Two Tales of Two Friends

Krishna and Sudama aka Kuchela

About 7000 years back two young boys met at Guru Sandipani’s ashram, at Ujjain (modern day name for the place). They were sent by their parents to the Gurukul for their education. The two young boys were Krishna and Sudama. Krishna belonged to a royal family and Sudama came from a poor family. They became inseparable friends.

Friends Krishna and Sudama

Upon completion of their education at Guru Sandipani’s ashram, the two friends went their separate ways, promising to always remain in touch. Krishna, went on to do many reputed deeds and was considered the avatara of Mahavishnu. He shifted the Yadu kingdom’s capital from Mathura to Dwarka and became an important person during the Dwapara Yuga.

Sudama on the other hand, remained a poor villager earning a meagre wage as a Pandit. Overtime, it became extremely difficult for Sudama to take care of his family’s needs. One day his wife Sushila suggested to him that he should meet Krishna and ask for some financial help. Sudama was extremely reluctant to ask his friend for any favour. But he wanted to meet his childhood friend.

He agrees to go to Dwarka and meet Krishna but he tells Sushila that he won’t speak about his poverty or ask for help. On the day he leaves for Dwarka, his wife packs some flattened rice or poha for Krishna as she knew it was his favourite food. After walking for a few days, Sudama reaches Dwarka and is awed by its prosperity.

Sudama reaches Krishna’s palace and the guard is unwilling to let him enter in his torn clothes. When the guard informs Krishna of Sudama’s arrival, Krishna runs out to meet him and brings him inside the palace. They recollect their days spent at Guru Sandipani’s ashram and seeing Krishna’s wealth Sudama is hesitant to offer him the pack of Poha. Krishna mischievously asks him – “What gift have you got for me?”.

Sudama hands over the poha hesitatingly, but Krishna eats it up saying he had never tasted anything as sweet as this poha. Sudama stays a couple of days with Krishna without mentioning about his dire straits. When he returns home, in the place of his hut there is a palatial mansion and his wife and children welcome him wearing elegant clothes.

Sudama’s eyes well up with tears of joy remembering Krishna’s love and generosity.

Abdul Kalam and Ramanatha Sastry

More recently in 1940’s four young boys became fast friends in Rameswaram, the southern tip of India. Abdul Kalam, Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan, and Sivaprakasan were in the same class at school. Abdul Kalam and Ramanadha Sastry would sit together always and were thick friends.

Despite the rigid social norms in Rameswaram, these friends remained close and visited each others’ homes freely. When a young teacher tried to sit the Brahmin Ramanadha and the Muslim Kalam separately, he was told off by Ramanadha Sastry’s father. The young teacher learnt an important lesson about not discriminating based on religion or social status.

Abdul Kalam’s mother and grandmother would relate events from the Ramayana and from the life of the Prophet as bedtime stories to all the children in their family.

As the young boys became young men, they all went their different ways with Kalam going the farthest ….. all the way from Rameswaram to the highest office of the President of India. Along the way he also became the “missile man” for his contributions in the field of defence. Dr. Kalam was and will remain the most loved President of India.

When he became the President in 2002, nearly an entire coach of the GT express was filled with Dr. Kalam’s relatives and friends. Ramanadha Sastry was one of those who came to Delhi and brought the “Prasadam” from the Rameswaram temple where he was the high priest, after his father.

Friends - Kalam and Sastry

What an amazing tale of two friends and their true friendship !!

7000 years apart but the two tales of two sets of friends have much to offer us in terms of learnings. Choose the right friend and your life is made, choose the wrong one and your life is unmade !!

The recent murder of Pharmacist Umesh Kolhe set me thinking about friends …. one of those allegedly responsible for Umesh Kolhe’s murder is his friend of 16 years, Dr. Yusuf Khan. Umesh had helped Dr. Khan financially as well for his sister’s wedding and during his children’s admissions.

Sometime in the end of May or early June, when the brouhaha over Nupur Sharma’s comment on Prophet Mohammed was at its peak, Umesh Kolhe posted “I support Nupur Sharma” on the Black Freedom Whatsapp group that both he and Dr. Khan were a part of.

On June 21, 2022, Umesh Kolhe was murdered in Amravati.

As the case proceeds, we will hopefully get more information about the murder of Umesh Kolhe. More importantly hope justice is served swiftly and fairly to the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

Friends - Krishna and Sudama

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