Once Sage Durvasa visited Hastinapura with thousands of his disciples. Duryodhana and rest of the Kauravas received him with respect, honored him and served them all humbly. Sage Durvasa was very pleased by the Kauravas’ hospitality and blessed them. When he offered them a boon, Duryodhana requested the sage to bestow his grace on his cousins, the Pandavas, by visiting them unannounced in the forest, where they were living in exile. He further requested that the sage visit them with all his disciples well into the afternoon, which would be an ideal time to spend with them. Sage Durvasa agreed.
Duryodhana’s request, though seemingly innocent, was really a cunning plot to bring his cousins’ downfall. The Pandavas were living in exile, but through the grace of the Lord, they had been given a magical divine vessel called the akshaya patra by Surya. This vessel gave unlimited food every day, but only until Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas and the last one to eat, had finished her meal and washed the vessel. Then it would no longer yield any food for the rest of the day.
Knowing this, the wicked Duryodhana had made sure that Sage Durvasa and his disciples visited them in the afternoon, when Draupadi would have finished eating. This meant that as the akshaya patra would not yield any food, the Pandavas would have no way to offer any food to Sage Durvasa and his thousands of disciples. Duryodhana, knowing the fact that Sage Durvasa was easily angered, expected that he would curse the Pandavas when they were unable to be hospitable to them all.
On that fateful day in the forest, the Pandavas, blissfully unaware of the impending danger, had finished their meal. Draupadi too had eaten and the akshaya patra had been washed and put away. Suddenly they heard the noise of pattering feet, and realized that they had visitors – not a few but thousands of them.
They cordially invited Sage Durvasa and his retinue. The ascetics were all hungry after the long walk from Hastinapura. Sage Durvasa told the Pandavas that they would all come back for a meal after taking a bath in the nearby river, and set off.
Now the Pandavas were all worried. The akshaya patra would not work until the next day. There was no way they could cook or gather enough food to feed these innumerable sadhus. Draupadi was completely helpless and she prayed to Krishna for help.
Draupadi was jolted. She said, “O Krishna! Are you teasing me? Is this the time to play games? You know we have no food left. We are in danger of being cursed by Sage Durvasa. Please do something and save us!”
Lord Krishna insisted, “But you have to give me something to eat first. Bring me your akshaya patra.”
Draupadi brought it and showed the empty vessel to Krishna.
Krishna looked keenly into the vessel and exclaimed triumphantly, “Aha! I knew a queen like you wouldn’t know how to wash a vessel properly! See there is a little bit of spinach and rice stuck in the corner.” He scraped out that tiny morsel and ate it.
Then he asked the puzzled Draupadi to bring him a glass of water, which he drank quickly. Satisfied, he patted his stomach and said, “Ah! I am so full now.”
This action of the Lord who pervades everything, made Sage Durvasa and his disciples, who were bathing in the river, suddenly feel that their stomachs were very full! They felt they could not eat even one little bit more. Now worried that the Pandavas would, out of hospitality, force them to eat if they went back to their ashram, the sage and disciples quickly left the area without returning to the Pandavas’ home.
Lord Krishna had saved the day! He always protects and comes to the rescue of those who call out to Him.
Yamini Kelappan, Chicago, IL