The Pandavas were princes of great character and virtue. Led by Yudhistra, the eldest of the five brothers, they were the most powerful warriors the world had ever known. They lived in the grand kingdom of Hastinapur, under the rule of their uncle, King Dhritarashtra. But the king’s son Duryodhana hated his cousins and wanted desperately to be sole heir. So, he masterminded a royal intrigue to banish the Pandavas for twelve years exile.
Obedient to their uncle, who witnessed and sanctioned the injustice, the Pandavas and their noble wife Draupadi, left the luxury of the palace to roam in forests. They made themselves a cottage and lived very simply – sleeping on straw beds, drawing water from the river and making fire from wood.
Suryadev, the Sun God, saw their piteous state and offered them the ‘Akshay Patra’, a divine bowl that would each day supply food unlimitedly until Draupadi ate her meal. The Pandavas thanked the demigod and began a peaceful life away from the secret plotting of their jealous cousin. Or so they thought …
Wishing for their downfall, Duryodhana hatched a new cunning plan. He convinced the sage Durvasa Muni to visit the Pandava’s cottage to bless them.
“Durvasa Muni travels with sixty thousand disciples and he will expect the wretched Pandavas to prepare a grand feast. They will not be able to do any such thing so the sage is bound to curse them. Everybody knows this sage has a temperamental disposition,” thought Duryodhana.
Draupadi and her husbands warmly welcomed the sage to their hut. They offered him their sincere respect and reverence.
“Quick Draupadi, please prepare a sumptuous feast for all our guests with your special bowl,” said Yudhistra.
“Oh no, dear husband, we are in trouble because I have already eaten so the bowl will not produce any more food,” replied Draupadi.
Quiet alarm broke out among the brothers. They knew Durvasa Muni would take serious offense if they did not honour him properly. What were they to do?
The sage did not catch wind of their dilemma. In fact he announced that he was going with all his disciples to the nearby river to bathe. They would be back shortly to enjoy their meal.
Helpless and distraught, Draupadi prayed to Krishna. She knew he was the only one who could save them. The Pandavas had suffered many hardships and each time got through them with courage and determination because they loved Krishna and trusted that he would help them.
Out of the blue, Krishna arrived at the cottage. As always he was smiling and cheery.
“I’m so hungry Draupadi, do you have something for me to eat?” he asked.
“Oh Krishna, I wish I did! But the Akshay Patra has nothing left in it now because I have already eaten. I can’t offer anything to you or Durvasa Muni and his thousands of disciples,” said Draupadi.
“Really, could you bring me the bowl?
Krishna peered into the bowl and began smiling widely. He slipped his finger under the rim, scooped a morsel of food still there and popped it into his mouth.
“Very nice,” Krishna said. Then in mock concern, he turned to Bhima, the second eldest brother, and said, “Bhima, I think you should go to the river and bring back the sage and his entourage for their meal. Tell them we are waiting for them, it’s getting late.”
Bemused, Bhima did as he was told. When he reached the banks, he saw a curious thing. Across the huge group there was a wave of movement as the disciples stood or sat rubbing their bellies. Bhima was even more startled to hear Durvasa whisper to one of his men, “Look out, here comes Bhima with his mace. We need to leave quickly and quietly or he will be furious that we refused the feast. I am so full and satisfied, I couldn’t possibly eat anything else. Everyone is also saying the same thing. Let’s make a run for it.”
Bhima chuckled as he saw the group slip away into the forest. He returned home and reported the news to the others. They were relieved and perplexed.
“It was Krishna!” said Draupadi, “he did this.” Overjoyed, she turned to Krishna. “We offer you all we have and the whole world is satisfied. How wonderful you are. We never need to be worried about anything if we have you.” Happy and grateful, the Pandavas thanked their beloved friend and Lord with all their hearts.