Learning from the Great Bhaktas: Sudama

Of all the great bhaktas, Sudama is one we turn to frequently. Maybe it’s because he spent most of his life separate from the physical presence of Krishna. Maybe it’s because his unyielding devotion in the face of many and continuous challenges inspires us. Maybe because it’s one of the few stories that bring tears to Guruji’s eyes when He tells it. Whatever the reason, the story of Sudama sits in our hearts, calling us to develop the unshakable faith and friendship with the Lord. 

In Sudama’s life, we can see how the Lord cannot deny anyone who loves Him, how He’ll run to those who walk to Him. 

Excerpt from Paramahamsa Vishwananda’s Commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam 

As Krishna came running out of His palace, everybody looked at Him. At that moment, Sudama saw Krishna running towards him. He just stood there with folded hands and didn't know what to do. As soon as the guards saw Krishna, they stood straight. When Krishna saw Sudama, He was filled with so much Love that He started crying. His long-time friend was standing there. Krishna hugged Sudama in a loving embrace. He was crying on Sudama and Sudama was crying on Him. Everybody was looking at them in awe. Time stood still as they witnessed the Lord's true friendship. 

Krishna picked up the skinny Sudama in His arms and carried him inside His palace. He put Sudama on the throne. Rukmini was puzzled at what was happening. She asked herself, ‘Who is this privileged one seated on the throne of the Lord?’ Sudama felt great joy. According to the custom 'atithi devo bhava' (the guest is God), Krishna immediately asked His queen, ‘Bring the prayer plate!’ Afterwards, He washed Sudama's feet with His tears. Such was the Love between Krishna and Sudama that it puzzled all, even Rukmini. They were all seeing it but without comprehending what was happening. Rukmini didn't dare to ask Krishna about it. She just followed quietly, whatever Krishna was doing. Krishna fanned Sudama and offered him some refreshments. Then He asked him, ‘Take a shower, get dressed, and we'll talk afterwards.’ Sudama followed Krishna's instructions. After that, it was time to have dinner and Krishna served Sudama. He even fed Sudama with His own hands. Rukmini said, "You don't feed us, yet you are feeding Sudama?!" The eight main wives of Krishna were astounded and amazed at seeing this, and said, ‘What Love does the Lord have for His friends? We, His wives, don't even get such Love!’ Looking at the friendship between Krishna and Sudama, they realised that this Sudama was really blessed.

 

Learn of the bhakti of Sudama in our upcoming Vedic chanting courses. One of the verses you will learn is Srimad Bhagavatam 10.80.6.

śrī-śuka uvāca

kṛṣṇasyāsīt sakhā kaścid

brāhmaṇo brahma-vittamaḥ |

virakta indriyārtheṣu

praśāntātmā jitendriyaḥ ||

Sri Shuka said: 'There was a certain friend of Krishna, a brahmana well versed in the Vedas, who, peaceful of mind and in control of his senses, was detached from the sense objects.

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