Have you read a Puranic love letter? Rukmani, the incarnation of Goddess Devi Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune, is the principal wife of Lord Krishna of Dwarka: Bhagavata Purana 10.52.16. She is also known as Rukumani, Rukmini or Rukhmani. According to Mahabarathan Adi 67.156, as Lakshmi’s portion, she was born in the family of Bhismaka, the King of Bidarbha, in the month of Vaishakha. Just as Lakshmi is Vishnu’s strength so is Rukumani, Krishna’s strength. As the Queen Consort of Krishna, she is Swarupa-shakti – mulaprakriti. She is the essential potency of Krishna – Krsnatmika. As jagatkatri, she is the Queen of the Divine World. The Puranas describe her as the most beautiful and virtuous of all women. Rukmani longed for Sri Krishna.
As time went by, Balarama and Krishna are potential grooms. Brahma sends Raivata, the King of Avartta to Mathura. He gave his beautiful daughter Revathi in marriage to Balarama. After moving to Mathura, the island kingdom of Dwarka, Krishna’s fame as a warrior defeating tyranny brought him fame. He kills Kamsa who has been terrifying the masses. Krishna’s fame spread to Vidarbha. However, Krishna’s wedding was action packed melo-drama of love and abduction.
As a beautiful princess, Rukmani was the most sought after. But she had heard of the virtue, character, charm and greatness of Krishna and fell in love with him. Krishna also reciprocated the intimation. Mutual fascination aroused the desire in both to come together in wedlock. Rukumani’s eldest brother, Rukmin was a close friend of Kamsa. He was against Krishna marrying Rukumani. Sibling rivalry, ala Purana? He conspires to change Bhishmaka’s mind to arbitrarily arrange a wedding between Rukumani and his friend Shishupala, the crown prince of Chedi. Shishupala was also a vassal of Jarasandha, Rukmin’s friend. Jarasandha was forewarned of an impending attack by Krishna, so he sends his army to fight Krishna. They were out to frustrate any attempt by Krishna to win over Rukumani.
Rukumani, desparate in all sense, learns of the conspiracy and sends out a love letter to Krishna through one brahmana called Sunanda, a trusted emissary. It was an intelligent ploy for Krishna to come and fetch her amidst oppositions and risks. This implied that she asked Krisha to abduct her! She begs Krishna not to fight as to avoid bloodshed. ‘We shall elope on my way back from temple’ she said. The Gowri puja at the Girija Temple was a convenience. There is a twist here. The father, Bhismaka learns through his secret agents of the Krishna’s arrival but is happy for the daughter. So he prepares the palace in anticipation of the marriage. So much for fathers and daughters! Krishna went quick into action. He harnessed the best steeds with Daruka as the charioteer. Krishna covered the long distance overnight with an ample army protection equipped to retaliate.
Rukumani was severely disappointed in not being able to locate Krishna in the Girija Temple. She prays to Goddess Pravathi and she comes out of the temple, sees Sri Krishna arriving with Balarama in his chariot. Shishupala notices this and chases the pair with the aid of Jarasandha’s army. Balarama engages them and Krishna catches Rukmin, only to be set free with a shaven head – a shame of defeat in the battle-field. Together the bride to be fly away in Krishna’s chariot. Bhagava Purana speaks of this event as the ‘Glorious Abduction’.
King Bhishmaka performed the wedding most appropriately with pomp and ceremony. ‘Rukmani Kalyanam’ is a source for folklore and therukoothu, the village dramas. There are writings to the extent that the wedding took place in Dwarka; some to say that they got married in Madhavpur Ghed and in such memory a temple being attributed to Lord Madhavrai. Krishna and Rukumani had 11 eleven children. The first born is a son, Pradyumana followed by Charudeshna, Sudeshna, Charudeha, Sushena, Charugupta, Bhadracharu, Sucharu and Charu. Their only daughter was Charumathi.
When Pradyumana was hardly ten days old, he was caught by the Demon Sambara. The demon threw him in the sea but he was safe in the belly of a large fish. The fish was finally caught and presented to Sambara who in turn hands it to the pretty head cook Mayavathi. Upon cutting open, she finds the cute little Pradyumana in all a shining face. Enter Narada to reveal that when Kama or Manmadha was reduced to ashes by Lord Shiva, he would be born as Pradyumana in the next birth. Did Pradyumana have Kama's attributes and his father's charms!
