Krishna Avatar Part 49

By Nirooshitha Sethuram, Yogaratna

Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow

Sage Durvasa agreed to Duryodhana’s request and decided to go visit the Pandavas and Draupadi in the forest. He always loved to test people. 

To fulfill his word to Duryodhana, Durvasa headed towards Kamyaka forest from Hastinapura. He and his disciples arrived at the Ashram late in the day, after all the Pandava clan had finished their meals for the day, including Draupadi. 

Draupadi with Akshaya Patra(1)

Not only had she eaten, but she also cleaned the wish-fulfilling bowl bestowed by Surya, the Sun God, and put it away. The Sun God granted Yudhishthira a boon by giving an inexhaustible vessel called “Akshaya Patra” to be given to Draupadi.  Akshaya Patra will produce the food in any quantity desired at every meal and become empty only after Draupadi has taken her own meal, to fill up the next day once again. 

Yudhishthira and the Pandava brothers were shocked and puzzled to see the sage visiting so late in the afternoon. They invited them wholeheartedly. When Draupadi saw Durvasa and his disciples, her heart ached as she had already eaten and washed the wish-fulfilling bowl. She was bewildered about how to serve them. 

She heard Yudhishthira say that they were going to the river to take a bath and refresh themselves before coming for a good meal. Now Draupadi had a real problem! She was desperate. She was thinking of ways to get some food. 

After the sage and his disciples left for the river, the five brothers joined her in brainstorming the solution. Remembering Krishna, Draupadi told the Pandavas that only Krishna could help them.  She then thought of Krishna deep in her heart. She prayed to Krishna, pleading to him to save her from the predictable anger of Sage Durvasa, to avoid them getting a curse from him. 

Her desperate calling reached Krishna’s ears. There he was, right in front of her smiling. Confused and full of fear, Draupadi started to describe her desperate situation, unable to find words to describe it. Krishna stopped her from talking. He asked for food, saying that he was very hungry. 

Krishna, Draupadi & Pandavas (2)

Draupadi exclaimed, saying that it is not the time for jokes as she continued trying to explain the situation. Krishna asked her to bring the cooking vessels to him. She told Krishna that she had already washed and put the vessel away for the day.  She didn’t even have a single grain left to feed him or the sage and his disciples. But as Krishna insisted again and again, she brought and handed the vessels over to him.

To her surprise, Krishna scraped the bottom of the pot and got a bit of greens along with a single grain of rice. Holding the grain in his hand, he said that it would not be enough to fulfill the hunger of the sage and his disciples, therefore he was going to eat it so that his hunger is fulfilled. He said a prayer and ate the single grain of rice with full satisfaction. 

He then told her that he was fully satisfied and for Bhima to invite Sage Durvasa and disciples for the meal.  At first, Draupadi was embarrassed that she hadn’t washed the pot well.  Recovering from it, she wondered how Krishna was going to provide the meal for the sage and his disciples.  But, trusting Krishna as always, Draupadi requested Bhima to go bring the guests. 

Sage Durvasa (3)

When Bhima went to the riverbank, he was astonished to see the sage and disciples burping after their bath as if they had a big wholesome meal. They indeed excused themselves to go along with Bhima to the Ashram, as they were too full to eat. Of course, through his yogic powers, Sage Durvasa knew the reason for them suddenly feeling full. He apologized for not returning to the Ashram and blessed the Pandavas for them to have success in completing their time in exile in the forest, plus the year afterwards where they had to live in disguise untraced, and then to regain their kingdom. He also told Bhima to convey his regards to the other visitor who was at the Ashram.

Time passed. Only a few more days remained for the Pandavas to finish their twelve years of exile. One day a brahmin who was passing through Kamyaka forest came to the Pandavas seeking help. He said that his churner and igniting rod that he had for making his yaj~na fires had been taken by a stag. He explained that he hung them on a tree, but a stag rubbed against the tree, so they fell and got caught in its antlers. The frightened stag ran away with them. He requested the Pandavas to find and return them to him. 

