Sri Krishna's Hunger
WHILE the Pandavas were dwelling in the forest, Duryodhana
celebrated a great sacrifice with much pomp and splendor.
He wanted to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice, but the
brahmanas told him that he could not do that while Yudhishthira and
Dhritarashtra were alive and advised him to perform the sacrifice known as the
He accepted this advice and celebrated the Vaishnava with
great splendor. But when the ceremony was over, the citizens began to talk
among themselves that Duryodhana's sacrifice had not come up to even a
sixteenth part of Yudhishthira's Rajasuya in magnificence.
The friends of Duryodhana, on the other hand, praised him
and the sacrifice he had celebrated and likened it to those performed by
Yayati, Mandhata, Bharata and others.
Court flatterers were not sparing with their praise. Karna
told Duryodhana that his Rajasuya had been only postponed till the Pandavas
should be defeated and slain in battle and repeated that his part would be the
slaying of Arjuna.
"Till I have slain Arjuna," said he, "I
shall not take meat or wine, nor will I refuse the prayer of anyone who asks me
for anything." Such was the solemn vow taken by Karna in the assembly.
The sons of Dhritarashtra were delighted to hear this vow
of the great hero Karna and shouted in joy. They felt as if the Pandavas had
been slain already.
Spies conveyed to the Pandavas in the forest the news of
the oath taken by Karna. Yudhishthira was greatly concerned, for he had a great
opinion of Karna's prowess.
Karna had been born with divine armor and was undoubtedly
a mighty hero. One morning, just before the hour of awakening, Yudhishthira had
Many of our dreams come either in the beginning or at the
end of our sleep. He dreamt that the wild beasts of the forest came and
appealed to him piteously not to destroy them altogether, but to move on to
some other forest.
Duryodhana felt sure that the Pandavas, who themselves
lived from hand to mouth in the forest, would be unable to feed or entertain
the sage and his following, and would incur some dreadful curse from that too
hasty visitor for their want of hospitality. This would give him greater joy
than any benefit he could have asked for himself when the sage offered a boon.
Durvasa went with his disciples to the Pandavas as was desired by Duryodhana,
as the latter were resting after their midday meal.
The brothers welcomed the sage, saluted and honored him.
Then the sage said: "We shall be back soon. Our meals must be ready then,
for we are hungry," and hurried off with his disciples to the river.
As a result of the austerities of Yudhishthira at the
beginning of their stay in the forest, the Sun god had given him the
Akshayapatra, a wonderful vessel that held a never-failing supply of food.
In making the gift, the god had said, "Through this I
shall place at your disposal for twelve years as much food as is required for
your daily consumption.
Not till everyone has been served and Draupadi herself has
taken her share will the vessel become empty for the day."
Accordingly, the brahmanas and other guests would be
served first. Afterwards the Pandava brothers would take their meals. Finally,
Draupadi would have her share.
When Durvasa reached the place, all of them, including
Draupadi, had eaten their meals and so the vessel was empty and denuded of its
power for the day.
Draupadi was greatly troubled and perfectly at a loss to
find food when the sage and his disciples should return after their ablutions.
In the kitchen, she prayed earnestly to Sri Krishna to come to her aid in this
hopeless predicament and deliver her from the wrath of the sage.
At once Sri Krishna appeared before her. "I am very
hungry," he said, "bring without delay something to eat and we shall
speak of other things afterwards."
Here was a pretty pass. It looked as though the ally from
whom she hoped for relief had gone over to the foe! She cried out in great
confusion: "Alas! Why do you try me thus, O Krishna? The power of the
vessel given by the Sun is exhausted for the day. And the sage Durvasa has
come. What shall I do? The sage and his disciples will soon be here and as
though this were not enough, you have also come at this juncture saying that
you are hungry."
Sri Krishna said: "I am terribly hungry and want
food, not excuses. Fetch the vessel and let me see for myself." Draupadi
brought it to him. A tiny bit of cooked vegetable and a grain of rice were
sticking to the rim of the vessel.
Sri Krishna ate them with satisfaction, accepting them as
Sri Hari, the Soul of the Universe. Draupadi was filled with shame at her
slovenliness in not having cleaned the vessel free of all remnants. A bit had
been left which had been partaken by Vasudeva!
Sri Krishna seemed replete with satisfaction after eating
his solitary grain and calling Bhima, told him to go to the river and intimate
to the revered sage that food was ready and waiting for them.
Bhimasena, greatly puzzled, but full of faith in Sri
Krishna, hastened to the river where Durvasa and his followers were bathing.
They were in great surprise to find that their ravenous
hunger had given place to a pleased satiety. They had all the comfortable
cheerfulness of people who had feasted well.
The disciples told the sage: "We have come here after
asking Yudhishthira to prepare food for us, but we feel well-fed and full and
cannot eat anything more."
Durvasa knew what it was and he told Bhima: "We have
taken our meals. Tell Yudhishthira to forgive us." Then the party went
The explanation is that as the whole universe is contained
in Sri Krishna, his satisfaction with a single grain of rice satisfied for the time
the hunger of all beings including the sage.