God Krishna had in his student days a classmate, who was very poor. His name was Sudhama. Krishna became king of Dwaraka later on.
Sudhama remained a poor householder. He had many children. He was, however, a good-loving man.
Everyday Sudhama went out singing bhajans in the streets. People gave him handfuls of rice. He came home and gave the rice to his wife. She cooked it. Sudhama first offered the food of God. Next he gave part of it to his guests. Then he fed his children. The husband and wife ate what remained.
Sudhama never stored food for the next day. He was sure God would feed him everyday, as He had always fed him.
When the children grew up, the alms Sudhama brought were not enough. On some days they had to go without food. Sudhama had no fine clothes to wear. He was in rags. So people called him ‘Kuchela’. It means a man with torn clothes.
One day Sudhama’s wife said to him: “Lord! Why don’t you meet Krishna? You were at school together. He will surely help us!”
Sudhama had been wanting to see his friend Krishna, not for money, but for the joy of meeting a beloved friend.
When we go to see a baby, a great man or God in a temple we must not go without gifts. We must take with us some sweets as a token of affection or respect. Sudhama took what his wife could give him-a small package of beaten rice. They were that poor.
Sudhama walked all the way to Dwaraka. When he reached Krishna’s palace, he went in.
Krishna saw him from a distance. At once he rushed out and met Sudhama at the gate. He gave him a great welcome. He embraced him. He washed Sudhama’s feet. He took him to his room, and seated him on a silken cot. Krishna’s wife Rukmini gently fanned Sudhama. The maids-in- waiting gave him plenty of sweet food and delicious drink in golden vessels.
Sudhama had never seen such a beautiful palace of such riches. No one had ever treated him so nicely before. So he did not even know how to thank Krishna for the hospitality.
After Sudhama had taken a rest, Krishna spoke to him of their student days and about their teacher, Sandipani.
At last Krishna said to him: “Are you married? How many children have you?” Sudhama nodded his head shyly, meaning to say that he was happy and content. “I am sure you have brought something for me to eat,” said Krishna suddenly.
Sudhama was ashamed to take out the package of beaten rice. But Krishna saw the bag and pulled it out. Taking a handful from and putting it in his mouth, he said: “How nice of your wife to have sent this to me?” Then he ate two more handfuls.
After spending the day happily at Dwaraka, Sudhama took leave of Krishna, and walked back to his village.
He completely forgot to ask for any gift of favor of Krishna.
On the way he as thinking how loyal and generous Krishna had been.
When Sudhama reached home, a great miracle waited for him there.
There was a grand palace where his old home had been. Many servants went about doing all kinds of work. His wife stood before him. She wore a costly sari and had golden ornaments on! All his children wore gorgeous clothes. He could not believe his eyes.
Sudhama’s wife said:”It all happened by the grace of Krishna.”
Sudhama worshipped Krishna with greater devotion than ever before.