Undoubtedly, Krishna’s life is an enigma. Over centuries, people have interpreted each of his actions in multiple—and paradoxical—ways. Among the many events from his life that haven’t been spoken of much yet shed light on Krishna’s personality are the times he relishes food in strange circumstances. Like when Krishna goes as an emissary to Hastinapur to broker peace with the Kauravs and decides to stay at Vidur’s house instead of the royal palace.
Krishna’s sudden appearance leaves Vidur’s wife, Sulabha, befuddled. She was not only Krishna’s aunt but his devotee as well. However, she wasn’t aware he’d stay with them. While she had no clue what to offer Krishna upon his arrival, Sulabha grabbed a bunch of bananas. As she comes and sits opposite Krishna, he smiles at her. The smile is bewitching, immediately sending Sulabha into a trance. And in that state, she peels the first banana and offers Krishna the inedible peel while keeping the edible pulp on the plate. Krishna chuckles as he takes the banana peel and not only eats it but relishes it too. This continues for some time until the arrival of Vidur, who shakes them both out of their trances.
Something similar happens when the Pandavs are staying in the forest during their exile. It starts with Duryodhan playing a trick on the Pandavs when he suggests sage Durvasa visit his cousins in the forests, fully aware that the Pandavs won’t be able to accord a proper welcome, thus irking the sage, who was prone to cursing when angry. Draupadi is distraught when she realises she has not a morsel to offer to the revered sage. When she calls out to Krishna in desperation, she finds him standing before her, though she finds him adding to her woes when he asks her to feed him. ‘There’s not a grain to eat, and I have to feed Sage Durvasa. You know everything, and yet you tease and torture me thus,’ Draupadi wailed. Krishna smiled as he replied, ‘You shouldn’t lie. I know you have food to offer me.’ So angry was Draupadi at Krishna that she brought the cooking bowl kept for cleaning for him to inspect. As he does, he picks up a single piece of grain sticking in the corner of the bowl. Before Draupadi could even say anything, Krishna picked up the grain and ate it. While Draupadi stands shocked, Krishna smiles and thanks her for filling his belly. The meaning of this strange action dawns upon her a few minutes later when she gets to know that Sage Durvasa had decided not to come for lunch as he had earlier declared, as he strangely felt his stomach full.
Then, of course, we’ve heard about Krishna relishing the beaten rice (poha) dish that his old friend Sudama brings when he comes to meet Krishna, even though it didn’t meet the exacting standards of royal food besides being prepared a few days earlier.
There’s a common underlying emotion in all these events. Invariably, while getting caught up in traditions and stipulations, we tend to forget that Krishna’s (read: Divine) favourite food comes in only one form, universally known as love. Wish we understood!
Rajessh M Iyer, a storyteller who explores human relationships through meaningful anecdotes, parables, and stories, shares his work on www.rajesshmiyer.com.