Monday, May 8, 2017

Why Rama's and Krishna's first kill was a woman?


Why is Rama’s killing of Tataka justified? Is this not proof Rama was a misogynist?

Why did Krishna begin his lilas in the world with the killing of a woman?

Is a Kshatriya not honor bound to protect a woman?

Of course this is an example of misogyny scream the ignorant, yet, very motivated western scholars. The Breaking India forces will be glad to showcase Tataka as a dalit woman also, to sell their baseless point. Sheldon Pollock will not hesitate to declare Yakshas as a different race and that is how the Aryans ill-treated other races and we, as Indian society today, are busy reconstructing it. The bigoted Dravidian parties and their clan will lap every such theory and flesh it with their own and claim Yakshas as dark skinned Dravidians. Add to this list feminists of today who have no sense of how woman was respected in the past.

All 100% certified bunkum. 100% mischievous untruths.
           
Since most of us in this generation never get even the stories from the original sources like Valmiki for Ramayana and Vyasa for Bhagavata or Mahabharata, it becomes necessary to give the story in a synopsis.

Rama’s encounter with Tataka

Vishwamitra manages to convince Dasaratha, to part with Rama and Lakshmana. The trio proceed towards Vishwamitra's ashram. Vishwamitra imparted Bala and Atibala mantras to Rama and Lakshmana, which conferred them, the ability never to fatigue or get sick or change in appearance. Also gave them protection from rakshasas when asleep. As they walk along Sarayu's confluence with the Ganga, Vishwamitra narrated the history of the region. The holy place was special as it was where Indra got cleansed of his sins by slaying Vrittasura. He blessed the region to be extremely fertile and the place became renowned as Malada and Karusha.
Currently these two townships have been overpowered by a terrible Yakshini, in the form of a Rakshasi. Tataka was her name and she was capable of changing forms at will and possessed the strength of a thousand elephants. Tataka was Sunda's wife and had a rakshasa son, Maricha, together they terrorised the region. Vishwamitra informed that they were in the proximity of Tataka and she needs to be killed. Rama wondered how a woman could possess such enormous strength and cruelty at the same time. 
The childless, powerful Yaksha, Suketu propitiated Brahma who blessed him with a girl child, Tataka, endowed with a thousand elephant strength. She married Sunda, son of Jharjha and gave birth to powerful Maricha. When Sunda died due to a curse by Sage Agastya, she rushed to attack Sage Agastya along with Maricha and wanted to devour him. Agastya, the most venerable one, cursed her to transform into an ugly rakshasi and condemned her to live as a cannibal. Enraged by the curse, she ravages the land where Agastya once lived.
Vishwamitra reminds Rama that it is his duty as a Kshatriya to slay this powerful rakshasi, so people can be safe. He observed that his likes, discomfort in confronting a woman take backseat as his primary duty is to protect.
The hesitant Rama gets clear clarification from Vishwamitra. (We will see later how these clarifications nullify the questions raised earlier).  Rama would have followed Vishwamitra’s instructions even without these, as he had given a word to his father that he will be obedient in serving the sage.
न ह्येनामुत्सहे हन्तुं स्त्रीस्वभावेन रक्षिताम्।

वीर्यं चास्यां गतिं चापि हनिष्यामीति मे मति:।।1.26.12।।
Despite the clarifications, Rama was inclined to only incapacitate her or shame her by chopping her ears and nose. He twanged the bowstring which enraged the unsuspecting rakshasi to come out rushing and showering boulders at the trio. Rama greeted her boulders with his volley of arrows. He chopped her hands. Lakshmana joined Rama by chopping her ears and nose, according to Rama's prior direction.
She vanished out of sight and kept showering rocks from all directions. Vishwamitra cautioned Rama that she will regain all her strength through the power of her maya and her strength will increase manifold after the impending dusk. Rama immediately heeded to his words and exhibited his archery skills by sending arrows in the direction of the sound which prevented further rock volley. The shower of arrows eventually saw her fall dead with her chest pierced.
Delighted at this wonderful feat, Vishwamitra blesses Rama and Lakshmana all the celestial weapons. Later, he further sweetens the deal with their marriage. A very important fact is brought out by this episode of listening to Guru's words even if we are not sure of dharma behind. 
            They reach Siddhashrama, a place where Vamana was born as a boon to the tapas of Sage Kashyapa and Aditi. Vamana also did lots of tapas in the area before overpowering Bali. Rama and Lakshmana set out to protect the sacrifice for the next six days and nights without sleep. Six days passed in tranquility. Suddenly the sky was filled with noises from the two rakshasas - Maricha and Subahu. Along with their followers, they rained streams of blood on the homakunda (sacrificial altar). Rama attacked them with Manavastra at Maricha, who got unconscious and hurled a hundred yojanas away. He next killed Subahu with Agneyastra. He killed the remaining followers with Vayavastra.

