dwaraka. At that time, other sons of Lord Krishna brought Samba in the guise of a pregnant lady and asked the sages to predict the gender of the baby she would deliver.

Samba’s disguise could have fooled the common people to believe that she was a pregnant lady; but the revered sages could make out the fact and felt offended. Especially Durbasha, infamous for his short temper, took the offense so seriously that he cursed the pregnant lady to deliver a block of iron, and he left Dwaraka without meeting Lord Krishna. When Lord Krishna got to know that, he was heartbroken and felt concerned as the whole of Aryabartta knew of such an unpleasant incident by then.

Bhima, the second of Pandavas, promised Lord Krishna that he would grind the iron block to dust. That made Krishna a bit relaxed. When that inopportune moment came, Samba delivered a block of iron. Bhima took that iron block far away from the borders of Dwaraka and rubbed that against metallic stones to dust. He threw the remnant piece to the sea near Prayag Teertha, away from Dwaraka.

But who has the power the change the course of Providence? The entire clan of Yadavas got addicted to alcohol and kept themselves busy in sinister deeds that were quite unbecoming of them.

The place where Bhima grinded the iron block bore a peculiar kind of grass that was strong and sharp like arrows. As luck would have it, the Yadavas in inebriated state followed ‘karala’, a guised animal, that lead them to that place of dangerous grass. They started infighting as the animal vanished and killed one another by attacking with those strands of grass. After that, Lord Krishna became the lone surviving representative of the Yadava dynasty.

On the eve of that unfortunate incident, Lord Krishna foresaw the imminent misfortune and went to Prayag Teertha to seek mental peace far from the madding crowd. By that time, Jara Sabara had got the last piece of iron thrown by Bhima into deep sea during his fishing expedition. He found the piece of iron too sharp and fixed that to his arrow. Considering Lord Krishna’s lotus feet as a deer’s ear, Jara released the arrow and that brought the end of Lord Krishna.

Lessons learnt:

  • Pride goes before a fall.
  • Be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant. – Anonymous
0

Muchukunda’s Weird Wish and Kala Jabana’s Death

Prince Muchukunda, son of King Mandhata, was a warrior par excellence. When there was a battle between the gods and the demons (that is, asuras), there were none to take up the role of commander-in-chief in the war from the gods’ side. Lord Indra, therefore, requested Muchukunda to assume that role. Muchukunda conceded to the request and kept himself busy in that war for quite some time. Later, when Lord Kartikeya proved himself eligible to lead the gods in the war, Muchukunda was freed from his responsibilities.

Lord Indra, pleased at Muchukunda’s selflessness, integrity and industriousness wished to grant him a boon. At that, Muchukunda thought that he would need to have a satisfying sleep for a long time, maybe a few years, to get rid of his fatigue in the war. When Lord Indra found such a wish to be weird, Muchukunda justified that since there would be neither his kingdom nor his home on earth after those many years, he had nothing to do, and hence, the wish. Lord Indra happily granted his wish, and added that whoever would wake him up before he did have a satisfying sleep would be burnt to ashes at his first look.

Even though Muchukunda longed to win ‘liberation from birth’ (that is, moksha) as a boon, which Lord Bishnu only could grant one, he was satisfied with his long sleep wish being fulfilled. He chose to sleep inside a cave in Mathura where there was less disturbance, and slept there for years together.

Many years later, after Kamsa was killed by Lord Krishna, his two queens, Asti and Prapti, returned to their paternal home and requested their father Jarasandha to take revenge for their husband’s murder.

Therefore, Jarasandha attacked Mathura for seventeen times, but Lord Krishna defeated him on all occasions. As a last resort, Jarasandha persuaded his friend Kala Jabana to attack Mathura. Kala Jabana was blessed by Lord Shiva not to be killed by any weapon. Lord Krishna knew this. So, when Kala Jabana attacked Mathura, Lord Krishna feigned fearfulness and fled from the place. Kala Jabana followed Lord Krishna wherever he went. Lord Krishna led him to the cave where Muchukunda was in deep sleep, covered his body with his own clothes, and hid himself in a corner. As it was too dark inside, Kala Jabana assumed Muchukunda to be Lord Krishna by the clothes and started kicking him. Muchukunda woke up and looked at Kala Jabana in anger. In a fraction of second, Kala Jabana was burnt to ashes. Then, Muchukunda could see Lord Krishna, who is an avatar of Lord Bishnu. Lord Krishna narrated the incident to Muchukunda, and then, granted him ‘moksha’ that he was longing for.

