“While Rukmini was being given in charity to Shishupala, she was snatched from the marriage arena by Krishna, exactly as Garuda snatched the pot of nectar from the demons. Rukmini, the only daughter of King Bhishmaka, was exquisitely beautiful. She was known as Ruchiranana, which means ‘one who has a beautiful face, expanding like a lotus flower.’” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 51)
1. The timing
A large number of years grouped together for analysis purposes. The beginning marked by the start of a population and the end by the complete destruction of the surrounding area. Then the process repeating. After many such cycles you get the complete devastation of the universe, but even that is not the final outcome. As the individual is spirit soul, so the universes, directed by the original and most powerful soul, appear and disappear on a continuous schedule.
अहर् यद् ब्रह्मणो विदुः
ते ऽहो-रात्र-विदो जनाः
ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ
te ‘ho-rātra-vido janāḥ
“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)
One cycle of the appearance of the human population is known as a yuga. This period then gets divided into four smaller periods, also known as yugas. The marriage of Shri Krishna and Rukmini Devi takes place in the third age, known as Dvapara.
This time period is noted for its appearance of God in His svayam-rupa. Shrimad Bhagavatam says, “krishnas tu bhagavan svayam.” There may be many incarnations, full or partial, but Krishna is God Himself. The two-handed, beautiful youth who never ages according to bodily appearance, carrying the flute in His hand and wearing the peacock feather in His hair, the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, the delight of the residents of Vrindavana, is also the husband to Rukmini.
2. The place
The marriage took full effect in Dvaraka, the kingdom ruled by Krishna at the time, who was in His adult years. But the epicenter of the dramatic events was the kingdom of Vidarbha, which was ruled by King Bhishmaka. He was Rukmini’s father. Krishna travelled to that place from Dvaraka, and He later returned home with His first bride.
3. The characters
The story is well known today because of the involvement of Krishna. His deeds recorded by eyewitnesses and passed on to future generations in Vedic literature are collectively described as lila. These are Divine pastimes.
One way to decipher the extraordinary nature is to witness the effect of hearing. If I hear the story of the marriage of an average person, there may be delight the first or second time. Such stories certainly cannot be relished every day, no matter how wonderful the tale.
With Shri Krishna, His deeds can be heard, studied and contemplated countless times, spanning many years. For devotees dedicated in service to Him, hearing just the story of the marriage to Rukmini can bring pleasure day after day.
Bhishmaka is a central character, as is his eldest son, Rukmi. The family had decided the marriage of Rukmini should take place to Krishna. The qualities matched. There was desire on both sides. Both would be willing participants. Nothing forced on anyone, even though the father had final say.
Rukmi had other plans. He arranged the marriage to Shishupala, instead. This was a great enemy of Krishna. A horrifying ordeal for Rukmini, to face the prospect of a lifetime spent with someone of such bad qualities.
4. The story
Rather than sit in her room and lament the situation, Rukmini took fate into her own hands. She was a pure devotee of Krishna, but she did not expect the Supreme Lord to simply do all the work. As the saying goes, God helps those who help themselves.
Rukmini devised a plan whereby Krishna would appear on the scene on the day of the marriage to Shishupala and take her away. She confidentially relayed the proposal to Krishna through a messenger from the kingdom.
Events played out exactly in her favor. Many rival princes attacked Krishna as He went through with the Rakshasa-style of marriage. There was nothing they could do. The will of the Divine would not be denied.
Rukmini Devi is an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, so she cannot have a husband other than Narayana, the Supreme Lord who is the source of men. Those against Krishna may appear to be on the verge of victory, that their desires will be saphala, but the Divine forces have something else to say.
Seeming to go his way,
But Divine something else to say.
That Shishupala denied,
Despite attacking tried.
Where Krishna away taking,
And Rukmini His bride making.
From Bhagavata most wonderful tale,
To delight today without fail.
Categories: the four