The Pandavas set off looking for this stag which disappeared magically into the forest. They searched around for hours with no success. Exhausted, the Pandavas sat down under a tree to rest. They were all both hungry and thirsty. 

Lake (4)

Nakula was asked to bring some water to quench their thirst. When he went in search of water, he spotted a beautiful lake with crystal clear water. He was so happy and went closer to drink some water, hoping to take some back for his brothers as well. When he was just about to drink the water, he heard a strange voice saying, “If you want to drink the water from this lake you have to answer all my questions.” 

Nakula simply ignored the voice as he was too thirsty and started drinking the water. In no time, he fell dead on the ground. As Nakula didn’t return, Sahadeva decided to go look for him. He met the same fate as Nakula. 

Arjuna went in search for them and found them lying dead without any injuries to their bodies. Puzzled, Arjuna started shooting arrows reciting mantras, but the strange voice said that those arrows are not going to be of use. It requested Arjuna to answer his questions and drink the water or else he will attain the same fate as his younger brothers. Arjuna too refused to answer and drank the water and fell dead. 

Yudhishthira finds brothers (5)

Yudhishthira sent Bhima, who saw his three brothers’ fate and thought this must be a demon’s work.  Yet he decided to quench his thirst before he could battle the demon. He was asked to answer the questions by the voice, but he too didn’t comply and met the same fate.

Yudhishthira was puzzled and worried about the delay in them returning. He decided to go look for them himself. He was shocked to see all his brothers lying beside the lake, breathless. At first his heart sank and tears started rolling down. Then looking at their bodies more carefully, he realized that there was no injury. They looked as if they were sleeping. There were no signs of any enemies’ attack. He wondered if the lake was poisonous. 

As he was reaching down towards the water, he too heard the same strange voice saying not to drink the water until he answered all the questions, as the lake belonged to him. The voice also said that his brothers drank the water without answering the questions and met their end. “Do you wish to suffer the same fate?” it asked Yudhishthira.  

Yaksha asking questions of Yudhishthira (6)

Yudhishthira happily agreed to answer the questions. He humbly said, “If you claim this lake to be yours, I am happy to satisfy you, by answering your questions to the best of my knowledge. Please kindly show yourself to me.”

A yaksha (nature spirit) appeared in front of Yudhishthira and started with some simple questions, then continued with more difficult ones. 

Here are some questions that were asked and answers from Yudhishthira.

What brings out the sun every day?


What is more important than the earth itself?


What is higher than the heavens?


Who is the best mate/companion for a man?


Who is the best friend of man?


What is faster than the wind? 

The mind.

What is the most valuable possession? 


What is the greatest happiness? 


What is ignorance?

Not knowing one’s duty.

What is the highest dharma? 

Not to injure any of the living – ahimsa, non-harming.

What is that must be controlled and restrained?

The mind.

What must be renounced to make a man wealthy?


What is man’s greatest invisible enemy? 


What must be renounced to make a man delightful?


Losing what makes one rich? 


What is truly amazing in this world?

The fact that day after day everyone sees deaths occurring, yet all feel that they will never die. Everyone goes about their life as if they are going to be here forever.

What is real knowledge?

Knowledge of Self, God.

Yaksha, Yudhishthara & 4 dead brothers (7)

The yaksha was greatly pleased with Yudhishthira’s answers. As he was fully satisfied with Yudhishthira’s answers, he decided to revive one of Yudhishthira’s brothers. He asked Yudhishthira to choose one out of the four brothers, who were lying dead. Who would Yudhishthira pick?

More to come…

  1. Draupadi with Akshaya Patra
  2. Krishna, Draupadi & Pandavas
  3. Sage Durvasa
  4. Lake
  5. Yudhishthira finds brothers
  6. Yaksha asking questions of Yudhishthira
  7. Yaksha, Yudhishthira & 4 dead brothers

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