“In the same Lalita-madhava there is an account of Krishna’s kidnapping Rukmini at her royal marriage ceremony. At that time all of the princes present began to converse amongst themselves, saying, ‘We have our elephants, horses, chariots, bows, arrows and swords, so why should we be afraid of Krishna? Let us attack Him! He is nothing but a lusty cowherd boy! He cannot take away the Princess in this way! Let us all attack Him!’” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 29)
Two plans were set. They were different and conflicting, set by parties with different interests. On one side there was the royal family led by King Bhishmaka. He arranged to have his princess daughter, Rukmini Devi, marry a prince named Shishupala. The idea came together more through the son, Rukmi, who was friends with Shishupala.
Then there was the plan of the princess herself. Rukmini Devi had her heart set on marrying Shri Krishna, the king of Dvaraka. This was interesting because she had never met her longed-for-groom. Just from hearing about His qualities she surrendered life, heart and soul over to Him.
This is the way the relationship goes between the two, wherever they are. Rukmini is actually the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, and Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu. God is always with the goddess of fortune; this is one reason she is known as the eternal consort. When their respective incarnations appear on earth, naturally they are associated with one another.
The party planning the wedding with Shishupala in the picture did not properly understand Krishna. They had some visuals to go by. Krishna was known as a cowherd boy, having spent the childhood years in the farm community of Vrindavana. He was rumored to have had dalliances with young ladies, as well. Known as the gopis, they too surrendered everything to Him.
Two conflicting ideas, with different conclusions reached based on interaction with Krishna. One through sound, in Rukmini, and the other in sight, in the rivals. Rukmini’s plan was to have Krishna come and kidnap her on the day of the wedding. When in the heat of the moment, when the rivals saw Rukmini being taken away, they thought that certain objects in their possession would be enough to reverse fate and overcome Krishna.
Not just for ceremonial decoration in a Vedic-style wedding, the elephants were utilized in warfare, as well. We can think of it like manpower in modern warfare. The more soldiers you have, the stronger your attacking force will be. With many elephants on their side, the rivals felt confident in being able to defeat an intruder who acted alone.
The elephant is an animal with tremendous power, but in this case the culprit was escaping. Krishna had taken Rukmini and was getting away. With many horses in their possession, the rivals hoped to catch Krishna. One time in His youth, mother Yashoda had caught Him, after considerable effort. She bound Krishna to a mortar as punishment, and so the hope was to this time punish Him similarly.
The horses would bring the rivals closer to Krishna. The men would then attack while standing on chariots. The more chariots there are, the better chances you have of success. It’s basic math. One person can only see in one direction at a time. How can they fight so many people simultaneously? There were great fighters in ancient times, such as Maharaja Dasharatha of Ayodhya. He could defend against the ten directions simultaneously, but in this situation there were many chariots attacking Krishna.
4. Bows, arrows and swords
The horses would bring them closer. The chariots would be used for positioning. The weapons fired would be arrows, released from bows. In hand-to-hand combat, swords would do the work. How was Krishna going to protect Himself now? As a child He tended to calves. He wasn’t as skilled as these fighters were.
Of course it was Rukmini’s plan that emerged successful in the end. She put her faith in the descriptions of Krishna provided by authority figures in spiritual life. She didn’t let any visual fool her. The other side didn’t understand who Krishna was, just as today the atheists have no idea of the potency of the Divine, who remains invisible to them until the tragic moment of death. No amount of objects in warfare are enough to overcome the one who is full strength Himself, baliyan.
Outwardly father’s plan obeyed,
But inside Rukmini another made.
So that beloved Krishna to come,
Marriage through victory won.
Rivals using weapons thinking,
Fooled by visual, defeat into sinking.
Neither chariots, horses, nor arrows fought,
Supreme Lord only by bhakti caught.
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