Putana’s moksha at the hands of infant Krishna

Kamsa, after killing the swapped baby girl, overwhelmed by hypocritical Vedanta releases Devaki and Vasudeva. But the very next day he changes colors thanks to the advice of his asuric ministers. His mission and obsession was to eliminate all the new born in the region. He sent out a terrible demoness, a specialist in infanticide, Putana, who could assume any form at will. She assumed a very attractive form, wandered in Gokula and per chance found Krishna. Vyasa says just like a man picking a sleeping snake thinking it as a rope, she took Krishna, that Infinite Being, as a mere infant. Again, contrary to TV serials, Vyasa gives an account that is very different. Yashoda and Rohini, seeing this strange lady in the house were stunned and immobilised by the hypnotic powers of Putana.
            Without wasting a second, Putana took the infant Krishna, few days old on her lap and applied him to her breast. Her primary infant killing weapon was the highly potent toxic poison she applied on her breast. The baby, annoyed at being rudely awakened, pressed her breast and began to suck her life energy out of her. She started screaming and howling in pain. Her loud cries reverberated in the area and shocked the ones who heard. As she fell dead she assumed her real form pulverizing everything in six krosas.
The Gopas and Gopis saw the infant fearlessly kicking his limbs on the dead body of the demoness. They did purifactory rites and invoked the name of Hari again and again to provide protection to the child. Yasoda breast fed the baby and laid him down for sleep.
Nanda had gone to pay his taxes to Kamsa in Mathura. He also had a brief visit with his friend Vasudeva, who rushed him to return to Gokula without any delay. Upon his return found Putana's huge body and felt thankful for Vasudeva's premonition. The Gopas cut Putana's body into pieces and began to cremate it on a firewood pyre. As they burnt her, the entire place smelled sweetly of sandalwood.
            Even though, she had only evil intentions, but the act of serving ParaBrahman, Krishna under the guise of a fake mother liberated her. Bhagavatam refers this to as Putana Moksha

            What lens do we need to study dharma shastras? – DHARMIC one
            The way we look at things, things you look at change. - Wayne Dyer.
This is very evident when it comes to Indology. Western scholars and sepoys come trained with special skewed lenses. On one end of the spectrum we have scholars like Sheldon Pollock with a modern social lens, Wendy Doniger with a sexist Freudian lens to self certified mythologist, Devdutt Pattnaik, who believes Vyasa must have copied from his notes, thereby giving himself a stamp of authentication. On the other hand we have forces like the Dravidian parties, missionaries, flat out lying tongues like Zakir Naik, who believe they know more about Hinduism than even the most devout practitioner based on shastras.
Lucky for us, all these liars can be proved false in one stroke. Pick our shastras, itihasas. Do some reading yourself. So what do these originals talk about.
            Vishwamitra gives a strong defense why such rakshasis can be killed.
नृशंसमनृशंसं वा प्रजारक्षणकारणात्।

पातकं वा सदोषं वा कर्तव्यं रक्षता सता।।1.25.17।।
Whether cruel or kind, sinful or wrong whatever contributes to the protection of the subjects, should be done by the righteous (king).
राज्यभारनियुक्तानामेष धर्मस्सनातन:

अधर्म्यां जहि काकुत्स्थ धर्मोह्यस्या विद्यते।।1.25.18।।
The ones who are burdened with the administration, it is their primary dharma to protect their subjects. She knows no dharma and follows none, so she deserves to be killed.
To support  his arguments Vishwamitra quotes the killing of Manthara by Indra and also the mother of Kavya, the wife of Sage Bhrigu by Vishnu.
            We get lots of wonderful pointers here:
First we see there is so much adharma. One of the definitions of dharma is Order – be it cosmic or social.  English proverb says, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. Here we see Tataka, a very powerful woman, instead of showing a motherly feminine side, is a cannibal, terrorizing anything in sight, the exact antithesis of motherliness. This gross demonstration of ADHARMA is the number one qualifier for her getting killed. Rama is not able to shake her veneer of being a woman, till his Guru constantly reminds what DHARMA is.
Second, it is wrong to portray woman as weaker sex. This was not the case in the historic past in India, but today the situation has degraded. (read Ailing Hinduism – Inversion of Values) There is an injunction in dharma shastras when there is a conflict between samanya dharma (normal day to day dharma) and visesha dharma (exceptional situation dharma), visesha dharma has to be upheld. In this case the conflict is protecting woman as a kshatriya or to put an end to the rakshasi menace, following Guru’s directive, being obedient to the promise he had made to his father.
Thirdly, Rama was trying his best to be lenient by letting her go after chopping her limbs, ears and nose. But her persistent attack through her maya powers and the danger of her gaining strength as dusk approached, besides his Guru’s repeated reminder not to waste any more time, makes it obvious Tataka only accelerated her own end. Dharma is gender neutral.
            In Krishna’s case, the situation is simpler. The infant killing rakshasi was trying to kill the infant Krishna. There can be no excuse given by the experts of twisted interpretations.

