Rukmini was the princess of Vidarbha, whose father was Bhismaka. She is mostly regarded as being one of Krsna’s wives along with Satyabhama and Jambavati as mentioned in the Mahabharata (Majumdar 124-125). Rukmini is symbolized as a feminine deity in Hinduism; her love and devotion towards Krsna is very substantial. She is also believed to be an incarnation of goddess Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, the consort of Lord Visnu. Krsna was believed to be the incarnation of Visnu.
Rukmini hearing great stories, and good deeds about Krsna, fell in love without ever meeting him. Although she had never met him before eloping, Rukmini was captivated by his beauty, and other characteristics. It is said that Bhismaka was accepting of the marriage of Rukmini and Krsna, however, her brother Rukmi was against it (Prasad 2013). Rukmi had a grudge against Krsna and picked his friend Sisupala, king of Chedi, as her husband. Rukmi knew that Sisupala was good friends with King Jarasandha. With this in mind he imaged that the marriage would help shape a strong relationship with the king which would make him more powerful (Prasad 2013). Rukmi’s grudge was due to Krsna’s killing of Kamsa, who was a friend of Rukmi and uncle of Krsna. Kamsa was the brother of Krsna’s mother Devaki, Kamsa was told that his death would be by Krsna and tried his best efforts to kill him but did not succeed (Bhaktivedanta Swami 222). In order to avoid any possible bloodshed between the families, Rukmini had sent a letter to Krsna describing during what time and how she would go to the temple of Ambika so he could come get her (Majumdar 129). Krsna arrived to abduct Rukmini, accompanied by his brother Balarama, an event which was witnessed by Sisupala. As soon as the news of them eloping spread Rukmi and Sisupala then sent their people to kill them However, Rukmi and Sisupala were defeated. Rukmi was spared by Krsna, with the only punishment being shaving Rukmi’s hair off by Krsna, because of Rukmini begging Krsna to let her brother live.
Rukmini gave birth to ten sons: Pradyumna, Carudesna, Sudesna, Carudeha, Sucaru, Carugupta, Bhadracaru, Carucanvdra, Vicaru, and Caru and one daughter (Bhaktivedanta Swami 49). The best known of the sons was Pradyumna, who was believed to be the incarnation of Kamadeva, the human god of love and desire (Rhodes 251). Pradyumna and his son Aniruddha are considered as two of the four formation (vyuha) avatars of Visnu in Panchayat philosophy. Pradyumna is the “creation” of the universe and formation of dharma, while Aniruddha promotes spiritual knowledge (Srinivasa 214). It is said that Krsna had to perform austerities for about twelve years to have his eldest son Pradyumna. He married Mayavati the princess of Vidarbha, who was the incarnation of Rati, the Hindu goddess of love, sexual desires, and then married again to Rukmavati, who was the daughter of Rukmi.
According to Hindu tradition it was believed that Pradyumna was very “beautiful and attractive” and Rukmavati could not choose any other husband other than Pradyumna throughout her svayamvara. Svayamvara is the process in which a princess chooses a husband based on skills (Rodrigues 170). During the process of selection for a husband, she hangs a flower garland on Pradyumna amongst all other princes causing a fight to break out. Marriages between cousins was not very sanctioned by Vedic culture, but Rukmi wanted to please Rukmini and offered his daughter to marry Rukmini’s son. Pradyumna and Rukmavati had a son named Aniruddha, who got married to Rukmi’s granddaughter Rocana. Aniruddha and Rocana had a marriage party where family members were present. During this party Rukmi was killed by Balarama due to Rukmi calling Balarama names during a chess match they were playing and betting on, which provoked Balarama to kill Rukmi (Majumdar 1969).
In dedication towards Rukmini there is a temple devoted to her called the Rukmini temple that is located on the way to Dwarka. Inside, the temple contains a painting of Rukmini, Krsna and Durvasa. A story behind the painting is when Rukmini and Krsna invited the sage Durvasa for lunch in Dwarka. He had one condition to come which was that if both Krsna and Rukmini pulled the chariot instead of the horses. They agreed and took off to meet Durvasa. During the day Rukmini felt thirsty and told Krsna, who pressed his toe against the ground Ganga water came pouring out from which Rukmini then drank. Sage Durvasa, known to be short tempered, became angry that Rukmini drank the water without asking him first. He cursed Rukmini and Krsna by separating them for twelve years, and cursed the place they stayed at causing it to be dry and extinct of any water sources (Prasad 2013). Since then it is said that the reason why the Rukmini Temple and Dwarkadheesh Temple are two kilometers far apart from each other is because of Sage Durvasa’s curse. According to the temple tradition it is important to drink the water that is offered by the priests after viewing Rukmini’s idol to “perform parikrama of the idol” (Prasad 2013).
Satyabhama was one of Krsna’s wives. It is said that she was jealous of Rukmini and thought Krsna was always more affectionate towards Rukmini than her. There was a story entailing Rukmini’s devotion towards Krsna through tulabharam (Vemsani 91). Narada provokes Satyabhama to go under a vrata, where she has to offer Krsna to Narada as a slave or win Krsna back by proving her love towards him. In order to win him back she has to pay with jewels and gold equivalent to the weight of Krsna on a scale. Confidently Satyabhama agrees without hesitation. She then started to give all of her possessions away on the scale, but it did not budge at all. She started to worry and Narada recommended that she get Rukmini to help her out. Rukmini came with a leaf of tulsi and placed it on the scale without any jewelry. The scale immediately weighed the same as Krsna, and Satyabhama won him back with the help of Rukmini. Though there are many different variations describing why this event occurred in the first place this specific version displayed a symbol of love towards Krsna which was so pure and genuine, her devotion was valued more than physical wealth.
Related Topics for Further Investigation:
- Sage Durvasa
Austin, R. Christopher (2014) “The Abduction of Sri-Rukmini: Politics, Genealogy and Theology in Harivamsa Religious Studies and Theology London: 33:23-46. Accessed January 28,2020.
Bhaktivedanta Swami, A.C (1970) Krsna – The Supreme Personality of Godhead Volume 2. Boston: ISKCON Press.
Borooah, Indranee Phookan and Begum, Jerina (2014) “Bhaona, the Traditional Theatre Form of Assam, as an Instrument for Developing Moral Values.” 19:3. Accessed January 28, 2020.
Majumdar, Bimanbehari (1969) Krsna In History and Legend. Calcutta: Calcutta University Press.
Prasad, Dev (2013) Krishna: A Journey Through the Lands & Legends of Krishna. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House
Rhodes, Constantina (2010) Invoking Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth in Song and Ceremony. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Rodrigues, Hillary Peter (2016) Hinduism- The eBook by Hillary Rodrigues. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Book, Ltd.
Srinivasa Chari, S.M (1994) Vaisnavism- It Philosophy, Theology and Religious Discipline. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.
Vemsani, Lavanya (2016) Krishna in History, Thought and Culture: an encyclopedia of the Hindu lord of many names. California: ABC-CLIO, LLC
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Article written by: Simran Bhatti (February2020) who is solely responsible for its content
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