This was just one of the numerous instances when the omniscient and omnipotent Lord Krishna didn’t have to use a weapon to win a battle.

Lesson learnt:

  • Even if you are divinely blessed with rare skills and have no fierce competitors to challenge you, never take the liberty to misuse your skills. And, never challenge the Almighty.
  • At times, if you can explore the power of your ‘mind’, you can forgo the ammunition in a battle field.
0

Lord Krishna and His Modest Friend Sudama

Lord Krishna brought an end to His maternal uncle Kamsa’s evil acts by scripting his death in a unique manner. Afterwards, Ugrasena, Kamsa’s father, was made the King of Mathura. But Lord Krishna and His elder brother Balarama were declared as the princes of Mathura. And as princes, they did have to complete their formal education for which both of them were sent to the ashram of Sage Sandipani. They completed their academics as well as war art in a year alone. There, in the ashram, Lord Krishna befriended a Brahmin boy, Sudama.

As part of the Gurukul system of education, the disciples in the ashram had to take exams to prove their learning progress. Sage Sandipani was known for his novel way of examining the all-round skills of his disciples. He used to expose his disciples to various tests in course of their daily activities rather than having formal tests.

On one occasion, Lord Krishna and Sudama were sent to deep forest to collect firewood required for holy fire (yajna). Anticipating any untoward challenges in their mission, the Sage’s wife tied a handful of rice fry (khuda bhaja) in one end of Sudama’s robes. As anticipated, there came a sudden heavy downpour while both of them were deep inside the forest. They had to take shelter atop a huge tree throughout the rainy night. Morning after, when rain subsided and they returned to the ashram, Sage’s wife wanted to know the experience of the dreadful dark night inside the dense forest. During the conversation, Sudama fell on her feet and confessed to have eaten the rice fry all alone without sharing a portion with Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was surprised to know of that episode.

Sage Sandipani, after analyzing the incidents, showed his displeasure with Sudama and said, “Poor fellow, that was a test of your loyalty to your friend. That was ‘treated rice fry’. You owned up poverty for the rest of your life by gulping the rice fry all alone.” Lord Krishna was shocked at this and prayed the Sage to forgive Sudama’s mistake. But the Sage expressed his helplessness in that and suggested to accept the sorry fate and live on.

Few years later when Lord Krishna was ruling over Dwaraka as a prince, Sudama was struggling hard to make both ends meet. Many a time, Sudama’s wife suggested him to meet Lord Krishna and ask for his help, but he would not listen to the counsel due to his self-respect. But his respect and loyalty for his friend Lord Krishna was intact. When things became really tough, Sudama persuaded himself to meet Lord Krishna in Dwaraka. Coincidentally, Sudama had nothing other than a handful of rice fry to offer his old friend when they would meet.

A handful of rice fry for the King of Dwaraka! Sudama wasn’t at peace with himself after thinking about that. After reaching Dwaraka, he was astonished to see the riches there and was desperately trying to hide his gift that he brought for his friend. But the omniscient Lord Krishna came to the scene and warned Sudama not to repeat a past mistake. He snatched the handful of rice fry from Sudama and ate that all with happiness, sharing a portion with his queens.

Sudama’s self-respect did not allow him to reveal anything about his abject poverty before his childhood friend Lord Krishna. So what he treasured before he left for his village was Lord Krishna’s friendship and hospitality. But there happened a miracle in Sudama’s village in his absence: his modest hut was transformed into a palace with riches galore. When Sudama reached home and got to see all that, he could realize that those were the deeds of Lord Krishna. As he thanked him for getting him out of the abyss of poverty, Lord Krishna appeared in his mind’s eye and told, “There’s nothing to thank me for. You had eaten up my share of rice fry and had owned up my share of poverty too. And today when you returned my share of rice fry, I returned you your share of riches. That is the ruling of Providence. I was only waiting for an opportune moment when I could make you debt-free.

Lesson learnt: The ability to forget and forgive is a true measure of the depth of friendship. Unless you are ‘you’ with your friend, there are a few more tests to pass to approve your relation as friendship.