            In both the cases, there is a much deeper dharmic reasoning. Every avatar happens, according to Sanatana Dharma for three reasons, which are more like three facets of the same action – Dushta nigraha, Sishta Paripalana, Dharma Samsthapana -  Of these three Sishta Paripalana (protecting the good) is the chief aim. To achieve this end Paramatma has to do dushta nigraha (eliminate evil). When these two happen, there is an automatic safe environment for Dharma to flourish which is dharma samsthapana.

            Woman to be loving and caring is dharma, but when she turns to be a cannibal and heartless towards infants, adharma prevails. Adharma cannot be covered by any façade, as it rears its ugly head through every mask. To reestablish Dharma, adharma has to be removed and in these two cases, they represent the most extreme form of adharma. It is like water flowing up a mountain. This is very unnatural. So it is the first warning shot Paramatma chooses to tackle in these two avatars – to go after the most extreme adharmic characters. Putana’s loss did not frighten the adharma filled Kamsa, nor did it send the message to Ravana whose outposts were Tataka and her sons. We see this thick veil of ignorance on the part of adharmic people.

What lessons can be imbibed from this?

  • It is important for us to familiarize with our own itihasas, puranas and shastras. Some lingering practices from some pockets provide us with the opportunity to learn this first hand. Unless we know dharma - both samanya and visesha, we cannot understand the subtleties. Dharma cannot be understood from books alone, it comes more from acharan - practice. That is why Yudhishtra was never satiated with listening about Dharma from innumerable Sages. 

  • Before we start falling for the western manipulated interpretations, popular sepoys, media based religious soaps, let us crack open the real scriptures and read them often. There are still plenty of traditional practitioners, who give wonderful pravachans we can learn from, based on our vasana baggage. But let us be toleratnt to the other traditional variations in the narrative, as Sanatana Dharma is a framework that allows numerous interpretations. Just be wary of the bogus adharmic ones.

  • Trust in your Guru and there is no better place to be than under his (her) feet. Rama-Lakshmana's obedience yielded rich dividends at the end of Tataka vads. Vishwamitra showered upon them countless powerful astras and shastras, without even being asked for a blessing. Rama merely followed dharma and Guru's words. The dividends he received were almost disproportional as Guru's Grace is unlimited.

  • Dharma can be practiced only when there is sattvic mind. The same is true for one to understand dharma also. So what can one infer from this about the folks who deliberately misinterpret or exploit, the proportion of sattva is less. This is not a character analysis of these people, instead this is a warning to the practitioners, that if they do not consistently focus on increasing their sattva, this is the state what one can end up as. So before banding to criticize them, let us increase our focus in our own adhyatmic progress by doing more svadhyaya and cultivating sattva by increased sadhana.



Om Tat Sat

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Ailing Hinduism - Inversion of Values

 Value is the core of anything that exists. Values are definitely bound by time and space. Things having value at some point in time lose its sheen at another. Some retain value for a short period of time while others hold it for a long time. Apart from these dynamic one, there are eternal values which are standing on par with time. In Sanatana Dharma, many attempts have been made by the Rishis, Vedas, Mahatmas to describe this Paramatma, Parabrahman to us using words like Satyam (Truth), Jnanam (Knowledge), Anantam (Infinite). Many of these esoteric and subtle traits have been brought down to the practical plane as values.

                        All religions, ideologies, -isms have some values at their core. They also have lost many of their core values. Christianity which touts showing the other cheek when insulted never followed it, be it the time when Constantine used it as a political machinery or the Crusades or the active missionary, which is eager to harvest your soul with every deception in the book. Today, Islam, which wants to proclaim itself as the religion of peace, is the dominant vehicle used to kill others, has a dangerous hero worship culture of making martyrs out of suicide bombers of innocent people. Islamists want to claim that their culture treats women with respect, yet no islamist is willing to challenge the use of religion for justifying untold cruelty to Islamic women, be it genital mutilation, triple talaq, nikah halala, nikah muta (which is nothing but prostitution authorized by religion). Despite this, these religions are only fear based (fear of going to hell or violating what was told apparently to that historical one person – prophet). Even the Ten Commandments at the core of Abrahamic religions are not followed by and large.

