December 28, 2006

Akshayapatra and Krishna's hunger

Chandrika's recipe contribution to the group book project reminds me of this great story of feeding of multitudes from Hindu mythology associated with Akshayapatra and Krishna's hunger. Sharing it with you.

One day, the sage Durvasa went to Duryodhana with his ten thousand disciples. Knowing the sag's temper, Duryodhana carefully attended himself to all matters connected with reception of the guests and was so lavish in his hospitality that the sage was gratified and told him to ask any boon.

Duryodhana felt greatly relieved at having come so safely out of the ordeal and when the sage asked him to seek a boon, it occurred to him that here was an opportunity of letting loose the irritable sage on the Pandavas, and he said: “You have blessed us, great sage, by accepting our hospitality. Our brothers are in the forest. Kindly deign to visit them also, so that they may likewise be honored and happy,” and suggested for the visit a time when he knew that all the food prepared would have been eaten and none would be left for unexpected guests.

The sage, who liked always to test people, consented to do as Duryodhana had requested.
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 Yudhisthira at the beginning of their stay in the forest, the Sun god had given him the Akshayapatra, a wonderful vessel which 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. I looked as though the ally from who 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 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. The disciples told the sage: “We have come here after asking Yudhisthira 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 Yudhisthira to forgive us.” Then the party went away.

Source: iskconbangalore.org

2 Comments:

Blogger Nidhi said...

WOW! What a wonderful story. When I was in India and Mahabharata was featured on TV, that time I saw this story and I can never forget it in my life but reading it again gives the same amount of pleasure as seeing it.

Thanks for sharing.

Wish you and Your family a very happy New Year!

Cheers, Nidhi.

12/29/2006  
Blogger vkn said...

Many thanks for the wishes Nidhi. Kids are demanding for one story a day these days. Mythological stories are quite fascinating ones for all ages.

Happy seasons greetings to you and family.

12/29/2006  

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