Sudhama was a very good childhood friend of Krishna. He was from a poor family from the village of Porbandar (some say he was from Bhurgakacha or Bhadoch) in Gujarat. Matuka was his father and mother Rocana devi. He and Krishna had great time together as friends during their schooling at Acharya Sandipan’s ashram (hermitage) in Vrindavan.
After schooling Sudama went back to his home town, while Krishna moved on to Dwaraka. Krishna had overtime become a very influential and powerful person, he was from a rich family, and was leading a very good royal life. Sudama on the other hand was from a poor background, was finding it difficult to make his ends meet.
Sudama was also called Kuchela, which in Sanskrit is an attribute name for “poor man”, and has the meaning “a person dressed in dirty or torn garments”. Read Sanskrit lessons to see how attribute names are created in Sanskrit.
Once Sudhama was going through extremely bad times, did not even have enough money to feed his family. His wife Susheela reminded him of his good friend Krishna and advised her husband to seek help from him in this times of distress.
Initially reluctant to use his friendship, Sudama leaves his town to meet Krishna. Being very poor, he carries nothing but some beaten rice (puffed rice), Krishna’s favorite, tied in a cloth as a present to his dear friend.
Krishna is greatly pleased to see his old friend. He treats him royally and with much love. Seeing the grand royal palace and the amazing riches of Krishna, Sudama is hesitant to give him the gift he bought with him. But Krishna knows his friend very well, asks him what he has got for him, finds out the puffed rice and starts eating it with great appreciation.
When Krishna is about to finish eating all the beaten rice Sudama had brought for him, Krishna’s wife Rukmini stops him. She says that even she wants to have some, and eats the remaining beaten rice Sudama had brought. Sudama is spell bound.
Later Krishna takes him around his royal palace, they chat and recollect the fun times of their childhood memories, and then have meals at the palace together.
But Sudhama is still reluctant to misuse his friendship and doesn’t feel like asking his friend for help. He is just thankful to have a great friend like Krishna and leaves Dwarka to return home. During the journey back, he wonders what to tell his wife.
But the real surprise awaits when he reaches his place. Krishna had realized the needs of his friend Sudhama, without Sudhama having to utter a single word.
On return, Sudhaama finds a palatial mansion instead of the hut he had left. He also finds his family happy, wearing elegant and expensive clothes, eagerly waiting for his arrival. Sudama is in tears on knowing that his friend Krishna helped him without waiting for him to ask. He lives a great life after that free of miseries, and always thankful to his great friend Krishna.
The greatness of this friendship lies in the fact that Sudhama in spite of having a rich friend like Krishna, does not misuse his friendship, does not ask for help on his own. Instead he goes all the way to meet Krishna carrying what his friend likes the most, with what he could afford, the puffed rice. Sudhama knows that his friend Krishna has all the riches, and yet brings what he could afford as a gift to his friend.
Then comes the friendship of Krishna, who is able to understand what his dear friend needs without even his friend having to speak a single word about it. He does not ask Sudama either, not wanting to embarrass him. And, also, does not treat him like a poor friend, but treats with the same good friendship they had as young kids.
Krishna and Sudhama – This is a true example of “Friend in need is a friend indeed”.