            Unlike Ten Commandments or Prophet dictates which never give a reasoning for Why to follow a value, Sanatana Dharma makes it easier by reflecting the Paramatmic traits as values to be followed by the human society. For instance, being truthful is not a dictate or a commandment or a cutesy thing, but a value that is practical in the vyavaharic plane, yet its constant practice refines one’s self to mirror the Cosmic one.

            Sanatana Dharma has emphasized many core values - layered and interwoven. This rich tapestry of values is a framework to take a man enmeshed in the vasanas, a creature of habit, to a higher plane, where he is above this bondage. Today, we find most do not understand the idea behind most values, typically followed as a core tenet of Sanatana Dharma. Many values held their place in the society through rituals, stories of itihasas and puranas, family traditions. Today an even more horrible scenario is unfolding before us. The core values treasured by our civilization for centuries and millennia are not only abandoned, but the exact opposite is gaining traction and spotlight. We will refer this phenomenon as Inversion of Values.

            The article aims to merely spotlight this trend by looking at few examples and to trigger a discussion. Let us commence by reflecting on shaucha (Cleanliness). We saw in Hinduism – an inner gaze, how Bhagavatam refers to the four central values of human civilization as Tapah-Shaucha-Daya-Satyam (austerity-cleanliness-compassion-truth) to an allegorical cow with four legs. We also learnt that each Yuga it loses one leg and in Kali, the lowest state it continues to stand on Satyam.  This does not imply that the value will be lost in entirety, but will lose its primacy in the society. As evident, Shaucha was (and is) a core value proposition, begins with the body and eventually antahkarana shuddhi (mind and intellect) that lead to atma shuddhi.

            One of the exciting features of the Saraswati Valley Civilization, also known as the Indus valley or Harappan Civilization, is the presence of modern civic amenities to all its citizens, spread over a million square miles and spanned over 2500 years. The denizens enjoyed access to indoor wells, extensive community water harvesting and sharing options, in-house toilets connected to an extensive city wide sewer network which disposed the sewage far outside the dwelling limits. They also appear to have enjoyed public garbage disposal network. From cleanliness as a central emphasis on every aspect of the society, we are ironically the world’s leading nation in open defecation. A mere photo from any Indian city is sufficient to prove that we are the antithesis of our ancestor’s values. Though within each house, cleanliness still remains, the lack of respect for common areas of society is appalling at best.

            There was immense respect for Water. There were strong edicts and cultural practices instructing the masses with DOs and DONTs. Today most Indian urban areas witness the repurposing of water bodies as dwelling areas. Even a river cannot have its free flow. To make it worse sewage and pollutants get dumped into most water bodies degrading their quality even further. The misery cannot be more glaring than the case of the Ganga – a river that has been central to the Indian civilization after the Vedic period. The holiest of rivers is the most abused and filled with the most ironical treatment when one sees the same river witnessing millions of devotees not just for Kumbh Melas in Haridwar and Prayag or even daily at Rishikesh or Kashi.

            One gains most Punya by digging wells, planting trees as these nishkamya karmas are very powerful cleansing tools that help large masses over time. Many Kings and wealthy people took pride in building tanks, dams, lakes, wells. Today the callous attitude with which people abuse these resources is horrendous. We are raising a generation where kids do not know even where their food comes from. A nation that venerated its animals, not just cows, today is battling amongst its own dominant community as to why not exploit it as a resource. Jokers of the left leaning masses, media and the Breaking India forces like Arundati Roy, John Dayal make it political and communal at the drop of the hat.  

            The inversion of values is very evident in case of snakes. Nagas have been worshipped throughout the millennia. It is very possible the reference was allegorical, yet it is nothing short of shocking to see how we mercilessly kill any snake in sight without any provocation. Still we have the shamelessness to go and pray to Shiva, Vishnu, Amman (form of Parvati in South India) all adorned with snake. The compassion and ability to see the larger picture of all life forms as a representative of Brahman is almost lost. Tokenisms like merely following western Environmentalism or Green Peace or having Blue Cross shelters for animals will not suffice.  The core attitude towards all living beings must be restored.

            The irony is most evident when we see women. From a society where no grihastha can even qualify to perform rituals without the presence of his wife (even Rama had to make a golden Sita as a substitute when he conducted Asvamedha and other yagnas) and where we had great women rishis like Gargi and Maitreyi of the yore to great women poet saints like Avvaiyar or Karaikal Ammaiyar, we have fallen to a society where there is such great abuse of women. The girl struggles right before her birth with gender bias. Sanatana Dharma is buried deep when we ill-treat women at every step of the way. This cannot be solved by a western style feminism, which has very ulterior motives and displays lack of holistic understanding.

