Question: With regards to your latest newsletter, how can you say that Sudama brought “rotten flat rice” for Sri Krishna to eat ? What Sudama brought was “Powa” or “Avalakki” – which his wife prepared for Krishna. It was an offering of love and the reason why he brought powa was that Krishna loved Powa. Since Sudama was so poor, his wife borrowed it from a neighbour to give it to him.

Thank you for writing. This story originates in the 80th chapter of the 10th skandha of the Bhagavata Purana. Therein we find the following details mentioned:

yacitva caturo mushtin
vipran prithuka-tandulan
caila-khandena tan baddhva
bhartre pradad upayanam

“Sudama’s wife begged four handfuls of flat rice from the neighboring brahmanas, tied up the rice in a torn piece of cloth and gave it to her husband as a present for Lord Krishna.”

“Prithuka-tandula” refers to rice that has been flattened. There is no mention that she prepared it in any way. Later in the verses that describe Lord Krishna’s eating the flat rice, it is still referred to as “prithuka-tandula”, and not as a prepared or cooked item.

The offering of flat rice by Sudama’s wife was not one of pure love, but one of desire for wealth. Though Sudama had no material desire and was only interested in worshipping Lord Krishna in devotion, his wife wanted Sudama to approach the Lord as the king and request material wealth from Him. Sudama’s wife states (Bhagavata 10.80.10):

tam upaihi maha-bhaga
sadhunam ca parayanam
dasyati dravinam bhuri
sidate te kutumbine

“Please approach Krishna, who is the shelter of all sadhus, for He will give you abundant wealth to maintain your family and stop your suffering.”

Her desire was to acquire wealth from Lord Krishna. She knew Krishna was famous for being generous to the brahmanas, so for this reason she requested her husband to go and see Lord Krishna. Due to the immense devotion of Sudama, the Lord accepted the offering of flat rice despite it having already gone bad due to the long journey.

Sudama had actually asked his wife to give a gift as an excuse for not going, since he thought they had nothing which they could give. He did not want to visit Dwaraka as he felt bad to approach the Lord for something material. When he finally saw Lord Krishna, he was too embarassed to give the gift to the Lord, for he thought, “How can I allow the Lord to eat this old stale flat rice”.