Cupid now strikes Mayavathi, despite the age difference, she falls for Pradyumana as she saw him growing up. Prayudmana was popularly known as ‘Vyuha’ as the Lord of Intelligence; Vasudeva, Lord of Consciousness; Sankarshana, Lord of Individuality and Aniruddha, Lord of Intelligence. The apple does not fall far from the tree, does it? Pradyumana is known of his manly beauty and charm. Eventually he kills Sambara, marry Mayavathi and settles down with his parents at Dwarka.
Rukumani is said to the most celestial woman, next only to Draupadi. Mahabaratha Adi 67.156 states that Rukmani is a portion of Lakshmi. Her marriage with Krishna brought joy and fortune to the people of Dwarka: Srimad Bhagavatam 10.54.60. As Krishna’s consort, she is swarupa-shakti, the essential potecy of Krishna – Krshnatmika and Queen of the Divine World – Jagakatri. There are many tales and folklore to speak her glory. She saved Krishna once by crushing the skull of Naraka by picking up Krishna’s mace and hurling it at him. The ‘Tulabharam’ is an incident to show the extent of her devotion to Krishna. At Krishna’s death, Rukumani and seven other of his wives immolated themselves on the funeral pile.
RUKUMANI’S LOVE LETTER: This is one of the most beautiful love letters from the Puranas. It is contained in Bhagavata Purana 10.52. It is said to be the most beautiful eulogy evidencing Rukmani’s love for Sri Krishna.
“O the infallible and the most handsome One! Having heard Your qualities, which enter through the path of ears and absolve away the pains of life, and having heard about Your handsome appearance, which is the only asset of the eyes of living beings with eyes, my heart is accepting You as a consort leaving behind shyness.1
O Mukunda, the lion (best) among men! Given a chance, which composed girl from a good lineage will not wish for You as a consort; You, Who is the happiness of the minds of people, Who is the happiness of the world, and Who is incomparable from any viewpoint — be it lineage, nature, beauty, knowledge, energy, wealth, or abode.2
Therefore, O Lord! I have indeed accepted You as a consort and I have submitted myself to You. O lotus-eyed Krishna! Please arrive here [and accept me]; so that the prince of Cedi (Sisupala) does not takes away the property of brave You — just like a jackal should not take away the prey of a lion. 3
If I have revered the all pervading Paramatman by social welfares (digging wells), oblations, obeying rules, penance, and serving demi-gods, saints, and preceptor, then O Gadagraja (Krishna)! You accept me after holding my hand — instead of anyone else like the son of Damaghosa (Sisupala). 4
O Lord, Who is unconquered! Arrive secretly in Vidarbha one day before my marriage. Then after defeating all the army-commanders from the regions of Cedi and Magadha (Sisupala and Jarasandha), marry me with the ways of demons by showing Your valor and conquering power. 5
If You are wondering that how will you conquer me without killing the women and relatives inside my palace, then I am telling You a way out. As per an old tradition, there is a grand fair before the marriage, during which the bride goes out to the temple of Girija for prayers. 6
O lotus-eyed Krishna ! If I don’t achieve the dust of Your feet, which is sought after by incomparable Ones like Umapati (Siva), then I will destroy my life. If the service of Your feet is not achieved in this life, then I will take hundreds of birth and do penance; I am sure I will achieve Your lotus feet some day.7
RUKUMANI, SATHYABAMA AND RADHA: Rukmani is considered to be Krishna’s favourite wife and beloved because of her satvic character and devotion. But she was destined to be away from Krishna. A tale is told of a curse by the sage Durvasa. Having been invited to dinner, Rukumani goes against etiquette in drinking water before the host touches food. She got Krishna to flow the Ganges towards her due to extreme thirst. This angered Durvasa and cursed that she will live apart from Krishna. But their separation is more than a sip of water. There were emotional undercurrents to her 'till do us apart' vows with Radha in the family paradigm.
Folklore is replete with tales of His other wives, Sathyabama and also his divine lover, Radha, their life and connections. Sathyabhama is linked to Rukumani in the Thulabara story and in their many envious suspicions over one another at Sri Krishna’s instance. But it is Srimati Radha, Lord Krishna is associated with more than Rukmani and Sathyabama. The later Puranas state Radharani to be His pleasure potency. ‘Avalai paarthaan; angu andathai paarthan’ – He saw Her (Rukumani) but there (in Radha) He saw the world’. Radha is also the source of all expansions of the energies of God – the Shakti. Rukumani was no doubt Krishna’s wife but Radha was the purest and closest of all of Krishna’s devotees. She was the symbol of devotion and unconditional love symbolising eternal love between man and God. Thus the Lord is usually remembered and worshiped as Radha-Krishna. But Goddess Rukumani is hailed in the Hindu pantheon for her role of being a dedicated Queen Consort.Hari Om
Yogi Ananda Saraswati