            The four purusharthas – Dharma-Artha-Kama-Moksha are at the core of Sanatana Dharma like no other value. A simplistic understanding tells that a human has to balance the societal (relationship) – resources (monetary) – psychological (emotional) – rise above the influence of all the above pressures in life. This comprehensive model helped our ancestors to not only evolve in all aspects of life, but also in a balanced way. It was only due to the emphasis on Dharma and Moksha, we were the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind during most pre-British era. Today we have imbibed the western model of materialism which centers on money and desires – Artha and Kama; both are anchored around “I-Me-Myself”. We see the calamities how a society that never knew divorce a hundred years ago is filled with one.

            This also has accentuated the corruption in the society as wealth is deemed supreme and gaining desires in any mechanism can be justified. Along with the loss of emphasis, we also see how the varnashrama dharma has collapsed. Today we do not have a kshatriya class to defend dharma. The vestigial brahmana class is struggling and barely connected with the riches of the past knowledge. The forces eager to see the destruction of Sanatana Dharma values from outside apart from the intellectual retards within complement each other.  The West, even China has introduced Yoga in its schools and society, yet in the land that gave birth to it, the ruling junkies have made it a communal issue.

Everytime, anything remotely considered Hindu is aggressively attacked by the Hinduphobic forces be it the Western lens providers like Sheldon Pollock, Wendy Doniger or sepoys like Arundati Roy, Romila Thapar or openly left leaning media like The Hindu or NDTV. These characters define the nation as dominant radical and communal Hindus and the poor minorities, though it has been evident that the society has been deliberately fractured along these lines. These Breaking India (an idea identified first by Rajiv Malhotra) forces first inoculate such worthless refuse through academics. The media, instead of challenging it, aid in fanning the flames of such blatant lies. This is due to the fact most Indian publications are controlled by left and communist leaning forces, which dub any neutral one as right wing to intimidate them. The political class in India has specialized in exploiting the fissures for retaining their vote banks. To leverage it completely they deliberately foment dissent and mistrust between the different groups, thereby replacing the core values that made this civilization great for millennia.

Family and society were at the core of Indian prosperity and values. Today the core idea of family and riches through mutual cooperation within the society is seriously threatened by the western idea of individualism. The western model which is not only defunct, but also dangerous and not organic to our subcontinent is being glorified through media, school, movies and eventually global integration. From an idea where the King took pride in being a representative of the Vishnu, so held himself to the highest idealistic standards, we have come down to the worst corrupted politicians. Following the dictum, yatha raja thatha praja, the common masses try to excel these corrupt politicians in their badness. 

Let me assure the readers that this article is not a rant about the society. We are merely attempting to trace the philosophical bedrock behind the deteriorating Indian society. I merely want to highlight the fact devoid of the values and ideals that characterized this great civilization; the inversion of values is default. Darkness is not some existing entity, it is merely absence of light; the same way coldness does not exist, except that it is a mere absence of heat. Devoid of the core values of Sanatana Dharma, the inversion of values is evident.

So what is the remedy? 
  
  • Reviving the values is the only response. Reintroduce these values in schools, reinforce it at home. Parents must work on themselves and raise the bar for their kids. Every individual has the responsibility to stretch and grow in this aspect. Hiding their character flaws by claiming I am no Gandhi is the most ridiculous animalist mindset we seem to have bought into. Just because we speak TRUTH and be COMPASSIONATE, we do not become a swamiji, instead we start becoming HUMANS. To shed the animalistic mindset one MUST embrace these idealistic human values.
 
  •  Apart from this, we have the best HOW TO and STEP by STEP MANUAL for DUMMIES on how to live a good human life in the BHAGAVAD GITA. Krishna labors out of kindness to outline the various aspects that elevates every human to the level of Supreme Consciousness. We saw in detail in the three part series – Whom Does God Love – part 1, part 2 and the concluding part. Of course Krishna has given lots more in other chapters. 
 
  • Another change we can make is to read our Itihasas – Ramayana and Mahabharata not through stories alone but also including the conversations, discourses discussed in the text. Yaksha Prashna is a good example, as also the conversation between Rama and Sugriva on why he must accept the surrender of Vibhishana. It will also help immensely to avoid seeing these through the TV Soap Operas model as they distort them tremendously to get TRP ratings. Involve these ideas with your kids, friends. 
 
