The legend of Lord Krishna and Rukmani
The love story of Lord Krishna and Princess Rukmani has fired the imagination of millions of people including lovers. Lord Krishna occupies a very important position in Hindu thought and legends about him abound. These have been passed down from generation to generation and though not strictly verifiable, yet are absolutely true. One of the most famous of these legends is how he married Rukmani.
As per Hindu mythology, Krishna represents all forms of love as well. Umpteen verses of his dalliance with gopis(young village girls) are recited and available for all to read. The lord is reported to have had 16,108 wives. This should not be taken as a literal figure but something abstract that signifies spiritual and emotional love with the Lord.
Out of all the wives of the lord, the most important was Rukmani. She is supposed to be an avatar of the Goddess of wealth-Lakshmi. Thus she was a Goddess in her own right. Puranic literature tells us that she was the daughter of Bishmaka the king of Vidarbha. Ancient texts tell us that she in her heart loved Lord Krishna and wished she should be his wife and consort. Though her father Bishmaka was not opposed to Rukmani marrying Krishna, yet her brother Rukmi was greatly opposed to this alliance. Accordingly, he was able to convince his father to abort any thought of marriage to Krishna. He wished that Rukmani should marry his friend Shishupal, who was the Prince of the Kingdom of Cheda.
The Princess Rukmani had conjured up visions of the Lord and she longed that he should come and rescue her from her palace where she was imprisoned. Hundreds of miles away the Lord read her mind and he took the decision to rescue her from the palace.
When the proposal for marriage was presented to Shishupal by Rukmi, he was overjoyed and resolved to marry the God queen straight away. He exulted in the thought of making Rukmini his wife and begetting children from her.
Rukmani was the epitome of beauty and the Purana's describe her as a woman of incandescent loveliness. She was extremely fair slim and beautiful. Legend tells us that Rukmini wrote a letter to the Lord and requested him to come and take her away. But other sources point out that the Lord was a clairvoyant and as such he had read the mind of Rukmani. He resolved to go and rescue her.
He mounted his chariot and blew his conch shell and the horses in anticipation of accompanying a divine and celestial being pranced with glee. Krishna also requested his brother Balram to accompany him. The duo set forth for Vidarbha from Dwarka in present-day Saurashtra. As Krishna and Balram thundered forward information about their coming was passed by spies to Shishupal and Rukmi. Accordingly, they amassed an army to face Krishna and prevent him from carrying Rukmani away.
The Puranas tell us that as the chariot of Krishna moved forward the heavens flashed and rolls of thunder rent the air. This signified that a celestial being was on the way. Rukmani also learned by a telepathic message that the Lord was arriving to take her away and she was delighted.
She bedecked herself with jewelry and finest clothes and waited for her lord to come. The ancient books describe Rukimani as a gift of the creator who had carved her body, the waist being thin. Her high hips were adorned with a jeweled locket, she had pink lips, and the beauty of her face was enhanced by her slightly scattered hair and by different kinds of earrings. The bodily luster and beauty of Rukmini appeared as if painted by an artist perfectly presenting beauty following the descriptions of great poets. Rukmini’s breasts are described as being somewhat high, indicating that she was just a youth not more than thirteen or fourteen years of age.
The forces of Shishupal saw the approaching chariot of Krishna their hearts shook with fear. Shishupal turned to Rukmi and said,"Krishna and Balram are only two while we have an army of 100,000 we should be able to kill both of them easily"
Rukmini's confidence returned and he replied," yes let's slay both of them"
As Krishna chariot approached it began to float on the wind and the Lord let fly millions of arrows on the army of Shishupala.The hearts of the soldiers shook with fear and they feared divine retribution. They began to run helter-skelter and soon the battlefield was empty. Lord Krishna had won the battle.
Rukmani had been put up in a special palace, but the Lord reached it and enveloped Rukmani in his arms and carried her away. He placed the beautiful princess on his chariot and thundered away from the palace.
Victory of love
We must remember that as per the laws of Manu which were in force at that time marriage by abduction was a recognized form of marriage. The force of Shishupal was reassembled on prodding and gathered courage and attacked. The lord left Balram to deal with them as he sped forward. We learn that Shishupal was defeated.
Rukmi however, followed Lord Krishna and Rukmani as he was determined to rescue his sister and kill the Lord. Rukmi caught up with Krishna and Rukmani. In the ensuing battle, Rukmi was defeated and he lay on the earth battered and bruised. He realized he had been defeated and begged forgiveness. The princess also requested the Lord to spare Rukmi. Magnanimous as ever the Lord spared his life on the request of Rukmani, but shaved his head. In those days when a warrior's head was shaved, it signified ignominy and defeat and thus Rukmi turned away a defeated man.
Lord Krishna took Rukmani to Dwarka, which was the capital of his kingdom. Their marriage was celebrated with great pomp and show. This is one of the legends of Lord Krishna and makes not only thrilling reading but elevating as well, as one realizes that Lord Krishna was omnipotent and all-powerful. He could read the mind and the heavens bowed to him. Truly there cannot be a greater God. Jai Sri Krishna.