- For the village in Nepal see Sudama, Nepal
Sudama (Sanskrit सुदामा IAST Sudāmā also known as Kuchela, mostly in South India) was a Brahmin childhood friend of Hindu deity Krishna from Mathura, the story of whose visit to Dwaraka to meet Krishna is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana. He was born as a poor man in order to enjoy the transcendental pastimes.
Sudama was from a poor family. His father's name was Matuka and his mother was Rochana Devi. Krishna was from the royal family. But this difference in social status did not come in the way of their friendship. They lost contact over the years and while Krishna became a powerful part of the ruling family of great repute at Dwaraka, Sudama stayed as a humble and somewhat impoverished villager.
Some time later when Sudama was going through extreme poverty, not even having enough money to feed his children, his wife Niyati Desai reminded him of his friendship with Krishna.
Though initially reluctant to go to his friend for help, Sudama finally agrees to go. He leaves with nothing but some beaten rice tied in a cloth as a present. He remembers that beaten rice is Krishna's favorite and decided to give this as a gift to the Lord.
Krishna is greatly pleased to see his old friend. He treats him royally and with much love. Overwhelmed by all this Sudama forgets to ask what he actually came for. But the Lord realises what His friend needs, and the Lord's consort Rukmini, incarnation of Lakshmi, gifts him with his desires. As Sudama was about to leave, Krishna stops him. He goes inside and asks Rukmini to get him the old, torn clothes which Sudama wore when he first came. Krishna takes those clothes and tells Sudama to remove the royal clothes and wear his old clothes instead. Everyone, including Rukmini is shocked hearing this. After Sudama leaves, Krishna locks himself inside his room and starts crying. Rukmini asks him what had happened, to which Krishna replies "If Sudama went wearing the royal clothes, people would've had said "Look, only because the lord is his friend he got so much", but now when he'll go in the same state as he came, the people will realise that what all I have given him is only because of his devotion". Krishna cares about his bhakt so much. On his return journey, Sudama ponders his circumstances and is thankful for the great friend he has as Lord Krishna. When Sudama finally returns to his home, he finds a palatial mansion instead of the hut he had left. He also finds his family dressed in opulent garb and waiting for him. He lives an austere life after that, always thankful to the Lord.
Sudama is not mentioned anywhere in the very ancient scriptures Mahabharata, Harivamsa or Vishnu Purana. The story of Sudama is very popular in Bhagavata.
This story is told to illustrate that the Lord does not differentiate between people based on their financial status and that he will reward devotion always. Another moral taught by this story is to never expect anything free in life; God will provide for your good deeds. Another moral is not to trade bhakti for anything in return. Sudama did not ask Krishna for anything. Despite being poor Sudama had given Krishna everything he had (poha); in return the Lord gave Sudama everything he needed.
There is also a lesson about how Krishna rewards true persons. Krishna did not reward Sudama just because he was a friend. Sudama spent all of his time and effort in cultural efforts befitting a true person which explained why he was financially not well off. This included teaching religion, moral duties, and spreading spirituality through society. It is for this effort that Krishna rewards Sudama's family with wealth so that Sudama may continue to do that work. In contrast, Drona does not receive the support that he needs from Drupad. As a result, Drona compromises his principles and accepts refuge from the kingdom of Hastinapur.
Sudama was Lord Krishna's classmate and a very intimate friend. Lord Krishna was a King. Sudama was an impoverished poor Brahmin. This difference did not come in the way of their true friendship. Sudama went to Dwarka to meet Krishna. He carried a very humble gift to be presented to Lord Krishna. What did he carry? Some books say he carried pohe (beaten rice), while some books and movies say he carried sattu powder (peeth). This confusing difference is because Sudama carried neither sattu nor pohe. He carried with him a combination of sattu and pohe called "sattu-peeth pohe" or Atukulu in Telugu. It is an exclusive prominence of Samvadi Lad Brahmins to which Sudama belonged. That Sudama was a Samvadi Lad Brahmin is more or less widely accepted; whether his home town was Bhurgakacha (Bhadoch) or Porbandar is a point on which a minor difference of opinion exist.
Shri Krishna-Sudama is an immortal example of real, non-materialistic friendship. It is a perpetual symbolic definition of real friendship. Sattu-peeth pohe is a very tasty, ready-to-serve, easy-to-carry food. In it poha (beaten rice) is smeared with sattu while it is fried. Sattu peeth is prepared from grama (phutana) and wheat flour.
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