  • Periodically not only read the scriptures and ponder about them. Listen to good pravachans, not the New Age Gurus and Swamis that are popping up everywhere telling that they discovered some idea. Stay away from the ones who do not give the Vedas, itihasas, puranas as Shastra Pramana. Such egotistical gurus can do more damage to one’s spiritual progress than it appears.
 
  • Let us all make Bhagavad Gita as our guide for better living. Anyone who has cracked it open and with a decent commentary, be it from Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Sivananda or Swami Tapasyananda, any that is not cultish, will realize that Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the most practical, structured manual that can cater to sadhaks of all statures. Only decision is to read and follow it.
 
May we all strive to set a good example to others by focusing on our own values. Let us deliberate on the loss of values and the inversion as a starting point to fix the ailments plaguing Hinduism. The real name of these ideas is called Sanatana Dharma, which means eternal. Only by personally upholding these values, by leading by example, these values will get passed on. Every day, every single effort counts.

Om Tat Sat

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sudama - a paragon of friendship



 Many great characters that used to be wonderful role models for the society have been reduced to caricatures. Narada perhaps has been the worst hit. Shortly behind on that list will be Sudama. In Friendship - Does it matter with whom, we studied that Sudama as an exemplar friend to Krishna, only to be excelled in magnitude by Bhagwan Sri Krishna.
We will dive into this wonderful story in Bhagavatam, Skandha X, chapters 80 and 81 to unearth one of the most heartwarming and inspiring examples for all of us to emulate. The article aims to counter the cartoonish approach to our puranic stories, which are not only hinduphobic, but also get amplified due to the modern media coupled with the masses being reluctant to crack open the scriptures or even listen to authentic traditional scholars' upanyasams or pravachans.
Sudama, a.k.a Kuchela, a.k.a Sridama, a highly evolved mahatma well versed in Vedas, shining with a strong renunciation for sense objects and mastery over it. His original name was Sridama, but as penury was a badge of honor for brahmanas practicing great austerity, he wore only dirty rags, hence acquired the name Kuchela. His wife, Kshutkshama, was an ideal match for his piety who looked famished for the want of food. They lived on limited alms or whatever food came their way. There is no reference to the common narrative of Sudama having numerous children usually numbering over two dozen. One must make a big difference between the way brahmanas lived on dhana and yachana and the modern evil of begging as a social menace. Unchavritti is a highly purifying way of life where one’s ego gets sent to the cleaners and made to realize the true nature of atman. We have millennia of this way of living which has been reduced to an exact opposite in the twentieth century.
            To appreciate the vastness of the character of Sudama and his wife, let us peruse the verses directly from Vyasa.
kR A iShNasyAsItsakhA kashchidbrAhmaNo brahmavittamaH
virakta indriyArtheShu prashAntAtmA jitendriyaH
            BrahmaVittaamah - One who is versed in Vedas not from a scholarly perspective, but one who has realized the subtle truth.
            Virakta Indriyartheshu – One who has completely renounced the influence from sense objects
            Prashantatma – Peaceful
            Jitendriyah – One who has mastery over senses
In other words, all the qualities of Whom Does God Love series(Whom Does God Love – Part 1, Whom Does God Love – Part 2, Whom Does God Love – Final part) are summarized in terse verses and personified as Sudama. Sudama’s wife is described as:
yadR A ichChayopapannena vartamAno gR A ihAshramI
tasya bhAryA kuchailasya kShutkShAmA cha tathAvidhA
pativratA patiM prAha mlAyatA vadanena sA
daridraM sldamAnA vai vepamAnAbhigamya cha
            Let us note one adjective used to refer her – daridra. She is characterized as pativrata, one who was akin to Sudama in all qualities be it looks or character. Then why is Vyasa referring only her as Daridra. Normally translated as poor. If both were living under the same thatched hut, living on alms, why is she alone called as Daridra. One must understand that Daridra refers to the mindset of lack. Sudama raises above the senses and is not bothered by the BMI or OET. His wife on the other hand, despite all her stellar attributes seems incapable of rising above the world of objects. She perceives a clear lack in her life which also affects her mind, hence Vyasa seems to have chosen this adjective to instruct us on how contentment is the key to our inner evolution.
