Sri Krishna's Mercy on the Fruit Seller
Since time immemorial, man’s thirst for immortality and hunger for love has never been quenched. If a stomach full of food and peaceful sleep were the only goals in one’s life, then everyone would be leading a happy life. But man is always in search of something more. Once he acquires one thing, he falls in love with something else. Everyone needs love. One does not achieve peace even after drinking nectar that is devoid of love but on the other hand, one smilingly consumes poison when served with love. Man has been moving from place to place in search of this love. Sometimes he is in love with his wealth, with his work, and at other times he expects love from his wife, children, friends and relatives. At times he thinks he has found love in the sidelong glances of his beloved, in the dependency of his child and in the trust of his partner. Taking this attachment to be love, he halts there for some time but as they are not permanent sources of love, it gets exhausted with time and he moves on. If, during this process, he is graced with love for the supreme absolute and feels his presence, then his search is complete.
Maintaining a relationship with Krishna is also not easy. He is only interested if you completely surrender. He extends both his arms and expects the devotee to fill it up with the offering of his love. The moment man lets go of ‘me and mine’, the same Lord fills up his empty bowl with divine wealth. He is the absolute giver. He gives and man enjoys. The primary reason why the Lord incarnates is to spread the nectar of love. Life without love is meaningless.
When Krishna, the son of King Nanda, was delivering joy to the inhabitants of Vrij, people in Mathura also longed for this divine experience. The name of Krishna reached Sukhi’s ears too. The more she heard about Krishna, the more eager she became to learn more about the God of love in the way a greedy person is never satisfied with the wealth he acquires. Every house in Vrij reverberated with the stories of Krishna, his beauty, his flute, his mischiefs, and his pastimes. The stories of Krishna etched themselves in Sukhi’s heart and she longed to see him with her very own eyes. She used to shed tears day and night, pining to meet Krishna. Looking at her state, a friend suggested, “Why don’t you visit Vrij to sell your fruits? Vrij is not very far away. Go to Shyam with your fruits and fulfil your desire.” Sukhi was a fruit seller. She earned her livelihood by selling fruits. Delighted with the idea, she thought, “Yes, I will give myself along with my fruits to Shyamsundar. So, she went to Vrij with her basket of fruits and started hollering around King Nanda’s palace, “Who wants fruits? My fruits are very sweet and tasty. I have all kinds of berries, mangoes, coconuts and many more.” But Krishna is not one to just listen to your screams. He looks at the eagerness, enthusiasm, zest in which you seek him. He waits for the complete surrender of your ego.
Sukhi went to Vrij to have a glimpse of Shyamsundar and soothe her eyes but returned with a more severe ailment. Her eyes were not under her control anymore. And to add to that she had also lost control over her mind. Her heart was filled with the alluring form of Shyamsundar. She forgot everything else around her. Her desires got quadrupled. After hearing his name, she wished to hear more about him which led to her desire to see him once. After that wish got fulfilled, she then wanted to touch him, to feel him. Her desire to be near Krishna took hold over all her senses. She summarised that Krishna was very cruel to her. He knows everything, even her innermost wish, but he didn’t look at her even once, knowing very well how eager she was to meet him. The more she tried to forget him, the stronger became his presence in her heart. Sukhi forgot everything else and walked from Mathura to Gokul every day, following Krishna everywhere he roamed, calling aloud, “Who wants fruits? My fruits are the sweetest.”
Strange is the way of love. When we love someone so dearly and desire him, his indifference stirs up our whole being. If uniting with the Lord were so easy, then people would not be giving up all their possessions and leaving their dear ones to get close to him. The apathetic behaviour of the Lord caused the flame of her yearning to glow brighter. The more intense the pangs of separation, the sweeter becomes the union. When Sukhi’s yearning for the Lord reached the threshold, she forgot to eat, drink and sleep. Every day she arrived at the door of Nanda’s palace even before Krishna got up from his bed. She would watch Mother Yashoda wake him up and give him butter. Her eyes would get entranced watching Krishna, his tiny teeth sparkling as he would open his mouth to eat the lump of butter. She followed Krishna as he walked into the houses of Gopis. How fortunate were the Gopis to hold him close, to joke with him, to feed him and make him play the flute! She kept cursing herself, her low birth, her lower caste. She was untouchable. Then she used to console herself, saying “Why should Krishna care?” He is the saviour of the downtrodden. He would definitely deliver her.
That day, she reached Nanda’s place as usual and called, “Who wants fruits?” A sweet voice replied from inside, “O fruit seller, wait for me.” Sukhi stood, stunned at her place. It was the most beautiful, the most melodious voice that she always had been yearning to listen to. Her desire was finally fulfilled. Krishna had taken her name and had asked her to wait for him. So, she stood there, waiting for her Lord to appear. And Shyamsundar appeared before her. Sukhi noticed the beautiful black big eyes, and the locks of thick black hair falling on his forehead, the peacock feather tilted to a side. The innocent face of baby Krishna gleamed with a smile as he walked towards Sukhi, carrying a handful of grains with both his palms. She watched on as the grains kept falling out of his palms with every step he took. Her eyes shone with love for baby Krishna. He came near her, and pouring out whatever grain was left, Krishna squeaked out, “Now, give me my fruits.” Sukhi took all her fruits one by one and kept handing it over to Krishna. She wanted to give everything she had, even herself. Krishna took everything that was offered but the fruits kept falling out of his little hands. As Krishna kept struggling, drops of sweat glistened on his forehead and his yellow silken garment loosened. Casting aside all her reservations, Sukhi pulled baby Krishna near, tightened his garment at the waist and holding him on her lap wiped the sweat on his forehead. Sukhi looked on as Krishna walked back into the house. It was impossible for her to take her eyes off that beautiful form but it was time for her to return to Mathura. As she turned her gaze back into her basket, she noticed that the grains had turned into jewels, rubies and gold. Stoned, she looked up to see baby Krishna smiling at her.
phala-vikrayiṇī tasya cyuta-dhānya-kara-dvayam
phalair apūrayad ratnaiḥ phala-bhāṇḍam apūri ca
(Srimad Bhagavatam 10/11/11)
(While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Kṛṣṇa’s hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.)
Anything offered to Krishna with love is reciprocated in limitless ways.
Inspired by Sri Prabhudatta Brahmachari's 'Bhagavat Katha'.