Akshaya Patra

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For the NGO named Akshaya Patra, see Akshaya Patra Foundation.
Surya gifts Yudhishthira the Akshayapatra

Akshayapatra (Sanskrit: अक्षयपात्र) meaning inexhaustible vessel, is an object from Hindu theology. It was a wonderful vessel given to Yudhishthira by the Lord Surya, which held a never-failing supply of food to the Pandavas every day.

When the Pandavas began their exile in the forest, Yudhishtra was despondent at his inability to feed the holy sages and others who accompanied him. At this, Dhaumya, the priest of the Pandavas, counselled him to pray to Lord Surya. Pleased with Yudhishtira's prayers, Lord Surya blessed him with the Akshaya Patra, a vessel that would give unlimited food every day till Draupadi finished eating.

Akshaya Patra, Durvasaa and ShriKrishna

During the Pandavas' exile, Durvasa and several disciples arrived at Hastinapura. Duryodhana with his maternal uncle Shakuni managed to gratify the sage. Durvasa was pleased enough to grant him a boon. Duryodhana, secretly wanting Durvasa to curse the Pandavas in anger, asked the sage to visit his cousins in the forest after Draupadi had eaten her meal, knowing that the Pandavas would then have nothing to feed him.

So Durvasa and his disciples visited the Pandavas in their hermitage in the forest, as per Duryodhana's request. During this period of exile, the Pandavas would obtain their food by means of the Akshaya Patra, which would become exhausted each day once Draupadi finished her meal. Because Draupadi had already eaten by the time Durvasa arrived that day, there was no food left to serve him, and the Pandavas were very anxious as to their fate should they fail to feed such a venerable sage. While Durvasa and his disciples were away bathing at the river, Draupadi prayed to Krishna for help. Krishna immediately appeared before Draupadi saying he was extremely hungry, and asked her for food. Draupadi grew exasperated and said she had prayed to Krishna precisely because she had no food left to give. Krishna then told her to bring the Akshaya Patra to him. When she did, he partook of the lone grain of rice and piece of vegetable that he found stuck to the vessel and announced that he was satisfied by the "meal". This satiated the hunger of Durvasa and his disciples, as the satisfaction of Krishna (portrayed here as the Supreme Being who pervades the entire universe) meant the satiation of the hunger of all living things. The sage Durvasa and his disciples then quietly left after their bath, without returning to the Pandavas' hermitage, for they were afraid of facing what they thought would be the Pandavas' wrathful reaction at their impolite behaviour of refusing the food that would be served to them.