“Are you cross with me?” Madhavan cried.
The food was untouched.
Perhaps plain rice isn’t appealing. Madhavan brought some curd and salted mango. But his efforts failed again. Despaired, he cajoled, coaxed and even shouted, shedding countless tears.
“I won’t leave until you eat,” he wailed.
Finally, Kannan obliged and set the despondent boy jump up in joy.
“Since you insist, I shall eat. But that may put you in trouble,” Kannan warned. A playful smile curled up at the corner of his lips. “Let this be our little secret.”
Later in the evening, the empty plate triggered Variyar’s ire.
“Melshanthi!” he roared. “Where is the naivedyam?”
Melshanthi folded his hands. “I had to go somewhere for an urgent work. So, I had asked my son, Madhavan to offer the naivedyam.”
“Doesn’t your insolent son know that I have the right over the naivedyam after offering? How dare he eat it?” Variyar seethed in rage.
Madhavan was summoned. The poor nine-year-old boy trembled like a leaf.
“I didn’t eat it,” he said meekly.
“Then who did?” Variyar hollered.
Madhavan clammed up. How could he reveal the secret?
“If you don’t open your mouth, I will thrash you,” Variyar brandished a bamboo cane at the boy.
Madhavan was alarmed.
“Liar! He never ate when I, His greatest devotee offered. It’s a mere ritual!” He declared disdainfully.
“I swear on my amma. She said God eats whatever we offer lovingly. So, I pursued relentlessly till He acceded.”
“You mean I’m not His true devotee?” Variyar raised the cane. Melshanthi kneeled down with folded hands.
“My son will never lie swearing upon his mother.”
“In that case, I shall accompany him tomorrow to the sannidhanam.” Variyar smirked. Kannan would never appear in front of this little imp instead of an eminent devotee like me!
The next day, a crestfallen Madhavan offered the naivedyam apprehensively.
“You seem different,” an enchanting, ever-knowing smile curled up on Kannan’s lips. “Has Variyar sucked the soul out of you?” His big black eyes pierced Madhavan’s heart.
“Forgive me, Kanna! They distrusted my devotion and threatened me. I had to let the secret out.” Madhavan’s hot tears fell on the Lord’s lotus feet.
“Do you think that unworthy soul can hide and see ME?” Kannan chuckled.
“Hey, boy! Whom are you talking to?” Variyar came out from the hiding. “Fooling me?” He raised his hand.
Just then, the sannidhanam shook. The bells rang ominously. Variyar collapsed on the cold floor.
“Moodha, your shallowness is unworthy compared to Madhavan’s unfaltering devotion,” an Asareeri roared.
Variyar’s blood froze. His hand curled up against his protruding belly, while his mouth twitched to a side.
Repenting and crying, he fell at Madhavan’s feet begging for forgiveness. The kind-hearted boy pleaded the merciful Lord. Variyar’s ailment vanished. He was a changed man.
Thereafter, Madhavan was the only person who offered naivedyam to the Lord for years to come, till he became one with Him!
1. Variyar: the supervising priest of a temple.
2. Melshanthi: the head priest.
3. Naivedyam: food offered to the Lord in a temple.
4. Kannan: Lord Krishna
5. Sannidhanam: the innermost sanctuary where the idol resides.
6. Moodha: Fool
7. Asareeri: A celestial voice.
Note: Legend has it that a young boy in Kerala had fed Lord Guruvayurappan (Krishna) because of his innocent, yet staunch belief that the Lord actually eats when offered with love.
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