Below is the translation to Veda Paati's story, narrated in tamil, available in below platforms:
Did I bring flattened rice like Kuchela?
“Dear child, in the last story you had taken me on a journey to the Sethu Bandhana. You had visualized yourself as the little blessed squirrel whom Lord Rama had affectionately cuddled for its lovely service. I am eagerly awaiting your next story, my dear child”, said Swami Ramanuja. “Oh Swami, I was not able to do service to Vaithamanidhi Perumal even like the squirrel did to Rama. Next, I am going to relate the story of Lord Krishna’s close friend who lovingly offered Him His favourite Aval. Am I even near in comparison?”, and with that the Thirukolur Pen Pillai began narrating the story of Krishna’s childhood friend, Sudama.
As we all know, Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva in a cell where the evil Kamsa had them locked up. He was warned that the 8th child would eventually kill him for his misdeeds. Krishna was carefully brought to Gokul the very night he was born, for his safety. He was brought up lovingly by Yashoda and Nandagopa as a cowherd boy. The malevolent Kamsa kept sending Asuras to attack Krishna, however to no avail. Krishna defeated every one of them and performed several Leelas in Gokul along with the loving Gopikas.
The day finally came when Akroora was sent by Kamsa to bring Krishna and Balarama to Mathura. He had hatched vicious plans to destroy Krishna. Krishna and Balarama emerged victorious and killed their tyrant uncle Kamsa. Krishna released his birth parents from their misfortune and appointed his grandfather Ugrasena as King of Mathura. Krishna’s parents needed to prepare Krishna with all skills required for Him to become the next king and hence sent him and Balarama to a Gurukul.
In the days of yore, children had to live in their Guru’s home or Ashram to learn. They stayed with the Guru and Guru Mata and apart from learning, also helped with the household chores. Krishna and Balarama were sent to the Ashram of Sandipani for Gurukulam. They made many new friends there and among them, a poor brahmin boy was very close to Krishna. His name was Sudama.
One day Guru Mata requested Krishna and Sudama to go to the forest to pick up some wood for her cooking. She had given them a bag of Aval, or flattened rice to eat in case they were hungry. Happily talking and skipping, both boys picked up wood and kept walking deeper into the forest. Alas! Heavy rains started pouring and the boys were stranded. Each of them climbed on a tree and remained there for safety. Sudama, without realizing, had eaten the Aval little by little and had finished it all off! The next morning when the boys awoke and the rains had subsided, Sudama was guilt-struck. “Oh Krishna, you must be so hungry. I unknowingly ate all the Aval and did not offer you even a bit!”. Hurriedly walking back, our large-hearted Krishna said “Do not worry Sudama! What would happen if one did not eat for just one night? Come on, let us return. Our Guru and Guru Mata would be worried”!
The children had a jolly time, learning plenty and having fun with each other. Time flew and it was finally time to return home. Krishna returned to Mathura, became happily married and became the King of Dwaraka. Sudama too, returned home and got married to a dutiful wife, Suseela. Sudama and Suseela had many children. Sudama would go on the streets and sing the glory and praises of the Lord. He would collect Bhikshai from those who were willing to give, and Suseela would cook and feed her children with whatever was collected. Most days they went hungry. Unlike Krishna, Sudama was living in poverty. Sudama and his family were often clad in dirty, faded and torn clothes, and were finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Suseela once approached Sudama and bravely expressed what had been in her heart for long. “Swami, you often talk fondly about your close friend Krishna and your school days. He has now become the King of Dwaraka. Why don’t you visit Him and ask for some help? Meeting Him could alleviate our dire situation”, she said sadly. However, Sudama jumped for joy at the thought of meeting his beloved friend after such a long time! He did not register the part about asking for assistance. He got ready for his trip at once. Suseela borrowed some chipped rice from her neighbours, prepared Krishna’s favourite Aval and gave it to Sudama in a packet.
Sudama set foot joyfully, recalling warm memories from his childhood with Krishna all the way. He was so enthusiastic that he hardly minded the hardship of the long journey. He arrived at the palace and informed the guards that he was there to see Krishna. The guards were doubtful looking at the poorly clad Brahmin and an argument ensued, leaving Sudama feeling very embarrassed. Hearing this commotion, Krishna came out to see what was happening. Seeing His beloved friend there, His joy knew no bounds. He embraced him wholeheartedly and led him into the palace.
As he walked into the palace, Sudama was astonished at the grandeur of the palace. Krishna and Rukmini Devi seated Sudama in a comfortable chair and lovingly washed his feet themselves. He removed the thorns that had pricked Sudama’s feet while he was enroute to Dwaraka. Taking some water from that which was used to wash Sudama’s feet, Krishna sprinkled it on His and Rukmini’s own heads! Seeing this made Sudama feel very self-conscious. What did he do to deserve such kindness from Krishna whom he hadn’t seen in years?
Krishna arranged for a good bath for Sudama and gave him brand new silk clothes to wear. He invited Sudama for a grand meal that Rukmini Herself served with affection. Krishna and Sudama reminisced about old times happily. Just then Krishna asked “Oh Sudama! Surely Suseela must have sent something for me? Give it to me?’, with a twinkle in His eye. “What I have brought is insignificant compared to what Krishna has, how do I give this to Him”, he thought shyly and told Krishna, “Oh Krishna, I have brought nothing for you. I am sorry”. Krishna knew that His loving friend would have surely not come empty handed and found the Aval packet hidden behind Sudama. He took one big handful of Aval and put it in His mouth, joyfully savouring every morsel of His favourite food. As He took another handful, Rukmini gently held His hand preventing Him from eating it. With Her divine eyes she conveyed “If you savoured the second mouthful, I would have to permanently shift to Sudama’s home. You have given him enough with Your first handful!”. After accepting Krishna’s hospitality for the night, Sudama took his leave.
When he got back, he was shocked. Sudama could not find his home. Instead, in its place was a grand mansion. From the mansion walked out a beautiful lady clad in a beautiful silk saree and jewellery. “Who are you? Where is my home?”, Sudama questioned this lady. Laughing, she replied, “Why, Swami? Are you not able to recognise me? I am Suseela and this is our home.”. His children came running out to greet him, all beautifully dressed. “Oh Krishna, it was your doing, wasn’t it? You had eaten a mouthful of my humble Aval and in return gave me so much wealth”, thought Sudama tearfully. Despite his new status, Sudama lived happily after, ever immersed in prayers and thoughts of Krishna.
“Oh Swami. Am I like Sudama? Do I offer Aval or even flowers at the lotus feet of the Lord? Why then should I remain here”, said Thirukolur Pen Pillai melancholically.