0

How Lord Krishna Designed the End of Durdaksha

Out of the ninety-nine brothers of Duryodhana, Durdaksha was the only one who was supporting the stand of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. He was the only one from the Kourava clan who always dissuaded Duryodhana from the path of deceit and violence. But Duryodhana would never listen to his advice. Instead, he ousted Durdaksha from the Kourava clan. When Durdaksha asked for Yudhishthira’s help at those troubled times, he offered him solace till end of the war. But Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, parents of the Kouravas, were unaware of such a happening.

At the end of the Mahabharata war, it was tough for Dhritarashtra and Gandhari to believe that their beloved son Duryodhana had also been slain, like all his brothers. What was tormenting more was their pride of having hundred sons was meaningless. Gandhari, who blind-folded herself after marrying Dhritarashtra to prove her love and devotion for her blind husband, was then desperate to open her eyes to have the last glimpse of her sons’ bodies. What she was perhaps unaware was that her first sight after her years of feigned blindness would burn anything to ashes, maybe due to her divine devotion for her husband.

While taking stroll in the battle field with Bidura and Sanjaya, Gandhari wished Yudhishthira to meet her. As Yudhishthira was getting ready to come to meet Gandhari, Lord Krishna appeared with Durdaksha and wished to accompany Yudhishthira. After they reached the place where Gandhari was eagerly waiting for Yudhishthira, Lord Krishna advised him not to go to the front of Gandhari. Upon Yudhishthira’s innocent inquiry, Lord Krishna answered that it would be a solace for Gandhari to see her only son alive after the demise of her ninety-nine sons. Yudhishthira agreed and sent Durdaksha to stand before Gandhari’s eyes.

Gandhari requested Lord Krishna to unwrap the blind-fold on her eyes so that she could see her son at first sight. Lord Krishna did that. In a fleet second, Durdaksha was burnt to ashes, thus scripting the end of the Kouravas. The heart-broken Gandhari looked at Lord Krishna and was surprised to see Him smiling mysteriously. After realizing the situation, Gandhari cursed Lord Krishna: ‘The end of the Yadavas (to which Lord Krishna belongs) be similar to that of the Soma dynasty (the Kouravas).’

Weighing the sorrows that Gandhari had owned so far, Lord Krishna agreed to live through her curse. Therefore, later, when the Yadavas in Dwarika were in inebriated state and were infighting among themselves thus signalling their end, Lord Krishna did take recluse from all of them, and planned His end while resting at the far-off Prayag Teertha. [You may like to read When Lord Krishna planned His end …]

Lesson learnt: Unless Lord Krishna had it planned that way, Gandhari’s fearsome first sight might have burnt Yudhishthira to ashes. How could the Pandavas who have lost so much in their struggle to defeat the Evil face such an end while a part of the Evil is still alive? In the court of God, Justice reigns supreme.

1

When Lord Krishna planned His end …

What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. [T S Eliot]

Who knows this better than who made all the beginning? When Lord Krishna was certain that Good had started to rule over Evil after His concerted efforts to restore order in an anarchic world, He did plan His end in a way that would have many questions for posterity to ponder about. While He was resting peacefully in the lap of Mother Nature at Prayag, a place nearby Dwaraka, Jara Sabara was on his hunting expedition. While Jara released his arrow to hit a deer’s ear amidst the jungle, little did he know, what he aimed at was not deer’s ear but Lord Krishna’s lotus feet that resembled a deer’s ear. [Earlier, if Rukmini had taken Saint Durbasha’s order seriously, perhaps Jara’s arrow wouldn’t have pierced Krishna’s feet. To know more, read an earlier post.]

When Lord Krishna was in acute pain and Jara was at his apologetic best, the Lord wished Jara to get Arjuna to that place, for their last meeting. That was perhaps a death wish, Jara deciphered. Jara reached the Pandava brothers and told them that Lord Krishna in His last times wished to meet Arjuna as He was about to depart for good. Shocked at Jara’s revelation, all the Pandava brothers got ready to go on to meet Lord Krishna. Jara reiterated Krishna’s wish to meet Arjuna specifically and not all of them. The Pandava brothers got disappointed, but had no other option than sending Arjuna alone to meet Krishna.

As Arjuna was taking leave from his brothers, Sahadeva, who had the rare ability to see everything that would happen in future but would never be vocal about that, advised Arjuna not to touch Lord Krishna when they would meet. When Arjuna wished to know the reason, Sahadeva told that Lord Krishna would take away all his skills (that He bestowed on Arjuna earlier) if and when they would touch each other. As Arjuna was yet to come out of the shock, he nodded his head and accompanied Jara to Prayag.