Under extreme pressure of poverty, Sudama's wife entreated Sudama to approach Sri Krishna. Being the Lord of Dwaraka and as one famed to grant wealth to sincere seekers, and whom her husband repeatedly kept claiming as a very close friend, she saw Krishna as the only possibility to get out of deep poverty. As noted in the character analysis above, though both were under the same circumstances, Sudama's mind was immersed in paramathma, whilst being a devoted wife,Sudama's wife nourished a want. This want makes Vyasa tag an adjective Daridra, while introducing her. The literal meaning is poverty, but Vyasa chose this word to explain that small lack perceived in her mind.
She repeatedly pleads her husband to approach Krishna, the sole refuge. While poverty elimination was on the minds of his wife, Sudama was enamored by the fact he could meet his long lost friend Krishna. Sudama asks his wife to provide some offering to Krishna. Never meet a Guru or Bhagwan or any athithi without a gift. Though it appears a mere tradition, there is lot of significance. When visiting a Guru, offer what (s)he likes, when offering others, give what you can afford, but for Bhagwan give anything with pure love. Kshutkshama went to four houses to beg one handful of flattened rice (poha), made a bundle with a piece of cloth and handed it to Sudama for offering. Note: there were strict rules even if one lives on unchavritti. This is not the same as modern begging, which is a social menace.
Sudama went wondering how he might be able to meet Krishna as he walked to Dwaraka. He goes past the different military barricades and approaches Krishna's main palace. As he went closer, Krishna, who was on his cot with his consort, got up and ran to greet Sudama and embraced him tightly. Seeing Sudama brought tears of joy and memories in his bosom. He made Sudama sit on his own cot and washed his feet. He honored him with gifts, applied him fragrant unguents, did dhoopa-deepa aradhana, offered him betel leaves and offered him a cow. Offering a brahmana a cow is regarded very highly for all varnas. Athiti satkara and also veneration of Brahmana (not due to birth, but by their karma) has been the hallmark of Sanatana Dharma. Krishna again sets a very high example for us to emulate.
Krishna repeatedly welcomed him, while Rukmini Devi, an incarnate of Sri Devi, herself fanned the tired, and famished, unclean Sudama in rags. Onlookers in the palace were stunned to see Krishna himself performing these acts on a poor Brahmana and wondered how much punya he must have done to be treated so by Krishna. A real friendship is not dependant on status of the ones who become friends, nor is it their mutual participation in each other’s welfare. When both are bonded by a common cause which is noble, only then the value of friendship gets enhanced. That is why Karna and Duryodhana, despite being great friends, do not become an example of ideal friendship. Karna, despite knowing all the flaws of Duryodhana, feels himself indebted to his love, rather than aid in showing the right direction. Contrast this with Krishna and Arjuna or Krishna and Sudama.
Krishna and Sudama engaged in their memories of Gurukula. Krishna spoke very highly of the austere nature of Sudama and how much above worldly desires his mind was. Krishna excitedly recalled many events of the past. During one incident, Krishna and Sudama were tasked to procure firewood by Sandipini(Guru)'s wife. In the dense forest, they got lost and were overtaken by fierce rains. Unable to find directions and in the darkness of night, they were stranded. One must remember this happened when Krishna was perhaps 11 to 13 years of age. The next day Sandipini himself came in search of the children and praised their steadfastness to service (Guru Seva). Krishna recalled the blessings of Sandipini that it is Guru's grace that makes one attain the fulfillment of one's aspirations in life and find peace within. Sudama's heart was brimming with love for Krishna. He considered it as a good fortune to have stayed with him in the Guru's abode. Sudama said, for Krishna, the one whose body is constituted of the Vedas, staying at Guru's place for education was to merely conform with human ways. This clearly shows how advanced Sudama was even during his childhood.
Sudama was so spiritually evolved that not a second thought existed in his mind about Krishna's true nature. Ever immersed in those thoughts, Krishna's proximity merely swelled the intensity to tsunami proportions.
Sri Hari, who is aware of the minds of all beings, smilingly inquired Sridama, if he had brought anything to offer him. He reminded Sudama that any offering be it a leaf or flower or fruit or water, given in pure devotion, He cherishes. Sudama became even more shy and hesitant in offering the flattened rice. Krishna who is behind every thought of everyone pondered, "Sudama has never worshipped ME for wealth and even this trip is at the instance of his wife. I will grant him wealth beyond his wildest dreams".  
Let us recall Bhagavad Gita sloka, Chapter 9, Verse 26.
| | पत्रम्́ पुष्पम्́ फलम्́ तॊयम्́ | यॊ मॆ भक्त्या प्रयच्छति |
 
तद् अहम्́ भक्त्य्-उपह्ड़्तम् | अश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः | |
patraḿ puṣpaḿ phalaḿ toyaḿ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaḿ bhakty-upahṛtam aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ
Whoever offers Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, water, that I accept, offered by the pure-minded with devotion.

Krishna reached for the small bag which Sudama was hiding. Krishna is perhaps the greatest actor. Acting surprised at the contents of the rag bundle, he expressed pleasant surprise at the thoughtfulness of bringing his favorite food. He took one fistful followed by another. As he was about to take another Rukmini, who was Sri Devi herself, held HIS hand and reminded that due to Krishna's love he has given everything in the universe and beyond already. One must note Sudama’s dilemma – to offer Krishna, whom he has already realized as Paramatma, Supreme Being, paltry handful of flattened rice would be insulting. He also felt it will be like a bribe or request. He had no requests or wishes in his mind. We saw the same traits exhibited when Dhruva and Prahlada were confronting the Divinity. Unless one’s mind gets purified and rises above wants and desires, it is impossible to approach Divinity. We find Arjuna filled with questions, Duryodhana wanting to even imprison Krishna. Yet the highest devotee when facing Hari merely enjoys and relishes HIS presence. This truth is very evident in all our daily lives. Most of us reach out to the Universe with wishes. Depending on the intensity and the level of our effort in achieving it, we get the objects of desire, either now or later. But the most highly evolved ones do not chase the objects, rise above its influence. At the very highest levels, we find superlative examples like Sudama, Dhruva and Prahlada.
Sudama enjoyed Krishna's Supreme hospitality as if it were heaven and spent the night. As he departed, Krishna accompanied him to some distance. On his way back, he wondered that he is returning home with paltry wealth and hoped what he will tell his wife. On the other hand he experienced extreme bliss at the experiences of meeting Krishna.He repeatedly felt blessed that Supreme Krishna himself hugged him and served him along with Rukmini. To Sudama's mind more than all the wealth, the way Krishna treated him fondly was more than heaven, be it washing his feet or applying sandal paste or his wife fanning him with chowry, was Supreme. One cannot fathom the purity of Sudama’s mind. Despite being sent on a single purpose of seeking wealth, Krishna giving him demonstration of his charitable nature and also eagerness to give anything he might have sought, Sudama does not even get a single thought of seeking a favor. His mind is extremely grateful and awe struck at the way Krishna and Rukmini set the standards of hospitality. Approaching Divinity with a want may fulfill the wish, but leaves a bigger hole of the Vasana.
Reminiscing all the wondrous experiences, he reached home to find huge towers and mansions. A dazed Sudama was greeted by his wife who was dazzling like a celestial and the house looked akin to Indra's abode. Sudama began to think how this wealth has come to him when he did not deserve it. It was only due to the fortunate meeting with Krishna, who cherishes giving away abundance like the sudden cloudburst. Sudama repeatedly thought about the blessings of meeting Krishna.
After incessant reflection, Sudama felt more intense devotion to Krishna and desired to renounce the world immediately. Still to please his wife, he lived in this world, partaking only objects sanctioned by scriptures and never entangled even mentally with any sense objects. He spent his time in continuous meditation till he attained Vaikunta, Mahavishnu's abode. 
 
Krishna, who cannot be conquered by others is easily conquered by pure devotion of the devotees. One who listens and narrates this story of Kuchela Brahmana and understands the nature of Krishna's love and strong affinity for mahatmas will attain the love of Krishna and get liberation from Karma bandhana.
 
Sudama’s episode is deeper than what meets the eye. Most of the folks who hear or narrate the story limit it to the story aspect. But let us aspire to only read in between the lines.

  • Never meet anyone, especially Bhagwan, without something to offer.
  • Never approach Divinity with a begging bowl. Our Karmaphala comes to us, what comes from Krishna is Grace. If we settle for our cheap trinkets, the best imagined ones from our mind fertile with vasanas, they merely block the uplifting Grace to rise above these vasanas. Bad bargain.
  • Spend time with scriptures, live the life by it and this makes not only meeting divinity a possibility but propels us to live above the influence of OET (Objects, Emotion, Thoughts)
  • Krishna never even claims what he gave to Kuchela, nor did Sudama seek any. The highest blessings are the ones that come unsought.
  • There is no change in Sudama before and after Krishna's meet / blessing, except perhaps his incessant meditative intensity on Paramatma. Sudama never went with a want, nor did he get trapped in the sense pleasures offered by Krishna, after his visit.
  • In a sense,  the only feast for Sudama was for his senses, as his mind was always immersed in Hari smarana before and after his visit.


May our minds follow this wondrous example of Sudama. Though we may not be able to rise immediately to such exalted heights, we can at least imitate his attitude in our daily lives, be it in regularly reading scriptures, reducing a vasana driven approach, make some time to connect with the inner Divinity, never approach a friend with a want, behave like Krishna in treating our friends by sharing generously without a request or even their knowledge. May we learn to train our mind to humble its ego a bit by offering that which was only HIS by shedding our mamakara, I-ness. Krishnarpanamastu.

Om Tat Sat
References
  • Srimad Bhagavata - Swami Tapasyananda translation