Arjuna, seeing his friend, philosopher and guide reeling in acute pain, was moved to tears. Lord Krishna expressed His desire for Arjuna’s last hug before He would depart. But Sahadeva’s prophecy was ringing so loud in Arjuna’s mind that he had to fight a battle with his own self to restrict himself from giving in to Lord Krishna’s last wish. The omniscient Lord Krishna asked Arjuna to extend his arrow and touch Him by that. Arjuna thought for a while and then did extend his arrow towards Lord Krishna. In a fleet second, Lord Krishna took away the divine skills that He bestowed on him before. Many wonder why Lord Krishna did that. Now when the world was in safe hands, there was no reason for Arjuna to carry those divine skills with him. And when the Lord Himself departs, who would tame the skilled Arjuna? There was chance Arjuna might even misuse the skills. (Arjuna, whom the world reckoned as the invincible warrior, was unable to even lift his bow and arrow when his skills were taken away.)

Lesson learnt: Just know that you are a non-entity when the umbilical chord (represented by your faith and devotion) is cut from the Supreme Being. Your skills and abilities that you flaunt to this world are not your own and are the gifts of the Supreme Being.

0

When Lord Krishna Answered Draupadi’s Prayers

All know and wonder about the divine camaraderie that existed between Lord Krishna and Draupadi, the only wife of the Pandavas in the epic, Mahabharata. The episode when the Pandavas bet on Draupadi to win a game against Duryodhana and his brothers as a trump card has been perhaps the most talked about one in the epic’s popularity.

When the Pandavas lost the game due to the cunning Shakuni playing his part in supporting the dice calls, Duryodhana wanted his younger brother Dushasana to bring Draupadi to the banquet place and denude her before all parties. Well, it is not that the Pandavas did not have the might to fight with the Kauravas to stop that act of inhumanness. They left the fate of Draupadi to Providence only because they respected their committed words. They did realize that it was a phenomenal wrong to bet on their beloved wife to win back their fortune in a highly unpredictable game played by clever opponents. So, the crisis was of their own doing, and it was against their swadharma (that is, self-religion) to distance themselves from their words that they have committed, in real life or in a mere game.

Draupadi for once cursed her fate to be used as a pun in the game and prayed fervently Lord Krishna to save her from the shameless humiliation that the Kauravas were causing her. Lord Krishna was playing dice with Queen Satyabhama while Draupadi’s prayers reached Him. The omniscient Lord was visibly disturbed for a moment while listening to the prayers, and then kept playing for a few more moments. When He unwrapped the cloth from His wounded finger and released that in air, He murmured, with His inimitable smile on lips, that finally the debt was repaid. Upon Satyabhama’s inquiry, Lord Krishna told her about Draupadi’s helplessness at the moment and His action.

When Satyabhama asked why Lord Krishna delayed in offering Draupadi His help, He answered that He wanted Draupadi to put in her best to avoid the crisis on her own. And if she failed after her honest efforts, she must submit herself before the Lord completely. So it was only when Draupadi reposed her complete faith in Him and lifted her hand towards heaven, did He release the piece of cloth that was coincidentally the piece of saree that Draupadi had torn (from her own saree) and wrapped on Krishna’s wounded finger in their last meeting. Lord Krishna narrated the incident further. Last time, when His finger was wounded and bleeding continued in the presence of all His queens and Draupadi, all His queens screamed for the maids and physicians. But before any of them could spring into action, Draupadi tore a piece of her saree that she was wearing to wrap the wounded finger to stop bleeding. That act of her human kindness had cemented the platonic friendship between them. And of course, that small piece of saree extended till infinity at a time when it mattered most and Draupadi could get out of the shameful situation.

Lesson learnt:

  • Always show acts of your human kindness whenever and wherever you are in a capable position. God remembers every small act of your human kindness and returns you the favour at a time when you need that the most.
  • When you wait on God’s interference to help you out of a crisis, first, ensure that: 1) You have put in your honest efforts to fight it out with all the resources and skills you have with you. 2) When your efforts failed, you have surrendered yourself completely before God to get you a solution.
  • God’s action depends more on how honest your efforts were and how complete your surrender (to Him) is.